Musical on the Journey
Simona Polcarová 2. March 2004 zdroj Rovnost
After Denmark, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovenia and Italy, the West Side Story presented by the Brno Municipal Theatre directed its course to Holland and Belgium. The tour started on 22 November 2003 from Brno and will be finished on 18 April 2004. More than a hundred of performances are on the programme, e.g. in Purmerend, Terneuzen, Hoogeveen, Tilburg, Eindhoven, Veenedaal, Gent, Hengel, Almel, Roermond, and finally, in the Hague too. The performance is played with a live orchestra of sixteen members conducted by Milan Vidlák or Karel Cón (the latter conducted the premiere in Rotterdam).
West Side Story is successful in Holland not only with audiences but also with critics. It was nominated for several dramatic awards – three for performances and one for direction. Besides Stanislav Moša nominated for the direction, the Swedish actor Christopher Wollter was nominated for the part of Tony he played in the first half of the tour.
The Story of Tony and Maria Affects in English Too
It is Thursday, 26 February 2004 8 pm. The Brno musical West Side Story has a premiere in a new building of the Luxor theatre in Rotterdam. The large auditorium for 1500 spectators with the dress circle and the upper circle is sold out. The fee is 45 euros. The Czech-American ensemble will stay in the theatre until Sunday. They travel regularly two hours for their evening performances from the town of Braamt. The West Side Story well-known to the Brno audience is the same but still a bit different. It is played and sung in English, American actors prevail in the principal roles. Though the same creative team stands behind the performance, it was dressed in a more attractive coat for its journey to the west. The stage design and the costumes changed. The architect Miroslav Melena abandoned the metal structure and modelled stately but oppressive coulisses of brick houses determining the fates of heroes; the costume designer Andrea Kučerová dressed Puerto Rican girls in varicoloured dresses. Striking change happened with Anita whose soberly falling red strap dress was substituted with a red bodice with a sophisticated décolletage and a wide skirt with black flowers à la fiery Carmen. Even more tension and more space for dramatic actions can be traced in Stanislav Moša’s direction. The final tragedy is put off with the scene in the wedding saloon where Maria sings I Feel Pretty – not knowing anything yet – after the duel of Tony with her brother Bernard. The scene where Maria and Tony meet for the first time at the dancing party and the world stops for a while is of the same strength and impressiveness. The Holland audience is grateful. The lady in the row behind me is singing quietly Maria, Maria with Tony, the balcony scene and the other love songs are applauded immediately. The Czech-American cast is a good match. English is understandable and songlike and the story of prohibited love attracts and affects the audience. Vanessa Londino’s Maria is tender and nicely naive, Carolina Burdo’s Anita is lively, Sheridan Wright playing the part of Riff looks like the most American man, materialized vision of a dancer from Broadway – he is like cut out of a journal, just muscles and tendons, with the smile of eternal rebel on his attractive face. Czech colours are defended by Petr Gazdík’s (Tony) second to none velvet voice and by Alan Novotný acting the part of Chino, Maria’s rejected suitor.
“The Holland audiences are cooler than ours,” Petr Gazdík committed in the dressing room before the performance. “They rather conform to the motto Time Is Money – people applaud quickly and leave,” he added. However, he was absolutely wrong this time. After the Rotterdam premiere, the fascinated Dutchmen not only applauded but also prepared standing ovations to the actors and forced out America for the encore.
Holland Applauds Brno Actors
Luboš Mareček 1. March 2004 zdroj MF Dnes
Brno Version of West Side Story Nominated for Dramatic Awards in the Netherlands
Export of Brno musical to Western Europe? Nonsense! Notwithstanding, the Netherlanders used to top shows applaud the Brno West Side Story. Its Thursday premiere in Rotterdam received standing ovations from the arena full of one thousand five hundred people. The West Side Story presented by the Brno Municipal Theatre is well-known in the Netherlands. The Moravian version of the famous musical was nominated for a dramatic award for direction and three dramatic performances.
The musical production directed by Stanislav Moša has already been touring abroad for two months. By the middle of April, over one hundred performances will have taken place in Holland and Belgium. “Travelling is exhausting, the beautiful scenery is a satisfaction,” actor Alan Novotný says in the backstage. However, there is not much time left to admire natural beauties. Accommodation in comfortable bungalows in the border town of Braamt means two-hour journeys to the place of performance. “In Belgium, we will travel for three hours. Then, it is the most difficult to set the legs going,” Novotný laughs.
Two buses with 28 actors and equipment swallowed one hundred and fifty kilometres to arrive near one of the biggest Holland theatres in Rotterdam called New Luxor on Thursday afternoon. This huge building for one thousand and five hundred spectators hosted the Brno artists until yesterday.
English and Czech
English and Czech can be heard in the backstage corridors of the five-storey Luxor. American singers alternate the principal roles in Bernstein’s brilliant American variation of immortal love story of modern Romeo and Juliet. “It was a condition of co-producers. We did casting right on Broadway,” the director Stanislav Moša explains. His West Side Story highly appreciated in the Western Europe has already toured nine European countries, e.g. Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Italy.
The representatives of the United States speak respectfully about the Brno presentation. “It has a tension and is much pointed than those I saw at home,” Seneca Burr acting Doco says. “I got a chance in Europe and it is interesting,” Carolina Burdo from New York comments her participation.
