It was a somber premiere for the screen version of the West Side Story. The opening in New York was just 3 days after Stephen Sondheim, the legendary lyricist of the musical, passed at 91.
Stars of West Side Story including Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, Mike Faist, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno, and David Alvarez were all present, but in their black tuxedos and muted dresses, and the mood was somber. Onlookers at Jazz at New York’s Lincoln Center wondered if the dress code was in deference for the composer of Into The Woods and Sweeney Todd.
In a speech, Steven Spielberg said that Stephen Sondheim was the original SS. The legend of Broadway had written the original lyrics of the musical and reverted to help out in the film adaption.
Stephen Sondheim was also involved in many aspects of the movie from discussions on the screenplay and helping out in the recording session. He and Steven Spielberg became fast friends. Spielberg also thanked the other people involved in the remake and ended his remark by thanking Steve for his hat.
Stephen Sondheim Had Reinvented Theater And The Musical: Spielberg
Steven Spielberg said that Stephen Sondheim’s absence had robbed the night of what they all had anticipated. Spielberg pointed out that Stephen Sondheim had reinvented theater and the musical and created an enormous body of creative work that would remain immortalized. He said that Stephen Sondheim belonged to all ages, and not just for any particular one.
Sondheim was involved in the creation of the movie right from the beginning. From the first drafts of the screenplay to the recording session, he was there without fail.
Spielberg says that Sondheim experienced every expression and emotion portrayed by the dancers, and he says that he watched Stephen more and not the actors.
It was Stephen Sondheim’s eye for detail that Spielberg remembers most. He says that like everyone who loves words and music, he was heartbroken at his demise.