It is 26 years since the Yeadon Theatre Group (formerly Yeadon AOS) performed this particular musical and I am sure that audiences this week will enjoy it just as much as they did a quarter of a century ago.

West Side Story is, I suppose, the first of what one would class as the modern musicals. It opened on Broadway in 1957 at the Winter Gardens Theatre and ran for a total of 732 performances. It came just after the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals had been performed but before the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Indeed, these latter two writers have said that West Side Story was one of the early influences on their writing.

West Side Story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but brought up to date and set in New York in the mid-20th century. It tells the story of conflict between two rival gangs of teenagers namely the Jets and the Sharks. The crux of the story is that one of the Jets (Tony) meets and falls in love with one of the girls from the Sharks (Maria) at a dance and the subsequent consequences that ensues as a result of this love affair.

There are many well-known songs in this musical written by Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) such as Something’s Coming, Maria, America, One Hand One Heart, I Feel Pretty and Somewhere to name just half a dozen.

The two leading principals Chris Mooney as Tony and Lizzie Wlodarczyk as Maria are the same two who played the leads in Oklahoma by this company in 2020. Chris has a superb voice and his renditions of Something’s Coming and Maria were excellent. Lizzie also has an excellent voice and her duet with Tony of One Hand, One Heart was another highlight of the show. She also combined well with Nathalie Bigger (Anita), Louisa Collette (Rosalia), Eloise Kite (Consuela), and Niamh Murphy (Fransisca) in the female number I Feel Pretty.

Alex Wright as Riff (leader of the Jets) led the chorus in the numbers Jet’s Song and Cool whilst Eloise Kite led the chorus in Somewhere, both turning in polished performances. Finally, I enjoyed the number Gee, Officer Krupke led by Ruby Paechter as Action leading the chorus in this humorous song.

Whilst I have highlighted several individuals in these plaudits, I must give the biggest plaudit to the outstanding choreography in the show. With forty-two members in the chorus this could have been overwhelming trying to control the dances on the stage, but these were precise and faultless throughout the evening. Also, I was highly impressed with the back projections onto the screen at the rear of the stage portraying various street scenes and interiors of various properties. Gone are the days of backstage staff rapidly shifting scenery between scenes!

The Yeadon Theatre Group under the direction of Anita Adams who both directed and choreographed the production and musical director Adam Boniface have come up with a fantastic show which will wow audiences this week at Yeadon Town Hall.

The show runs until Saturday.

Tickets: can be purchased from