Review: West Side Story

I was at the opening night of STAGES' production of the classic West Side Story last September 5, 2008 at the Meralco Theater in  Pasig City and it was definitely a packed house. I guess people were highly anticipating how pop star Christian Bautista and West End star Joanna Ampil will fare in this production.

The Good: The stage design was awesome! The design took advantage of the thrater's big stage and the production had two big buildings that represented the territories of the two warring American and Puerto Rican gangs featured in the story. (Trivia: West Side Story is based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet). The next good thing about the show was Joanna Ampil. She showed her stage singin and acting chops and seemed comfortable busting out the Latino accent to portray Maria, the lovelorn Puerto Rican immigrant. Another show stealer: Pam G as Anita. (Hmmm... seems like the Puerto Rican group got the good stuff)

The Bad: Christian Bautista's performance as Tony really looked bad against Joanna Ampil's stellar execution that evening. His singing was still switched to "pop music mode" and he still seemed lost on stage. Another thing, the dancing of the whole cast still needed some polish as there wer

The Ugly: The show was hounded by unforgivable technical problems, particularly in the sound department. It was either a non-working microphone, or a booming static sound that really distracted me from enjoying the play to the fullest. The whole evening, I was expecting some technical malfunction from everyone in the cast.

At the end of the play, the show's executive producer and theater veteran Audie Gemora gave thanks to the audience and shared to the audience that the show almost did not push through because they were having a hard time looking for talent-- particularly young actors and actresses who can dance, sing and act. But despite the challenges, he was proud that the production went ahead.

The West Side Story production was really admirable, with Joanna Ampil giving me my ticket's worth, but the glaring technical glitches ultimately ruined it for me. I hope the next shows will be better off.

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