West Side Story plays out some old tunes with a new CODA

Fancy escaping the associations of Croydon with gang violence, knife attacks and gun crime? Why not go along to the Ashcroft Theatre to see West Side Story, a musical about gang violence, knife attacks and …
For the past year, there’s been a significant dramatic opportunity to take the Bernstein and Sondheim-written musical and give it a contemporary Croydon twist.

And while CODA, the Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association, has not taken the staging of the adaptation of Romeo and Juliet from the back streets of 1950s New York to North End in 2011, this month’s production at the Ashcroft Theatre will at least bring to Croydon possibly one of the best musicals ever written.

The dark theme, borrowed from Shakespeare, allied to Leonard Bernstein‘s sophisticated music and the young Stephen Sondheim‘s terrific lyrics, plus some incredible choreography marked a turning point in American musical theatre half a century ago.

Bernstein’s score for the musical includes show-stoppers such as “Maria”, “America“, “Somewhere“, “Tonight”, “I Feel Pretty”, and “One Hand, One Heart”.

The CODA production runs from September 12 to 15. The cast includes Dom Binefa as Tony and Charlee Simmons as Maria. Charlee is new to CODA but Dom was last seen as Jose in the CODA production of Fame The Musical, and has also played Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. The cast also includes Ziggy Szafranski as Bernado, Owen Moore as Chino, Chris Watson as Riff and Alice Bendall as Anita.

Also making a cameo appearance is Keith Preddie, whose last, best public appearance was a week-long booking serving up his Michael Jackson tribute schtick for Channel 4’s Croydon episodes of Come Dine With Me.

CODA was founded in 1943 and is Croydon’s leading community theatre company, performing three or four productions a year, musicals and plays, to a high standard.

West Side Story will have nightly performances at 7.45pm and a matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday September 15.

  • Tickets cost from £15 to £17.50 (with no additional booking fees), with concessions available, and may be booked at www.fairfield.co.uk, by calling 0208 688 9291 or in person at the Fairfield Halls box office. There are more details on CODA’s website at www.codashows.co.uk.
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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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