CHICAGO —Acclaimed Broadway performer Corey Cott and rising star Mikaela Bennett will headline Lyric Opera of Chicago’s premiere of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking American musical West Side Story, presented from May 3 – June 2, 2019 at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago (press opening May 4, 2019).
Corey Cott and Mikaela Bennett take on the roles of young lovers Tony and Maria. Cott has starred in numerous Broadway productions including Bandstand, Gigi, and Disney’s Newsies, which received a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical in 2012. Bennett portrayed Maria in the BBC Proms concert presentation of West Side Story at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She has also appeared with New York City Center Encores! (The Golden Apple), the new off-Broadway musical Renascence, and Michael Gordon’s new opera Acquanetta.
Lyric’s West Side Story also includes: Amanda Castro (Glimmerglass Festival’s West Side Story) as Anita, Brett Thiele (Broadway’s Miss Saigon and Spider Man: Turn off the Dark) as Riff, and Manuel Stark Santos (Broadway’s Aladdin and On The Town) as Bernardo.
Single tickets for West Side Story start at $36 and are on sale now at lyricopera.org/westsidestory, in person at the Lyric Opera House box office,
or by calling 312-827-5600.
Francesca Zambello directs the Lyric premiere of West Side Story in a new coproduction with the Houston Grand Opera and Glimmerglass Festival. She is the artistic director of the Glimmerglass Festival and an internationally acclaimed opera and theater director. Zambello returns to Lyric for the first time since the premiere of her production of Show Boat (2011/12).
She has also directed Lyric productions of Tristan und Isolde (2008/09) and Salome (2006/07). Set designs are by Peter J. Davison with costumes designed by Jessica Jahn and lighting designed by Mark McCullough. Lyric’s production will feature choreography by Jerome Robbins from the Broadway premiere, recreated by Julio Monge.
In the Broadway musical masterpiece West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein’s music, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, Arthur Laurents’s book and Jerome Robbins’s bold, sexy, and iconic dances transport the story of Romeo and Juliet to the backstreets of New York. Tony and Maria are teenagers from opposing gangs who fall in love. As their friends and family battle, Tony and Maria long for “a place for us…somewhere.” Their songs illuminate every scene with the romance of “Maria” and “Tonight,” the exuberance of “America,” and the humor of “Gee, Officer Krupke.” West Side Story promises to be an unforgettable musical theater experience.
COREY COTT (Tony), a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, has quickly established himself as an actor both onstage and onscreen. His stage successes include originating the role of Donny Novitski in the Tony-winning musical Bandstand and two years in the role of Jack Kelly in Disney’s Newsies (Broadway debut), as well as playing Gaston Lachaille opposite Vanessa Hudgens in the Broadway revival of Gigi. On television, Cott portrayed writer Townsend Martin opposite Christina Ricci in the Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything, and can be seen in a recurring role on The Good Fight (CBS All Access). Cott costarred alongside Hattie Morahan in the BBC and PBS miniseries My Mother and Other Strangers. He appeared in the Amazon pilot The Interestings and has guest-starred on Madam Secretary, Public Morals, and Law and Order: SVU. A native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Cott made his solo concert debut at the Kennedy Center’s ASCAP Centennial Celebration and starred in the National Symphony Orchestra’s West Side Story in Concert. He recently made his Carnegie Hall debut singing with the New York Pops.
MIKAELA BENNETT (Maria) a recent graduate of New York’s Juilliard School, is coming to Lyric after portraying Maria in the BBC Proms presentation of West Side Story last year. Bennett made her professional debut in 2017 starring as Penelope in The Golden Apple at City Center Encores!. She also originated the role of Norma in Dick Scanlan and Carmel Dean’s new musical Renascence (showcasing the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay) in New York City. At the 2018 Prototype Festival she played the title role of Acquanetta (based on the life of a 1940s B-movie actress) in the new opera composed by Michael Gordon and directed by Daniel Fish. Bennett has debuted with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Slatkin, and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin. She performed at the Kennedy Center’s Leonard Bernstein 2018 centennial celebration as a featured soloist in Bernstein on Broadway. Bennett’s multiple collaborations with conductor Ted Sperling include Handel’s Israel in Egypt with MasterVoices. The soprano has sung Michael Tilson Thomas’s Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind with the composer conducting the San Francisco Symphony (world premiere), Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New World Symphony. Bennett has appeared in several prestigious New York cabaret venues, including Joe’s Pub at the Public and Feinstein’s 54 Below.
AMANDA CASTRO (Anita) previously appeared in West Side Story as both Anita (Atlanta Opera, Glimmerglass Festival) and Consuelo (Lyric Opera Kansas City, Houston Grand Opera). Castro has appeared widely in the U.S. and abroad (London, Germany, South Africa). A California Institute of the Arts alumna, she was a principal dancer of the renowned Brooklyn-based company Urban Bush Women for four years. She is the 2016 champion of the “Run the Night” competition at New York’s Highline Ballroom, and placed second in 2017 with Soles of Duende, her all-female percussive trio. Other New York credits include a recently completed year-long creative residency with Soles of Duende at Dixon Place Theatre; assisting choreographer Nick Kenkel at BC Beat; working as a model and movement specialist at New York’s Fashion Week; and dancing at Radio City Music Hall for the Ellie Awards. Castro was dance captain at the Geva Theater (Rochester, NY) for In the Heights. Choreography credits include the American Dance Awards, several works for Urban Bush Women, and multiple set pieces for Northeast competition studios.
BRETT THIELE (Riff) has appeared in multiple Broadway productions including Escape to Margaritaville, Miss Saigon, and Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. A native of New Orleans, Thiele has appeared off-Broadway in Clueless, The Musical at the New Group. Regionally, he has appeared as Tulsa in Gypsy at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, The First Wives Club at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, Follies at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and as Dakin in The History Boys at the Uptown Players in Dallas. His previous West Side Story performances include Riff with the St. Petersburg Opera Company and Action at the Asolo Theatre in Florida.
MANUEL STARK SANTOS (Bernardo) has appeared as Kassim in Aladdin on Broadway and in the production’s first national tour, Bonfils in Gigi, and Mr. S. Uperman in On the Town. In West Side Story, Santos has previously played the role of Bernardo at the Ogunquit Playhouse and Barrington Stage Company, Chino at New York’s Palace Theatre and Riff at Carnegie Hall. In New York he has also performed at the Public LAB (Venice: A New Musical), City Center Encores! (Do I Hear a Waltz?, Little Me, Applause, Irma La Douce, The Most Happy Fella), New York Music Theater Festival (Rio), Paper Mill Playhouse (Paul San Marco/A Chorus Line), Houston’s Theater Under the Stars (Disney’s When You Wish), Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre (world premiere of Bull Durham), and Pittsburgh’s Civic Light Opera (Ren/Footloose). He was also seen in the NBC television series Smash.
West Side Story is a coproduction of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and the Glimmerglass Festival.
Lyric premiere of Bernstein’s West Side Story generously made possible by Lead Sponsor The Negaunee Foundation and cosponsors an Anonymous Donor, Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, Robert S. and Susan E. Morrison, Mrs. Herbert A. Vance and Mr. and Mrs. William C. Vance, and Northern Trust. Major in-kind audio support provided by Shure Incorporated.
Based on a conception of Jerome Robbins. Book by Arthur Laurents. Music by Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Original production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins.
About Lyric Opera of Chicago
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.
Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.
Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.
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