West Side Story, the critically acclaimed musical, will be getting a revival on the big screen soon. The original 1961 film and the 1957 stage musical are inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It involves two feuding New York City street gangs and two star-crossed lovers who are caught in the middle of it. Here are the top ten things you need to know about the remake of West Side Story before it hits theatres later this year.
1. It’s Directed by Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg expressed interested in directing a remake of West Side Story in 2014, and now it’s finally happening! Spielberg has won five Oscars for directing, so with him heading the project, critics and fans alike anticipate the new version of the 1961 film.
2. Ansel Elgort Stars as Tony
We got a taste of Ansel Elgort’s amazing singing voice when he sang “Easy” on The Late Late Show with James Corden in 2017. Now, we get to hear him sing as Tony, which is one of the most famous musical roles of all time. I’m prepared to swoon when he sings “Maria” on the big screen.
3. Rita Moreno Will Appear
Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the original film, plays Valentina in the remake. Valentina is a version of the character Doc, who was the owner of the drug store in the original movie. Will Valentina help Tony hide from the Sharks as Doc did? Will she be able to save him from his tragic fate when Doc couldn’t?
4. It’s Coming to Theaters This December
Spielberg’s West Side Story premieres on December 18, 2020. It will be a great movie to see during the holiday season with your family!
5. Same Music From The Original Soundtrack
The musical numbers from the original will all be present in the remake and will be sung by the new cast. The soundtrack composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim is iconic and has been beloved for many years. We’re glad to hear that all the songs we love from the original will be heard in this film.
6. It Will Explore Past and Present Racial Prejudice
The original West Side Story highlights the struggles of Puerto Ricans migrating to New York in the ’50s, trying to make a life for themselves in the face of racism in America. Spielberg hopes to explore this theme in more depth, bringing racial prejudices to the forefront of the remake. While the story is old, the social issues it deals with are still present in America, making West Side Story relevant to audiences today.
7. Newsies Alumni Join the Jets and Sharks
The cast has some familiar faces amongst fans of Broadway’s Newsies. Mike Faist from Newsies and Dear Evan Hansen will play Riff, the leader of the Jets. There also are other newsies in the cast, including Jacob Guzman as a Shark and Ben Cook as a Jet named Mouthpiece. It seems like many of these actors are fond of dancing on the streets of New York, doing pirouettes and fighting their opponents through dance. I, for one, am here for it.
8. Ariana DeBose and Brian d’Arcy James Also Star in the Film
Ariana DeBose from Broadway’s Hamilton will appear in the film, playing Anita. Another Broadway actor that will star in the movie is Brian d’Arcy James. He will play Officer Krupke, who inspires the famous song in the musical, “Gee Officer Krupke.” His theatre credits include Something Rotten, Shrek the Musical, and Hamilton.
9. Rising Star Rachel Zegler as Maria
The movie will also bring some new faces to the screen, such as Rachel Zegler, who will play Maria. It will be her first film appearance, and what a first gig to get! However, Zegler is not new to the role of Maria. She played Maria at the Bergen Performing Arts Center, giving her the experience to star in the remake.
10. Broadway Coaches and Choreographers
The film will also include the help of other theatre workers, including vocal coach Jeanine Tesori and choreographer Justin Peck. Be prepared to be blown away by many skilled singers and dancers in this remake of West Side Story.
We can’t wait to see this incredible story come to life once again. We know this star-studded cast and crew will recreate the magic of West Side Story that we all know and love.
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