Published by Daily Mail
West Side Story (Royal Albert Hall)
Fifty years after its release, the MGM musical tragedy West Side Story has been digitally re-mastered on Blu-Ray and returned to… err… the Royal Albert Hall. It’s not the sort of cavernous gulf you’d naturally think of visiting for a cosy cinematic experience of romantic Romeo and Juliet themes transferred to the edgy ghettos of New York – even in high definition. But if you add in a live 90-piece orchestra and erect a screen the size of a tennis court, you’re actually onto something special.
In this techno-cinema-orchestral conjunction, the Sharks and Jets keep all their original vocals and dialogue intact, but (somehow) the musical score has been ‘scrubbed’ – completely excised. This permits the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (RPCO) to bring Bernstein’s sophisticated score to life in an exhilarating experience. While you’re listening to such legendary showstoppers as ‘America’, ‘Somewhere’, and ‘Tonight’ played live on stage, the eye is captivated by the clarity and crispness now given to Robert Wise’s seminal images and Jerome Robbins’ stunning choreography: the grainy blurs of 1961 have been transformed. It’s a celluloid icon digitalised to theatrical heights: the first meeting of Tony and Maria is especially a masterful moment of re-pixilated pizzicato. Continue reading