Arts / ‘West Side Story’ comes to town

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At the ‘West Side Story’ launch from left… Andrew Barr, Richelle Brookman, Alex Budd, Gill Hugonnet and Gordon Ramsay.

“THE number one greatest musical of all time” is how “The Times” in London described “West Side story”, and now it’s coming to the ACT as the Canberra Theatre’s blockbuster musical for 2019.

Famous as Leonard Bernstein’s 20th century musical take on the Romeo and Juliet story, it’s been given a 21st-century makeover, although the ethnic struggles it portrays are (the producers say) just as relevant as ever today.

Canberrans have been waiting on news of the choice for some months, after an abortive attempt to bring “Jersey Boys” to town. The good news was revealed this morning by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

It’s not the same show as the one opening for Handa Opera on the Harbour in March – that will be an Opera Australia original – but it does involve the flagship opera company, as Canberra-raised executive producer Alex Budd explained this morning.

This one, directed by Joey McKneely is based on, but not a copy of, the original 1957 “West Side Story”. It’s been on the road for 10 years after playing in Melbourne during April and May, it will travel to New Zealand and Germany before returning to Sydney and then Canberra.

Supported by the ACT government through its “Major Events Fund” to the tune of $100,000 it is, Chief Minister Barr says: “A fantastic result for our city… the people of Canberra and the surrounding region love a good musical… so it is really pleasing to see the nation’s capital increasingly recognised as a major player in the live touring circuit.”

Richelle Brookman, director of the producing company GWB said: “It is a thrill to be able to bring this to Canberra in all its glory.”

Budd said, it would open on October 10, “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”.

As for that production on the harbour, he told “CityNews”, they’re calling that one “Outside Story”. Ours will be, of course, the “Inside Story”.

West Side Story, Canberra Theatre, October 10-27. Bookings to or 6275 2700.


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