NEW YORK – Just before they received 2022 Golden Globe nominations on December 13 for their work on the film remake of West Side Story, Steven Spielberg and Rachel Zegler sat down with Emmy-winning anchor Tamsen Fadal on The Broadway Show. The movie arrived in theaters on December 10. “It’s surreal,” Zegler said of the film’s release, which was delayed a year due to COVID-19. “I can’t believe that this little group project we made two and a half years ago is finally coming out.”
West Side Story marks Zegler’s first professional job. A New Jersey native, she grew up starring in school productions and coming into New York City to watch Broadway shows.
“Much like Steven, I was raised with a love of music and a love for classic musical theater. I was fortunate enough to live in a close proximity to Manhattan and got to see Broadway shows all the time. I saw Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Mary Poppins—I saw all of those before I was introduced to the classics,” she said. “This was my first professional gig. I really credit my learning curve to my experience on stage. I started in Fiddler on the Roof and then went on to perform as Maria on stage when I was 16. Now that legacy is immortalized forever in a Steven Spielberg film.”
Spielberg, a three-time Oscar winner, said he had his own learning curve with West Side Story.
“This is my first musical. I’ve been a fan of musicals my entire life, but you can’t be a fan and a director of musicals just because you’re a fan,” he said. “I surrounded myself with some of the best people from Broadway. Instead of bringing Broadway to Hollywood and making them do it my way, I basically had them adopt me. I came and found [writer] Tony Kushner, [costume designer] Paul Tazewell, [choreographer] Justin Peck, [composer] Jeanine Tesori—I picked the best and the brightest to help me.”
The movie also stars Tony nominee Ariana DeBose as Anita, Tony winner David Alvarez as Bernardo and Tony nominee Mike Faist as Riff.
Spielberg claims he’s done with movie musicals after the gargantuan undertaking of West Side Story, and yet Broadway may not be in the rearview mirror for the filmmaker.
“Maybe I’ll do a stage play someday,” he told Fadal. “But that’s another frontier.” Watch the full interview on The Broadway Show, hosted by Fadal. It is the only nationally syndicated weekly theater news program, check your local listings.You can watch The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal on PIX11, Sundays at 6:30pm.