Theatr Colwyn played host this week to students from Colwyn Bay’s Ysgol Bryn Elian and other schools, performing Arthur Laurents’s and Stephen Sondheim’s famous musical West Side Story for three nights as part of their post-16 courses.
After a slightly shaky start (caused no doubt by understandable nerves) the cast fell into their characters well and seemed genuinely to enjoy the performance that they were putting on. By the end of the show, the cast portrayed a confidence on stage that belied their experience.
Laurents’s original story and Sondheim’s famous lyrics and melodies were followed to the letter and to the note, and no sections of the story were omitted, which was pleasant to see. Although this ended up making the performance rather long, it was still enjoyable.
The production was also supported by a full orchestra – impressively also consisting entirely of students. This complimented the close acoustics of the small theatre magnificently for the most part, and made for a sound that enveloped the audience, and effectively pulled them into the story. However, the slight downside was the fact that the room was so small meant that, on occasion, the orchestra was a little too loud and had a slight tendency to drown out the singers on the stage. This, however, was rare, and it wasn’t noticeable enough to be detrimental to the performance.
Special mentions must go to lead characters Callum Evans (Tony) and Elin Hughes (Maria), whose excellent voices lit up the audience from the moment they began singing. It was truly exciting to hear such young talent, their voices full of emotion and an expression of enjoyment on their faces. The scene in which Tony says his final goodbyes and sings a final duet with Maria was very moving, and had some of the audience in tears. There were also fine performances from Nathan Leigh Goodwin as Bernardo, Dan Davies as Riff and also an excellent and on occasion humorous performance from young actor Dorian Schiefer.
Overall, it was an amusing, emotional and ultimately excellent performance that was a credit to the cast, musicians and crew and, despite the occasional problem, an absolute pleasure to watch.
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