Tony Kushner And Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” Remake Now Casting Its Leads

“Must be able to sing. Dance experience a plus.”

Something’s coming.

Steven Spielberg’s big-screen remake of West Side Story, a musical about rival New York street gangs, is searching for its four leads, Broadway World reports.

Issued by casting director Cindy Tolan, the open casting call seeks young Latinx performers for the Puerto Rican roles of Maria, Anita, and Bernardo, as well as a Caucasian actor for the role of Tony. Actors auditioning for the Latinx roles will be expected to speak Spanish.

“Must be able to sing,” the notice reads. “Dance experience a plus.”

The 1961 movie musical West Side Story is based on the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which was loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

West Side Story features music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, the original film adaptation had a screenplay by Ernest Lehman based on Arthur Laurents’ libretto. The film won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

The 1961 film cast white actors as Puerto Rican gang leader Bernardo (George Chakiris) and his younger sister Maria (Natalie Wood). Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno played Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend; both she and Chakiris earned Oscars for their performances.

A production start date for the remake has not been released.

Spielberg, whose Oscar-nominated film The Post is currently in theaters, first expressed serious interest in remaking West Side Story in 2014.

GAB Archive/Redferns

The remake will feature a script by Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner, who previously collaborated with Spielberg on the Oscar-winning biopic Lincoln. Kushner, who adapted Angels in America into an Emmy-winning HBO miniseries, also wrote the screenplay for Spielberg’s upcoming historical drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.

The gay writer discussed his West Side Story screenplay last year in an interview with the Daily Beast. “I am not touching in any way the greatest score of a musical ever written,” he said. “I love the [1961] film. Who doesn’t? I am not changing the story, the setting, the period. It is still the Upper West Side in the late 1950s, but I’m exploring the story.”

Angels in America is returning to Broadway this spring.
 

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