A casting call has been sent out for the West Side Story remake that will reunite director Steven Spielberg with his Oscar-nominated Munich and Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner. The filmmaking icon has been openly expressing a desire to tackle the toe tapping clash between rival gangs The Jets and The Sharks for four years now, having even referred to West Side Story as being "one of my favorite Broadway musicals and one of the great pieces of musical literature."
Spielberg hasn't spoken much about the project since he made those comments in 2014, but that might be because he's been busy releasing a new film every year. With the director's Oscar-nominated historical drama The Post now playing in theaters and his Ready Player One adaptation set to hit the scene in less than two months, Spielberg has been looking ahead to the next pair of movies that he can direct and release in rapid succession. Although Indiana Jones 5 is still first in line for Spielberg's attention at the moment, it recently came to light that filmmaker may tackle his musical dream project shortly after he brings Harrison Ford's globe trotting archaeologist back for one final adventure.
Broadway World is reporting that an official casting call for Spielberg's West Side Story has even been issued, further confirming that the project is now actively moving forward. The film's casting director Cindy Tolan is currently focusing on finding the musical's four leads - namely, the star-crossed lovers Maria (age 18-20) and Tony (18-23), along with Maria's brother and The Sharks leader Bernardo (20-24) and Bernardo's girlfriend, Anita (20-24). All four actors must be able to sing and will preferably have some dance experience, while the actors for the latino roles must be able to speak at least some Spanish and, of course, actually be latino.
West Side Story debuted on Broadway in 1957, four years before it was adapted for the big screen and became the record holder for the most Oscar wins for a movie musical, with 10 wins in total (including, of course, Best Picture). With music and lyrics by Broadway icons Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, plus a previous film adaptation directed by the legendary Robert Wise, any fresh adaptation of the West Side Story musical is naturally going to carry some rather lofty expectations with it (be it for the stage or screen).
Of course, that crazy Spielberg kid isn't too shabby himself and has continued to mature as a storyteller with every passing historical drama, even while he pushes his technical prowess with ambitious effects-heavy offerings like The BFG and Ready Player One. West Side Story would be the first full blown musical directed by Spielberg, but that just makes the prospect of seeing what he does with the source material all the more exciting. Plus, who knows: with Spielberg and Kushner's The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara adaptation now lingering in development limbo, perhaps West Side Story will give the pair a chance to work with that movie's would be star, Oscar Isaac (who, as he demonstrated in Inside Llewyn Davis, can sing quite well).
We will bring you more information on the West Side Story remake as it becomes available.
Source: Broadway World