West Side Story 2021 movie: we reveal the soundtrack, cast and release date of Spielberg remake

6 December 2021, 16:17 | Updated: 6 December 2021, 16:45

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Something’s coming... ‘West Side Story’, the musical film about rival gangs in New York City, has been remade by Steven Spielberg. Here’s all you need to know about the 2021 movie.

West Side Story, the beloved 1957 Broadway musical by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, was adapted for the screen back in 1961 – and now, a second film remake is coming out.

Directed by Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List, Jaws), the 20th Century Fox release has a script adapted by Tony winner and Lincoln screenwriter, Tony Kushner. The remake will represent Spielberg’s first musical project in his lengthy career.

West Side Story sets the love story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of gang culture in 1950s New York. When former Jets member Tony falls for Maria, the sister of the leader of rival gang the Sharks, tensions rise and disaster ensues.

Here’s all you need to know about the cast, soundtrack and release date of West Side Story (2021).

Read more: Does everyone do their own singing in Spielberg’s West Side Story remake?

Who has been cast in the West Side Story remake?

Steven Spielberg has cast 20-year-old singer-songwriter Rachel Zegler as Maria. The newcomer will make her film debut opposite Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver), who will play Tony.

Award-winning Broadway actress Ariana DeBose has been cast as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo, Maria’s brother and the leader of the Sharks.

Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance as Anita in the original film, will appear in the remake as new character Valentina, despite previously saying she was ‘nervous’ about Spielberg’s remake. Moreno will also be an executive producer on the film.

Plus, Maddie Ziegler, who is known for dancing in Sia’s music videos, will join the cast as a Jet.

Read more: Who is Rachel Zegler? Meet the singer and actor playing Maria

Rachel Zegler (Maria) and Ansel Elgort (Tony) star in West Side Story 2021 remake
Rachel Zegler (Maria) and Ansel Elgort (Tony) star in West Side Story 2021 remake. Picture: Alamy

“When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors,” Spielberg said.

“I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community. I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”

The casting call for the remake, which asked for solely Latinx actors, received 30,000 submissions. Zegler saw the call on Twitter and submitted 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,” said Zegler. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”

In the original 1961 film, Maria was played by Natalie Wood and Tony by Richard Beymer, with Rita Moreno and George Chakiris starring as Anita and Bernardo.

Read more: First look at Spielberg’s West Side Story as trailer revealed in Oscars ceremony

West Side Story soundtrack: what will the music be like?

A week ahead of the remake’s release on 10 December, the official new soundtrack for 2021 will land on shelves.

It is expected that the new soundtrack will include all the beloved songs from the original West Side Story soundtrack, composed by Bernstein with lyrics by Sondheim, which includes ‘Maria’, ‘Tonight’, ‘America’, ‘Somewhere’, ‘I Feel Pretty’ and ‘Gee Officer Krupke’.

There will also be two new tracks, boosting the album from 19 to 21 songs, all performed by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of star Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the LA Philharmonic, who will also feature on the score. All music is being captured in Dolby Atmos, a new technology which guarantees a higher quality of sound.

The score has been adapted for the remake by Oscar-nominated composer David Newman (Matilda, Ice Age), who is also the brother of Thomas Newman (American Beauty)

Read more: Who was Marni Nixon, the 'ghost singer' behind Hollywood's actresses?

Ariana DeBose to play Anita in West Side Story movie
Ariana DeBose to play Anita in West Side Story movie. Picture: Alamy

What is the release date for West Side Story?

West Side Story will be released on 10 December 2021.