West Side Story fans eager for remake’s December release

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Rachel Zegler (left) plays Maria and Ansel Elgort plays Tony in the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story, scheduled for release in December of 2021.

The incredible, award winning musical West Side Story, is being remade nearly 60 years after it originally hit the silver screen. Steven Spielberg, the mastermind behind classic movies like Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and several of the Indiana Jones films, is the director and one of the producers for this upcoming romantic musical. 

The remake is set to keep the same plot, characters, and storyline as the original 1961 version of the Broadway play first staged 1957.. Young actors Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) and Rachel Zegler (in her first feature film role) are going to be portraying the lead roles of Tony and Maria in the 2021 film version. 

Olympic Heights sophomore Olivia Baum exclaimed her excitement for the new movie, “I can’t wait to see it!” The official trailer for the film was shown during the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, and along with it came the reveal of its premiere date: December 10, 2021. 

Austen Goslin, writer for Polygon.com, gives a summary of the trailer and insight to some of the cast members: “The trailer spends a bit of time setting up the plot of the movie, which is basically Romeo and Juliet with two rival New York street gangs subbing in for the lovers’ royal feuding families. But for obvious reasons, the focus is on the singing and dancing. The trailer gives us brief glances at some of the musical’s most famous songs like ‘Dance at the Gym’ and ‘Tonight,’ which all seem to share the original version’s theatrical scale and beautiful colors. 

“The trailer also spends a bit of extra time recreating the original movie’s fantastic intro. Along with Elgort as the show’s Romeo stand-in and Zegler as its Juliet, the film also stars Ariana DeBose (Hamilton), Mike Faist (Dear Evan Hansen), and Brian d’Arcy James (Spotlight, Shrek The Musical). Rita Morena, who won an Oscar for her role as Anita in the original movie, will also return for the remake in a new supporting role.”  

OH sophomore Hayley Eber shared her thoughts on the remake, saying, “I think that it would be amazing to see how they are going to be able to make it a new and improved piece, but I definitely do not think that they can top off the original.” 

For Spielberg, West Side Story holds a special place in his heart. Spielberg, born in 1946, was a big fan of the original musical when it came out. Vanity Fair Magazine writer Anthony Breznican, got the inside scoop about Spielberg’s love for the movie, writing, “As a boy in Phoenix in the late 1950s, he had only the soundtrack, and he tried to picture the action and dancing that might accompany it. ‘My mom was a classical pianist,’ says the filmmaker. 

“Our entire home was festooned with classical musical albums, and I grew up surrounded by classical music. West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home. I absconded with it – this was the cast album from the 1957 Broadway musical – and just fell completely in love with it as a kid. West Side Story has been that one haunting temptation that I have finally given in to.”

All in all, musical theater and West Side Story fans are beyond excited for the remake of this classic tale. The 2021 adaptation is expected to bring pride and do justice to the original film. Spielberg, working with a fantastic cast and crew, should allow for another amazing movie that people will enjoy and love for years. 

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