Louis back in Sheffield with West Side Story

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Young actor Louis Maskell is having a great time doing a dream job, playing Tony in West Side Story.

The touring version of a production that sold out its run in the West End has been on tour since last September and arrives at the Lyceum in Sheffield next week.

Louis said: “It’s an amazing piece and to do that every night is a fantastic experience. I suppose with other shows things could get quite stagnant and a bit tired.

“With this piece, because it’s so good, it never really gets like that.

“The combination of music, choreography and the story mean it’s one of everyone’s favourites.”

The much-loved show tells the tragic love story between Tony, who is a member of the Jets street gang, and Maria, whose brother, Bernardo, is the leader of the rival Sharks. Maria’s family are part of New York’s Puerto Rican community and racial tensions are a big part of the story.

Louis said: “With every show which is a classic you have to approach it from a completely fresh point of view. I think the elements within the gang should be a lot more apparent.

“Tony’s not just a boy who’s fallen in love, he’s also a member of the Jets. I think that’s quite important and it makes it a bit more edgy.”

He added: “Our particular production is quite bare and it allows the material to breathe. Perhaps other productions will go for big budget and spectacle. The material is at the forefront of our piece.”

That material includes Jerome Robbins’ original choreography as well as Leonard Bernstein’s beautiful score and Stephen Sondheim’s clever lyrics.

Louis said: “Most numbers contain a dance. It’s not ‘here’s a dance number’, it’s much more naturalistic. It embodies a scene and is much more about what’s happening.”

The young actor has been seen before on stage in Sheffield. He appeared in the much-acclaimed Christmas 2012 production of My Fair Lady at the Crucible, which starred Dominic West as Professor Higgins and Carly Bawden as Eliza Doolittle.

Louis got spotted by the show’s choreographer, Alastair David, for the role of Freddie Eynsford-Hill, an upper-class young man who falls in love with Eliza, when he was in a musical in Southwark in London and was asked to audition.

Louis said: “I was brought in to read for the part and I sang as well. I got the part after I auditioned.

“It was absolutely exhilarating to work with Daniel Evans and the team and the Crucible was an absolutely beautiful venue. It was an opportunity I was never going to give up.

“It was the definitive production of My Fair Lady, everything was completely right. All the creative team behind it were just brilliant.”

He added: “I have amazing memories of that show. I’m good friends now with Daniel and Alastair.

“I also have fantastic memories of Sheffield and I’m hoping to be back working at the Crucible sometime.

“It’s an absolute gem and Daniel Evans is a wonderful, wonderful man and actor and artistic director. He is to be treasured!”

West Side Story is at the Lyceum from next Tuesday to Saturday, July 12. Tickets are available from the Crucible box office, online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or by calling 0114 249 6000.