In 1992, the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, England, mounted a well-received production of West Side Story. That's Entertainment Records (TER), in the process of recording a series of "complete" versions of stage musicals, used members of the cast with some substitutions in a studio recording of the score made in February 1993. It was released initially by TER and reissued by Jay Records in 1997, both in the U.K. In the U.S., discount label Madacy licensed a 12-song abridged version in 1995 that was reissued on Jay's Curtain Call subsidiary in 2000. By cutting the score down to the essential songs, the abridgment eliminates the chief advantage that the full version had over other recordings, that it contained so much of the show's dance music, underscoring, and dialogue. The youthful British cast is lively, but uneven. In particular, the male choral numbers ("Jet Song," "Gee, Officer Krupke") reveal exaggerated, inconsistent accents that Americans will find unconvincing. Tinuke Olfafimihan as the female lead Maria has a near-operatic range that she uses well, but she often sounds like she's in a different show from the rest of the singers. Still, this recording offers competent performances of the major songs from West Side Story at an inexpensive price.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann