(WCMH) — Legendary director Steven Spielberg has reincarnated the original “West Side Story” in a new film based on the Broadway hit of the same name, with the same spirit-moving music of Leonard Bernstein and contagious lyrics of Stephen Sondheim.
“I’m just so proud and honored that I got this shot late in my career of being able to tell this story based on the 1957 Broadway musical,” said Spielberg in a sneak preview clip of the movie.
The plot of “West Side Story” was inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette,” with star-crossed lovers, Tony and María, playing out their doomed relationship on the gritty streets of New York City in the 1950s. Rival street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, serve to bring down the couple’s romance and end the story as a classic tragedy.
This latest production comes to life 60 years later and keeps the mid-50s New York setting intact.
Ansel Elgort stars as Tony and newcomer Rachel Zegler stars as María, a role that was notably played by Natalie Wood in the 1961 version.
Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar in her original role as Anita, the close friend and confidant of María and girlfriend of Sharks’ leader Bernardo, is back in the new part of Valentina.
Moreno, at nearly 90 years old, also served as an executive producer on the film and talked about her involvement with this latest production in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt.
“I think it has way more soul,” Moreno told Holt when asked if she was concerned the remake might not measure up to the original. “There isn’t a Latino in this script of characters who isn’t being played by a Hispanic person.”
“West Side Story” opens Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in theaters.