Cubana Bop plays West Side Story

Capstone Theatre
10th May 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Welcome back then amiable Terry Seabrook, last seen at this venue in his project on Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue'. Tonight it was with a different combo, sassy Cubana Bop, who performed an enjoyable enough performance of Leonard Bernstein's inspired West Side Story, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The idea was that Romeo and Juliet has been transposed to the backstreets of 1957 New York but not in the original show format here being sung on a song by song basis.

The Latin Jazz evening got under way with a rousing 'Prologue'. Seabrook on piano, Graeme Flowers trumpet, Ian Price saxophone, flute and clarinet, Davide Montavani bass, Satin Singh congas and percussion and Adam Riley on drums and timbale capturing the mood from the outset.

The show included two singers - Paul Roberts, ex-frontman of the Stranglers and a former Swingle Singer, in Jo Riley. It was Roberts who appeared first on stage in front of the packed stage. He started in miffed fashion asking if there were any 'Scousers, in the audience; in truth, as the turn-out was not that great, this was a little ungracious to those who had turned up.

Nevertheless we were up running. However it was not until 'Maria' that the male vocalist got into his stride. The backing was as vibrant as could be expected. Jo Marshall entered and 'Somewhere' was performed to sotto voce accompaniment. With 'there's a place for us , a time and a place for us' ringing in our ears it was a time to reprise a lively enough first session.

The backing continued to add textures, driving riffs and sonoroties, while bit solo-piece backing was not amiss on the well lit stage, colours shimmering off the diamante red drums and sparkling piano alike, but up front the singing never truly became electric. The titles are so well known house-hold names that the audience could not help but join in as 'Tonight' and 'America' inevitably came and went.

At the end there was a sense that this West Side Story still had more to tell, enjoyable enough as it had been, as we filed out humming our favourite tunes.

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