Words: Belinda Mountain | Images: Jesse Kramer & Daniel Rutland Manners

West Side Story was a huge success when it last showed in Cape Town in 2015, and due to overwhelming demand, is now back on our stages and will run until 22 April at the Artscape Theatre.

Produced by Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre, the much-loved musical, which fuses music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, retells the classic story of Romeo and Juliet but is set in New York City’s Upper West Side in the ’50s.

The love story of Tony and Maria is played out between two fighting street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, and you can expect all those beloved songs such as “I Feel Pretty” and “Tonight”. The Fugard Theatre’s executive director Daniel Galloway says there are many reasons why the show has been such a hit here. “West Side Story is one of the most popular musicals ever written and has been performed the world over for decades. Sensational music and lyrics and universal themes resonate for us in South Africa right now. Issues of otherness, separation, acceptance, love against all the odds – it’s against this backdrop that audiences get to escape and reflect.”

The outstanding Lynelle Kenned is once again playing Maria, a role that won her the Fleur du Cap award for Best Actress in a Musical in 2016. Tony, the leader of the Jets gang, is played by American-born Kevin Hack, who’s performed the role almost 400 times (he’s also been in Les Miserables, Sweeney Todd and The Civil War).

Other principal cast members include Bianca Le Grange as Anita, Stephen Jubber as Riff and Sven-Eric Muller as Diesel. “Performing in West Side Story with an orchestra under your feet playing some of the best music ever written for a musical, plus the fact that it’s a show that marries song and dance to an emotional story, is hard as hell and amazing at the same time,” says Stephen on why he loves being part of the show.

West Side Story brings together the same award-winning creative team behind other excellent Fugard Theatre productions such as The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret and Funny Girl. With a full orchestra and an outstanding cast, West Side Story has a certain explosive energy that Capetonians will get to enjoy once more.

For more information on the West Side Story production, you can phone 021 421 7695 or visit the website.