Stunning dance numbers impress in West Side Story

The Jets in Brighton Theatre Group Youth's West Side Story
The Jets in Brighton Theatre Group Youth's West Side Story

YOUNG people from across the area were involved in Brighton Theatre Group Youth’s production of West Side Story at The Corn Exchange, Brighton, last week.

With a cast of 70 aged from eight to 19, choreographer Jodie Michele had her work cut out but the youngsters did not let her down.

Jack Roberts and  Abby Fell

Jack Roberts and Abby Fell

The boys’ balletic moves particularly impressed and the clever Jets routine for Gee, Officer Krupke provided a lovely light number in the midst of all the tragedy.

It is a show that is relatively low on dialogue, which means the dance moves are essential for helping to tell the story.

The youngsters’ efforts in rehearsals paid off with some very effective set pieces and well-timed fight scenes, including one in slow motion.

The full size of the company was demonstrated in the big numbers that closed each of the two acts and it was nice to see so many young people given the chance to be part of the production.

The lead roles were well matched, with 19-year-old Jack Roberts from Brighton playing Tony and 17-year-old Abby Fell from Worthing as Maria. Both showed exceptional talent and gave very moving performances. Their duet, One Hand, One Heart, was beautifully done and really quite touching.

Others who stood out were Amie Shouler as Anita and 16-year-old Toby Joe Corner as Bernardo, heading up the Sharks’ gang with real menace!

In the both the Sharks and the Jets, the boys explored the gang culture well and the use of clicking at various points throughout the musical helped to keep the sense of time and place in America in the 1950s.

There were a few small niggles at the Saturday matinée, where a radio mic was left on at the start, creating some strange sounds, but this was quickly sorted out.

But nobody is perfect and the small issues cannot take away from the overall outstanding quality.