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Everything We Know About the ‘West Side Story’ Remake So Far

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One of Broadway’s most beloved musicals is being made into a movie…again! Earlier this year, it was announced that West Side Story, the Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale about a pair of star-crossed lovers in New York City, will be getting a modern update. Steven Spielberg is set to take on the task of recreating the classic, which first hit the big screen back in 1961 to rave reviews, and received multiple accolades after its release.

The new West Side Story will star Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver), and newcomer Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria, along with some of Broadway’s biggest stars.

Here is everything we know about West Side Story remake so far.

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When does the movie come out?

West Side Story comes snapping into theaters on Friday, December 10, 2021, just in time for the holidays. It was originally scheduled to arrive on on December 18, 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic.

Is there a trailer yet?

So far, we have a teaser trailer, which arrived the night of the 2021 Oscars. An official trailer will reportedly premiere on Good Morning America tomorrow.

What will the movie be about?

West Side Story is based on the 1957 Broadway musical by playwright Arthur Laurents. The story takes place in NYC’s Upper West Side and centers on the rivalry between two gangs of teenagers—the Sharks and the Jets. The Sharks are Puerto Rican and the Jets are an opposing white gang from the same neighborhood. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the basis of the romance between Tony and Maria. Tony, former Jets member and best friend to Riff, the gang’s leader, falls in love with Maria, whose brother is Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.

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Who is in the cast?

Back in January 2019, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Ansel Elgort will be playing Tony, while now-20-year-old Rachel Zegler will star alongside him as Maria. Zegler auditioned for the part after an open casting call for Latinx actors. She responded to the call with a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa,” and managed to secure a call back.

“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” Zegler told The Hollywood Reporter. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”

The Hollywood Reporter also revealed that some Broadway power players would be joining the cast: Ariana DeBose (Hamilton, A Bronx Tale: The Musical, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical) will star as Anita, David Alvarez (Billy Elliot: The Musical) will play Bernardo, and Josh Andrés Rivera (Hamilton) will play Chino. According to Deadline, Mike Faist (Dear Evan Hansen, Newsies) will play Riff, while Puerto Rican actress, singer, and dancer Ana Isabelle (Imprisoned, Strangers) will play Rosalia, who works with Maria. Maddie Ziegler, Dance Moms alumnus and muse to Sia, has been cast as Velma, a member of the Jets.

Rita Moreno, legend and EGOT winner who played Anita in the original, and will be an executive producer this time around. Moreno will also take a reworked role: “Instead of Doc who owns the candy store, I am going to play Valentina who owns the candy store,” she told Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest on Live With Kelly and Ryan.

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Where was the movie filmed?

Harlem served as the primary filming location, Page Six previously reported. An exclusive source told the outlet that the movie was set to shoot outside of apartments located on 131st Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues starting mid-July.

Production wrapped in September 2019 in Brooklyn, New York, with Spielberg penning a heartfelt note to mark the milestone, Deadline reported. “This has been a journey without precedence: a joyful, stunning, moving, endlessly surprising encounter with the story and score of one of the world’s greatest musicals,” he wrote in a letter to the cast and crew.

Though a majority of the scenes from the original West Side Story were filmed in studios in West Hollywood, California, a few of the iconic scenes were filmed in New York City. The tenement buildings in the opening 20 minutes of the film were located on West 68th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenue before being demolished to create what is now the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The playground from the opening scene still remains, though it was located in East Harlem—fans can visit the iconic spot at East 110th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

celebrity sightings in new york city

Zegler spotted in Washington Heights filming scenes as Maria in August 2019.

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celebrity sightings in new york city

Ariana DeBose on the set of West Side Story in 2019.

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celebrity sightings in new york city

DeBose and David Alvarez filming West Side Story in 2019.

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What other productions of West Side Story are there?

Four years after West Side Story hit Broadway in 1957, the production was made into a film. The film, which follows the same plot as the play, starred Natalie Wood (Maria), Richard Beymer (Tony), Rita Moreno (Anita), Russ Tamblyn (Riff), and George Chakiris (Bernardo). The film earned 10 Academy Awards in 1962, making it the musical film with the most Oscar wins ever.

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