Patrick Vaccariello

West Side Story [The New Broadway Cast Recording]

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The much-anticipated 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story was notable for the decision of Arthur Laurents (the author of the show's book and the director of this production) to make it bilingual; the sections where the Puerto Ricans would have naturally spoken Spanish, such as when they are interacting independently from English-speaking characters and when the gangs are facing off, are now in Spanish. It's a bold, brilliant move and it makes complete sense for creating the most naturalistic dramatic experience. The impact is not as pronounced on the recording; only a few musical numbers, such as "I feel pretty," and "A boy like that," and some of the Sharks' scenes are changed. Those moments are genuinely effective, though, and tantalizingly suggest the production's authentic flavor. The album is beautifully produced, with excellent sound that's clean and vivid; the orchestration has rarely sounded as crisp and colorful, and the orchestra plays passionately and with appropriate abandon under Patrick Vaccariello. The soloists are particularly fine dramatically, but the leads lack the vocal discipline and sophistication of the original Broadway cast. Matt Cavenaugh's light tenor tends to have a strong vibrato and a slightly nasal quality, but he has the wide range that Tony requires, and his performance is deeply felt and affecting. As Maria, Josefina Scaglione is sweet and pure, and she has a lovely floating top, but her Spanish accent is barely noticeable, so her duets with Tony lose the impact of the characters' differentness. The singers in the secondary roles are vocally more compelling, particularly Cody Green as Riff, Karen Olivo as Anita, Curtis Holbrook as Action, Jennifer Sanchez as Consuelo, and 10-year-old Nicholas Barasch as Kiddo, a role newly created by Laurents, who sings the first two verses of "Somewhere." The chorus is especially lively, and its interjections are fun and spontaneous. The album as a whole has a strong musical and dramatic cohesion; the show seems bright and fresh, as relevant as ever, not at all dated, and more and more like a masterpiece of American music theater. Anyone who loves the musical should check out this exciting new version.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
West Side Story, musical
1 4:09 Amazon
2 2:06
3 2:27 Amazon
4 6:25 Amazon
5 3:02
6 5:34
7 4:43 Amazon
feat: Cody Green
9 4:06
10 3:41
11 3:22 Amazon
12 3:24
13 6:49 Amazon
14 4:12 Amazon
15 5:29 Amazon
16 1:05 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick