Disney and 20th Century Studios on Wednesday debuted an extended look at the reimagining of the classic musical about fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. In the new version of “West Side Story,” Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort portray Maria and Tony, whose ill-fated romance fuels a bitter strife between local street gangs the Sharks and the Jets.
“I’ve never seen you before. You’re not Puerto Rican,” a smitten Maria tells Tony. He wonders aloud: “Is that OK?”
Depends on whom you ask.
Maria’s friend Anita (“Do you want to start World War III?”) and her overprotective older brother Bernardo (“The first gringo boy who smiles as you?”) don’t approve of their love.
“I’m a grown-up now,” Maria says. “I’m going to think for myself.”
“West Side Story,” written by Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”), marks Spielberg’s first musical. The cast also includes Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo and Mike Faist as Riff. Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance as Maria in the 1961 film, appears in the remake and served as an executive producer.
The original movie, based on the musical by Steven Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, was critically beloved, winning 10 Academy Awards. That sets a high bar, but Moreno, in a prior interview with Variety, promises that Spielberg’s new take on “West Side Story is “astonishing.”
“The sets will blow you away,” she said. “You will really believe you’re in el barrio.”
After several pandemic-related delays, “West Side Story” is scheduled to premiere in theaters on Dec. 10.