Playhouse to become Manhattan for West Side Story

The arrival of West Side Story will see the Playhouse and its surrounding area transformed into a mini New York. Picture: comp
The arrival of West Side Story will see the Playhouse and its surrounding area transformed into a mini New York. Picture: comp
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ONE of the Capital’s most iconic theatres is to be transformed into a Manhattan streetscape from the 1950s to mark the arrival of musical hit West Side Story.

The facade of the Playhouse will be covered by a 182-square metre building wrap to imitate an old New York apartment block.

On the street the theme will continue, with Broadway street signs, US mailboxes and a full-size working vintage Checker taxi cab.

The aim is to recreate scenes featured in Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1950s, where the famous love story is based.

The transformation has been masterminded by the team at the Playhouse, who will transport pedestrians on Greenside Place into an American streetscape.

This includes fire hydrants – known as plugs – and battered “Property of New York City” steel trash cans. Manhattan manhole covers will be painted on the pavement and there will also be a functioning hot dog stand.

Applied vinyl graffiti will appear on the side of the building, depicting the tags of the Jets and the Sharks, the two teenage street gangs which are at the centre of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s musical.

There will even be mock-up copies of the New York Times printed on vintage effect newspaper on display, with “West Side Story Opens in Edinburgh” as the headline.

City sound effects, including fire truck sirens, will also be broadcast from the venue to add to the atmosphere, and the Star Spangled Banner will fly on all four flag posts of the city centre building.

Ross Wilson, marketing manager at the Playhouse, said the project, thought to be the only one of its kind, was an exciting way of engaging the Edinburgh public.

He said: “This production of West Side Story comes with such an international reputation and momentum, it has allowed us the opportunity to reach out to new audiences.”

Mr Wilson added: “This immersive installation is designed to take the magic of the Playhouse on to the streets of Edinburgh and transport our guests back to the vibrancy of old New York.”

The musical has been a sell-out hit around the world since its original Broadway production in 1957, and comes to the Playhouse from March 18 to 29.

The story centres on the members of the Sharks from Puerto Rico who are taunted by the Jets, a Polish-American working-class group.

The Edinburgh run of shows is the latest in a string of productions across UK venues, including London and Glasgow.