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Opera Australia Is Bringing 'West Side Story' Back to Sydney Harbour's Stunning Floating Stage in 2024

After proving a smash the first time around, the classic Broadway tale of star-crossed lovers hits the Handa Opera stage again next March.
By Sarah Ward and Libby Curran
September 14, 2023
By Sarah Ward and Libby Curran
September 14, 2023

On a stage or screen somewhere, the Jets and the Sharks are usually facing off — or, given how popular that West Side Story has proven for almost seven decades now, that's how it feels at least. The famous musical last popped up in cinemas in Australia thanks to Steven Spielberg. Next, it'll tread the boards again courtesy of Opera Australia. And, when it returns in 2024, it'll do so in spectacular surroundings.

Sydney Harbour is set to experience a taste of Broadway magic circa 1957, with Handa Opera's famed floating stage playing host to legendary show — again. West Side Story returns to the yearly event after doing the honours in 2019 and proving a smash, unsurprisingly. Over 65,000 tickets were snapped up, making it the most-popular of Handa Opera's productions to-date.

In 2024, the musical will light up the unique waterfront opera venue from Friday, March 22–Sunday, April 21, again reimagining the classic tale of star-crossed lovers in 50s-era New York City. If you've missed past versions — film, opera or otherwise — West Side Story tells the tale of two rival West Side gangs, plus the drama that ensues when people from each side fall in love.

Acclaimed director Francesca Zambello, along with Brian Thomson and Jennifer Irwin, created this new take on the original Broadway favourite — following on from famed musical figures Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, who originally did the honours in the 50s.

And yes, the story is basically William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but revamped and transferred to the Big Apple.

Sydneysiders and visitors alike will get to see the captivating production brought to life under the stars, from harbourside seats at Mrs Macquaries Point, while bopping along to all of the musical's iconic hit songs — 'I Feel Pretty', 'Maria', 'Somewhere', 'America', 'Cool' and, of course, 'Tonight'.

Also included in this West Side Story experience: not just the show on the overwater stage, but also fireworks each evening, dazzling Sydney skyline views and hitting up pop-up dining spots that are constructed onsite each year.

"West Side Story is a theatrical phenomenon, as is Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. This combination has proved winning before and we highly anticipate that it will again," said Opera Australia CEO Fiona Allan, announcing the 2024 season.

West Side Story at Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour will run from Friday, March 22–Sunday, April 21, 2024 — with tickets via Opera Australia subscription packages available from Thursday, September 28 and general tickets from Thursday, October 5.

Images: Opera Australia's 2019 cast of West Side Story on Sydney Harbour.

Published on September 14, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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