March 06, 2019
Riveting and Timely: WEST SIDE STORY’s Arrival at Lyric
You can count on West Side Story at Lyric being one of your most memorable musicals you’ve ever seen. The production by Francesca Zambello comes to Chicago after triumphs at four major American companies. It’s a totally fresh look at this iconic show, performed by a cast bursting with talent.
The show is truly timely, as audiences will be able to read in a message from Zambello in the program. In the U.S, she notes, “we continue to struggle with issues around immigration and migration, which makes West Side Story an important tale for today.” The director also cites the vital statement the creators of the show were making about “the human tendency to organize ourselves into factions.” With the dominance of social media, “we have all become more tribal in our outlook. I think the story of two warring ‘tribes’ challenges all of us to look at how we define and marginalize ‘the other.’ Ultimately, approaching the piece in 2018, Zambello hopes that “we can challenge ourselves to think broadly about ways in which we arbitrarily dismiss the experiences and opinions of those who are not like us.”
Whether she’s directing an opera or a musical, the characters matter most to Zambello. “I always start in both by understanding the characters, as they are the engine for everything for me. We cannot create a world to tell our story if we do not know them.”
Those characters in West Side Story will be embodied by a remarkable cast, playing 37 named parts. This production has been cast in depth, with impressive credits from performers in even the smallest roles. These artists are an exceptionally youthful and diverse ensemble, with performances covering the gamut of dance, theater, television, and film work internationally. Many are closely associated with West Side Story, having played multiple parts in productions of this show across America.
Our leading man, Corey Cott, has been featured on Broadway and has sung at Carnegie Hall. Our leading lady, Mikaela Bennett, has portrayed West Side Story’s Maria at the Royal Albert Hall in London. As you go through all the artists’ biographies, you’ll see practically every major Chicago theater and every major American regional theater represented. And many of those with significant dance background have worked with the crème de la crème of today’s choreographers. One of our dancers has yet to graduate from high school, but has already demonstrated phenomenal talent.
A powerful show with something vital and urgent to say to audiences, musically unforgettable, and brought to life by stupendous performers – that’s West Side Storyat Lyric. You owe it to yourself to see it!