West Side Story opened last night to resounding applause, and we can’t wait to catch it tonight! We’ll of course be letting you guys know what we thought of it in our review (stay tuned for that), but before the big night, we got a chance to meet the cast and catch a preview of some snippets of tonight’s gala performance at a media call held at Mastercard Theatres!
This touring production of West Side Story has been on the road for almost a year and has finally arrived in Singapore. Led by an all American cast, this is currently the only production to be using Jerome Robbins’ original choreography, who choreographer and director Joey McKneely directly trained under when he was a dancer in a previous production. Combining a timeless story, well composed music and unforgettable dance moves, this production of one of the world’s best loved musicals is certainly not to be missed.
At the media call, we started off with ‘Cool’, featuring slick choreography and stylish dance moves from the cast members playing the Jets, introducing the buildup of tension before the conflict between the two rival gangs later on.
Next, we were treated to a rendition of ‘Maria’, sung by Marc Koeck as Tony. A solo piece, the spotlight shone white and gave him the entire stage as he professed his affection and the start of falling in love with Maria.
We were even given a chance to see the iconic lovers in action together with the next song, ‘Tonight’, the classic balcony scene where the two flirt and profess their love for each other. With great onstage chemistry, we too were enamoured and believed in their relationship.
Finally, the press call ended off with ‘America’ led by Keely Beirne as Anita, singing praise of America in a funny, upbeat number that put a smile on all our faces.
We also got a chance to speak to Marc Koeck and Natalie Bellenger, who will be playing Tony and Maria respectively. This production marks Natalie’s first time in the role, while it will already be Marc’s third time as Tony, having previously been in productions performed at the Asolo Repertory Theatre and The Orlando Shakespeare Theatre.
On how the two manage to maintain such strong onstage chemistry despite the hectic tour schedule and constantly changing leads, they explained how the entire cast felt like one big family, to the extent that they were able to practically feel each other’s moods and emotions, sharing secret inside jokes and little twinkles of the eye at each other, making it that much easier to create a believable relationship. On the most difficult part of being on tour, Natalie replied “Living out of a suitcase”, explaining how the 20kg luggage limit travelling from place to place really prevented her from buying things from every country she visited, and the high, intangible costs of travelling light. Meanwhile, Marc suffers from various allergies, and always finds new ones in each new place. “Eventually, you get to try each country’s honey!” he mused as the two actors shared a warm laugh.
We then talked to music supervisor and conductor Dr Donald Chan. With years of experience on his hand, the American musician has led the music on some of the most influential musicals of all time, including Cabaret, The Phantom of the Opera and The Pirates of Penzance, along with previous productions of West Side Story. “West Side Story contains music that is timeless, and a story that now, more than ever, can resonate with the ever changing, tumultuous world.” Being such a veteran, this of course, isn’t the first time he’s in Singapore, and cites Chinatown as one of the places he always ends up going to if he’s seeking a bite.
Having bore witness to such a fun preview, we couldn’t help but get more revved up than ever about tonight’s gala (even knowing the tragic end that would befall our protagonists). For a show that’s already celebrating its 60th year since it first premiered, West Side Story is still going incredibly strong, and we can’t wait to see the whole performance and fall in love once again with this fabulous cast and creative team.
West Side Story plays from 13th – 24th September at Mastercard Theatres. Tickets available from SISTIC
West Side Story
When: 13th – 24th September, 8pm (Tue – Fri), 1pm & 6pm (Sat – Sun), 2pm & 8pm (23 Sep)
Where: Mastercard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands