Steven Spielberg has always wanted to make a musical, and now he has, with West Side Story. Based on the Broadway musical that first launched in 1957, and was then turned into a film in 1961, West Side Story is the tale of star-crossed lovers in 1957 New York. Unlike the 1961 film, Spielberg only wanted actors with Hispanic backgrounds to play Hispanic characters, and he’s assembled a cast of familiar faces and new names. He’s also brought back Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her role in the 1961 film, and here plays a new character. Watch the West Side Story trailer below.
West Side Story Trailer
Steven Spielberg is back, baby, and he’s finally made a musical – something he’s been talking about doing for the majority of his career. “Our entire home was festooned with classical musical albums, and I grew up surrounded by classical music,” he told Vanity Fair. “West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home. I absconded with it—this was the cast album from the 1957 Broadway musical—and just fell completely in love with it as a kid. West Side Story has been that one haunting temptation that I have finally given in to.”
The film has been adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway musical, which was written by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and concept, direction, and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Justin Peck choreographs the musical numbers in the new film.
West Side Story “explores young love and tensions between rival gangs the Jets and the Sharks on the streets of 1957 New York.” With a script from frequent Spielberg collaborator Tony Kushner and a musical team that includes Gustavo Dudamel taking on Leonard Bernstein’s original score and David Newman arranging the score for the new adaptation, the cast includes Ansel Elgort as Tony, Rachel Zegler as Maria, Ariana DeBose as Anita, Ana Isabelle as Rosalia, Corey Stoll as Lieutenant Schrank, Brian d’Arcy James as Officer Krupke, Curtiss Cook as Abe, and Rita Moreno as Valentina.
As excited as I am for a new Spielberg movie, and a new Spielberg musical, this take on West Side Story is bound to draw criticism for its leading man. Last year, a woman accused Elgort of sexual misconduct in 2014, when she was 17 and he was 20. Elgort denied the allegation and said the relationship was brief and consensual. Since then there’s been next to no coverage of the story, but that might change.
West Side Story opens on December 10, 2021.
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