Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story announced today that acclaimed conductor Gustavo Dudamel will be guiding the baton for the film’s recording of Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score.
Also part of the music team are Oscar-nominated composer and conductor David Newman (Anastasia), who will be arranging the Bernstein score for the new adaptation; Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Broadway’s Fun Home and Thoroughly Modern Millie), who will be working with the cast on vocals; and Grammy-nominated music supervisor Matt Sullivan (Beauty and the Beast, Chicago), who will serve as executive music producer for the film.
“Since the moment West Side Story hit Broadway in 1957, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s iconic music has helped define America’s musical identity,” said Spielberg. “To find a team with the experience and talent to honor the original work – while bringing a fresh vision to our new adaptation – was a tall order. I’m confident that this incredible group will do just that, and I am privileged and grateful to have them as partners on this journey.”
Venezuelan-born Gustavo Dudamel is one of the most celebrated and recognized musicians in the world, and can count among his many achievements a Grammy Award, the prestigious Glenn Gould Protégé Prize, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, from the Longy School. He also serves as the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where as Music and Artistic Director he recently oversaw their centennial celebration.
Says Dudamel: “When asked to collaborate with the greatest film director of our time, on one of the greatest musicals ever written and conduct a score composed by one of your heroes, first you catch your breath and ask yourself, ‘Is this really happening?’ After you realize this is true, you humbly, yet very quickly, say, ‘YES, thank you.’
“Although I am only at the very beginning, I view this adaptation of West Side Story, as one of the highlights of my career. It is one of the most beautiful and beloved scores in the history of musical theatre and I can’t wait for the chance to conduct some of the most magnificent songs that Leonard Bernstein ever wrote. I am touched and humbled to be a part of this magnificent film and will do my best to honor the history and gravitas of this project and make beautiful music worthy of this endeavor.”
Already announced in the cast are newcomer Rachel Zegler (Maria) and Ansel Elgort (Tony); Ariana DeBose (Anita) and David Alvarez (Bernardo); Mike Faist (Riff); Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); and Brian d’Arcy James (Sergeant Krupke). Rita Moreno – who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 film version of West Side Story – will feature as Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.
West Side Story will be produced and directed by Steven Spielberg from a script by Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. The film will be adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway musical, which was written by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and concept, direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Also leading the production are Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollum and Academy Award-nominated producer Kristie Macosko Krieger. In addition to her work in front of the camera, Rita Moreno will serve as one of the film’s Executive Producers. Tony Award-winning choreographer Justin Peck will choreograph the film.
Filming is slated to start in the summer of 2019. Disney’s 20th Century Fox will release the film on December 18, 2020.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch Gustavo Dudamel conduct the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar performing Arturo Márquez’s “Danzón No. 2,” we highly recommend watching it below!