The all-South African production of “West Side Story” will be presented by Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre at the Mandela Theatre (Joburg Theatre) from January 24. “West Side Story” ended its run at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town last year, and was the Fugard Theatre’s first out-of-house production, five years after the theatre’s official launch in 2010.
“West Side Story” - the musical theatre production by Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim - is based on an original conception of Jerome Robbins and is one of the world’s great musicals. The creative team is headed by Matthew Wild as director, Charl-Johan Lingjnfelder as musical director and conductor, and choreographer Louisa Talbot.
The production first premiered on Broadway in New York in 1957. Now, a local cast of 40 is backed by a full philharmonic orchestra playing Bernstein's score that includes iconic songs such as "Something’s Coming", “Maria”, "I Feel Pretty” and “Tonight”.
Reprising their roles as Tony, Maria and Bernardo respectively, will be Fleur du Cap Theatre Award winners Jonathan Roxmouth as Tony and Lynelle Kenned as Maria and Christopher Jaftha as Bernardo. Sharing the title role once more with Lynelle will be the London-based actress and opera singer Filipa van Eck who will perform the role of Maria once a week. Bianca le Grange returns to reprise her role of Anita.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the tale is set in the Upper West Side neighbourhood in New York City in the mid-1950s. The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two street gangs of different backgrounds. The members of the Sharks are taunted by the Jets. The young protagonist, Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and the focus on social conflict marked a turning point in American musical theatre.
The season will run to March 5 and tickets are on sale through 021 461 4554, Computicket, 08619158000 or from the Joburg Theatre directly. The producers recommend an age restriction of 12 years with parental guidance.