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West Side Story Uk Tour Cast Announced


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#41 sam22

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 11:56 AM

If anyone is interested I just did a quick wikpedia search to see if many actresses who have played Anita & Maria have been PR/latino.

Chita Rivera - father was Puerto Rican
Josie de Guzman - Puerto Rican descent
Josefina Scaglione - Argentinian
Karen Olivo - Puerto Rican and Native American descent
Julia Migenes - Greek and Irish-Puerto Rican descent.


#42 BurlyBeaR

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 05:42 PM

Just booked for this in Manchester. Surprised to see so many good tickets still available considering how well known it is, and the "Christmas treat" factor.

#43 bickypeg

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:39 PM

Well it's not long since it toured and there was a brilliant am dram version at Leeds a little while ago?

#44 M George

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 07:23 AM

View PostBurlyBeaR, on 24 August 2013 - 05:42 PM, said:

Just booked for this in Manchester. Surprised to see so many good tickets still available considering how well known it is, and the "Christmas treat" factor.

It'll pick up during the autumn.  Slap bang in the middle of summer isn't a great time for ticket sales.
I won't be called a baggage!

#45 musicals fan

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 06:55 AM

I strongly recommend this musical. It contains some of the strongest singing and by a very long way the best dancing that I have ever seen in this show, with a wonderful young cast.  Not a weak link anywhere. I did see the London production - the touring show has a different cast I think.

On the question of ethnicity, according to wikipedia Puerto Rico's poulation is 75% white and that proportion was roughly maintained in the London show.

I dread full ethnic and / or national casting - Hamlet cast for Danes only? Macbeth for Scottish actors only?  Opera still blithely ignores ethnic considerations and concentrates on singing and star quality thank goodness. Drama is meant to be Universal and say something about the human condition - not propaganda for any particular brand of politics.

#46 mrkringas

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 08:07 AM

*sigh*

No one ever suggests that only Danes are cast as Hamlet. Although not that the audience would know as the Danes like us are overwhelmingly caucasian.

The issue is specifically around black and ethnic minority roles. It is an issue because although some theatre laudably embraces colour blind casting, all too often there are vastly fewer opportunities.

So when productions that are strongly associated with BME roles come around and find those roles cast elsewhere then it is regrettable. It is an issue because last time I checked we still live in a society dominated by white, male privilege but I guess people just want a good time and not to be challenged by the theatre.

God bless the Young Vic, NT and others in the subsidised sector. Some theatres that understand that its a problem if their audience looks nothing like London as is and not as was a hundred years ago.

Slightly off-topic for West Side Story but someone had to burn those straw men arguments!

#47 Cactus

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 09:34 AM

Thanks, mrkringas, those were my thoughts, too.

View Postmusicals fan, on 15 September 2013 - 06:55 AM, said:

I dread full ethnic and / or national casting - Hamlet cast for Danes only? Macbeth for Scottish actors only?  Opera still blithely ignores ethnic considerations and concentrates on singing and star quality thank goodness. Drama is meant to be Universal and say something about the human condition - not propaganda for any particular brand of politics.
Yes, drama is meant to be universal. And not just limited to white performers who even get to play roles that were not written for them. I don't understand why you would dread full ethnic casting when it is done right. Plus, the issues we raised were not so much with the London cast but rather with the casting for the upcoming tour.

#48 bickypeg

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 11:33 AM

View PostCactus, on 15 September 2013 - 09:34 AM, said:

Thanks, mrkringas, those were my thoughts, too.

Yes, drama is meant to be universal. And not just limited to white performers who even get to play roles that were not written for them. I don't understand why you would dread full ethnic casting when it is done right. Plus, the issues we raised were not so much with the London cast but rather with the casting for the upcoming tour.
I also remember all the fuss on these forums when Alexia Khadime was cast as Eponine.They didn't like a black girl playing a white role.But they also don't like Latinos in West Side Story or Vietnamese in Miss Saigon?

#49 DeNada

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 12:01 PM

All people of all races should be able to play any role regardless of ethnicity as long as there is a strong justification for it and the rest of the production supports it - particularly when ethnicity is an important component.

