Review Roundup: Eden Espinosa, Mikaela Bennett and More Star in WEST SIDE STORY for BBC Proms

Review Roundup: Eden Espinosa, Mikaela Bennett and More Star in WEST SIDE STORY for BBC Proms

The BBC Proms concert of West Side Story was presented this week in conjunction with the centennial celebration of composer Leonard Bernstein.

The one-night only performance featured Mikaela Bennett as Maria, Eden Espinosa as Anita, and Ross Lekites as Tony.

Let's see what the critics had to say!


Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph: John Wilson conducted his own orchestra with his customary flair and energy - the street scenes were as snappy as a flick-knife, while the more intimate episodes glowed with romantic ardour. But oh the ghastly amplification, generating a level of futile din that completely obscured the intricate counterpoint of the "Tonight" ensemble and left me wishing I had brought some ear plugs. Why, oh why, did Wilson not insist that Bernstein be shown more respect and instruct the wonks to turn the dials down a couple of notches?

Richard Morrison, The Times: Five stars for the band, then - but what happened to Arthur Laurents's masterly rewrite of Shakespeare, Jerome Robbins's epoch-defining choreography and Stephen Sondheim's deftly crafted lyrics? The last did sometimes penetrate the Royal Albert Hall echo (although much of the lightning wit of America and Gee, Officer Krupke was swallowed up), but the dialogue was shrivelled to shreds and there was no dancing.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian: The score was played complete, but the dialogue was omitted, except for passages intended to be spoken over music and a few sections introducing individual numbers. This was West Side Story without the bulk of Arthur Laurents's book, and the work inevitably suffered. Anyone unfamiliar with the piece would have had trouble following the narrative, while important characters such as Bernardo, Riff and even Anita tended to become ciphers.

Barry Creasy, MusicOMH: As always, with amplified singing, the Albert Hall's chancy acoustic swallowed the lyrics for anything over a quiet solo, so the early bars of 'Maria', some of 'Tonight', the duet 'One hand, one heart' and all of Louise Alder's sensitively rendered 'Somewhere' made it through unscathed, but for the rest, the live audience was left with some top-class vocal sound, but with a considerable loss of comprehensible text (such that, sadly, the wit of Sondheim's busily clever libretto in the 'Tonight' ensemble, 'America' and 'Gee, Officer Krupke' will only be appreciated by listeners to the broadcast).

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