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NEWS: 40 talented young performers take to the Birmingham Hippodrome stage in West Side Story

This August, Birmingham Hippodrome will present its first home-grown youth production as a fresh new production of West Side Story comes to the main stage from 29th – 31st August.

After extensive rounds of auditions, and over one thousand applicants, forty local young performers have been announced who will bring the legendary musical to life in an exciting first of its kind production marking the theatre’s 120th birthday.

Leading the cast as the star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, are Alex Cooke (15) from Kingswinford and Kamilla Fernandes (18) from Coventry. They are joined by Ruby Hewitt (19) from Harborne as Anita, Gibsa Bah (18) from Great Barr as Barnardo, Matthew Pandya (18) from Coventry as Riff, Olivia Allen (21) from Harborne as Anybodys and Carter Smith (16) from Yardley as Chino.

The full company is comprised of Luke Rossiter (14), Harvey Zafino (16), Brook Jenkins (14), Diarmuid Gaffrey (17), Hugo Montgomery (19), Kane Taylor (17), Alan Lewis (21) and Harry Chamberlain (16), Maisie Lodge (16), Ella Kenrick (24), Olivia Caddick (14), Ebony Roy-Palmer (17), Tumba Katanda (18), Bethan Day (21), Rhiannon Lee Street (18), Evie-May Harding (17) and Nancy Ling (22) who make up the ‘Jets’. The ‘Sharks’ gang features Jaye Fordham (20), Demi Walton (16), Jasmine Bromfield (17), Justine Matthews (22), Isabella Polidori (16), Ashley Savage (17), Alexandra Whitehead (25) and Elle Carter-Knowles (21), Oliver Cowlishaw (20), Aadil Din Mohammad (17), Harry Cooke (14), Tom Silverton (25), Adam Robinson (17), Adam Newton (17), Alexander Wooliscroft (25) and Kai-Daniel Augustin (17).

Joining the young company will be four Birmingham Hippodrome staff members who will take on the adult character roles; Benjamin Jones will swap Visitor Services for the role of Gladhand, Marketing Officer Chris Cooper will play Lieutenant Schrank, Visitor Services Administrator Nicola Entwistle will be Officer Krupke and Visitor Services Assistant Sabrina Naz Nabi will play the role of Doc.

The creation of West Side Story will be overseen by a professional creative team which includes Matt Hawksworth (Director and Choreographer), Paul Murphy (Conductor and Musical Director), Sarah Burrell (Assistant Musical Director), Ruth Saeger (Assistant Choreographer), Al Parkinson (Designer), Philip Gladwell (Lighting Designer), Rachel Baynton (Costume Designer) and Olly Steel (Sound Designer). Director, Matt Hawksworth said:

”We were overwhelmed by the response when initial audition notices were posted for this very special production of West Side Story.

“After seeing a thousand young people at auditions, we now finally have our exceptionally talented cast.

“Rehearsals have already began and we can’t wait to celebrate Birmingham Hippodrome’s 120th birthday with this brilliant new production of a truly iconic musical.”

Fiona Allan, Birmingham Hippodrome Artistic Director and Chief Executive added:

“It is fitting that we mark our 120th birthday by funding a major new production, giving back to young people in our community. West Side Story remains just as relevant now as when it was first written, and holds many parallels we can still see in our everyday lives.

“Our director, Matt Hawksworth has drawn together a tremendously experienced professional creative team, who will ensure that the company experience all aspects of mounting a major musical in the large scale.

“Our birthday celebrations are headlined with the strapline Then, Now, Always - this production will encompass this message in its entirety. Then being the staging of this classic musical, Now is bringing a new production to our main stage, and Always is the hugely talented cast of young people who are the performers and audience members of our theatre’s future.

“I can’t wait for the curtain to rise on this brilliant new adventure for our cast, creatives and Birmingham Hippodrome.”

West Side Story plays at Birmingham Hippodrome from 29th – 31st August 2019. Tickets go on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patron scheme members from 11am this morning and will be on general on sale from 11am on Monday 29th April. To book, visit birminghamhippodrome.com or call 0844 338 5000.

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