A "West Side Story" Movie Is in the Works. Here's What We Know So Far.
We'll admit it: When we peruse Broadway's offerings each season, sometimes we bemoan the lack of original stories being portrayed onstage. Songbook musicals, revivals, or shows based on existing TV series or films have become a stronghold (and often a sure bet) for Broadway producers. But when a good redux comes along—like this season's surprisingly delightful SpongeBob SquarePants, based on the TV show of the same name—we can appreciate that.
Now, the silver screen has come knocking on Broadway's door for the reverse scenario: film adaptations of smash stage musicals. It's certainly nothing new, but right now there's a deluge of musicals that have nascent Hollywood dreams. The process can take years (and many stories die along the way), but there are a few exciting movies in the pipeline that we think have a pretty good chance of succeeding.
Many musicals have rumored movie adaptations in the works, but these six have had the most recent status updates.
West Side Story
With Steven Spielberg directing and a screenplay by Tony Kushner, we bet this project has legs. Another good sign: The team recently put out a casting call for the leads of Tony, Maria, Bernardo and Anita.
Our biggest question: Who will choreograph? Since Jerome Robbins' moves are so iconic, we hope much of the original choreography is retained. Someone will likely be brought in to make changes—small or large. Might it be Joshua Bergasse, who put his spin on Robbins' choreo for On the Town? Or maybe Justin Peck, who's making his inaugural Broadway move with this spring's Carousel?
Georgina Pazcoguin brought balletic finesse to Victoria on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy CATS.
Practical cats, dramatical cats, pragmatical cats, fanatical cats. With CATS fresh off a successful Broadway revival, why not make another movie featuring these dance-savvy felines? Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to be on board. Earlier this month we learned that the famous composer has penned a new song for inclusion in the supposed film remake. Good news for dancers: It's a song for Victoria, the most balletic cat of them all. We'd love to see her character expanded.
Although this Aladdin is based off the 1992 animated movie, of all the musicals gunning for the big screen, it's the furthest along in the process. It's currently in production with a release date set for May 24, 2019. Plus, Big-Willie-style is all over this movie. Yes, Will Smith is playing the Genie. Along with the original singalong-worthy tunes, expect additions from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the award-winning duo behind Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman. Jamal Sims, of the Step Up franchise, is choreographing, so that hopefully means there will be plenty of dancing.
Come From Away
Come From Away continues to make waves on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Polk & Co.
Finally! An original Broadway story. Christopher Ashley, who's been with Come From Away since its inception at La Jolla Playhouse, plans to direct the adaptation of the current hit musical. Not much information is available at this time, but we're excited to follow this movie's development.
In the Heights
Washington Heights got a major shout-out in the Broadway musical. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy In the Heights.
We'd love to see this one happen. As of October, though, plans had stalled. Quiara Alegría Hudes (who co-authored the book with Lin-Manuel Miranda) called for the Weinstein Co. to release the film's rights in the wake of harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein. Earlier in the process, Jay Z had been named as a producer.
The classic musical might become a movie once again, but this time, with Ice Cube as the crooked Fagin, who runs a ring of child pickpocketers. Hamilton director Thomas Kail will direct, and way back in 2014, Matthew Bourne was mentioned as choreographer. Can you imagine the rich, fantastical numbers he'd create? Consider us sold.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.