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The great Steven Spielberg became a household name when Jaws premiered. But the filmmaker didn’t stick to one genre. Instead, he hit the ground running with sci-fi, action, and drama flicks. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and The Color Purple are only a few of his successful movies. But has Steven Spielberg directed a musical before?

With West Side Story approaching theaters, musical theatre fans wonder if Spielberg has experience with the genre.

Steven Spielberg hasn't directed a musical before 'West Side Story' and poses at a premiere for the cameras
Steven Spielberg | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg contributed to this movie soundtrack

The Raiders of the Lost Ark filmmaker has a passion for music. According to The Musiconomy, Spielberg discussed the importance of music. He admitted, “If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d probably be in music.” In his childhood, Spielberg collected film scores. But the hobby turned into dedication.

Spielberg didn’t compose soundtracks for his movies. However, he was aware of their cinematic significance. He’s worked with composer John Williams for nearly all of his films. The two collaborated on the infamous sound in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But movie fans can’t forget about one hit theme song: the Indiana Jones theme.

The filmmaker reportedly played the clarinet throughout his adolescence. Per The Hollywood Reporter, he put his musical talent to use in Jaws. Williams revealed a young Spielberg “actually played the clarinet on the soundtrack of Jaws when we needed a student orchestra.”

Williams didn’t confirm whether Spielberg contributed to a soundtrack again.

Has Steven Spielberg directed a musical before?

Many Spielberg fans recall the most iconic film soundtracks. E.T‘s friendly “Flying” theme emphasizes the friendly alien’s personality. Jurassic Park‘s anthem is a tribute to its curious, discovery-like nature. But since Spielberg didn’t compose these, musical fans wonder if the filmmaker can justify his modern West Side Story adaptation.

The director has not made a musical film before West Side Story. However, some of his films were adapted for the stage, including the musical Catch Me If You Can. In a 2011 interview with CNN, Spielberg revealed he wanted to create a musical for a while.

“I’d love to do an old-fashioned musical, where the characters talk to each other, and they sing to each other,” Spielberg said. “I’m such a fan of the Hollywood musical, but I haven’t found the right subject matter or the right book or the right music to throw myself into one of them. But someday, I will.”

Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres in December 2021

Many viewers know the synopsis of West Side Story—teenagers Maria and Tony fall in love in 1950s New York City, but their rival street gangs could tear them apart. Mirroring Romeo and Juliet’s theme, the Jets and Sharks reflect the Montagues and Capulets. The gangs bust into musical brawls.

Spielberg’s film closely matches the original Broadway play rather than the 1961 film adaptation. The movie stars Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as the forbidden, star-crossed lovers.

This is Zelger’s feature film debut. She was subsequently cast in Shazam! Fury of the Gods and as Snow White for a live-action adaptation. Audiences recognize Elgort from The Fault in Our Stars, the Divergent series, and Baby Driver.


Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’: Why the Director Felt the Musical’s ‘Time Has Returned’

Emphasizing the innocence of love and cultural differences, Spielberg’s musical premieres in theaters on Dec. 10, 2021.