I wasn’t too sure what to expect from my experience meeting the cast and crew during rehearsals late last week. All I was thinking of (on what seemed to be the longest walk of my life to Thornlea) was how overcome with emotion I felt watching the West Side Story Broadway show earlier this year. Bernstein’s masterpiece sheds light on ethnic gang wars that disturbed New York City in the fifties. As any hopelessly immortal love story goes, the play’s main two characters belong to polar-opposite families and struggle to proclaim their love for one another. Not only is West Side Story known to shed a quite accurate light on the dark and frightening street politics of the cities vengeful ethnic groups, but it also carries the theme out through incredible choreography and song.
I didn’t realise how big Footlight’s production was going to be until I attended the rehearsal. Footlight’s is Exeter University’s biggest musical theatre societies, and has a reputation for producing ambitious and professional-grade musical productions. Some of you may already be familiar with their previous productions, such as Copacabana last year. With actors and actresses coming in from a range of different degrees (yes, you don’t have to do drama to audition for a play), I felt their collective passion seep through their acting as it was clear that they felt a connection with their characters and have even mastered the New York accent.
What excites me further is Director Jordan Murphy’s raw passion and clear vision. He knows how to bring out the most in his cast, and I can certainly say that he’s on the right track. In one of his statements, Jordan said “This show is one of the greats, it is simply magnificent. I know, that with the talented cast we have, West Side Story will be the biggest show that Footlights has ever put on, I’m very proud to be a part of such an incredible team.” On that note, the production’s choreographer, Aaron McCrossan, has been on a Glee tour last year (an actual Glee tour!) and has been working very closely with the cast on big numbers such as “Cool” and “The Rumble”.
After meeting with Jordan, Footlights representatives and the cast, I am confident that this incredible team will deliver next term, as they whisk the audience away to New York on Exeter University’s Northcott Stage (which is also the venue, if I’m being too metaphorical).
The musical will be running from Wednesday the of 29th January – Saturday 1st February 2014. Ticket prices depend on seating positions (A £16.50, B £15, C £12, D £10) with an extra £1.50 off for students. Tickets can be purchased at Northcott Theatre, or can be ordered on their website (www.exeternorthcott.co.uk) or by phone (01392 493493). I am looking forward to attending the production next term, and would recommend it to all!
by Rula Hidayah