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Why West Side Story is the most exciting musical for ages

Spielberg’s been working his magic again

We are tap dancing in the street with anticipation for West Side Story to hit our screens. What’s got us so excited, you ask? Is it the heartbreakingly romantic story? The iconic songs? The Jets, the Sharks, the finger clicks? It’s all this and way more. Read on to find out why you should be as excited as us:

Serious Film Creds

You know you’re onto a winner when Steven Spielberg is in charge - but ok, it is his first musical. So let’s look at the screenplay writer too: it’s only Tony Kushner, who wrote Lincoln, Fences and Angels in America so... yeah, we’re expecting big things.

There’s also the fact that the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story won TEN Oscars, including Best Picture. Only Lord of the Rings, Titanic and Ben-Hur have won more (but with the awards buzz Spielberg’s film has been getting, we wouldn’t be surprised if WSS ends up on top…)
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It’s going to make us SOB

‘There’s A Place For Us’ in the One Voice Featurette is enough to set us off. Seriously; just listen.
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The soundtrack is amazing

That might sound like hyperbole but we’re being deadly serious: it is an iconic musical and the songs are absolutely stunning. Spielberg’s been listening to them since he was a kid. He told Vanity Fair: “West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home...I just fell completely in love with it as a kid. West Side Story has been that one haunting temptation that I have finally given in to.”
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It’s staying true to the original...

Spielberg grew up with the original cast recording, so he didn’t want to simply remake the 1961 film: by all accounts, he’s taken the spirit of that film, plus inspiration from the original Broadway play, to create something dazzling and new.

And as if that weren’t homage enough, Rita Moreno (who won an Oscar for her performance as Maria in the 1961 version) appears in the new film, as well as being on board as an executive producer.
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...while reinvigorating it

We’re expecting a host of spectacular Spielbergian touches in the way the film is shot and the story is told. The sets look spectacular, the choreography absolutely fantastic and the cinematography gorgeous.

Rita Moreno has heaped praise on Spielberg’s new take, calling it “astonishing” in an interview with Vanity Fair; and not just because of the amazing sets and storytelling - “I am so proud every single Latino character is portrayed by a Latino actor,” she said at the film’s premiere.
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Rachel Zegler is the biggest new star you’ve never heard of

In 2018, Spielberg held an open casting for the film, which is where he came across Rachel Zegler. She was just 17 at the time, but her video audition in which she sang “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa” won her the role of Maria (casually beating 30,000 other applicants).

We reckon she’s the next big thing: she already has Shazam! Fury of the Gods on her CV and her next role is the lead in Disney’s live action Snow White (!). This is your chance to get to know her before she blows all the way up.

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