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! 


West Side Story, the beloved Broadway musical masterpiece, is now onstage at Lyric. Seize your chance to see this critically acclaimed new production now. West Side Story at Lyric must close on June 2.

Lyric Opera of Chicago invites you to the WEST SIDE STORY celebration

Looking to upgrade your Lyric experience? Join the West Side Story cast after the performance at Ignite Glass Studios for an unforgettable night of revelry. Add-on the After Party for $500 to hit the dance floor alongside the stars of West Side Story! Reserve your spot by calling 312.827.5723.

Lyric premiere of West Side Story generously made possible by

Lead sponsor

The Negaunee Foundation


Anonymous Donor

Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin

Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison

Mrs. Herbert A. Vance & Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance

Major in-kind audio support provided by

A coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and Glimmerglass Festival.



Based on a conception of JEROME ROBBINS


Entire Original Production Directed and Choreographed by JEROME ROBBINS

Originally Produced On Broadway by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince
By Arrangement with Roger L. Stevens

Photo: Lynn Lane/Houston Grand Opera, Claire McAdams