Actor brimming with confidence about SA version of West Side Story

Actor brimming with confidence about SA version of West Side Story

Matthew Wild’s award winning production of musical classic West Side Story is back in Cape Town for the first time since 2015. The Fugard Theatre produced smash hit will be showing at the Artscape Opera House until April 15 (at the time of print).

Audiences can look forward to Lynelle Kenned returning to the roll of Maria that won her a Fleur du Cap theatre award. A new addition to the cast is Kevin Hack, who replaces Jonathan Roxmouth in the iconic role of Tony, Maria’s star crossed lover.

Another new addition to the cast is the well known Craig Urbani in the role of the “vile” Schrank. The actor has high praise for the production he has joined. Peter Tromp found out exactly why he is so jazzed to be a part of Wild’s celebrated vision.

What is your first memory of watching West Side Story, and what did you think of the musical at the time?

I watched the movie a few times as a kid, but I saw a stage production at the State Theatre in Pretoria in the early 1990s that had Samantha Peo and Robert Finlayson in it. Suddenly the power and beauty of this very special musical became very apparent to me.

Which thespian muscles, literally and metaphorically, have you felt most exercised in playing this role?

I don’t sing in this one, so I get to exercise my acting chops; really flex the acting muscles to make this character as menacing and vile as possible! It is so much fun to play, I can honestly say. Oddly enough where I’ve placed Shrank vocally puts a lot of strain on the voice. I have to make sure I don’t get lost in the aggression and do myself any damage. This requires a fair amount of technique.

This is a very large scale musical. How challenging is it to keep the focus on the human element, and not allow the epicness of the production to overwhelm you as an actor?

As long as we tell the story and stay true to the exceptionally written book and score and remember what was set in the rehearsal room, hopefully nothing will get lost. I trust how Matthew Wild has set up the show.

Why should people book immediately?

Put simply, it’s possibly the best production of ‘West Side Story’ running anywhere in the world at the moment.

* Book at Computicket.