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West Side Story

Bishopsgate Institute presents


Based on a Conception of Jerome Robbins

Book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim with music by Leonard Bernstein

26 JUNE – 1 JULY 2018

**Read the audition notice here**

West Side Story is set on the streets of New York’s Upper West Side and explores the rivalry between two gangs, The Jets and The Sharks. Amidst all the gang warfare, Tony from The Jets falls in love with Maria, who is the sister of the leader of The Sharks. The dark themes, sophisticated music score and electric writing bring the story of Romeo and Juliet into the 20th century.

The Bishopsgate Institute production of West Side Story with full orchestra will be performed between 26 June and 1 July 2018 to celebrate the centennials of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, who composed West Side Story, and of Jerome Robbins, who directed and choreographed the original production. This high-quality amateur production is presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) and ties in seamlessly with themes highlighted in our Special Collections and Archives which contain images and materials exploring cultural tensions and post-war daily urban life in both New York and London. The piece is based on a conception of Jerome Robbins, with music written by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim. 

This production is under amateur licence and the actors will be amateurs, but our creative team and the orchestra are multi-award nominated professionals who have been invited to ensure the highest quality of experience for the cast and audience, in line with our philosophy. The production will be directed by Toby Hine and choreographed by Lemington Ridley, with the Musical Director to be announced. The show will be produced by Francesca Canty for Bishopsgate Institute.

This production will be set in our stunning 120-year-old Great Hall at Bishopsgate Institute, performed in the round with limited cabaret seating. Providing a rare opportunity to experience the show with a full 29-piece orchestration, played by the best up-and-coming professional musicians in an extraordinary setting, this will be an up close and personal performance as the streets of New York take over the Great Hall, with cast members weaving in and out of the audience as the show goes on.

Bishopsgate Institute was nominated in several categories at the Broadway World UK 2016 Awards for their production of Ragtime - The Musical. The nominations were for Best Fringe Production, Best Director, Best Choreographer and Best Costume Design.

2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the Broadway opening of West Side Story in New York.

Casting announcements and further details coming soon.


Toby Hine is an actor and director based in London. He trained with the Michael Chekhov Studio London and the Royal Academy of Music. As a director, his credits include Ragtime for Bishopsgate Institute, for which he was nominated for BroadwayWorld UK Best Director 2016, Into The Woods at the Magnolia Theatre, Shanghai and Something’s Coming, Jakobstad Festival. As an actor, his credits include The Sound of Music Live for ITV, the European Premiere of Michel Legrand's Amour, for which he was nominated for BroadwayWorld UK Best Supporting Actor 2015, and The Kissing Dance at Ye Olde Rose and Crown.

Musical Director

Born in East Sussex, Ben is a London-based pianist, arranger and musical director whose work has taken him to perform around the world in venues including the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace in London, the MGM Grand Garden Arena Las Vegas and the Air Canada Centre, Toronto. He trained at the University of Manchester, and on the Musical Direction postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music.

Currently the Assistant Musical Director for Les Misérables in Sweden, he was the musical director and conductor for the Bishopsgate Institute’s production of Ragtime, and co-MD (with Jen Whyte) for the Bishopsgate Christmas Cracker. Other recent work includes Holy Crap! (King’s Head Theatre), How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Wilton’s Music Hall), Heart of Winter (Tristan Bates Theatre), Adding Machine (Finborough Theatre - OffWestEnd.com nomination for Best Musical Direction), Strålande, Miss Foster! (Smålands Musik och Teater). He works regularly in education at London’s drama schools including Mountview, Urdang and Arts Educational Schools, and as a rehearsal and audition pianist for Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.

For more information please visit benfergusonmd.co.uk Twitter: @benfergusonmd

Associate Musical Director

Ashley is a musical director and pianist based in London. After graduating from University of Leeds with a degree in Music, he went on to complete his postgraduate diploma in Musical Direction from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Recent credits as Musical Director include: Beauty and the Beast, Pantomime (Regal Theatre), The Blues Brothers Live, The Rat Pack Live & The Other Guys at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017. As assistant MD: Spring Awakening (Mountview Acadmemy), Urinetown (The Pleasance Theatre), Wonderful Town (Mountview Academy). As keyboard player: Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (Bridewell Theatre), Holy Crap! (King's Head Theatre).


Lemington Ridley began his career as a dance coach and choreographer in New York City. He has been a USA and European champion in Latin dancing, danced on Broadway and trained with top coaches in all dance styles. He uses his knowledge to create creative and exciting choreography for competitive and theatrical dancers.  As a designer and costumier he has been a featured designer in New York Fashion Week and his work has been highlighted in Vogue.  Designing for stage and screen, he now uses his knowledge of dance movement and haute couture to create costumes for ballroom and latin dancers, and is returning to his love of costuming for theatre, helping to create striking and memorable stage images. Lemington was nominated for BroadwayWorld UK Best Choreography and Best Costume 2016 for Ragtime at Bishopsgate Institute.

Francesca Canty has been Chief Executive at Bishopsgate Institute since 2014 and produced the multi-award-nominated production of Ragtime in 2016. She has over 20 years of experience as a cultural producer and consultant, leading and developing projects and programmes in Russia, Brazil and the UK. 

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe). Entire original production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Originally produced on Broadway by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince. By Arrangement with Roger L. Stevens. All authorised performance materials are also supplied by Music Theatre International (Europe).

**Read the audition notice here**

Images: Riverside Christian Centre Archive, Bishopsgate Institute. 

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