Casting Updates for WEST SIDE STORY and HOBSON’S CHOICE at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre

The Royal Exchange has announced initial casting for their productions of WEST SIDE STORY and HOBSON’S CHOICE, coming up at the Manchester venue in 2019.

Andy Coxon and Gabriele Garcia are to lead the cast of WEST SIDE STORY in the roles of Tony and Maria. Coxon’s recent credits include the role of Berger in the London revival of HAIR at The Vaults, YANK! at Charing Cross Theatre and BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL in the West End. Garcia’s recent credits include Nina in the Southwark Playhouse productions of IN THE HEIGHTS, the original West End cast of STRICTLY BALLROOM and the pre-Broadway tryout of HALF TIME at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse.

Beginning 6th April, the new production of WEST SIDE STORY premieres at the venue. Directed by artistic director Sarah Frankcom, with all new choreography by Aletta Collins, this marks the first time a UK production will not feature Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. The production will feature new orchestrations from Tony nominee Jason Carr, with design by Anna Fleischle and lighting by Lee Curran.

Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim’s musical premiered on Broadway back in 1957, originally conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. The score features musical theatre classics such as ‘America’, ‘Maria’ and ‘Tonight’. WEST SIDE STORY runs at the venue until 25th May.

Elsewhere, Tony Jayawardena makes his Royal Exchange debut in the lead role Hari Hobson in Tanika Gupta’s new adaptation of HOBSON’S CHOICE. Jayawardena has an impressive résumé with lead roles in productions at the National Theatre, the RSC and Shakespeare’s Globe. His lead credits include the original West End production of BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, TWELFTH NIGHT at Shakespeare’s Globe, THE INVISIBLE HAND at the Tricycle and THE EMPRESS at the RSC. Jayawardena is currently appearing in the Kiln Theatre’s production of WHITE TEETH.

The new production of HOBSON’S CHOICE has been adapted by Tanika Gupta reuniting the writer with director Pooja Ghai (after working together on LIONS AND TIGERS at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2017). HOBSON’S CHOICE follows tailor Hari Hobson, who flees the Ugandan rag trade to make a new life for his family in 1980’s Manchester. The play runs at the Royal Exchange from 31st May to 6th July.

The Royal Exchange’s recently announced season is on sale now.

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