THE Wyvern Theatre Summer Youth Project is celebrating coming of age by staging one of the most iconic musicals of all time – West Side Story.

The aim of project, which has been running since 1994, is to provide 250 local youngsters aged between nine and 21 with the opportunity to work together in a professional theatre.

The two-week project, which gives those taking part a chance to be both on-stage and backstage, culminates in five performances of the full-scale musical under the supervision of a highly skilled creative and technical team.

The production coincides the the 50th anniversary of the release of the film version.

Rita Moreno, who won an Academy Award for playing Anita in the 1955 film version of musical, said: “What is truly unique about theatre, for me, is the immediate experience that performing provides.

“Surely, one of the greatest feelings in the world, for an actor is the sheer pleasure of using every single bit of yourself, your past experiences, profoundly sad or ecstatically happy to fill and enrich the character you're playing.

“But, even more thrilling, sending out enormous amounts of energy and having it come back at you, doubled.

“Now that is the meaning of synchronicity.”

The Youth Project’s previous productions include Annie, Wizard of Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver! Crazy For You, Bugsy Malone and most recently, Anything Goes.

The Summer Youth Project has performed West Side Story once before back in 2002.

Anyone aged between the ages of nine and 21 can take part in the show’s auditions, which are being held at the Wyvern Theatre on April 21. Callbacks will take place on April 22.

Theatre director Derek Aldridge said he was delighted they had been given the opportunity to present this musical masterpiece.

“Year-on-year we receive praise for the high standards that the show ultimately produces with such a young cast and this year, I’m sure, will be no different,” he said.

West Side Story will run at the Wyvern Theatre from Thursday, August 23 until August 26. For more information, or to book tickets, call the box office on 01793 524 481 or log on to