Canberra to host West Side Story this October

WSS Todd Jacobsson & Sophie Salvesani - photo by Jeff BusbyOpera Australia, GWB Entertainment and BB Group have announced that Canberra will feature in the upcoming Australian tour of West Side Story at the Canberra Theatre Centre this October.

“Securing West Side Story is a fantastic result for our city,” said ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA. “The people of Canberra and the surrounding region love a good musical, as demonstrated by the outstanding success of previous productions, so it is really pleasing to see the nation’s capital increasingly recognised as a major player in the live touring circuit.”

A modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in a New York City enveloped by bitter tension between two teenage gangs: the Jets, self-styled “Americans” [led by Riff], and the Sharks, a group of young Puerto Ricans [led by Bernardo] and remains as important and relevant today as it was when it was first created.

When the original Broadway production of West Side Story opened in 1957, musical theatre changed forever. The genius of its four creators, a remarkable collaboration between composer Leonard Bernstein, author Arthur Laurents, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and choreographer Jerome Robbins, produced a timeless masterpiece whose thrilling unity of music, dance, book and lyrics has been rarely matched since.

A former pupil of Jerome Robbins, director and choreographer Joey McKneely’s vibrant staging of West Side Story has received world-wide acclaim since its premiere at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre. McKneely is a two-time Tony Award-nominated choreographer whose Broadway credits include Smokey Joe’s Café, The Life, Twelfth Night, The Wild Party and The Boy From Oz.

The all Australian cast of 33 features a dynamic mix of established performers alongside some of Australia’s most exciting emerging talent in this celebrated production. The production features Todd Jacobsson as Tony, Sophie Salvesani as Maria, Chloe Zuel as Anita, Noah Mullins as Riff, Lyndon Watts as Bernardo, Ritchie Singer as Doc, Paul Dawber as Lt. Schrank, Dean Vince as Officer Krupke and Paul Hanlon as Glad Hand.

The Jets ensemble will include Joshua Taylor, Nicholas Collins, Christian Ambesi, Nathan Pavey, Blake Tuke, Sebastien Golenko, Molly Bugeja, Joseph Donovan with Natasha O’Hehir, Angelica Di Clemente, Taylah Small and Sarah Dimas. The Sharks ensemble will feature Anthony Garcia, Keanu Gonzalez, Daniel Assetta, Matt Antonucci, Jason Yang-Westland, Brady Kitchingham, Daniel Wijngaarden with Zoe Ioannou, Olivia Carniato, Nikki Croker, Amba Fewster and Ariana Mazzeo.

“We are thrilled to announce Canberra as the next city to have blockbuster production opening on 10 October – a time of year that couldn’t be better for Canberra with FLORIADE in full bloom and one the world’s most iconic musicals set to play Canberra Theatre Centre,” said Alex Budd from Opera Australia.

West Side Story plays a strictly limited season at the Arts Centre Melbourne (6 – 28 April) , Sydney Opera House (16 August – 6 October) and Canberra Theatre Centre (10 – 27 October). For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Todd Jacobsson and Sophie Salvesani – photo by Jeff Busby

Note: This production of West Side Story will also play in Wellington from 6 June and embark on a tour of Germany from 25 June 2019.