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‘West Side Story’: Cast, release date, trailer and everything we know about the Steven Spielberg musical

West Side Story
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Steven Spielberg has done just about everything you can do in Hollywood, save one, but he’s crossing that off of his list with his remake of West Side Story. West Side Story is of course the Tony-winning Broadway play that became an Oscar-winning movie musical that is now widely regarded as not only one of the best musicals, but in the conversation for best movie ever made. 

Spielberg is taking on a big challenge with his first ever musical, but it’s hard to deny it’s a tantalizing idea for one of Hollywood’s greatest directors to tackle such a film with an incredibly high bar to clear.

We’re just a few months away from being able to watch Spielberg’s West Side Story, but in the meantime, here is everything we know about the movie.

What is the plot of ‘West Side Story’?

West Side Story was first produced for Broadway in 1957. Featuring music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents, West Side Story is the story of forbidden love between teenagers Tony and Maria. While their friends and family are involved in rival street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, divided by their ethnic background, the young couple attempt to conduct their romance in secret. Escalating tensions however threaten their happily ever after.

Inspired by Williams Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story adds an immigration aspect as Maria and the Sharks all hail from Puerto Rico; something that screenwriter Tony Kushner is likely to play up in the new script.

Of course it also features classic songs like “America,” “Maria,” “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty.”

Who is in the ‘West Side Story’ cast?

Spielberg’s West Side Story cast is a mix of some recognizable Hollywood stars and fresh faces. Headlining the film are Ansel Elgort as Tony and newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria. Zegler is making her film debut with West Side Story after being among a reported 30,000 Latin actors to submit an audition for the film. Elgort is best known for his roles in Baby Driver and The Fault in Our Stars.

Some other big name cast members include Ariana DeBose, who has broken out over the last couple years with roles in The Prom, Hamilton and Schmigadoon!, as Anita, Maria’s closest friend and confidant. Rita Moreno, who originally played and won an Oscar as Anita in 1961’s West Side Story, is also starring in Spielberg’s remake, this time as a new character Valentina, who is a reimagining of Doc, the manager of the store Tony works at.

Here is a rundown of other key members of the cast:

  • David Alvarez - Bernardo Vasquez
  • Mike Faist - Riff 
  • Josh Andrés Rivera - Chino 
  • Ana Isabelle - Rosalia 
  • Corey Stoll - Lieutenant Schrank 
  • Brian d’Arcy James - Officer Krupke 
  • Curtiss Cook - Abe 
  • Kevin Csolak - Diesel 
  • Ezra Means - Anybodys 
  • Ben Cook - Mouthpiece 
  • Sean Harrison Jones - Action 
  • Patrick Higgins - Baby John 
  • Paloma Garcia Lee - Graziella 
  • Maddie Ziegler - Velma 

When is the ‘West Side Story’ release date?

A 20th Century Studios film, West Side Story will be out in time for the holidays, as the film has a Dec. 10 release date. Upon its release, West Side Story will play exclusively in theaters, as Disney (which owns 20th Century Studios) officially announced that it is going with a 45-day window for the rest of its 2021 films

During the pandemic, Disney had been using Disney Plus and Hulu to roll out many of its movies as theaters were either shut own or audiences were non-existent. This included Disney Plus Premier Access, which saw Disney release movies like Black Widow and Jungle Cruise on the streaming service the same day as theaters while charging a one-time $30 fee.

However, as people have begun returning to the theater with vaccine rollouts, Disney gave its most recent Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, an exclusive play in theaters and were rewarded with a Labor Day weekend box-office record and a repeat win in its second week. This likely encouraged Disney to give West Side Story and its other remaining films exclusive runs in theaters.

Is there a ‘West Side Story’ trailer?

There have been a few West Side Story trailers released so far, but a new one just came out on Sept. 15 that you can watch below. This trailer puts the spotlight on Rachel Zegler’s Maria, while also showcasing some of the incredibly looking musical numbers that Spielberg and his crew have crafted. 

When will ‘West Side Story’ be available to stream?

Since West Side Story is getting an exclusive theatrical run, there won’t be an opportunity to stream the film at home until 2022. The 45-day exclusive window for the film should end on Jan. 24, 2022.

Once we reach that date, it’s unclear where and when West Side Story will be available to stream or rent on video-on-demand, but in all likelihood it will pop up on either Disney Plus or Hulu.

In the meantime, the 1961 version of West Side Story is available to stream right now on HBO Max.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.