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This review is from: West Side Story-The New Broadway Cast Recording (Audio CD)
I've yet to see this revival of "West Side Story," but if this beautifully produced, powerfully performed album is any indication, the show is as marvelous as everyone says it is. I have to admit that I'm one of those who's taken this landmark musical for granted over the years. "Oh yes, it's 'West Side Story,' been there done that." But listening to this CD, one is reminded WHY it's become a part of all of our lives since it's debut some 40 years ago. Perhaps there have been better sung versions, but I can't recall one that's made such a strong case for this work's continued validity. Chalk it up, certainly, to the combined genius of Sondheim and Bernstein, but also, this time around, to a young, vibrant cast that seems to have been born to play these roles. Simply put, Matt Cavenaugh and Josefina Scaglione ARE Tony and Maria. Regardless of what one may think of their voices (Cavenaugh's is a tad nasal, Scaglione's a bit thin at the top), the honesty, passion and intensity of the performances cannot be denied. Some here have found their spoken dialogue unconvincing, but I find it highly effective and touching, due in great part to the authenticity of Scaglione's accent. To hear her say how she'll never joke about love again is to relive one's memories of youthful longing and the ways in which one's first love defines all others. As for the supporting cast, it's uniformly terrific. Karen Olivo, as Anita, miraculously makes as strong an impression as have her predecessors, which is saying a lot.
Of course, the new Spanish lyrics are the big news here, and while I never found them a distraction, I'm not sure they serve as great a purpose as they were meant to. (Particularly when the Sharks, in the "Tonight" quintet, still sing the word "tonight" in English.) Perhaps it has more of an impact in live performance. That said, Lin-Manuel Miranda seems to have done a terrific, if not literal, translation. (Sondheim's only demand was that Miranda retain his rhyme schemes.) When Anita sings "cabron...Americano," it actually has more impact that simply "a boy like that..." Personally, I did find Tony's singing in Spanish during the finale a trifle politically correct; it's doubtful he would know enough of the language to do a spontaneous translation as he's dying. On the other hand, the decision to have a boy soprano sing "Somewhere" is an inspired one. Like so much else on this remarkably successful recording, it demands of us that we listen with new ears. For those willing to do so, the rewards will be immense; a very moving reminder of why "West Side Story" is going to be with us for as long as its source material.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 2, 2010 2:02:45 AM PST
Anybodys is not a boy soprano; she's a tomboy who wants to be a Jet.
Posted on Aug 18, 2012 8:31:48 PM PDT
Saw the touring cast of this, not the Broadway production, but the Spanish was incredibly powerful in the show.
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