“Could it be? Yes it could!”
Have you heard? The classic 1961 movie musical about Tony, Maria, the Sharks, and the Jets is getting an update. The musical that brought us the now-immortal songs “Maria,” “America,” “Tonight,” and “I Feel Pretty” is going to grace the big screen once again, and we cannot wait.
West Side Story began as a stage musical with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents. (Talk about Broadway royalty.) It made its Broadway debut in 1957 and scooped up a few Tony Awards. By 1958, it had premiered in London’s West End, and by 1959, it had launched a U.S. tour. Several revivals later, it’s still going strong onstage.
In 1961, the musical was adapted into a film directed by Robert Wise and the Broadway musical’s original choreographer, Jerome Robbins. The story is an Upper West Side-set drama based on the tragic love story found in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The original film stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris, and it was a smash when it was released. It won a whopping ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Moreno.
And now we know there’s even more West Side Story in our future. Steven Spielberg (yes, that Steven Spielberg) is helming a remake of the 1961 film. When it’s released, we can expect glorious renditions of the musical’s classic songs and a heartbreaking story of rival gangs and star-crossed love set in New York City. Casting is reportedly underway as the production searches for its Tony, Maria, Anita, and Bernardo.
Also, perhaps the most exciting news of all in the world of the remake: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner is penning the screenplay. Sing it with us: “Something’s coming, something good!”
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Keep your eyes peeled for more West Side Story remake-related filming updates, casting news, and, of course, an eventual release date.