West Side Story, Ulster Operatic Company, Belfast’s Grand Opera House, May 10, 2022, Theatre Review

By Conor O’Neill

First things first, I hate Shakespeare. Everything I’ve read by the man bored me stupid. Every play I’ve seen did the same. So I arrive at the GOH with a negative attitude. But, and it’s a massive one, I do love musicals. I’ve been at a few Ulster Operatic Company’s productions and to call them amateur is sacrilege. Paid professionals they might not be, but talented they are.

Simple story, well told. Boy meets girl, opposing gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, racially motivated hatred and a slab of well sung songs, and to choreographer Ann Marie Morgan’s delight a job well done. At times there’s 50 on stage, each giving it their all with a triumphant orchestra matching their every move.

The thing we’ve got to understand here is that the people on stage are either on their way up or have settled down and were once pros and now having the time of their life being in musical theatre with nothing left to prove.

A quick nosy through the collective CVs reveals a host of talent that runs from the West End to film and beyond.

And to bring the Bard to life are some great tunes: Something’s Coming, America, The Rumble pepper the first act, which I found 20 minutes too long. Apart from that the second act flew in as the plot approached its climax. The resounding force of nature that is I Feel Pretty led by Maria – Lucia McLaughlin – is a heart stopper. The direction under the watchful eye of Tony Finnegan is a joy.

Have I enthused enough?

To get this show under your nose simply visit http://www.goh.co.uk or phone the box office on 02890 241919

West Side Story runs up to and including May 14th, 2022.


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