Gustavo Dudamel to conduct the score for Spielberg’s West Side Story
Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel has been tapped to conduct the score for director Steven Spielberg‘s upcoming West Side Story remake starring Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) and newcomer Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria.
“Although I am only at the very beginning, I view this adaptation of West Side Story, as one of the highlights of my career.” Dudamel said in a statement. “It is one of the most beautiful and beloved scores in the history of musical theatre and I can’t wait for the chance to conduct some of the most magnificent songs that Leonard Bernstein ever wrote. I am touched and humbled to be a part of this magnificent film and will do my best to honor the history and gravitas of this project and make beautiful music worthy of this endeavor.”
In addition, Oscar nominee David Newman (Anastasia), and Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori have also joined the film’s music team with Newman set to arrange Leonard Bernstein’s original score and Tesori to help with the cast on their vocals. Grammy nominee Matt Sullivan (Chicago) has also signed on as the romantic musical’s executive music producer.
“Since the moment West Side Story hit Broadway in 1957, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s iconic music has helped define America’s musical identity,” Spielberg said. “To find a team with the experience and talent to honor the original work – while bringing a fresh vision to our new adaptation – was a tall order. I’m confident that this incredible group will do just that, and I am privileged and grateful to have them as partners on this journey.”
The latest Broadway film adaptation will be led by newcomer Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as this generation’s Tony and Maria. Meanwhile, the key members of the Sharks will be played by a quartet of Latinx actors including Broadway stars: Tony winner David Alvarez as play Maria’s brother Bernardo, Tony nominee Ariana DeBose as Anita, and Josh Andres Rivera as Chino. Corey Stoll (Ant-Man), Brian dʼArcy James (First Man), Mike Faist, Ana Isabelle, and Maddie Ziegler are also set to appear in the film.
The cast joins the previously announced Rita Moreno, who originally played Anita in 1961’s West Side Story. In the new film, Moreno will take on the role of Valentina, a reimagined version of Tony’s boss, Doc. Moreno will also executive produce.
West Side Story is also largely based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and it features a star-crossed romance between Tony and a girl named Maria. While Tony is closely tied to one street gang THE Jets, Maria’s brother, Bernardo, is the leader of the Sharks. When the story begins, the tensions between the rival Jets and Sharks gangs led each side to the brink of war. Tony and Maria’s courtship helped push that conflict over the edge.
Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner (Lincoln) wrote the new script for the West Side Story remake, an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical, which was written by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim. Leonard Bernstein created the music for the show, which went on to earn six Tony nominations. The original film adaptation was helmed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins on its way to 10 Academy Awards.
Spielberg, Kevin McCollum, and Kristie Macosko Krieger will produce the film, which will be released by Twentieth Century Fox. The feature is expected to begin filming in the summer of 2019 and it is scheduled to debut on December 18, 2020.