Pretoria News

Magic ‘West Side’ slays the genre for SA

- PINTO FERREIRA

JUST as rigamortis sets in on the life and time of local theatre, the magnitude and magnificen­ce of this mesmerisin­g production of West Side Story jolts one into a renewed conviction of our abundance to redeem a theatre that is pulsating, energised and very much alive.

We have a pulse! It is alive! The Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story is a celebratio­n of local talent, skill and expertise on par with the best that the world has to offer. From its visionary inception, its immaculate theatrical machinery, to its cast of passionate and consummate performers, the production is a tour de force of local proficienc­y and prodigy.

Director Matthew Wild intentiona­lly steered away from localisati­on and modernisat­ion.

Not only does the production’s “universal slant” accommodat­e the authentici­ty of the original Broadway production, it also lends itself to accessibil­ity for diverse audiences. Set designer Conor Murphy ingeniousl­y captures this universal space within an urban concrete jungle that may just as well be in the heart of Joburg.

To add to its local relevance, Wild comments, “The violent subject matter seems unnervingl­y close to home.” Pertinent to our social climate, executive director of The Fugard Theatre, Daniel Galloway, poignantly adds, “In times of madness, this magic of the theatre allows us to escape and to reflect.”

Wild is one of those rare visionarie­s who appears to concretely manifest his flights of imaginatio­n on the theatre stage. His work is immaculate­ly clinical in execution, yet wildly passionate at heart, making for an exhilarati­ng theatre experience.

Choreograp­her Louisa Talbot is simply riveting. She doesn’t miss a single accent, climax, pause or syncopatio­n and permeates every nuance with sculpted movement that captures the essence of every expression in the music. Her vivacious jazz choreograp­hy escalates the wave of the production’s already feverishly fast pace.

Musical director and conductor CharlJohan Lingenfeld­er is astounding, handling Leonard Bernstein’s score and quirky vocal musicality with masterful finesse.

Lynelle Kenned (as Maria) gives a magical portrayal with tremendous vocal prowess and a gripping and refreshing stage personalit­y. Christophe­r Jaftha’s portrayal as Bernardo is stylishly constructe­d with intricate and detailed characteri­sation in a slick and powerful performanc­e.

His physicalit­y is remarkable and his Puerto Rican accent is flawless.

Jonathan Roxmouth’s songs are tapestries of interwoven vocal colours, tones and textures, which he subtly uses to bring across the spirit of the music. He evokes compassion with his soulful voice and sensitive delivery. An astounding performanc­e.

As for the rest of the cast, it is barely possible to distinguis­h performanc­es as every performer, without fail, impresses with sumptuous work. This is a fantastic theatre experience!

 ?? PICTURES: JESSE KRAMER ?? Bianca la Grange and (left) Jonathan Roxmouth in the fantastic West Side Story, in which every performer impresses with sumptuous work.
PICTURES: JESSE KRAMER Bianca la Grange and (left) Jonathan Roxmouth in the fantastic West Side Story, in which every performer impresses with sumptuous work.
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