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Justin Peck to Choreograph Spielberg Remake of West Side Story

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Thank you for posting, abatt. My initial reaction was "Why bother?" The original movie was rather quaint even at the time and I do not think a new crew of nimble ballet boys pretending to be gang members will be any more convincing. At the very least, you'd need a new score.

Nor do I think of Spielberg as Mr. Music, particularly the latter-day Spielberg with his heavier hand. Oh, well, I guess we'll see.

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8 hours ago, dirac said:

Thank you for posting, abatt. My initial reaction was "Why bother?" The original movie was rather quaint even at the time and I do not think a new crew of nimble ballet boys pretending to be gang members will be any more convincing. At the very least, you'd need a new score.

Nor do I think of Spielberg as Mr. Music, particularly the latter-day Spielberg with his heavier hand. Oh, well, I guess we'll see.

dirac, you made me laugh. At least this time, I'm sure,  they'll cast a Maria who can do her own singing. I guess, we'll have to see what Tony Kushner does with the book. Peck has become the go-to person for "serious" choreography in musical theater. Personally I didn't think that having Jigger as a dance role in Carousel added anything, and unbalanced some parts of an already very long show. However, Peck is now the chosen one. More power to him. Could be worse.

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I admit that I'm curious. Although I quite like the original West Side Story, it is a bit dated now. And the story (Romeo and Juliet, societal conflicts) is evergreen, so a modern take that appeals to younger audiences seems like a good bet, artistically and financially. Justin Peck seems like a good pick for this job, in my opinion :)

 

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Is the movement dated, or is it the music?  Perhaps a new score for the existing choreography would liven it up.

Personally, I'm appalled at Spielberg's timing.

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11 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

Is the movement dated, or is it the music?  Perhaps a new score for the existing choreography would liven it up.

Personally, I'm appalled at Spielberg's timing.

I like Robbins' choreography - for the stage. I didn't think it worked on film where we were asked to believe that this was a realistic urban setting. The music...well, it must have been odd enough hearing those echoes of people like Sigmund Romberg in the score at the time, I don't see how you make a movie with it now - again, on the assumption that they're going to try to convince us that these are real gang members in a modern city.

I agree, Amy, the timing is awful.

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However, Peck is now the chosen one. More power to him. Could be worse.

Pretty much sums it up, vipa.

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Ansel  for Tony?  Can't see it. Hope I'm wrong but he seems as miscast as  the guy who played Tony in the original. Neither guy screams gang member.   As for Maria, I hope they find an actual Puerto Rican singer/actress and don't hire yet another tiny English actress which is what Hollywood defaults to when casting everything nowadays. 

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If they're re-doing the book, could they please change the scene where Anita sings "A Boy Like That" and instead of eschewing logic and apologizing with the insipid "I Have a Love," Maria summons her will, looks Anita in the eye, and yells back, "BERNARDO KILLED RIFF, YOU STUPID COW!"?  Okay, maybe not "YOU STUPID COW."  Then they could leave out the insipid "I Have a Love."  They could stare each other down, and then, wordlessly, react in any number of ways, until Spielberg cuts to the next scene.

This will never happen, given that it's Spielberg, who felt it necessary to insert Schindler's big speech into "Schindler's List."

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Thanks to a tweet by Phillippe Noisette, I learned that more cast members were identified by dancespirit magazine:

https://www.dancespirit.com/west-side-story-casting-2626065535.html?rebelltitem=6#rebelltitem6

  • Anita:  Ariana DeBose (Hamilton, Summer:  The Donna Summer Musical)
  • Bernardo:  David Alvarez (Billy Elliott, also attended ABT's JKO School)
  • Maria:  Rachel Zegler, NJ high school student
  • Chino: Josh Andres Rivera (Hamilton national tour)

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On 10/13/2018 at 4:55 PM, Helene said:

If they're re-doing the book, could they please change the scene where Anita sings "A Boy Like That" and instead of eschewing logic and apologizing with the insipid "I Have a Love," Maria summons her will, looks Anita in the eye, and yells back, "BERNARDO KILLED RIFF, YOU STUPID COW!"?  Okay, maybe not "YOU STUPID COW."  Then they could leave out the insipid "I Have a Love."  They could stare each other down, and then, wordlessly, react in any number of ways, until Spielberg cuts to the next scene.

This will never happen, given that it's Spielberg, who felt it necessary to insert Schindler's big speech into "Schindler's List."

In the play, the first act is all Tony. Maria begins the second act with the traditional “charm” number, “I feel pretty.” Later, she gets “I have a love,” and finally, in the original design, a sort of mad scene after Tony’s death. So there was a built-in shift of focus from Tony to Maria. Well, the mad scene was eventually eliminated by the creators, and if you take away “I have a love,” too, you leave Maria only feeling pretty. My own preference would be to go the opposite way and restore the cut in “A boy like that/I have a love” that the movie chopped up so horribly.

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Good points. (In the movie, “One Hand, One Heart” was shifted from “Act One” to “Act Two,” giving Maria a little more.

I think the dramatic juxtaposition of “A Boy Like That” and “I Have a Love” is effective, rendering the sentiments of the latter song much less sappy than they might be. I could certainly do without “One Hand, One Heart,” although I recognize the need for another song for Tony and Maria. (Somebody, I think it was Sondheim, said that Bernstein loved “One Hand, One Heart” and would listen to his own composition with tears in his eyes, while Robbins, Laurents, and Sondheim stepped out for a smoke.)

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In think it was the sharp-tongued Arthur Laurents who said that.

 

Sondheim relates the interesting information that the melody, in simpler form, originally was written for Candide, and John Latouche’s lyrics were one word per note:

 

One

Hand,

One 

Heart.

Your 

Hand,

My

Heart.

 

Sondheim had to plead with Bernstein to let him add more syllables. 

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Anyway, the problem with the show is still that Tony gets “Something’s Coming” and “Maria” at the beginning of the first act, but Maria never gets much of a musical personality of her own aside from prettiness. 

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