Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of WEST SIDE STORY at Lyric Opera?

Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of WEST SIDE STORY at Lyric Opera?

WEST SIDE STORY opened at Lyric Opera in Chicago on May 3 and is running through June 10, 2019.

This iconic, Tony-winning Broadway musical transplants Romeo and Juliet to the backstreets of New York, creating a timeless masterpiece that comes to life with nearly 100 artists on Chicago's biggest stage.

Tony and Maria are two wide-eyed teenagers from opposing gangs who fall in love. As their friends and family battle with one another, Tony and Maria long for "a place for us...somewhere." Their songs illuminate every scene and permeate our culture, from the romance of "Maria" and "Tonight" to the exuberance of "America" and the humor of "Gee, Officer Krupke." Add to that the bold, sexy, iconic dances of Jerome Robbins that smolder and sizzle with energy, and you have a musical-theater experience you'll never forget.

For tickets and more information, please visit https://www.lyricopera.org/productions/2018-19/west-side-story/

Let's see what the critics have to say...

Rachel Weinberg, BroadwayWorld: As star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, Corey Cott and Mikaela Bennett deftly handle the vocal challenges of their roles. Both of these parts have some of the most difficult vocals in the musical, in part to differentiate the world of love that Tony and Maria inhabit, separate from the gritty, hardened world of the Jets and the Sharks. While Cott's delivery of "Something's Coming" was somewhat tepid, he warmed up enough by the time he sang "Maria" to make that song one of the evening's highlights. Cott milks every note of "Maria," both vocally and emotionally. In that moment, it was easy to see the character's infatuation with the young woman he had just met and also to see Cott's vocal prowess on display. Bennett has an angelic voice, as she floats into each and every one of Maria's high notes. Her singing voice also possesses a powerful maturity and command. Acting-wise, Bennett's performance grows stronger over the course of the show, culminating in her stunning delivery of Maria's final monologue.

Steven Oxman, Chicago Sun Times: Bennett, who must be considered the breakout star of this production, possesses a clarion soprano voice that's bigger and more immaculate than traditional musical theater but far more grounded than opera. She's the best Maria I've ever heard, and on top of that she captures the character's naïve but absolutely unwavering passion.

Jodie Jacobs, Chicago Theater and Arts: Lyric still has a thing about moving set pieces on stage using stage hands in black that make the scene transitions not quite seamless. But Peter J. Davison's set design is excellent because even though pieces of the action change from a school dance to a drug store and dress shop, the primary set of a somewhat seedy, New York City neighborhood looms in place throughout the show and coloring its action.

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: The look of this "West Side" is both retro and theatrical; it has much in common with other European or operatic stagings I've seen and has little referent in social reality. How true that was in 1957 is open to debate. Opera and big theater companies often trumpet their use of original orchestrations. But if you're watching "Oklahoma!," you can survive without them (as they are doing right now on Broadway). Same with "My Fair Lady." But not "West Side Story."

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