None other than Steven Spielberg is behind the upcoming musical. The legendary filmmaker will serve as director, and an open casting call has been announced, looking specifically for the roles of Maria, Anita, Tony and Bernardo. No other roles have been specified in the call, which looks for talent between the ages of 15 and 25. All that is asked from auditioning individuals is the ability to sing; possessing dance experience is a plus.
Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, West Side Story tells the tragic love story of two star-crossed lovers who find themselves separated by the rivalry of two gangs in modern New York. The musical, which features music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, was previously brought to film in 1961, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise. The cast included Natalie Wood as Maria, Rita Moreno as Anita, Richard Beymer as Tony, and George Chakiris as Bernardo.
Contrasting with the original casting, Latino actors have been specifically mentioned in the casting call, with the role of Tony being the exception. In the 1961 version, only Rita Moreno was of Latino heritage. In the play, the Jets were a gang of Puerto Rican immigrants, and have historically been portrayed by actors in “brownface” both on-stage and on-screen.
The new adaptation of the musical will be penned by Tony Kushner. The screenwriter has previously collaborated with Spielberg in the productions of Lincoln and Munich.
Source: Entertainment Weekly – “Steven Spielberg Puts Out Casting Call for West Side Story Remake”