Review: West Side Story, Whitley Bay Playhouse

WEST SIDE STORY ... the Day 8 Productions version is a cut above your average am-dram show.
WEST SIDE STORY ... the Day 8 Productions version is a cut above your average am-dram show.

WHITLEY Bay-based Day 8 Productions say they aim to “professionalise” amateur theatre, and judging by this version of West Side Story they are on track to reach that aim.

This was the company’s seventh production, but the first one I had seen.

And while it would be a stretch to say you couldn’t tell the actors were not professionals – they were far from the level of some of the am-dram performances I have seen in the past and was frankly expecting this time.

Graham Lindup and Ellie Roxburgh excelled as the ill-fated lovers Tony and Maria, ably supported by their Jets and Sharks, while the choreography was equally as impressive on some exhausting dance routines.

West Side Story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Day 8 was awarded funding for the show from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages scheme, which gives out cash to amateurs.

And on this evidence it was money well spent.

A good cast picked on merit through open auditions rather than just because they are Day 8 members, a superb 12-piece orchestra, and an iconic story which is still relevant today as it was when the original West Side Story was conceived in the late 50s and indeed when Shakespeare first scripted it more than 400 years ago.

* West Side Story runs until Saturday. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 277 2771, or visit www.playhousewhitleybay.co.uk