Fifty years after it made its UK debut, West Side Story, the Broadway classic that “changed the face of musical theatre forever”, returned to the London stage last night (24 July 2008, previews from 22 July), opening at Sadler’s Wells where it continues for a limited season until 31 August 2008 ahead of an extensive UK-wide tour.

In the gangland New York reworking of Shakespeare\'s Romeo and Juliet, Tony, founder of the native Jets, falls in love with Maria, sister of the Puerto Rican Sharks\' leader. The two young lovers are swiftly caught up in a vicious battle between the opposing sides. The musical features a now-classic score with songs such as \"America\", \"Somewhere\", \"Officer Krupke\", \"I Feel Pretty\", \"Tonight\" and \"Maria\".

West Side Story has a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The 50th anniversary revival, as with all professional productions since the 1957 Broadway premiere, is based on the original direction and choreography of Jerome Robbins. It’s directed by Joey McKneely and designed by Paul Gallis, with costumes by Renate Schmitzer, sound by Rick Clarke, lighting by Peter Halbsgut and musical supervision by Donald Chan.

PLAYBACK OF THE WEST SIDE STORY OPENING NIGHT TV FOOTAGE
SHOULD BEGIN AUTOMATICALLY. IF NOT, JUST CLICK THE \"PLAY\" BUTTON AT
THE BOTTOM-LEFT OF THE TV SCREEN BELOW.


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For Whatsonstage.com TV, interviewer Roger Foss and director Sean James Cameron were on hand at Sadler’s Wells for the West Side Story curtain call and the post-show party. Amongst our TV interviewees are director Joey McKneely, cast members Ryan Silverman (Tony), Sofia Escobar (Maria) and Lana Gordon (Anita) as well as first night guests including Richard O\'Brien and Jodie Prenger.

After its Broadway success, West Side Story was also famously made into a 1961 Hollywood film, which starred Natalie Wood and won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The stage original was revived in the West End in 1998/99, running first at the Prince Edward Theatre before transferring to the Prince of Wales.

- by Terri Paddock