facts about West Side Story you may not be aware of
Remaking a Best Picture-winning movie takes guts. Steven Spielberg has undoubtedly earned that reputation. He decided to adapt “West Side Story,” which is obviously a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet.” Perhaps there is nothing new to discover. Except for the following 20 facts regarding Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” adaptation.
First, a quick recap of how “West Side Story” got its start on stage in 1957. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the musical was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. It received six Tony nominations and two of them. This resulted in the 1961 movie, which Robbins co-directed. It received 11 Oscar nominations and won 10 of them, including Best Picture. It was a big success.
Spielberg was a longtime fan
Spielberg has long expressed a desire to helm a “West Side Story” adaptation. He has cherished it since he was a youngster and has occasionally brought up the idea of altering it throughout the years. Around 2014, when he started taking it seriously, 20th Century Fox purchased the rights on his behalf.
In fact, Spielberg had long desired to do a musical
Spielberg has helmed both weighty dramas that won Oscars and huge blockbusters. He didn’t seem to be a really musical person. However, it appears that directing a musical has long been on his bucket list. Although “Hook” was initially intended to be a musical, just a few of the songs ended up being included.
It’s another project in which Spielberg and a talented author collaborate
Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg appear to truly love working together. Kushner wrote the screenplays for “Lincoln” and “Munich.” For his play “Angels in America,” he also won the Tony and Pulitzer prizes. Spielberg was already in line to helm “West Side Story,” but Kushner began writing the script before he was even able to join. They worked together once more on Spielberg’s upcoming movie, “The Fabelmans.”
They looked everywhere for the cast
Before Spielberg even started planning to helm the film, an open casting call for the lead roles was released in January 2018. For characters like Maria and Tony, the production was looking for unknown names so that the plot and the filmmaker could shine. Ansel Elgort, a well-known actor, was eventually selected as Tony, but Rachel Zegler was chosen for the part of Maria. Zegler is a complete unknown because she hasn’t been in any movies or TV shows before.
Zegler was performing in a musical despite her obscurity. a school play
Zegler was still a high school student when she was cast. She had been getting ready for the “Shrek: The Musical” performance at her school when she learned she had been chosen to play Maria. That show may make a good prelude to “West Side Story.” Officer Krupke, played in the film by Brian d’Arcy James, was first played by Shrek on Broadway.
Though just one cast member was instantly recognisable
The great Rita Moreno, who received an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 production of “West Side Story,” stood out. She is the only notable cast member who is back. Moreno joined the cast as Valentina, a role that was entirely written for her while Ariana DeBose took up the part of Anita.
Several more original cast members did made cameos
Three of the men who portrayed Jets in the 1961 film make an appearance in Spielberg’s version, though their parts were merely supplementary work. They all had brief cameo appearances as Mouthpiece, Snowboy, and Tiger, respectively, as did Harvey Evans, David Bean, and Bert Michaels.
One performer reduced his weight before a part
For his portrayal of Riff, Mike Faist has received a lot of praise. He made sure to consider and prepare for his performance. Faist made the decision to shed 20 pounds in order to resemble 1950s-era gang members after seeing photographs of them.
It’s a “Billy Elliot” fest
Many young men who could dance found their way into a “Billy Elliot” performance. As a result, it is not surprising that the musical “West Side Story” includes a few historical men. Previously, the show’s casts included Daniel Patrick Russell, Myles Erlick, Julian Elia, and Ben Cook. The actor who plays Bernardo, David Alvarez, received a Tony for his performance as Billy on Broadway.
Spielberg was able to get going once another project got pushed back
A performance of “Billy Elliot” attracted a lot of young men who could dance. So it comes as no surprise that the musical “West Side Story” has a few guys with a history. The show’s casts previously included Ben Cook, Julian Elia, Myles Erlick, and Daniel Patrick Russell. David Alvarez, who plays Bernardo, earned a Tony for his performance as Billy on Broadway.