New York Philharmonic Will Provide Live Accompaniment for Spielberg West Side Story Film Screenings | Playbill

Classic Arts News New York Philharmonic Will Provide Live Accompaniment for Spielberg West Side Story Film Screenings

The evenings will be the ensemble's first time playing the Leonard Bernstein score since the film's recording sessions.

Ariana DeBose as Anita

The New York Philharmonic has revealed its upcoming 2023-2024 season, which includes a live-to-film screening of the 2021 Steven Spielberg-directed West Side Story film. The ensemble will provide live accompaniment while the film is shown, with the film's music arranger David Newman conducting.

Set for September 12–14 and 17, the performances will be the Philharmonic's first time playing the Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim score since recording it (under the baton of soon-to-be Philharmonic Artistic Director Gustav Dudamel) for the film's recording sessions.

The second screen adaptation of Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents' 1957 musical reimagining of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story debuted in movie theatres December 10, 2021. Broadway's Ariana DeBose (Hamilton, A Bronx Tale) won Oscar, Golden Globe, and SAG Awards for her performance as Anita, sharing the screen with Ansel Elgort as Tony, Rachel Zegler as Maria, Tony winner David Alvarez (Billy Elliot) as Bernardo, Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino, Tony nominee Brian d’Arcy James as Officer Krupke, Corey Stoll as Lieutenant Schrank, and EGOT winner and star of the original 1961 film Rita Moreno in the newly created role of Valentina (a take on the character of Doc).

The film features a screenplay by Tony and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Tony Kushner that introduces some new plot elements and tinkers with how Bernstein and Sondheim's songs are used in the story. The film also features new choreography by Tony winner Justin Peck.

West Side Story opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre September 26, 1957. It played 732 performances before closing June 27, 1959. Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the original cast included Larry Kert as Tony, Carol Lawrence as Maria, and Chita Rivera as Anita. Robbins won the Tony Award for his choreography, and Oliver Smith took home the prize for Best Scenic Design. It was nominated as Best Musical but lost to The Music Man.

The memorable Bernstein-Sondheim score boasts such tunes as "Tonight," "America," "Maria," "I Feel Pretty," and "Somewhere." West Side Story's music team includes music arranger Newman, supervising vocal producer Jeanine Tesori, and executive music producer Matt Sullivan.

Speaking of Bernstein, the Philharmonic will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its late, former artistic director's Young People's Concerts with a series edition titled Time Capsule November 18. The evening will explore past programs, with a focus on Bernstein, who transformed the series with entries 1958-1972. Also featured will be reminiscences by pianist André Watts, who made his Philharmonic debut at the age of 16 in a nationally televised Young People's Concert.

The West Side Story screenings are part of the Philharmonic's The Art of the Score series, also set to include showings of Black Panther December 20–23, and Vertigo January 23–26, 2024.

For more from the Philharmonic's season, visit

Check Out New Photos of Steven Spielberg’s Film Adaptation of West Side Story

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