After reviewing over a thousand applicants and holding enough rounds of auditions to make even Simon Cowell feel bleary-eyed, the cast for Birmingham Hippodrome’s home-grown youth production of West Side Story was chosen. As part of their 120th b’day celebs, the Hipp have created a dynamic reimagining of the Romeo & Juliet tale with a cast of young locals.
Set in 1950s New York City, the story centres around feuding communities—the American ‘Jets’ and Puerto Rican ‘Sharks’—and, you guessed it, Tony and Maria fall in love despite being on opposite sides of the rivalry.
The Shakespearean story remains as relevant in 2019 as it was in 1957 when the musical first hit Broadway, and indeed way back when Ol' Will released R&J in 1595. Personally, I managed to avoid any turf wars during my teen years, but the main themes of love and the folly of youth are universal. Everything is new and intense and exciting, so Tony and Maria end up doing foolish things that only the impulsivity of youth can explain. Kids eh?
The decision to bring in a young cast for this shiny new production is a master stroke. The show promises to be full of energy, excitement and bad decisions. And all the drama unfolds to arguably one of the best musical soundtracks evurrr, including classics like Tonight, I Feel Pretty and America. Singing along is probably frowned upon but no judgment here.
West Side Story is on Aug 29-31. Tickets here.