If you felt a little tremble around eight o’clock last night, it may have been Film Twitter and Musical Theater collectively reacting to this:
That’s a casting notice from Marci Liroff – casting director for more than 50 films, including Mean Girls, Insomnia, and Freaky Friday – reuniting with the director of her very first movie, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. So yes, it’s real; and it’s really Steven Spielberg directing a new film version of West Side Story, with a script adaptation by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (author of Angels in America and the scripts for Spielberg’s Lincoln and Munich).
A new film of the late-‘50s Broadway smash, originally staged by Jerome Robbins (which featured a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), has been a “dream project” for Spielberg – at least according to Deadline, which reported a week ago that Spielberg was “figuring out his next two directorial vehicles.” One of them may be the next Indiana Jones adventure; it’s pretty clear now what the other one is.
Spielberg, shockingly, has never directed a big-screen musical before, though there are memorable musical sequences in his 1979 comedy 1941:
And his 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom:
But aside from the exciting prospect of a Spielberg-directed musical, let’s focus on the best part of Liroff’s casting tweet: that they’re clearly going wide with this, and willing to cast unknowns if they can play the roles and (a-ha) are the accurate ethnicity. (God bless Natalie Wood, but, y’know.) It’d be very easy to just put some High School Musical people in it, or some giant movie stars who can fake the singing and dancing, but they clearly want to get this one right, and kudos for that.
So hey, if you’re a Latina, Latino, or Caucasian male between the ages of 15 and 25 who can sing and dance, well, time to take your shot. Email a photo and video of yourself singing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck! (And RIP that server.)