Energetic West Side Story @ Lyric Opera

3.5 out of 4

The first hour of Lyric’s WEST SIDE STORY was the best version that one could ever hope for. With the gigantic stage pulsing with a full ensemble of dancing men, well amplified singers, and the zesty orchestra, I thought that scene after scene of director Francesca Zambello’s staging  magical. 

The problems thereafter are just as much about WSS as about the production. The team of young writers made some brilliant choices but didn’t really know how to bring it all around for a landing. Subsequent versions on film and stage have tweaked things here and there, so - for example – in this version AMERICA is sung and danced by the female ensemble only.  

There is strange contemporary coupling to the costumes – which are mostly period, but here accompanied with heavy tattoos and jewelry (check out the watch Tony wears in the Lyrics Marketing video for Maria, for example). The dances are credited as the original choreography but there are many steps that will be familiar to fans of new steps shaped by World of Dance, et. al. 

From the balcony – a long distance at Lyric - it is hard to see individual faces, but in general I found the ensemble tremendously credible. And when all the gears to the production are blazing with the full-throttle race to the climax of doomed love, this West Side Story will be remembered as a triumph.