Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society is set to perform the much-loved musical, West Side Story at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 22nd March to Saturday 26th March. Filled with terrific characters and breath-taking dance numbers, the numerous classic songs include Maria, Something’s Coming, I Feel Pretty, Tonight and America.
West Side Story sees Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet transposed to the harsh streets of New York City in the 1950s where two teenage gangs, the Jets and the Sharks fight for control of the territory. When Tony, a former Jet and best-friend of the gang’s leader, falls for Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, trouble lies ahead and a devastating outcome seems inevitable for the star-crossed lovers.
With lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, music by Leonard Bernstein and book by Arthur Laurents, West Side Story marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Both the Broadway stage production and the much-loved film won a plethora of awards. The original 1957 Broadway show, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, was nominated for six Tony Awards and was Sondheim’s Broadway debut. The 1961 musical film of West Side Story starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, holds the distinction of being the musical film with the most Academy Award wins, receiving ten Oscars from eleven nominations.
Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society’s (BODS) staging of West Side Story is presented by a 43-strong company of local talent, aged from 14 to 57 years. The cast members hail from Bath, Bristol, Wiltshire and Somerset. One of the most acclaimed amateur companies in the region, BODS returns to the Theatre Royal Bath following their recent Rose Bowl Award-nominated productions of Hairspray in 2015 and The Witches of Eastwick in 2014.
Rosie May Cook plays the role of Maria and Lucas Porter plays the role of Tony. Performing as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, is Tony Cicirello, who played A-Rab in West Side Story the last time it was staged by BODS in 1999. Grace Baxter appears as Anita with Dan Waldron as Riff, the leader of the Jets. Amelia Melvin plays Velma with Richard Luscombe as Doc and Tim Conroy as Officer Krupke.
Director Tristan Carter returns to Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society after directing the company’s 2014 staging of The Witches of Eastwick and 2013 Rose Bowl Award-winning production of The Mikado at the Theatre Royal Bath. Head of Acting at Curtain Up Theatre School, Tristan has also performed professionally on tour and in the West End. Recently in Bath, he played Sweaty Eddie in Sister Act for Bath Light Operatic Group and Edna Turnbald in Hairspray for Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Choreographer Sammy Farrell has danced internationally and toured the UK, as well as teaching dance. Whilst growing up in Bath she danced with The Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance, before training with English National Ballet and London Studio Centre.
West Side Story features a professional orchestra conducted by musical director Peter Blackwood, who has directed music for nearly 200 theatre productions. His credits include the acclaimed community play, The Day That War Broke Out in Bristol which was staged at Temple Meads. He has worked extensively with BODS, most recently as Musical Director for The Witches of Eastwick, The Mikado, Jesus Christ Superstar, Oliver!, and The Wizard of Oz.
Peter Blackwood says, “West Side Story was written when full orchestral integration with the stage and performance was at the height of its golden age. Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production features an orchestra which pays homage to this. There is a full brass section; trumpets, horns and trombones, all the flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and saxophones which Bernstein intended and a string section. Oh, and there is a piano! Bernstein wanted its brightness in many of the dance sequences. Come and revel in the excitement of a full orchestra as a part of arguably the greatest show ever written.”
Established in 1894, and originally called Bath Amateurs, Bath Operatic and Dramatic Society’s (BODS) illustrious history includes many acclaimed performances. In 2013 BODS won the Rose Bowl Award for Best Opera for their production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, and in 2014 they were nominated for The Witches of Eastwick. Other much praised recent BODS productions include Oliver! in 2009, which won the regional National Operatic and Dramatic Association Award for excellence; The Wizard of Oz in 2012; Guys and Dolls in 2011; and Snoopy, winner of NODA’s Award for Best Musical Production.
BODS present West Side Story at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 22nd March to Saturday 26th March. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk