Stellar cast announced for the Fugard Theatre’s smash hit Musical West Side Story heading to Johannesburg by overwhelming popular demand in Jan 2017.
After receiving rave reviews across the board from critics and audiences alike, Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre’s grand-scale, smash hit, all South African production of West Side Story will be presented at the Mandela Theatre (Joburg Theatre) by popular demand from 24 January 2017.
West Side Story ended a staggeringly successful, sold-out run at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town last year, and was the Fugard Theatre’s first out-of-house production, five years on from the theatre’s official launch in 2010.
Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre, the creators and producers of other outstanding runaway Fugard Theatre hits like The Rocky Horror Show, Kat & the Kings, Orpheus in Africa, Cabaret and District Six Kanala, have created a phenomenal 100% South African production on an unprecedented grand-scale that left audiences mesmerised night after night in its debut season.
West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim’s musical theatre masterpiece, is based on an original conception of Jerome Robbins and is arguably one of the world’s greatest musicals. The stellar creative team is headed by Matthew Wild (The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret, Funny Girl) as director, Charl-Johan Lingjnfelder (The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret, Funny Girl) as musical director and conductor, and choreographer Louisa Talbot (The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret, Funny Girl). The Fugard Theatre team has selected the finest South African talent for this production that first premiered on Broadway in New York in 1957. The superb cast of 40 is backed by a full Philharmonic Orchestra playing Bernstein’s magnificent score that includes iconic songs such as “Something’s Coming”, “Maria”, “I Feel Pretty” and “Tonight”.
Reprising their roles as Tony, Maria and Bernardo respectively, will be Fleur du Cap Theatre Award winners Jonathan Roxmouth (Topsy Turvy, A Handful of Keys, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Phantom of the Opera) as Tony and Lynelle Kenned (Orpheus in Africa, Showboat, The Sound of Music) as Maria and Christopher Jaftha (The Sleeping Beauty, High School Musical) as Bernardo. Sharing the title role once more with Ms. Kenned will be the London-based actress and opera singer Filipa van Eck (Carmen, L’Aggripina) who will perform the role of Maria once a week. Bianca le Grange (Blood Brothers, District Six Kanala, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) returns to reprise her role of Anita.
The Jets gang is led once again by Fleur du Cap nominee Stephen Jubber (Annie, Showboat) as Riff, backed by a superb cast that includes Daniel Buys (Cabaret, Saturday Night Fever) and Grant Almirall (Singin’ in the Rain, Jersey Boys) as Action. Mr. Buys will perform the role of Action from 24 January to 18 February 2017 and Mr. Almirall will perform the role from 19 February to 5 March 2017. Sven–Eric Müller (The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret) as Diesel, Cameron Botha (Singin’ in the Rain, Sweeney Todd) as Snowboy, Clive Gilson (Sister Act, High School Musical) as Big Deal, LJ Neilson (Sound of Music, Dirty Dancing) as Anybody’s, Elzanne Crause (A Thousand Shepherds, Queen at the Ballet, The Phantom of the Opera) as Velma, Kristin Wilson (So You Think You Can Dance, Private Presley) as Graziella, Tamryn van Houten (Private Presley) as Minnie and Caitlin Clerk (Sister Act, Showboat) as Pauline. Adrian Galley (The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret), returns as Doc. Brendan Murray (Amadeus, Romeo and Juliet) will perform the role of Krupke alternating with Richard Lothian (An Absolute Turkey, Taming of the Shrew) who will once again be the fight choreographer.
Christopher Jaftha, now a well-known Top Billing presenter, leads the Sharks as Bernardo, with Zolani Shangase (The Lion King, Orpheus in Africa) as Chino, Carlo McFarlane (Footloose- The Musical, A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits) as Pepe, Duane Williams (Honey 3, Cinderella: If the Shoe Fits) as Indio, Thami Njoko (Swan Lake) as Luis, Tevin Wiener (Honey 3) as Toro, Sabelo Radebe (Peter Pan) as Nibbles, Kirsten Rossiter (Grease, Jersey Boys) as Rosalia, Chloe Perling (The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret) as Consuela, Sarah-Ann van der Merwe (Reik Na Die Sterre) as Francisca, Natasha Hess (District Six Kanala, Orpheus in Africa) as Estella and Ipeleng Merafe (Swan Lake, A Thousand Shepherds) as Teresita. Tamryn van Houten (Private Presley, Spartacus of Africa), Sibusiso Mxosana (Spartacus of Africa, Spring and Fall), Gemma Trehearn (Iris Warriors, A Thousand Shepherds) and Nurit Graff (Dirty Dancing, Showboat) complete the talented line up of remarkable performers.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the tale is set in the Upper West Side neighbourhood in New York City in the mid-1950s. The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two street gangs of different backgrounds. The members of the Sharks are taunted by the Jets. The young protagonist, Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and the focus on social conflict marked a turning point in American musical theatre.
West Side Story is a must-see that is guaranteed to be a highlight on Johannesburg’s 2017 theatre calendar.
The season will run from 24 January to 5 March 2017 and tickets are now on sale through 021 461 4554, Computicket, 08619158000 or from the Joburg Theatre directly. Given the anticipation about this stellar musical and how the Cape Town season sold out, advance booking is highly recommended. The producers recommend an age restriction of 12 years with parental guidance. ADVANCE BOOKING IS RECOMMENDED.
What the Cape Town Media had to say:
- “…glad en ryk… Die stel is indrukwekkend…” – Die Burger, 4 stars
- “Compelling … not to be missed” – Cape Times
- “Dazzles on a visual level…spectacular…a SA success story” – Cape Argus, Tonight
- “… super sensational and ultra-spectacular……will leave you breathless… a musical experience you will never forget” – www.bizcommunity.co.za
- “…every bit as brilliant as any international production, if not better … a dazzling triumph” – Daily Maverick
- “The Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story is a tour-de-force” – LitNet
- “West Side Story is hot, hot, hot” – www.theatrescenecpt.co.za