West Side Story (2021)


West Side Story (2021)

An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
IMDb   N/A
Release Date2021-12-09
GenreCrime, Drama, Musical, Romance
Content Rating
Company20th Century Studios, Amblin Entertainment
LanguageEnglish, Spanish
Maria Vasquez
Bernardo Vasquez
Ana Isabelle
Ana Isabelle
Lieutenant Schrank
Kevin Csolak
Kevin Csolak

West Side Story (2021 film)

West Side Story is an upcoming American musical romantic drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, who also serves as one of the film's executive producers. The film is the second feature-length adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim, which is based loosely on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler (in her feature film debut), with Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Brian d'Arcy James and Corey Stoll. Rita Moreno, who appeared in the 1961 film, has a supporting role and is an executive producer. The film is dedicated to Spielberg's father Arnold, who died on August 25, 2020, the year the film was initially supposed to be released.

The film started development in 2014 by 20th Century Fox, and Kushner started writing the screenplay in 2017. In January 2018, Spielberg was hired, and casting began by September 2018. Justin Peck choreographed the dance sequences. Filming began in July 2019 and wrapped up two months later. Shooting occurred in New York and New Jersey.

West Side Story is scheduled to premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on December 7, 2021, and be released theatrically by 20th Century Studios in the United States on December 10, 2021, after being delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Teenagers Tony and María, despite having affiliations with rival street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, fall in love in 1950s New York City.


  • Ansel Elgort as Tony
  • Rachel Zegler as María
  • Ariana DeBose as Anita
  • David Alvarez as Bernardo
  • Mike Faist as Riff
  • Rita Moreno as Valentina
  • Brian d'Arcy James as Officer Krupke
  • Corey Stoll as Lieutenant Schrank
  • Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino
  • Iris Menas as Anybodys
  • Mike Iveson as Glad Hand
  • Jamila Velazquez as Meche
  • Annelise Cepero as Provi
  • Yassmin Alers as Lluvia
  • Jamie Harris as Rory
  • Curtiss Cook as Abe


  • David Avilés Morales as Anibal
  • Sebastian Serra as Braulio
  • Ricardo A. Zayas as Chago
  • Carlos E. Gonzalez as Chucho
  • Ricky Ubeda as Flaco
  • Andrei Chagas as Jochi
  • Adriel Flete as Julito
  • Jacob Guzman as Junior
  • Kelvin Delgado as Manolo
  • Carlos Sánchez Falú as Pipo
  • Julius Anthony Rubio as Quique
  • Yurel Echezarreta as Sebas
  • David Guzman as Tino

Shark girlsEdit

  • Ana Isabelle as Rosalia
  • Tanairi Sade Vazquez as Charita
  • Yesenia Ayala as Clary
  • Gabriella M. Soto as Conchi
  • Juliette Feliciano Ortiz as Cuca
  • Jeanette Delgado as Ili
  • Maria Alexis Rodriguez as Isa
  • Edriz E. Rosa Pérez as Jacinta
  • Ilda Mason as Luz
  • Jennifer Florentino as Montse
  • Melody Martí as Pili
  • Gaby Diaz as Tati
  • Isabella Ward as Tere


  • Sean Harrison Jones as Action
  • Jess LeProtto as A-Rab
  • Patrick Higgins as Baby John
  • Kyle Allen as Balkan
  • John Michael Fiumara as Big Deal
  • Kevin Csolak as Diesel
  • Kyle Coffman as Ice
  • Daniel Patrick Russell as Little Moly
  • Ben Cook as Mouthpiece
  • Harrison Coll as Numbers
  • Garrett Hawe as Skink
  • Myles Erlick as Snowboy
  • Julian Elia as Tiger

Jet girlsEdit

  • Eloise Kropp as Dot
  • Paloma Garcia-Lee as Graziella
  • Leigh-Ann Esty as Gussie
  • Lauren Leach as Karen
  • Brittany Pollack as Mack
  • Kellie Drobnick as Mamie
  • Skye Mattox as Maxie
  • Adriana Pierce as Natalie
  • Jonalyn Saxer as Rhonda
  • Brianna Abruzzo as Sorella
  • Halli Toland as Sweden
  • Sara Esty as Tat
  • Talia Ryder as Tessie
  • Maddie Ziegler as Velma


Three of the Jets from the 1961 film of West Side Story, Harvey Evans, who portrayed Mouthpiece, Bert Michaels, who played Snowboy, and David Bean, who played Tiger, appear as extras. Andréa Burns, who played Maria in the 1992–1993 European Tour of the musical, appears as Fausta.



"I've always wanted to make a musical. Not like Moulin Rouge though – an old-fashioned, conservative musical. ... Like West Side Story or Singin' in the Rain. I've been looking for one for 20 years. I just need something that excites me."

– Steven Spielberg, 2004

In March 2014, Steven Spielberg first expressed interest in directing an adaptation of West Side Story. This prompted 20th Century Fox to acquire the rights to the project. Tony Kushner, who previously worked with Spielberg on 2005's Munich and 2012's Lincoln, revealed in a July 2017 interview that he was writing the screenplay for the film, stating he would be leaving the musical numbers intact, and that the story would be more similar to the original stage musical than to the 1961 film. In a 2020 interview, Spielberg told Vanity Fair: "West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home. I... fell completely in love with it as a kid."

The following year, he further explained why he felt the time had now come for a new film adaptation of the musical, saying "Divisions between un-likeminded people is as old as time itself ... And the divisions between the Sharks and the Jets in 1957, which inspired the musical, were profound. But not as divided as we find ourselves today. It turned out in the middle of the development of the script, things widened, which I think in a sense, sadly, made the story of those racial divides - not just territorial divides - more relevant to today's audience than perhaps it even was in 1957."


