BERNSTEIN, Sondheim and Laurents: it’s a powerful enough combination that any production of West Side Story, now 50 years old, should be a crowd-pleaser. But despite the packed audience at the Wycombe Swan on Tuesday night, there was something sadly lacking from this Shakespeare-inspired love story.

The premise is simple enough: Puerto Rican girl Maria meets all-American boy Tony, and like a modern-day version of Romeo and Juliet, they defy racial hatred and fall in love. But rival street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, cause another fate to be in store for these star-crossed lovers.

The resonance to today’s society was strong: hatred caused by the colour of skin, knife crime, warring gangs and needless killings, which all proved that West Side Story’s message is just as powerful as when it was originally written half a century ago.

And credit where credit is due. Jerome Robbins’ choreography has stood the test of time and was excellently performed by the company. America and Gee, Officer Krupke were the stand-out routines and immensely enjoyed by the audience.

But it’s thumbs down unfortunately for the set design, which is perhaps too clever for its own good. Moving and rotating metal exteriors of New York apartments are perfect for setting the scene, but if you were among the unfortunates sat in the upper circle, it was almost impossible at times to fully see the actors (a massive faux-pas to occur just before the critical fight scene).

Sofia Escobar shone as a powerful, feisty Maria, but her powerful vocal talents were sadly not matched by Daniel Koek as Tony. His performance was sweet and endearing enough, but as a duet, I felt Tony and Maria did not blend well.

In contrast, Jayde Westaby as Anita, gave a fine performance and never failed to keep the audience entertained.

The show’s finale also proved memorable, but unfortunately not for the right reasons. One being the overloud gun-shot, which had the audience literally jumping out of their seats, before descending into laughter (not a good thing to occur just before the most poignant part of the show). The second being a mobile phone going off just as Tony and Maria were saying their goodbyes. But the company remained professional and managed to overcome these unwanted distractions.

All in all, a faithful reproduction of a classic musical. But with ticket prices much higher than we have come to expect at the Wycombe Swan (£33.50 to £39.50), West Side Story sadly fell below my expectations.

West Side Story continues at the Wycombe Swan until Saturday, March 7.