A black actor playing Grandfather in Ragtime in an otherwise traditionally cast production = an idea that didn't really work (sorry, Tim Sheader).  A white Othello should, in my opinion, be contrasted in some way with the other characters - not necessarily with a black Desdemona/Iago/whatever, but there has to be something that sets him aside IMO. If you're dead set on having an actor of an ethnicity that doesn't match that of the text, the director needs a damn good justification for it.

A black Eponine matters in absolutely no way to the rest of Les Mis.  But a white Nabalungi would to Book of Mormon.

West Side Story is a tricky one, though.  Puerto Ricans are generally Caucasian and from a theatrical point of view it's almost impossible to distinguish between them and the Jets save through a hammy cod-Hispanic accent in many productions.

Katie Hall will probably wear a wig/dye her hair, and her beautiful soprano will undoubtedly do the score justice.  I don't know the young soprano "market" very well - who else would you guys suggest for the role that looks more Puerto Rican?

#50 djp

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 05:11 PM

View Postmrkringas, on 15 September 2013 - 08:07 AM, said:

*sigh*

No one ever suggests that only Danes are cast as Hamlet. Although not that the audience would know as the Danes like us are overwhelmingly caucasian.

The issue is specifically around black and ethnic minority roles. It is an issue because although some theatre laudably embraces colour blind casting, all too often there are vastly fewer opportunities.

So when productions that are strongly associated with BME roles come around and find those roles cast elsewhere then it is regrettable. It is an issue because last time I checked we still live in a society dominated by white, male privilege but I guess people just want a good time and not to be challenged by the theatre.

God bless the Young Vic, NT and others in the subsidised sector. Some theatres that understand that its a problem if their audience looks nothing like London as is and not as was a hundred years ago.

Slightly off-topic for West Side Story but someone had to burn those straw men arguments!

in this case it looks an untenable argument, and one sided special pleading . The show needs someone to provide some vocal highs. There are probably no Puerto Rican musical theatre singers in the country. There's certainly almost certainly no young top -  hispanic,  let alone Puerto Rican- sopranos who can sing the score - let alone well enough to sustain a tour. The idea that someone who looks remotely hispanic will do,  is itself offensively racist, and it would still mean having someone who wasn't best going to sing or act  the score.

Its difficult to argue that  there's a relative shortage of roles for some ethnic minority performers at the moment - there's at least 5  current or recent musicals that effectively exclude  actors of all but one colour from their  leading roles. Its in the interests of all the other minorities  that as many  of the roles as possible  continue to go to the best person for the job. There's 's otherise going to be very few roles otherwise  for actors of Polish, Afghan, Arab , Spanish, Chinese or Indian descent. And if you always want to reserve ethnic roles for ethnically matched  actors, the counter logic will begin to apply too,  and we would be denied some the outstanding performances that colour blind casting, and casting on merit provides.

Its also nonsensical to suggest that having one token hispanic solves any issue that the gang is meant to be Puerto Rican. It would be - and look, silly tokenism. The chances of finding a gang of UK based Puerto Ricans who can dance, or sing, Westside Story are not great. One lead who can't sing the score,  in a group of racially blind cast dancers from anywhere, from Musselborough to Middlesborough to Milan, Monmouth or Melbourne, would be a ridiculous solution.

There is no problem here thats not found in a high percentage of musicals. Things just are messy - with some roles being reserved for some ethnic minorities because they can be,  and an increasing number are cast blind. People daily pretend to come from Texas, Kansas, California or Germany in all sorts of musicals. We don't have Californian Elle's or French Piaf's, or German Emcees, or even any Vietnamese in Miss Saigon,   and we don't have Swedish Hedda's or  Chinese actors , let alone people from Sichuan,   in  The Good  Person Of Sichuan unless they happen to be the best available.  Even when roles are cast ethnically,  they often end up being done in a superficial, racist, way with West Africans playing East Africans and vice versa , or Phillipinos playing Vietnamese.

The task with Westside Story is to provide the vocal and dancing highs,  while picking people who can play a unified looking,  distinct gang. As you can't cast gangs who all look the same, thats down to the acting.  I thought the US cast, which had a lot of hispanic members, didn't look tough or menacing enough to be  gang members,  and the two gangs looked more like one  dance troupe than two warring gangs.  Thats partly inherent in sticking to the original choregraphy and script, and partly how well tts acted,  and how well its dancers can act.




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