West Side Story Cast Announced
Opera Australia, GWB Entertainment and BB Group have announced the principal cast for the upcoming Australian production of West Side Story.
The cast will feature some Todd Jacobsson (Book Of Mormon) as Tony, Sophie Salvesani as Maria, Chloe Zuel as Anita, Noah Mullins as Riff, and Lyndon Watts as Bernardo.
Todd Jacobsson said, “I can’t believe I get to play one of the most iconic roles in musical theatre! It really is a dream come true to be a part of such a beloved show all around the world. “
Sophie Salvesani said “West Side Storywas the first show I ever performed in, so it still feels almost unimaginable, but immensely exciting to make my professional debut as Maria in a production that will play in two of Australia’s most prestigious venues.”
A modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Storyis set in a New York City enveloped by bitter tension between two teenage gangs: the Jets, self-styled “Americans” [led by Riff], and the Sharks, a group of young Puerto Ricans [led by Bernardo] and remains as important and relevant today as it was when it was first created.
When the original Broadway production of West Side Story opened in 1957, musical theatre changed forever. The genius of its four creators, a remarkable collaboration between composer Leonard Bernstein, author Arthur Laurents, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and choreographer Jerome Robbins, produced a timeless masterpiece whose thrilling unity of music, dance, book and lyrics has been rarely matched since.
Director and choreographer Joey McKneely, a former pupil of Jerome Robbins, said he was blown away by the Australian talent during auditions.
“After an exhaustive search, I am so pleased to have found these amazingly talented young artists to play these career-defining roles. Each one possess such extraordinary naturalism in their acting, that it was captivating to watch them embody these characters. I cannot wait to bring their thrilling performances to Melbourne and Sydney stages,” said McKneely.
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. We are honoured to be providing the platform for showcasing the talents of these rising stars of Australia.”
While Torben Brookman, director of GWB Entertainment said, “Casting this production of West Side Story has been a thrilling process, the excitement and energy in the room was palpable and the cast that has been assembled are the most exciting young performers from across the country.”
West Side Story will play at the Arts Centre Melbourne in April 2019, and Sydney Opera House from August 2019.
Arts Centre Melbourne
6 – 28 April 2019
Sydney Opera House
16 August – 6 October 2019
Director & Choreographer Joey McKneely | Musical Supervisor Donald Chan | Set Designer
Paul Gallis | Costume Designer Renate Schmitzer | Make-up Designer Hannelore Uhrmacher | Sound Designer Matt Grounds | Lighting Designer Peter Halbsgut
Image: Todd Jacobsson & Sophie Salvesani. Photographer: Jeff Busby