Casting Call: West Side Story

Published April 25, 2014

In which we suggest who should star in the next big adaptation, remake, or historical film.

According to IndieWire, there are quite a few films Steven Spielberg “might” direct. On the top of the list are Montezuma, the story of 16th-century Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés, and something called Robopocalypse, and there are rumors of West Side Story remake. If Mr. Spielberg goes ahead with any of these projects, we hope it’s West Side Story. Yes, we know that the 1961 film version won 10 Oscars and that every time a remake is announced, a hobbit dies, but a new West Side Story still sounds better than robots + an apocalypse.

West Side Story made its Broadway debut in 1957 and features music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Set in New York’s Upper West Side (pre-gentrification) and vaguely based on Romeo and Juliet, the musical follows two rival street gangs (both alike in dignity). The largely white Jets and Puerto Rican sharks are engaged in a turf war when Tony, a former Jet, falls for Maria, the sister of a Shark. As you can imagine, things do not go well for the star-crossed lovers.

A remake of West Side Story could go one of two ways: it could be a campy musical that strictly adheres to the original play and similar to the new adaptations of Jersey Boys and Annie. Or it could be a gritty, modern, romance/thriller with fewer songs and finger snaps and more meth and shanking. Should Spielberg choose the latter approach, the Sharks would be an offshoot of MS13 or the Latin Kings, and the Jets would be the Albanian Boys or perhaps one of those icky white supremacist gangs we like to think don’t exist in New York City. This is clearly the better approach. 

Casting Call runs every Friday. For more, click here.