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Why I Am Excited to See the New West Side Story

West Side Story (1961) is one of the greatest movie musicals of all time. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the story follows Tony, a member of the Jets gang who falls in love with Maria from the Sharks– a rival gang. Even the 1961 film was an adaptation from the 1957 Broadway production of the same name. The story takes place in the 1950’s and would go on to be adapted in every decade since its original debut. So, the 2021 remake is not the first time the story will be retold, but here are just a few reasons why I am still excited to see it in theaters starting December 10, 2021.

  • Ansel Elgort is playing Tony
    • First reason is simple, the Ansel Elgort will be singing AND dancing in his main role as the infamous Jet
  • Steven Spielberg is Directing
    • The mastermind behind the films Jaws (1975), Jurassic Park (1993), and Saving Private Ryan (1998) will be directing the new West Side story. Spielberg has little to no experience directing movie musicals, so his take on this classic should be interesting. 
  • Rita Moreno is Executive Producer on the film
    • The Puerto Rican born actress who played Anita in the original film adaptation of West Side Story in 1961, executive produced the 2021 remake. Moreno will also be starring in the remake as new character, Valentina.
  • Only Latinx actors could be cast for any of the Puerto Rican roles in the remake
    • One of the biggest controversies faced by the original film was that Natalie Wood, the actress who was playing the main Puerto Rican character of Maria, was white. The remake however, is trying to bring new Latinx actors to mainstream Hollywood and increase Latinx and Hispanic representation in film. As such, all actors playing a Shark or Puerto Rican character were required to be of Latinx descent. 
  • Maddie Ziegler is also in the film
    • Maddie Ziegler is arguably one of the most well known dancers of our time, and she will be adding another acting and dancing credit in the 2021 remake of West Side Story. She will be playing Velma, a Jet who was previously portrayed by Emily Anderson in the 1961 film adaptation. 
  • The film already has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
    • Whether or not you trust the website’s film ratings, it is no small feat to get a 95%.

I am a sophomore majoring in political science, with minors in pre-law and Spanish.
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