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West Side Story: A guide to Steven Spielberg’s 2021 remake of Bernstein’s iconic musical

Could it be? Yes it could! We reveal the release date, cast and soundtrack details of the upcoming 2021 remake of the much-loved musical West Side Story, 50 years after the release of the first film adaptation


In an upcoming adaptation by 20th Century Fox, West Side Story will represent Steven Spielberg’s first musical project.


The plot was originally inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, in which lovers Maria and Tony find themselves entangled in a bitter battle between their gangster families.

Leonard Bernstein and Steven Sondheim’s original musical was first adapted for the big screen in 1961, just four years after it first hit Broadway. It’s now receiving its long-anticipated second outing.

After endless date changes, the official release date of the new West Side Story film was announced at the 2021 Oscars, along with a new teaser trailer.

Who is writing the score to the new West Side Story adaptation?

Leonard Bernstein wrote the score for the original 1957 Broadway production, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The original West Side Story score will be adapted for the new film by David Newman, who also wrote the scores to Ice AgeMatilda and Anastasia, the latter of which won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.

David Newman comes from a composing family: he is the son of legendary film composer Alfred Newman, who won nine Academy Awards and was nominated 45 times. He is also the brother of film composer Thomas Newman, who has written the scores to 1917, Finding Nemo and The Shawshank Redemption, as well as several James Bond films.

David is also the cousin of Randy Newman, who has scored many Disney-Pixar films including Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story. He was up against Thomas in the 2019 Academy Awards, for which Thomas was nominated for 1917 and Randy for Marriage Story.

Who has been cast in West Side Story so far?

Spielberg has cast 18-year-old singer-songwriter Rachel Zegler as Maria, who will be making her film debut. The high school student responded to the production’s open casting call – which called solely for Latinx actors – with a video of herself singing ‘Tonight’ and ‘Me Siento Hermosa’ (‘I Feel Pretty’). ‘I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,’ exclaimed Zegler. ‘As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important. To be able to bring that role to life — a role that means so much to the Hispanic community — is so humbling.’

Ansel Elgort, previously seen in Edgar Wright’s 2017 film Baby Driver, will play Tony. Although Baby Driver was a film packed full of music – with music forming a central part of the plot, this will be Elgort’s first time singing in a film. He was first heard singing on a global stage when he entered a riff-off on The Late Late Show with James Corden and performed a rendition of ‘Easy’ by the Commodores.

Plus, Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance playing Anita in the original film, will play a new character not included in the original – Valentina. Maddie Ziegler, famous for dancing in popular-music artist Sia’s music videos, will also be cast as a Jet.

Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner (who is best known for his play Angels in America, which examines the AIDS crisis in America in the 1980s) will adapt the screenplay from the original 1957 Broadway script, which was written by Arthur Laurents. He will be leaving the musical numbers intact, and the story will be in fact more similar to the original musical than to the 1961 film.

Who will be performing on the soundtrack to the new West Side Story adaptation?

Composer David Newman will arrange and adapt Leonard Bernstein’s original score, and Gustavo Dudamel, musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Paris Opera, will conduct the orchestra during the film’s recording sessions.

When is the new West Side Story being released and where can you watch it?

West Side Story will be released on 10 December 2021 and is hoping to receive a release in cinemas.

The film has been forced to be rescheduled numerous times due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but the official release date was announced at the Oscars ceremony in 2021.

This year marks the 60th anniversary since the release of the original film in 1961.  (You can watch the original film on Amazon Prime or buy the DVD on Amazon.)

Watch the trailer for Spielberg’s West Side Story adaptation

The teaser trailer for the 2021 adaptation of West Side Story was released during the Oscars awards ceremony.