West Side Story. Bo’ness Academy.


Let’s be brutally honest to start with.

High School musicals seldom fill the audience with a great deal of enthusiasm.  Not least if, as an audience member, your kids aren’t even in it.

But West Side Story is the greatest musical ever written so it just, just might have the chance of being a good experience.

My cousin’s son was playing Tony in Bo’ness Academy’s production and we thought it might be worth the risk on a quiet work day (with the prospect of the World Cup evening matches to console us if our optimism proved unfounded).

And so we set off for West Lothian in 26 degree summer heat for the Tuesday matinee.

We were not to be disappointed.

All expectations were exceeded in this scintillating production in which the school drama and music teachers must take the first bow for managing, and excellently choreographing, what looked like a 90 strong cast.

Daniel Johnston, my aforementioned relative, was stunning as Tony.  Even with a sore throat he caught many of those high notes with a flourish.  His Maria, played today by Erin Smith, (there are two that alternate) was delightful and well cast (appropriately pretty in fact for her act two opener).

Anita (this afternoon performed by Kirsten Miller) rocked the very foundations of the school with her brassy, bold magnificent performance.  In fact all of the girls’ Puerto Rican accents were excellent throughout. And their rendition of America was magic.

The Jets ensemble (especially Riff played by Robert Grant – I think) were universally excellent and the mass chorus ranks, when put to use delivered with aplomb.

This is a great show.  An absolute credit to the school and makes me think it must be a great place to have been educated.  One up for the state sector and proof that with the right support and some talented teachers anything is possible.  A particular shout out must go to the excellent band.





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