West Side Story

Five West Side Story Remakes for the Soul

“There’s a place for us” indeed, and that place is right here, reveling in everything that makes West Side Story great. So great, in fact, that Leonard Bernstein and colleagues created stage, screen, and sound versions; and artists — from Steven Spielberg to Bobby Sanabria to Cher — keep remaking it.

These five West Side Story remixes to enjoy now and later are sure to rekindle your romance with the classic musical.

5. Spielberg’s “West Side Story” Finds its Tony

The rumors are true: actor Ansel Elgort will play Tony in the upcoming mega-remake of West Side Story by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner. Also slated to appear are singers Camila Cabello, Liam Payne, and Naya Rivera, and New York City Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Justin Peck will join the production team.

4. “School Edition” Brings “West Side” to Class

Last month, Music Theatre International released a “School Edition” of West Side Story, making it simpler for high school drama departments to stage the show without Broadway-level budgets and production teams behind them. According to Playbill.com, “Resources available to companies producing West Side Story School Edition include guide vocal tracks, a director’s guide filled with suggestions from industry experts, an educational study guide, performance accompaniment tracks, a digital logo package, and more.”

A whole new generation of Sharks and Jets is about to take over, and we couldn’t be more excited.

3. Brand-New “West Side” to Shake Up Broadway

For the not-so-traditionalists, a new production of West Side Story will bring updated choreography and staging to Broadway in 2020, led by Tony Award-winner Ivo van Hove and choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

“I consider Leonard Bernstein not only one of the most important American composers but also of 20th century composers,” Keersmaeker said. “The way Bernstein in West Side Story combined theater with music, specifically dance music, making a very strong, coherent, sophisticated score creates a brilliant device to tell the story through dance. The challenge will be to offer a new reading.”

2. Bobby Sanabria’s Jazz Reimagining

Okay, so maybe you want a version of West Side Story you can hear from the comfort of your own home. Well, you better be ready to dance: the Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band recently released an album that had The Wall Street Journal‘s Will Friedwald up on his feet.

Friedwald writes:

There’s every reason to hope that Steven Spielberg’s remake of ‘West Side Story’ will improve upon the 1961 film, but I doubt if we’ll ever hear a more thrilling interpretation of that immortal score than that of the Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band.

1. Cher’s One-Woman “West Side”

Our eternal gratitude to Tom Zohar (@TomZohar on Twitter) for this timeless find: West Side Story in 12 minutes — starring Cher in every role. (If you have only a couple minutes, watch the abbreviated version in his tweet below.)

What’s your favorite West Side Story remake?

There are several remakes that didn’t make the list, but were top contenders (sorry, Bill Murray). If you have a favorite (from our list or your own), tweet us @ClassicalOrg.

West Side Story (1957) promotional photos by Friedman-Abeles. Courtesy of <a href="https://www.nypl.org/blog/2017/02/22/moving-pictures-west-side-story" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Public Library for the Performing Arts</a>
West Side Story (1957) promotional photos by Friedman-Abeles. Courtesy of New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
More Bernstein at 100
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