“West Side Story” surpasses expectations


Niko Tavernise

Ariana DeBose as Anita in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.

Natalia Gomez del Campo Leyva, Arts and Entertainment Editor

“West Side Story” takes place in 1950’s America, and it is the musical that has it all. From upbeat and passionate songs, intricate dance sequences, humorous dialogue and an emotional rollercoaster of plot twists, there is no denying this is a musical worth remembering. 

From the long-lasting popularity of the 1961 film, it is understandable why audiences would be ecstatic to hear of a reboot being made. The only debate is how could it possibly live up to the 1961 masterpiece while staying true to the story and adding its own modern twist? 

As someone who has seen the original, I, Natalia, applaud the directors and cast for putting together such a captivating film. I definitely noticed its “modern twists,” but I did not feel they betrayed the original story; if anything, they enhanced it.

Something that has been up for debate is the choice of casting. Many, including myself, were especially captivated by women in the lead roles. Senior Grace Helenic said, “I specifically enjoyed Rachel Zegler’s performance as Maria. Arianna Debose was an amazing Anita and completely stole the show.”

One thing that I found particularly exciting was the creation of a completely new role for actress Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film. Her character (Valentina) was smoothly written in as Tony’s caregiver. Her kind and courageous nature was greatly impactful to the film. 

I also believe that Mike Faist, the character who plays Riff, added so much personality to the film. While his character is meant to be mostly unlikeable, his performance made me much more interested in his storyline and even invoked feelings of sympathy. 

I was especially entertained by the dance skills showcased in the film. The Jets blew me away with their technique and synchronization while still maintaining their “tough” roles. 

Junior Claira Chong says as much as she noticed the “fun music and costumes,” she loved the “meaningful message” behind the film. To me, the film was both entertaining and incredibly impactful.