Review: WEST SIDE STORY at Volksoper

The Jets and Sharks are back in town.

By: Jan. 28, 2024
Review: WEST SIDE STORY at Volksoper
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.




Existing user? Just click login.

There's a Place For Us!

Marcel Prawy, back in the day, witnessed the show's opening night in NYC. It was when he convinced Bernstein to hand him the rights to the first German production at the Volksoper in Vienna.

The rest is history. The show opened to rare reviews on February 28, 1968, and found its place in the German-speaking theatre area.

There is a place for this timeless masterpiece, and the show is back where it all began. The plot is as relevant as ever, filled with love, misunderstandings, and hatred. Director Lotte de Beer came up with some bright ideas, creating different layers of uncomfortable feelings and a somewhat confusing ending, which left more questions than answers. Of course, there is love, but most of all, it mirrors our society.

Somethings Coming!

In his unique Swedish understatement way of acting, Anton Zetterholm (the soon-to-be Phantom of the Opera) is making his Volksoper debut as the handsome and tragic hero. You feel sorry for him; he tried to get everything done correctly, but everybody knows that something is coming, and it won't be for good. It is all tangible for Tony and Maria (played by the outstanding Jaye Simmons), yet so far away. With no hope or sign of change on the streets; everything is a fight, and that's what the Jets and Sharks are up to, fighting.
The world has nothing else to offer them except hate, a result of society's failure now and then.

Review: WEST SIDE STORY at Volksoper
Anton Zetterholm (Tony) and Jaye Simmons (Maria) ©Marco Sommer/Volksoper Wien


Lotte de Beer created an unpleasantly powerful atmosphere for her West Side Story, marking her debut by directing a Musical, leading these unfortunate souls into their unavoidable end of no return, with you in your seat, unable to step in and save them for good, a bittersweet but essential experience.

Regarding West Side Story, dancing is always something to focus on because Jerome Robbin's choreography raised the bar for everything else in the industry. Bryan Arias (Choreography) came up with some exciting ideas, some for the better and some, let's say, to work on. Of course, it's energetic, filled with hate, and different, but sometimes, less is more.

The Casting Department gifted the creatives with a talented bunch of people to work with. You might have seen Oliver Liebl (Riff) before, most of the time as the handsome potential son-in-law, but you have never seen him like this, a cold-blooded leader you don't want to run into outside late at night. Another Volksoper regular to mention is Peter Lesiak (Action), a wildly enthusiastic juvenile in every aspect of his performance. The Sharks, led by the passionate Lionel von Lawrence (Bernardo) and his girlfriend Anita (stunningly Myrthes Monteiro), are no exception.

Review: WEST SIDE STORY at Volksoper
Myrthes Monteiro (Anita) and the Cast of West Side Story ©Marco Sommer/Volksoper Wien

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty!

As important as the interpretation on stage is the one in the orchestra pit. Ben Glassberg, the Volksoper's new musical director, honored Bernstein's score, giving it a powerful peppy twist, quite a way to start his reign in Vienna.

West Side Story, written by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics (and maybe one or two rhythms, no one can tell) by the famous Stephen Sondheim, is a gift for the theatre, accurate and even more relevant than ever. Somewhere, somehow, is here, at the Volksoper in Vienna, where Bernstein is happening.

 

Conductor

Ben Glassberg

Stage direction

Lotte de Beer

Set design

Christof Hetzer

Costume design

Jorine van Beek

Lighting design

Alex Brok

Choreography

Bryan Arias

Sounddesign

Martin Lukesch

Riff

Oliver Liebl

Action

Peter Lesiak

A-Rab

Rico Salathé

Baby John

Liam Solbjerg

Snowboy

David Eisinger

Professor

Kevin O'Dwyer

Diesel

Oliver Floris

Gee-Tar

Fin Holzwart

Mouthpiece

Michael Postmann

Graziella

Teresa Jentsch

Velma

Eva Zamostny

Minnie

Ilvy Schultschik

Clarice

Tara Randell

Anybodys

Melanie Böhm

Bernardo

Lionel von Lawrence

Maria

Jaye Simmons

Chino

James Park

Pepe

Malick Afocozi

Indio

Dario Scaturro

Luis

Wei Ken Großmann-Liao

Anxious

Emilio Moreno Arias

Nibbles

Alex Snova

Juano

Jaime Lee Rodney

Rosalia

Sophia Gorgi

Teresita

Roberta Monção

Francisca

Danai Simantiri

Estella

Jessica Scorpio

Marguerita

Elies de Vries

Doc

Axel Herrig

Detective Schrank

Nicolaus Hagg

Officer Krupke

Tobias Voigt

Glad-Hand

Georg Wacks

Jet-Girl

Anneke Brunekreeft

Jet-Girl

Josefine Tyler

Jet-Girl

Bernadette Leitner

Jet-Girl

Claudia Artner

Shark

William Briscoe-Peake

Shark-Girl

Maura Oricchio

Shark-Girl

Bianca Pizzagalli

Ein Kind

Hannah Lehner




Videos