Something’s Coming (to Tameside), Something Good…

Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s hit musical, ‘West Side Story’ is coming to Tameside from 29th March to 1st April 2023. Presented by Hyde Musical Theatre Society the classic love story will take to the stage at Hyde’s Festival Theatre.

Following their sell out production of the Elvis juke box musical ‘All Shook Up’ earlier this year, Hyde Musical Theatre Society return to the stage next year with the romantic and tragic musical ‘West Side Story’.

Recently released in it’s second film adaptation by Steven Spielberg, ‘West Side Story’ takes the well-known Shakespeare play ‘Romeo & Juliet’ into the 1950’s streets of New York. Exploring the fierce rivalry of gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, and the young, forbidden love between Tony and Maria. The musical features songs such as Somewhere, America and I Feel Pretty.

Chair of Hyde Musical Society, Julie Wilkinson Said “We chose this musical not only because is it one of the greats from the fantastic pairing of Bernstein and Sondheim, but it has themes that are so important in the current climate. It’s a tragic but beautiful story that teaches us to love without hate.”

She continues, “The 2021 film was a massive hit, there is still an appetite for this to be brought to the stage. The last time it came to Manchester was in 2020 at The Royal Exchange, so we thought its time to bring the Jets and the Sharks back to Greater Manchester!”

The company, like many other local theatre societies, were pulled from the stage during the dress rehearsals of their 2020 musical ‘All Shook Up’ due to the Covid-19 outbreak. They took to the stage with the production more than 2 years later.

Hyde Musical Society celebrated their 80th year in 2020, and are hoping to bring theatre audiences back into their local theatres following the two years of closures.

Daniel Oliver-Grant, Director of this production of West Side Story said “I’m so excited to be working with Hyde Musical Society, their last show ‘All Shook Up’ was brilliant, well received by audiences and had a phenomenal cast. I think ‘West Side Story’ can be even bigger and better.”

He continues “We’ve got a fantastic group of dancers, and an incredible principal cast that I have no doubt will bring this much-loved musical to life. I’ve got big plans and some great ideas to make this production feel fresh, but keep the charm that audiences know and love.”

Rehearsals start in Hyde this October, and the cast take to the stage for a weeklong run at Hyde Festival Theatre, from 29th March to 1st April.

Tickets are available from Sparks Theatre Management or head to for more information.

West Side Story

07RET WestSideStory - Andy Coxon (Tony) & Gabriela Garcia (Maria) - image Richard Davenport of The Other Richard

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expectation has been at an almighty high since West Side Story was announced as part of the Royal Exchanges Spring/Summer 2019 season. So successful of late has the theatre been at reimagining classic musicals the run had almost sold-out before the first preview even took place.

This epic tale based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet sees star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria fighting to be together in 1950’s Manhattan where warring gangs make the rules and stepping into enemy territory is strictly taboo. As a story there is everything from love and conflict to hope and heartbreak as the Sharks and Jets fierce rivalry shapes their very existence.

011RET WestSideStory -The Jets - image Richard Davenport of The Other Richard

Since it first premiered in 1955 Jerome Robbins choreography is something that’s always come as part and parcel of any West Side Story production. So iconic in its style it’s hard to imagine the Sharks and the Jets moving in any other way. Step forward Aletta Collins who not only takes on the challenge of reimagining the instantly recognisable choreography but does so in the most beautifully inspired way.

There are still enough elements of the original choreography to keep the traditionalists amongst us happy but these elements are now combined with a pulsating fusion of Latin, street, lindy hop, jazz and even a touch of northern soul to create the most vibrant melting pot of movement.

05RET WestSideStory - Gabriela Garcia (Maria) & Andy Coxon (Tony) - image Richard Davenport of The Other Richard

Director Sarah Frankom ensures this new choreography is allowed to take centre stage as moments of breath-taking beauty unfold; highlighted perfectly during the switch from punchy ensemble piece to the stillness of Tony and Maria’s first meeting which bursts with joyful innocence. A genuine moment of calm & purity during the heady tension of the dancehall scene.

The cast are outstanding and as an ensemble work together to perfection, fuelled by hatred, fear, anger, love and loss, they fizz with pent up emotion. The era is unspecific making it feel just as relevant today as it did 62 years ago as we seemingly are once again in the midst of a swathe of violent knife crime.

03RET WestSideStory - Andy Coxon (Tony) - image Richard Davenport of The Other RichardCROPPED

Andy Coxon finds the true heart of Tony, delivering a powerful and emotive performance; his rendition of Maria a real highlight while fellow lead Gabriela García is completely captivating as Maria. Her operatic vocals are note perfect and pure. Their duets are sublime while the innocence of their love is blissfully uplifting.

Jocasta Almgill is superb and sassy as streetwise Anita, Fernando Mariano makes for a passionate and proud Bernardo while Michael Duke as Riff is convincing and committed.

The cast make full use of Anna Fleischle’s innovative design which is skilfully lit by Lee Curran. They weave, jump and balance on Fleischle’s vertical geometric sets, one minute gone, the next high up emerging from the shadows. The balcony scenes in particular during Tonight really showing off the impressive staging of this piece as each character vies for the audience’s attention, from all sides of the theatre’s intimate space.

West Side Story ©The Other Richard

The eleven piece orchestra powerfully deliver Leonard Bernstein’s classic score with new arrangements by Jason Carr giving it a modern and fresh feel. Led by Tom Chester the score is packed with emotion and fundamental to the impact of this piece.

The Royal Exchange have created something truly special here, the standing ovation a clear indicator that this production marks another success for the innovative Manchester theatre makers. Bold, inspired theatre at its best.

West Side Story is on at the Royal Exchange until Saturday 25th May tickets can be found here.