Although Hispanics seemed to be conspicuous by their absence at Sunday night’s Academy Awards, Steven Spielberg gave ‘West Side Story’ fans a sneak peek at the remake of the decade.
Starring Ansel Elgort as Tony and Rachel Zegler as Maria, Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ wrapped shooting in October 2019 and has been on hold for release after being delayed a year due to the pandemic. Now, the final release date is Dec. 10.
“This has been a journey without precedence: a joyful, stunning, moving, endlessly surprising encounter with the story and score of one of the world’s greatest musicals,” Spielberg wrote in a letter to audiences upon wrapping the film. “We filmed West Side Story all over New York, Flatbush to Fort Tryon Park. The city lent us its beauty and its energy, and we drew deeply upon its grand multicultural, multifaceted spirit.”
As described by Yahoo! the teaser “gives a feel of ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Moulin Rouge,'” with images remarkably similar to the film version of the 1961 classic, amid shots of New York neighborhoods.
Audiences got a glimpse of the Jets and the Sharks, in a fairly faithful reinterpretation of the original film, amid dance numbers — especially in the school dance scene — the knife fight, and even the sweet balcony scene between Maria and Tony.
According to Rolling Stone, the script for the new version of the Broadway musical has been written and developed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tony Kushner of Angels in America. The stunning choreography is by New York ballet director Justin Peck.
And for the nostalgic and romantic, Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 adaptation, also appears in Spielberg’s film in a supporting role as Valentina.
Known today as the Latin Romeo and Juliet, Stephen Sondheim’s musical premiered theatrically in 1957 and then on the big screen in 1961, starring Natalie Wood as Maria and Richard Beymer as Tony. Spielberg’s version, scripted by Tony Kushner (Lincoln, Munich), will arrive 60 years after the original film adaptation.
As Harpers Bazaar explained, news of Spielberg’s West Side Story first surfaced in 2018 when an online casting call popped up. The ad called, in particular, for Latino actors for the lead roles, a departure from some of the whitewashed casting in the original film.
“They brought an authenticity,” Spielberg told Vanity Fair of the Latino performers in the cast. “They brought themselves, and everything they believe and everything about them-they brought that to the work.”