FAMOUS MUSICAL ADAPTATION OF ROMEO AND JULIET By Leonard Bernstein,
Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents.
Director: Bill Millerd.
Choreographer: Valerie Easton.
Musical Director: Bruce Kellett.
Starring Tyley Ross, Rebecca Codling, Peter Huck, Terra C. MacLeod
and Todd Talbot
with Jennifer Bishop, Kim Davis, Courtenay Dobbie, Gordon Doerkson,
Jeff Irving, Stirling Karlsen, Kiara Leigh, Matt Palmer, Chancz
Perry, Matthew Russell, Rnold Smith, Sal Sortino, Grant Tilly, Melissa
Veszi, Amy Wallis. Design Team: Alison Green, Marsha Sibthorpe,
Phillip Clarkson, and Chris Daniels. November 14 - Jan10 2003 Arts
West Side Story
I recently attended a jazz dance class that was being taught by a New
York teacher who used a lot of the traditional Broadway musical moves.
I thoroughly enjoyed the strong hand gestures, slides and finger snapping
that is characteristic of the West Side Story. However, after only one
class I could hardly call myself an expert, and only faintly remember
the routine. So it was with excited expectation that I attended the Arts
Club Production playing at the Stanley Theatre on South Granville, Vancouver.
It is directed by Bill Millerd and choreographed by Valerie Easton. I
was anticipating the thrill of seeing these moves up close and professionally
done, but I was disappointed to discover that the dancing was the weakest
part of the show.
This was my first time at the Stanley, and I was impressed with the décor
with its delicately lit dome above, cozy closed in feel and every seat
appeared to have a great view of the stage. I descended the stairs from
the top to my balcony seat to the view of the back alley brick buildings
set with fluorescent spray painted writing. It was very authentic looking
and it set the mood immediately with multi-layers showing windows to bedrooms
and stores, high walkways and steel ladders. The set took up half the
small stage and I wondered how the performers would have room to do all
the running leaps and jumps off the walls.
The scene opened with Jet Song with all round outstanding
singing from the gang members Peter Huck, who played Bernado, Stirling
Karlsen as A-Rab and Jeff Irving as Baby John. But their moves were simple
and contained, not the explosion of energy I had expected. The scenes
continued in much the same way, with the singing being the key focus,
most notably Tyley Ross who played Tony, who sang without apparent effort,
capturing the high of falling in love with each note sung to perfection.
Matthew Russell who played Diesel/Big Deal carried himself the most like
a dancer, strong lean body and confident moves.
The most outstanding and skilled dancer and performer was Melissa Veszi
who played Rosalia. She had a deep full voice, and her salsa sashaying,
catcalling, her chutzpah and even her looks were matched to the part.
Rebecca Codling a tall skinny, bony Maria moved in a very awkward clumsy
way. I kept waiting for her to knock lamps and other objects over as she
flailed her arms about as though she had no control over them. She appeared
to be hamming it up and I wasnt sure if the director had chosen
to have Maria played in this unique light, but it didnt fit the
traditional petite and graceful Maria.
There were some very awkward lifting sequences, in which the partners
For example, Graziella, played by Jennifer Bishop was lifted by a partner
much smaller than herself.
Perhaps the choreographer chose simple moves for the performers that were
obviously not dancers, but who were chosen for their singing and acting
talent alone. More attention to the detail of the costumes would have
paid off as well, as the jeans the gang wore looked more like circa 1999
than 1950, with only the cuffs turned up to give the illusion of that
era. The stage was used effectively, what little space there was to move
in, but I think even for the actor with limited dancing skill, at least
more bold hand gestures would have given a little spice to the otherwise
mundane and disappointing dance sequences. Perhaps the rest of the audience
werent as picky about that, the singing and acting more than made
up for it.
For this performance I would have paid around the $25-35 mark, but expected
more for $52.00. The Arts Club Black and Gold Revue was much more
reasonably priced, with electrifying dance numbers (I was even pulled
onstage at one point), that matched the spine tingling singing and solid
all round performance.
© Jenny Brown December 2002
Steps to a Successful Wedding
with a sureshot guide to weddings in Vancouver
'Everyone want a happy wedding - but what can you
do to make sure all goes well'?
Shopping Advice for Clothing Junkies
I needed that new top'
Brown takes a walk in Vancouver's 'secret garden'
Wright will soon be The Happiest Fag in the World
a Vancouver personality on the up and coming list.
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