West Side Story to play Arts Centre Melbourne and Sydney Opera House in 2019

West Side Story - photo by Nilz Boehme and Johan PerssonOpera Australia and GWB Entertainment has announced that the acclaimed BB Group production of West Side Story will play limited seasons at Arts Centre Melbourne and Sydney Opera House in 2019.

A modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet; this tragic love story tells the tale of two young people whose happiness is destroyed by the hate of two enemy camps in New York City’s urban jungle. The ‘Jets’, sons of previous immigrants to America, battle the new arrivals from Puerto Rico, the ‘Sharks’, for domination of the streets.

“We are thrilled to be bringing this production for an eagerly awaited return to Australia,” said BB Group CEO and Producer Ralf Kokemuller. “The dramatic story, spectacular dancing and unforgettable songs have captivated theatregoers for decades and audiences in Melbourne and Sydney are going to love it!”

When the original West Side Story opened on Broadway in 1957, musical theatre changed forever as the most complex and challenging unity of music, dance, book and lyrics was realised in a way which has been rarely matched since.

The genius of its four creators, a remarkable collaboration between Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins, produced a masterpiece whose artistic quality remains unquestioned to this day.

Bernstein’s world-famous score features unforgettable songs including Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, America and I Feel Pretty, that have been universally adored for generations; proving this iconic dance musical remains one of the most poignant stage works of the twentieth century.

Now former pupil of Jerome Robbins, Joey McKneely’s vibrant award-winning production returns to Australia after world-wide acclaim. 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.

“Musicals like West Side Story only come along once in a lifetime,” said GWB Entertainment’s Torben Brookman. “This piece transformed musical theatre around the world and is as relevant today as it was when first staged. It is a privilege to be working with BB Group and Opera Australia to bring this production back to the Australian stage.”

Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini reiterated what a wonderful opportunity this will be for Australian audiences. “West Side Story is one of the greatest pieces of musical theatre ever written, which is evidenced by its continuing success around the world,” he said.

“And to have two sensational productions in Australia in 2019 continuing the Leonard Bernstein anniversary celebrations is terrific. It was an opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up.”

“We are thrilled to bring fans of musical theatre this newly announced magnificent production by Joey McKneely and on top that, we will also have a brand new production of West Side Story created for our outdoor Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour stage by some of the best designers in the business. We really saw this as delivering the best of both worlds for everyone involved.”

Audition submissions are now open to find Australia’s most exciting young talent to play dream roles in this timeless classic. For more information on the audition process or to join the waitlist for tickets, visit: www.westsidestory.com.au for details.

Image: West Side Story – photo by Nilz Boehme and Johan Persson