Tonight won't be just any night, because musical theater fans finally have visual insight into Steven Spielberg's upcoming movie adaptation of West Side Story. Months after Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler were announced as the film's leading stars, audiences now have an idea of how the actors are revitalizing these classic theater roles. The first West Side Story remake photo is here, so don't be surprised if it inspires you to start snapping rhythmically the next time you walk outside.
Spielberg is adapting the original stage musical West Side Story for a 2020 release, more than 50 years after the first film adaptation premiered in 1961. Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, the story follows young pair Tony and Maria in 1950s New York City after they fall in love at a community dance. But as a waning member of the white Jets gang, Tony is well aware of the fierce rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang led by Maria's brother. After opening on Broadway in 1957, the 1961 film starred Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood as young lovers Tony and Maria, and Elgort and Zegler take their places for the upcoming movie.
The newly released production photo showcases Elgort and Zegler in character and surrounded by members of the Jets and the Sharks on a city street. As Tony and Maria, Elgort and Zegler hold hands and look lovingly at each other as the Jets and Sharks stand behind and exchange glares. Excuse me while I search the internet for vintage urban outfits to wear to a West Side Story screening.
The Fault in Our Stars' Elgort was announced to play Tony in October 2018, while the casting of 17-year-old Zegler, best known for her YouTube covers of popular songs, was released in January 2019. Broadway stars David Alvarez and Ariana DeBose will appear in the film as Maria's brother Bernardo and her friend Anita, while Tony Award nominee Mike Faist plays Tony's best friend and Jets leader Riff. Rita Moreno, the original film's Anita, will also play new character Valentina, a re-imagining of the character Doc. 20th Century Fox also previously held an open dance call to find the movie's Jets and Sharks, so expect those brooding boys in the new pic's background to have killer dance moves.
The creative team of West Side Story's original Broadway production was essentially a who's who of iconic theater figures, including lyricist Stephen Sondheim, orchestrator Leonard Bernstein, and choreographer Jerome Robbins as key contributors to the show's success. This time around, award-winning playwright Tony Kushner has written the new movie's script and Tony Award winner Justin Peck will choreograph the musical numbers, but at the core of things, the new West Side Story ought to be a whirlwind of musical talent.
In a previous statement, Spielberg said, "Since the moment West Side Story hit Broadway in 1957, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s iconic music has helped define America’s musical identity. To find a team with the experience and talent to honor the original work — while bringing a fresh vision to our new adaptation — was a tall order. I’m confident that this incredible group will do just that, and I am privileged and grateful to have them as partners on this journey."
Fans will have to wait and see how Spielberg's vision takes off. West Side Story is in theaters on Dec. 18, 2020.