Movie Review: West Side Story


“West Side Story” is a Broadway musical intended to be an adaptation of “Romeo And Juliet”. It debuted in 1957, was conceived by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Fundamentally this is a story about love at first sight, and a powerful once in “West Side Story” is a Broadway musical intended to be an adaptation of Shakespear’s “Romeo And Juliet”. It debuted in 1957, was conceived by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Fundamentally this is a story about love at first sight, and a powerful once in a lifetime attraction and ultimately love that happens to a few of us and for many more of us, never happens in our lifetimes. We all know going in that this will be a sad story, just like Romeo and Juliet. Despite realizing the tragic ending ahead, at times the music makes what happens hard to sit through.

The new version of West Side Story is directed by Steven Spielberg, and I for one, never thought I would see Spielberg direct a musical in his career. Whether or not anyone is a fan of musicals, you have to admire the huge amount of preparation, period costumes, cars from the 1950’s, set design, choreography, musical direction and acting in this very well done production.

The standouts in this film are Ansel Elgort as Tony, who had his breakout role in the very good “Baby Driver”, released in 2017. Maria is played by newcomer Rachel Zegler, who is not only a great actress, but also a great singer, including several scenes where she sings opera.

Just about all Spielberg productions have been outstanding in the last almost 50 years, with the exception of “1941”, released in 1979. Regardless of anyone’s dislike of musicals, this movie is still a must see, especially for those who have never seen West Side Story. I was amazed at the high percentage of songs in this musical that I have heard many times before, proving that this is one of most significant musicals of all time. I highly recommend West Side Story.

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