SSAOS 1999 production

WEST SIDE STORY" opened in New York on September 26th, 1957. However the genesis of the show had been particularly difficult.

Jerome Robbins, the choreographer, had suggested to Leonard Bernstein as far back as 1949 that they should collaborate to write a musical version of Shakespeare's  Romeo and Juliet. Originally the opposing sides were to be Jews and Catholics on the eastern side of Manhatten Island and the show would be called "EAST SIDE STORY". It was later changed to the conflict of the Negroes and the Puerto Ricans, and then finally the idea of two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, was born, representing Shakespeare's Montgues and Capulets.

The show ran on Broadway for 734 performances and was an even greater success when it opened in London at Her Majesty's Theatre running for 1039 performances.


The Jets : Andy Gledhill, John Foley, Andrew Oliver, Mark Fairley, Paul Iveson, Sean Langston, Paul Cross, Andrew Halliday. Their Girls : Tina Stewart, Tracy Peters, Karen Ali.

The Sharks : David Bruce, Nevade Alvi, David Richardson. Their Girls : Faye Jamieson, Shireen Hamlani, Alison Stidolph, Stacey Walton, Carole Graham, Jayne Welch, Susan Doyle.

The Adults : Maurice Carr, Anthony Smith, Peter Skevington, Mary Whincop.

Producer : Musical Director : Choreographer :
Fred Wharton Guy Creen* Kathleen Knox

* This is Guy Creen's first year with the SSAOS.

Extract from "West Side Story" programme notes

Guy received his early musical tuition in North Tyneside and continued his studies of the piano and viola at the Royal Grammar school, Newcastle. Later he graduated with B. Mus. (Hons) from the University of Hull. In his final year he conducted the university orchestra in a performance of Saint-Saens "Organ Symphony".

Guy Creen is involved with a number of Operatic Societies as a repeteur and musical director and continues to play the viola with a number of orchestras. He is also in demand as a singer for both choral works and solo parts.

Extract from "Shields Gazette" 26th October, 1999

This year's production by SSAOS involves lots of young men and women and this has caused quite a bit of a problem for choreographer, Kathleen Knox.

She said : "The music of the show is very intense and a lot of the dancing is very intricate. Although we got a lot of young men auditioning for the show a lot of them had not danced much before, so it has been quite a challenge to teach them. West Side Story is a pacy, fast show and the dancing needs lots and lots of practice."

Extract from "Sunderland Echo" 28th October, 1999

SSAOS sure has cornered the market in athletic young men and women. Just as well, because in West Side Story there is call for little else. This is perhaps the most difficult of all musicals (it's an opera really). I trembled at the idea of amateurs having a go, feeling that thecomplex rythms and melodies, often overlaid on one another was asking too much - particularly as most of it has to be done on the move.

Nonetheless, though it drove them to the edge of their capabilities, and occasionally just a bit over, they put on a tremendous performance. Altogether it was difficult to see this as an amateur show.


Anita -
Shireen Hamlani

Maria -
Faye Jamieson

Tony -
John Foley

Riff -
Andy Gledhill

  "One Hand, One Heart"

Tony and Maria

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