West Side Story brings new life and a fresh burst of creativity from the dynamic and energetic young cast of the classic musical, West Side Story.
Bookings are already pouring in for this September production at Noosa Arts Theatre where the cast are currently tackling six-hour choreography sessions as they carve the bolder, edgier version of this 1957 epic into the performance space.
But director Sam Coward, who has been one of the key drivers in lifting the professionalism of coast theatre, promises a fresh, engaging and memorable interpretation of this pivotal musical.
“The music is still beautiful and iconic but this is not the Broadway classic most people may remember. If you think you know West Side story, think again,” Coward said. “The whole focus for me in making art and entertainment is to give audiences a whole new experience and that is exactly what theatre, as a medium, can deliver.”
Coward’s reputation as a director has grown over the past few years, with several notable productions including Shout! The Legend of Johnny O’Keefe; La Ronde; Influence; and Erotique, which was invited to the Sydney Fringe Festival. In 1999 Sam was a producer for Jesus Christ Superstar, a modern interpretation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Classic performed in a Warehouse in Warana. Current President of the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance and Co-artistic director of XS Entertainment, Coward’s aim is to attract new audiences to the world of theatre by making edgy and challenging new works.
Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the story of West Side Story is set in the Upper West Side neighbourhood of New York City in the mid-1950s, an ethnic, blue-collar neighbourhood which was later cleared in an urban renewal project for the Lincoln Centre.
The musical focuses on the feud between two teenage street gangs, the Puerto Rican “Sharks” and the Polish-American “Jets”. When Tony goes to support the Jets at a school dance he meets Maria, the sister of the Shark’s leader, Bernardo, and falls in love. They dream of overcoming their differences, but gang violence makes it impossible for them to live happily ever after. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre.
The original 1957 Broadway production was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1957. The show had an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international productions. The play inspired the 1961 musical film of the same name, directed by Robert Wise and Robbins, starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, and Rita Moreno. The film won ten Academy Awards out of eleven nominations, including Best Picture.
Creative team: Director: Sam Coward; Assistant Director: Synda Turnbull; Musical Director: Noel Bowden; Choreographer: Stephanie Brown
Some well known actors, such as Adam Flower as Riff, Frank Wilkie as Officer Krupke, Ian Mackellar as Doc, and Stephen Moore as Lt Schrank, are supporting the emerging talent of Hayden Rodgers as Tony, Jordan Russell as Maria, and Michelle Lamarca as Anita, with a total cast of nearly 30 ready to burst forth on the Noosa Arts stage and an orchestra of 17, it’s not to be missed!