Jeanine Tesori and Gustavo Dudamel join the musical team for the film Spielberg-Helmed West Side Story

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Broadway composer and Tony Laureate Jeanine Tesori (Fun house, Caroline, or Change) will serve as a vocal coach on the next West Side Story film, and LA Philharmonic musical director Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the orchestra. Arranger David Newman (Anastasia) and executive music producer Matthew Rush Sullivan (Chicago, Hair spray, Dream girls).

The Steven Spielberg-directed film, slated for release in December 2020, will feature a new screenplay adaptation of Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner. Award-winning choreographer Justin Peck (Carousel) will offer a new choreography.

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As previously reported, Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler will star as Tony and Maria, with Tony contestant Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino, Tony Brian d’Arcy James’ nominee as Officer Krupke, Corey Stoll as Lieutenant Schrank, and EGOT winner and original film star Rita Moreno, who will play new Valentina.

A host of Broadway alumni help complete the cast, including Dear Evan Hansen Tony Contestant Mike Faist, Paloma Garcia-Lee, David and Jacob Guzman, Ricky Ubeda, Ben Cook, Sara Esty, Garett Hawe, Tanairi Vazquez, Eloise Kropp and Jess LeProtto.

West Side Story, an update of Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 1950s, opened on Broadway in 1957. The show features a score with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, who made his Broadway debut with the work. Arthur Laurents wrote the book from a concept by Jerome Robbins, who directed and choreographed the production.

Conceived as a blend of musical theater and ballet, the show was revolutionary in its use of choreography in storytelling and virtually created the now standard of a “triple threat” Broadway ensemble. Although only modestly successful on its original Broadway release, the work has become a cultural touchstone in large part thanks to its Oscar-winning film adaptation for Best Picture in 1961, which has preserved the Robbins stage choreography.


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