The attractive representative of energetic Anita is not a beginner in musicals. She has toured her mother country with the musical hits such as Pomade or Chorus Line. The lively atmosphere in the backstage means the language barrier has been overcome. Of course, the dramatic story of Sharks and Jets, two disunited gangs of young men, is touring Europe in original.
The Brno musical belongs to the most expensive presentations on the programme of the Luxor Theatre. A ticket costs forty-five euros. It seems insignificant to the audience. At the first Rotterdam presentation the theatre is bursting in the seams.
“I love musical. And moreover, there is a fantastic view,” a woman promenading during a break who does not want to reveal her name says. It is fizzling like in a bee-hive in the glass four-storey foyer with a beautiful night silhouette of the biggest port in the world behind. “Do Czech play in it?” Mathilde Boeijen who came with her husband wonders.
The drama on the stage accompanied with a live orchestra of fifteen musicians is culminating. A shot can be heard. People frightened and react with a loud laugh. “It has become a rule they laugh when the shot is heard,” Petr Gazdík performing dying Tony complains for effect. The director Moša is in a huff too: “Next time, I’ll let him shot dead with an arrow!”
The Rotterdam audience is not malicious. The one-hundred-and-fifty-minute Brno production is over. One thousand five hundred applauding people are getting up to a man.
Bravo, Lovers from West Side Story!
(sto) 1. December -1 zdroj Poledník
Tremendous enthusiasm, fantastic flow of energy from the stage, everything succeeded, the reinstated company plays up to stop, marvellous choreography, excellent young people …
…The director Stanislav Moša who started bravely this extraordinary demanding project merits admiration together with the choreographer Vladimír Kloubek, scenographer Miroslav Melena, whose scene uses new technical conveniences, and first of all, with the outstanding ensemble which would surely be warmly applauded even on Broadway…
…The final long-time standing ovations, unconcealed tears of lots of moved spectators and a flood of flowers were the greatest awards for the exceptional performance.
The Real West Side...
Vladimír Čech 1. December -1 zdroj Svobodné slovo
The Real West Side Would Not Be Ashamed for Such Youthful Vitality
…Perhaps, it is not too exaggerated to designate the Brno project of West Side Story a triumph, an interest-bearing culmination of existing efforts in the field of musical …
…The ensemble put a bet on the youth and hard work – and the result is absolutely persuasive and impressive. The hard work brought a victory shaped with top professionalism, youthful vitality and sparkling zest of all performers …
…All the actors deserve utmost appreciation for their singing. The best are the passages where emotions, expressiveness, dramatic accent and romantic enthusiasm obtain a hearing …
…The interest in tickets is just exceptional. By right. The Brno West Side Story merits the highest number of absolutely sold-out performances …”
What Does the Musical Stage Offer to an Audience?
Zdeněk Srna 1. December -1 zdroj Rovnost
It offers the strength, intensity, zealousness, vigour and the talent of the youngest generation … The stage as well as the auditorium break in seams, a crazy rate of dancing scenes and a certain lack of refinement accompany the further success of the Brno Municipal Theatre.
The Bet on the Youth Paid Off
Jaroslav Kříženecký 1. December -1 zdroj Express Praha
…The Brno presentation radiates apparent enthusiasm and desire of young actors, guests and students of conservatory chosen in the audition to handle the play full of very strenuous movement and singing …
Striking West Side Story Dominated Brno
Radmila Hrdinová 1. December -1 zdroj Právo
…The most impressive experience of the Brno West Side Story is a view of almost forty young people … Since the beginning, the presentation has a sharp, dynamic pace maintained throughout the whole performance by perfectly matched gangs of Jets and Sharks … It may be said that the Brno West Side Story is a performance deserved warm acceptance – mainly because of the great enthusiasm of young people...
Speedily through the Moravian Theatres
Richard Guryča 1. December -1 zdroj Svět a divadlo
…West Side in the Brno Municipal Theatre is an uncontested crowd-puller. The performances are sold out for a long time ahead, spectators call Bravo! spontaneously, applaud stormily all the performances. Even experienced newspaper reviewers exuberate in emotions …
Young and Wild West Side Story
Radka Tesárková 1. December -1 zdroj Slovo
… The director Stanislav Moša managed to create an excellent presentation with ideas and jokes which are simple and purposive. He also managed to choose the right performers of title and side parts as for their types and ages. The Jets and the Sharks are charged with energy and are never “off”. In comparison with the established usage, Moša solves some situations in a different way …
The Municipal Theatre – a Long Distance Runner
J. P. Kříž 1. December -1 zdroj Český týdeník
…The director Stanislav Moša touched boldly the treasure of the genre, i.e. the famous musical by A. Laurents, L. Bernstein and S. Sondheim. The three premieres of the last February weekend took all (me too) who doubted of the existing Moša’s musical projects (Midsummer Nights’ Dreams, The Bastard, The Legend) aback… The Brno West Side Story fascinates with burning enthusiasm of the whole ensemble … The boldly rejuvenating team of the Brno Municipal Theatre hit the mark … When somebody will try a musical somewhere (mainly in Prague), let him make a detour across Brno. Poor singers without an ear for music and dancing bumpkins sniffing around cheap success may be discouraged of similar ideas if they are able to realize how much hard work is necessary for a real musical. The delicacy for an audience means a lot of work. This time, I take off my hat and kneel in front of the Brno Municipal Theatre.