West Side Story

Spielberg's first foray into musicals sees the legendary director take on one of the classics: West Side Story. Peter Gray previews one of 2021's most eagerly awaited releases.

While most directors of his generation have by now gently faded from view, Steven Spielberg is still going strong, as witnessed by the legendary director’s new project, West Side Story.

The new movie, which will be produced by 20th Century Fox, sees Spielberg take on his first ever musical. And not just any musical, West Side Story.

Here’s City Countdown’s guide to everything you will every need to know about the movie:

What is West Side Story about?

The film tells the story of rival gangs in New York, the Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Continuously as it each other’s throats, the two are in a continuing battle for control of the streets in their local neighbourhood. Into this violent situation however, comes a pair of lovers: Jets member Tony and Maria, the sister of Sharks leader, Bernardo.

Initially meeting in secret, the pair eventually resolve to do what they can to help end the violence.  But will their love prove strong enough to douse the flames of hate emanating from the two gangs?

The story first came to public attention via a 1957 stage production. The Musical was later adapted for the screen by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. West Side Story the movie was released in 1961 to massive acclaim and popular success. The film went on to win ten Academy awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress.

Why does this all sound so familiar?

It should. West Side Story is an update of Romeo And Juliet, relocating the story from the courtyards of Verona to the mean streets of New York.

Who else is behind the new production?

While the remake follows the basic plot of the original movie, the script has been adapted by the Tony Award winning screenwriter Tony Kushner.

Who is in the cast of West Side Story?

The real story here is the casting of 18-year-old singer-songwriter Rachel Zegler in the key role of Maria. A complete unknown, Zegler submitted a video of herself singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ in response to a casting call for actors to take part in the remake. In total, 30,000 submissions were received but Zegler’s stood out enough for her to make the final cut.

Although the actress is a newcomer to the movie world, she does have experience of West Side Story having played the role of Maria in a production at her high school.

Taking the role of Tony opposite Maria will be Ansel Elgort who was previously seen in the movie Baby Driver. The cast also includes Broadway actress Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Maria’s brother, Bernardo.

Spielberg has continually made it clearly that he wanted Latino actors for the key roles of Maria, Tony, Bernard and Chino. “When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors,” the director said to.

“I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community. I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever”.

Who’s responsible for the soundtrack?

The soundtrack is the work of the late Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Tracks like including ‘Maria’, ‘Tonight’, ‘America’, ‘Somewhere’, ‘I Feel Pretty’ have ensured that the music of West Side Story has remained as popular as it ever was.

When is the new West Side Story released?

West Side Story was due to arrive on our shores in December 2020 but due to the pandemic the movie has now been pushed back to the 10th of December 2021.

For more information about the film, please click here.

For information on other forthcoming movies, please click here.




-London's Best Events-
What: new movie
When: 10th December 2021
Where: various cinemas
Website: IMDB