West Side Story is one of my all-time favorites, both as a musical and as a movie. I know every word to every song, every line of dialogue for every character. I could slip right into the role of Maria seamlessly. Well, okay, maybe Maria's mother. Anyway, I saw it seven times at the theater when I was a kid, and countless times since (really, I can't count them), and I've seen the stage production at least six times. It's been a while tho, so I just saw the new touring version that's here in Chicago for a limited run.
Can you see something you love too many times?
I settled in for two hours of bliss and imagine my surprise when I realized I wasn't loving it.
So sad. Oh, it wasn't that I hated it, or even that I disliked it, that's not possible, it just wasn't the same. Not necessarily a bad thing.
But mainly my problem was with the two leads who left me longing for Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer. Ali Ewoldt played Maria, delivering her lines as if she were auditioning for a high school production, and her voice was screechy on the high notes. Not pleasant. Tony was played by understudy Cary Tedder and while I liked his acting he seemed to be searching for notes half the time. This is a problem when you're talking about the key characters.
The other change is that the Sharks speak Spanish a fair amount. Interesting. And not a problem for me, I could have translated the lines since I know the script, but a loss for people who don't, and who don't speak Spanish.
All in all, it was fine. I was happy to see it again - I got my fix. But I don't know if I'll be so quick to search out another stage production. But no worries, I've got the video.
Three and a half stars out of five for this traveling version of West Side Story.