Theatre News

New West Side Story production and Hobson's Choice feature in Royal Exchange 2019 season

A brand new production of the musical, staged in-the-round, will premiere next year

Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

The Royal Exchange in Manchester has announced its 2019 season.

A brand new production of West Side Story, with new choreography by Aletta Collins, will premiere on 6 April. Directed by the venue's artistic director Sarah Frankcom, the piece marks the first professional UK production not to use Jerome Robbins' choreography. It will be orchestrated by Tony nominee Jason Carr with design by Olivier Award-winner Anna Fleischle and lighting by Lee Curran.

First premiering in 1957, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim's musical was originally conceived, directed and choreographed by Robbins, and his choreography has been used all over the world since. It features numbers such as "Cool", "I Feel Pretty", "America" and "Maria".

Frankcom said: "We'll reimagine this iconic work of art for our unique in-the-round theatre space and reinterpret it for new audiences in our city at this moment in time." The show runs until 25 May, with casting to be announced.

Also appearing in the season is a revival of Tanika Gupta's version of Hobson's Choice, which will be directed by Pooja Ghai, whose credits include Lions and Tigers, also written by Gupta. Based on the story written by Harold Brighouse, the piece follows Hari Hobson, who flees Uganda to make a new life for his family in '80s Manchester. It runs from 31 May to 6 July.

The Royal Exchange will collaborate with Kandinsky to present James Yeatman and Lauren Mooney's There Is A Light That Never Goes Out: Scenes From The Luddite Rebellion, which runs from 25 July to 10 August. Exploring misconceptions about the rebellion and the nature of collective action, the show asks what progress really means.

The previously announced UK tour of Inua Ellams' Barber Shop Chronicles will kick off at the Royal Exchange on 7 March. Directed by Bijan Sheibani, the piece picked up rave reviews when it was first performed and is co-produced by the National Theatre, Leeds Playhouse and Fuel.