It’s over half a century since the Broadway premiere of Arthur Laurents’ blue-collar reworking of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s tragic tale of doomed love, but the finger-clicking opening of this sexy, dangerous musical still generates an air of tension and excitement as rival gangs, the Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks, clash over their patch in New York’s Upper West Side.
Stephen Sondheim’s clever lyrics aren’t always clear, which is a shame, and not all the singing voices match the vibrancy of the dancing.
But even fifty years down the track, Jerome Robbins’ recreated the choreography is still exhilaratingly edgy and, as the star-crossed lovers, Liam Tobin (a clear, resonant and vocally assured if rather too static, clean-cut Tony) and Elena Sancho-Pereg’s operatic, love-struck Maria sing beautifully, doing full justice to Leonard Bernstein’s glorious score.
And who can resist such classic numbers as Maria, I Feel Pretty, Tonight and the optimistic Somewhere with its still resonant plea for a society in which differences in race and background are resolved without resorting to knives and violence?
Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue EC1R 4TN
Tube | Angel
Until September 22
£15- £65 (£75 premium seats)
Photo Credit: Nilz Boehme