Belfast’s youngest director stages West Side Story

At just 21 years of age, Downpatrick man Jordan Walsh, who is directing and producing the classic musical West Wide Story next month, will be the youngest director to ever bring a show to Belfast’s Grand Opera House.

He may only be in his early 20s, but his creative ambition is certainly well developed, and he is eagerly looking forward to bringing Leonard Bernstein’s popular musical to the stage with his own theatrical company Belfast Music and Drama Society.

Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story transports the classic tale to the 1950s streets of New York in the middle of a fierce turf war. With two young lovers, two rival gangs and one of musical theatre’s greatest scores, packed with unforgettable songs, including Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, America, and I Feel Pretty, West Side Story is the show that changed the face of this popular genre for ever.

Jordan, who is originally from Downpatrick, is thrilled with the cast of the show, which he has chosen to stage to mark Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday.

“A young girl from Newry, Amber Dixon, who is just 16, is playing the role of Maria,” he revealed. “She is just outstanding and she doesn’t even know how good she is. This will be her first time in the Opera House.

“Boyd Rodgers is playing Tony. He has just completed his Bar exam and his family run Jolly Rodgers Nursery in Lisburn. He played Sam in Ghost in the Opera House and his vocals are second to none.”

Jordan is sticking with a traditional staging of the musical, paying homage to Bernstein, one of America’s greatest composers.

“I have put my own stamp on it but we have stuck to the original staging,” he explained. “It is Bernstein’s 100th birthday so we wanted to do a traditional version. It is the best thing we have done and I know it is going to be a very special show.”

A heart wrenching tale of love and loss that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, West Side Story is poignant and relevant to this day, remaining one of musical theatre’s most revolutionary and most loved shows.

The show runs from February 7-10 at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets, priced £16.25 - £29.75, are on sale from the Grand Opera House Box Office on 028 9024 1919 or online at www.goh.co.uk.

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