West Side Story - premiere

Inside the World Premiere of West Side Story

By Zach Johnson

Something’s coming, all right!

Last night, New York City rolled out the red carpet for the world premiere of West Side Story. In attendance were director and producer Steven Spielberg; cast members Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Brian d’Arcy James, Corey Stoll, Josh Andrés Rivera, Rita Moreno (who also served as one of the film’s executive producers), and Rachel Zegler; and screenwriter and executive producer Tony Kushner. “After two and a half years since we wrapped—and a year inside—it’s very nice to have us all be together safely to enjoy the film and all the wonderful work that we did,” Zegler, who plays María, told reporters. “It’s just absolutely incredible. The energy is palpable in this room tonight.”

west side story premiere

Added Spielberg, “There has been such an anticipation from all of us—the whole company of actors, musicians, filmmakers, writers and choreographers. We’ve been waiting for this night.”

Adapted for the screen from the original Broadway show, West Side Story tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. Calling it an “honor to be entrusted” with reimagining the iconic musical, Spielberg said, “It’s very special premiering it where the story took place, where those four geniuses [Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, and the recently departed Stephen Sondheim] wrote it and conceived of it in 1957. Here we are, literally half a block away from where we did all our rehearsals in 2019.”

DeBose, who plays Anita, can’t wait for audiences to see the film when it opens in theaters December 10. “It’s iconic! It’s West Side Story!” she said. “It was a dream to be included in Steven and Tony’s vision for this film, to see it fully realized and to celebrate the work of so many people. This was not just the work of one man; this was the work of an entire host of individuals who put their blood, sweat and tears into telling this beautiful, authentic story.”

“I’m very excited that the movie is finally going to be out in the world,” said Kushner. “It’s incredibly moving… We worked so hard on this movie. It’s a giant musical and a giant film.” He added that they made West Side Story on “a very steep learning curve,” since “none of us had ever made a movie musical before. This took everything that everybody could give.”

west side story premiere

Advance tickets for West Side Story are on sale now via Fandango. “There’s nothing better than musical theater, and quite frankly, movie musicals take that to the next level,” said Debose. “…It’s an exquisite, exquisite thing to be able to bring art to the world in this way.”

Elgort, who plays Tony, understands if people want to sing along when they see the film in theaters. “I’m just excited for audiences to see it,” he said. “Please bring your friends and family—and don’t be afraid to applaud and stand up and be a rowdy crowd in the theater!”