West Side Story — The Two Faces of West Side Story

Christian Bautista’s West Side Story is the best West Side Story to date in Manila. WSS has been shown once in every decade in Manila and this version is focused on the young generation. (Young is generally defined as <40 years old.)

You will fall in love with the romance between Tony and Maria. I’m sure everyone can relate to Tony’s struggle of loving Maria with a different cultural background. Tony is American and belongs to the Jets while Maria is Puerto Rican and belongs to the Sharks. I’m sure that the people who submitted entries to the Most Romantic and Most Tragic love story ever blogged would be able to relate.

Also, the dance fights between the sharks and jets are engaging and fun. It has a variety show production appeal with a broadway twist because they have to sing, dance, and act at the same time. I wanted to give a standing ovation to the AMERICA and GEE, OFFICER KRUPKE! dance performances.

There are three technical rehearsals before the opening night on Sept. 5, Friday. The first one was held last tuesday for the Meralco employees, last night was for the press and tonight is for ABS-CBN. Also, there are two good versions of the show, the Joanna Ampil version and the Karylle version. We watched last night’s Karylle’s version of West Side Story.

The Karylle West Side Story version is fresh and entertaining in a showbiz kind of way. What I love about her version is the chemistry between Tony and Maria. They both share the same vocal range so their voices blend perfectly well. Karylle’s and Christian Bautista’s version of TONIGHT and SOMEWHERE are memorable and you can’t help but fall in love with the characters.

Since both of them don’t have that broadway vocal range, there are times when you would feel that their voices fell short of what the song demands. But they compensate it with a loving performance that looks real. With Joanna, I’m afraid that her voice would dominate the love song duets and would ruin the loving moment. (Anybody watched Joanna Ampil’s version yet ?)

I wonder how Dingdong Dantes would feel when Christian Bautista kisses Karylle more than 3 times in West Side Story. Multiply that with the number of West Side Story shows, and…

Thanks to Gerard Salonga and the Phil Harmonic Orchestra for the lovely West Side Story Music!

Congratulations to Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo for the best West Side Story production in Manila!

I want to watch the Joanna Ampil to really see the broadway version of West Side Story Manila.


Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.

P.S. Just a tip, there is a canteen in the basement of Meralco theater if you lack time to eat outside to catch the 8pm show.

12 thoughts on “West Side Story — The Two Faces of West Side Story

  1. We were there at the first preview night (for Meralco employees). Joanna Ampil played Maria and she was really, really good. But, yes, it was a bit of a disadvantage to Christian, who was understandably more tentative. I actually thought Maria and Anita’s (Rowena Vilar) duet (A Boy Like That/I Have a Love) resonated a lot better.

  2. “I wonder how Dingdong Dantes would feel when Christian Bautista kissed Karylle more than 3 times in West Side Story.”
    showbiz chizmiz blog na rin pala ang OAP?
    hahahahahaha “,)

  3. i watched the last night’s opening night performance and yes! Joanna Ampil played Maria. I made sure i got the tickets when she’d be the one performing. She was great! Her vocal range is so way up there and yet her diction is so clear. She even maintained the accent even if the notes are so high. Yes, Christian seemed tentative at first during their duets but he got into his own rhythm in time. Added kudos to Joanna for “taking in consideration” Christian’s voice and range whenever they sing together. Rowena Vilar is another standout! Her duet with Joanna made me feel that i was watching WSS in broadway! Galing!!

  4. i watched mine today and since i heard joanna will be doing friday night i assumed karylle will be maria on saturday.
    karylle is good but im not amazed by her and christian bautistas performance. i cant understand some of the words they are saying since the notes are quite high. still…the whole musical is good.karylle and christian have chemistry and they look right for the part. better yet, i even found out one of the jets is a good friend i lost contact with. =)
    still hoping to catch joanna ampils performance though…. take 2?

  5. I saw the opening night last friday. Joanna Ampil was really good, although she has a very powerful voice, which overpowered Christian Bautista’s voice in their duets especially the first one. But it improved towards the end of the play. Everyone was so good! I loved the play so much and would want to watch it again. =D

  6. I actually thought of that when I watched last Friday. Since Christian and Joanne did not really sound very good together because of the disparity between their voice qualities, I actually thought maybe the pop voices of Christian and Karylle might sound good together.

  7. If Joanna Ampil didn’t deliver as well as she did, they play would’ve stunk big time. For one thing, I think Christian Bautista was sometimes off key and the gang members were almost too young to play their characters – some of them looked and acted as if they were kids! This made the play’s overall performance…well, sorry to say – mediocre.

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