In January 2018, it was announced that Spielberg would likely direct the film following completion of filming for a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. This was followed a few days later with an open casting call issued for the characters María, Tony, Anita and Bernardo. Additional open casting calls were hosted in New York City in April, and in Orlando, Florida in May. In July, the fifth Indiana Jones film was pushed back, allowing Spielberg to begin pre-production on West Side Story.

Justin Peck was hired to choreograph the film in September 2018, with Ansel Elgort cast in the film as Tony. In November, Eiza González emerged as a contender for the role of Anita. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film, plays Valentina and also serves as an executive producer for the film. In January 2019, newcomer Rachel Zegler was cast in the lead role of María, with Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Josh Andrés Rivera also cast as Anita, Bernardo, and Chino, respectively. In March 2019, Corey Stoll and Brian d'Arcy James joined the cast. A month later, the rest of the ensemble comprising the Jets and Sharks factions was announced.


Filming took place in Harlem and other Manhattan locations and in Flatlands, Brooklyn in New York City in July 2019. There were ten days of shooting in Paterson, New Jersey, where an outdoor set was built, in August 2019. Filming also took place in Newark and other parts of Essex County, New Jersey. It wrapped on September 27, 2019 for a total of 79 days of shooting. All of the sets were constructed at a warehouse at Steiner Studios.


Composer David Newman arranged and adapted Bernstein's original score for the film. Gustavo Dudamel conducted the New York Philharmonic during the film's recording sessions in 2019, with additional recording by the Los Angeles Philharmonic done during the COVID-19 pandemic the following year. Jeanine Tesori served as vocal coach, while frequent Spielberg collaborator John Williams served as music consultant. All of the songs were pre-recorded and used as playback on set, with the exceptions of "One Hand, One Heart" and "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love," which did not use the playback and were instead sung live on set by Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler on the former and Ariana DeBose and Zegler on the latter. Portions of "Maria" were also sung live on set without the playback, as per Elgort's request.

The soundtrack album is expected to be released by Hollywood Records on December 10, 2021, the same day as the film.



West Side Story was initially scheduled to be released in the United States on December 18, 2020 by 20th Century Studios. In September 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parent company Disney delayed the release date to December 10, 2021, which will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the release of the original 1961 film. The film will have an exclusive 45-day theatrical run, including engagements in Dolby Cinema and IMAX.

The film was first screened for most of the cast, including Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés Rivera and some members of the Jets and Sharks factions, at the Daniel Koch Theater in Lincoln Center on November 17, 2021. It will next screen for industry and critics on November 29, 2021, followed by its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on December 7, 2021.


On April 25, 2021, during the 93rd Academy Awards telecast, DeBose introduced the film's teaser trailer, and Moreno later presented the Academy Award for Best Picture, commemorating the 1961 film's release and awards wins. The film's official trailer premiered on September 15, 2021 on ABC's Good Morning America. An exclusive look at the film, featuring extended sneak peeks at the "Dance at the Gym" and "America" scenes, was presented at the 49th Annual American Music Awards on November 22, 2021, introduced by Elgort and Zegler.

A book by Laurent Bouzereau about the making of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew, was released by Abrams Books on November 16, 2021. An ABC special, Something's Coming: West Side Story – A Special Edition of 20/20, is expected to air on December 5, 2021.

Differences among film and stage versions

The film's screenplay is expected to hew more closely to the Broadway script of West Side Story than to the 1961 film adaptation written by Ernest Lehman. Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film, plays Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the original character Doc, who serves as a mentor to the teenage characters. A new Black character, Abe, makes the cast "more representative of ... 1950s New York". Siblings María and Bernardo are given a surname: Vasquez. Peck's choreography is original and does not attempt to replicate Jerome Robbins' choreography.

The film follows the song order of the Broadway script, except that both "Gee, Officer Krupke" and "Cool" are performed in the first half, with "One Hand, One Heart" appearing in between. Tony sings "Cool" to Riff to get the Jets to wait to fight at the rumble that evening, instead of Riff singing it to encourage the Jets to stay cool during the war council at Doc's Drug Store.

The locations where some of the songs take place, as well as some of their contexts, are also changed for this version. "America" now takes place the day after the neighborhood dance, on the streets of the Sharks' community in New York City, rather than on the rooftop of Maria and Bernardo's apartment on the same night of the dance, as seen in the stage show and 1961 film. "I Feel Pretty" takes place at the Gimbels department store in this version, instead of Maria's bedroom in the stage show and the bridal shop in the 1961 film. In addition, the song appears after the rumble, like in the stage show, whereas in the 1961 film, it is sung before the rumble. The rumble itself takes place in a salt warehouse in this version instead of under a highway.

Instead of the streets as in the stage show and 1961 film, "Gee, Officer Krupke" is sung in the 21st Precinct of the New York City Police Department, with the Jets mocking the police and wrecking the place up during the song. Instead of the bridal shop, Maria and Tony sing "One Hand, One Heart" in the Church of the Intercession, as part of their date, which also involves visiting The Cloisters. The context of "Something's Coming" is slightly changed to reflect the character background change for Tony. In the stage show and 1961 film, Tony has the feeling that "something great" is just around the corner, like he tells Riff. In the 2021 film, however, Valentina tries to get Tony to pick himself up and start again after a hard and damaging life he had prior to the start of the story. She gives him the confidence that launches him into singing the song. The ballet associated with "Somewhere" is omitted, like in the 1961 film, and is sung by Valentina in this version.