Something’s coming: West Side Story triple bill

West Side Story coming to Sydney Harbour and Melbourne


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Rita Moreno (centre) as Anita in the 1961 movie of West Side Story.

Rita Moreno (centre) as Anita in the 1961 movie of West Side Story.

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FANS of the classic Leonard Bernstein hit West Side Story are in for treat when the hit musical comes to Sydney and Melbourne

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FANS of the classic Leonard Bernstein hit West Side Story are in for a double, or even triple, treat next year.

The Broadway hit – hailed as one of the greatest musicals of all time – is being staged outdoors as part of Opera Australia’s annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour from March 22.

If an outdoor performance isn’t your cup of tea, Opera Australia will then co-stage the musical at Arts Centre Melbourne in April and Sydney Opera House from August 16.

Based on the book by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein and words by Stephen Sondheim, the musical centres on Shakespeare’s 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.

Bernstein’s world-famous score features unforgettable songs including Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, America and I Feel Pretty.

In the Handa Opera, the leading lovers will be played by Australian opera stars Julie Lea Goodwin as Maria and Alexander Lewis as Tony.

The pair most recently performed together as feisty lovers in Opera Australia’s production of The Merry Widow, and are set to bring the heat to the harbour stage in this new production.

Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini said he has always loved West Side Story.

“It’s one of the greatest pieces ever written, and I’ve been wanting to include it in the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour repertoire since we started the program seven years ago,” he said.

“The setting is perfect with the city skyline in the background –  you won’t get a better stage backdrop in the world.

“And I’ve said from the start, if a piece is right, then we’ll do it; we don’t want to be bound by preconceptions.”

The Melbourne and Sydney Opera House productions will be directed by Tony nominee Joey McKneely, who will be using all of Jerome Robbins' original Broadway choreography. The cast is yet to be announced.

West Side Story on Sydney Harbour, March 22-April 21 (ex Mondays and Good Friday). Tickets available from September 3, priced from $99. Phone (02) 9318-8200, opera.org.au/harbour

Arts Centre Melbourne, April 6-28; Sydney Opera House, August 16-October 6. Tickets: westsidestory.com.au

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