A casting call has gone out. A script is being written. The Sharks and the Jets will clash again, this time under the direction of Steven Spielberg.
The filmmaker is developing a remake of the 1961 Robert Wise street-gang musical, with Lincoln and Munich screenwriter Tony Kushner penning the adaptation.
Little else is known about the project, apart from a casting notice seeking three Latino performers for the roles of Maria, Anita, and Bernardo and a Caucasian actor for the role of Tony. The casting call was first reported by Broadway World. Spielberg’s reps did not immediately respond with comment.
“Must be able to sing,” the notice reads. “Dance experience a plus.”
Spielberg, who recently released The Post and has the sci-fi adventure Ready Player One debuting in March, has been talking about making a musical since the mid-’80s, although the closest he has come has been the jazzy “Anything Goes” opening sequence of 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The 1957 Broadway musical about rival New York gangs was loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with Jets cofounder Tony falling into star-crossed love with Maria, sister of Sharks leader Bernardo. The music was written by Leonard Bernstein, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Kushner, who also wrote the screenplay for Spielberg’s planned historical drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, is no stranger to adapting stage to the screen. He not only wrote the HBO miniseries based on his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America, but also penned last year’s Denzel Washington-directed film based on August Wilson’s play Fences.