West Side Story Remake Photo

Last month, we got our first look at Steven Spielberg‘s remake of West Side Story starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler in the musical take on the classic star-crossed romance of Romeo & Juliet. That photo also included David Alvarez (Billy Elliott: The Musical) and Josh Andrés Rivera (Hamilton) as Maria’s brother and Sharks leader Bernardo and gang member Chino, respectively. But one key character was missing from that photo, and we’ve gotten a first look at her today.

West Side Story Remake Photo – Ariana DeBose As Anita

West Side Story Remake Photo - Ariana DeBose as Anita

Ariana DeBose is playing the role originated by actress Rita Moreno, who is also appearing in the remake as Valentina and executive producing the film. That means she’ll be singing “America,” one of the most famous songs from the musical. Here’s the scene from the 1961 film adaptation:

The rest of the West Side Story cast includes Ana Isabelle as Rosalia, Corey Stoll as Lieutenant Schrank, Brian d’Arcy James as Officer Krupke and Curtiss Cook as Abe.

Tony Kushner, who worked with Spielberg on Munich and Lincoln) is writing the screenplay, and Tony Award winner Justin Peck is choreographing the musical numbers in the film. They will be adapting the original 1957 Broadway musical written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins. That means this might not have all the same components of the 1961 film adaptation, which actually changed a few elements from the stage production.

Gustavo Dusamel will be leading the recording of Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score while composer and conductor David Newman will arrange the score. Broadway’s influence will be felt with Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori working with the cast on vocals and Grammy-nominated music supervisor Matt Sullivan executive producing the music for the movie.

Considering how much of a passion project this has been for Steven Spielberg, we’re interested to see how he updates the iconic musical for modern audiences. Surely it will still have a classical musical feel but with modern filmmaking sensibilities. And knowing how the source material deals with race, hopefully it will have something significant to say in this tense social climate.

West Side Story is slated to arrive in theaters on December 18, 2020.

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