Dionne Christian is the NZ Herald’s arts and books editor

Why musical theatre fans are in for a treat next year

Singin' in the Rain. Photo / Nick Reed
Singin' in the Rain. Photo / Nick Reed

Two of the world's most famous musicals will play in New Zealand next year.

Tickets go on sale on Friday for Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and West Side Story. Both are produced by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, the UK-based stage company which brought Cats, The Sound of Music and Singin' in the Rain to Auckland and will stage Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in October.

Joseph, which launched the careers of theatre superstars Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, has been re-invented for a new generation and given a contemporary twist - but producers have yet to reveal what this will be.

It has become the UK's longest-running musical - with three West End Productions, one of Broadway and touring productions in the US and UK - and features an international cast. Choreography is by Duane Alexander who starred in Singin' in the Rain.

Two months after Joseph opens in April, West Side Story comes to town. Inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and set amidst the vicious rivalry of teenage gangs in 1950s New York, West Side Story changed the face of musical theatre when it debuted on Broadway in 1957. It introduced audiences to musicals with grittier themes and new styles of choreography.

Presenter and CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall, says a new stage production of the classic dance musical is receiving wide-spread acclaim during sold-out seasons around the world.

Jerome Robbins' original choreography has been recreated by director and choreographer Joey McKneely, a former pupil of Robbins, while renowned conductor Donald Chan leads an orchestra of 20 musicians.

What may surprise many is that the lyrics to West Side Story's best-loved songs, such as Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, America and I Feel Pretty, were written by Stephen Sondheim. Back then, he was an unknown young musician and lyricist.

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat will be performed in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch from April 15 while West Side Story is scheduled for Auckland only in June.

- NZ Herald

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