West Side Story remake: Cast, release date, auditions and everything you need to know

17 October 2018, 17:20

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

West Side Story, the 1961 musical film about rival gangs in New York City, is soon to be remade and directed by Steven Spielberg.

West Side Story, originally a 1957 Broadway musical, is being remade into a film by 20th Century Fox.

The remake will be directed by Steven Spielberg, with the script adapted by Tony Award 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 Jets gang member Tony falls for Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks, tensions rise and disaster ensues.

The soundtrack, composed by Leonard Bernstein, contains a host of timeless songs including ‘Maria’, ‘Tonight’, ‘America’, ‘Somewhere’, ‘I Feel Pretty’ and ‘Gee Officer Krupke’.

The remake is expected to include all the original Bernstein songs, as well as some of the iconic dance numbers from the original film.

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

West Side Story (1961)
West Side Story (1961). Picture: Getty

Who will be cast in the West Side Story remake?

Ansel Elgort has just been announced as Tony, the male lead in the film.

This follows a casting call released in January, seeking actors to fill the roles of Tony, Maria, Anita and Bernardo.

The other cast members, although yet to be announced, will be made up of Latino and Latina actors. Spielberg has also explicitly asked for actors aged between 15 and 25, who can sing and preferably speak Spanish.

Singers Camila Cabello and Liam Payne have already been tipped to land roles in the remake, along with Glee actress Naya Rivera, who recently posted an ‘audition’ clip on Instagram.

It has been suggested that some of the actors from the original film will be making cameos. However, Rita Moreno, who starred as Anita, has said she is ‘nervous’ about Spielberg’s remake, and says she won’t be appearing in it.

“That would be strange,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I think it would be distracting. No, no, no I don’t belong in there in any capacity.”

What is the release date for West Side Story?

A release date for the film is yet to be confirmed, but production is expected to begin in 2019.