BWW Album Review: WEST SIDE STORY (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is Rife with Resplendent Performances

Each performer shines with captivating bravado!

By: Dec. 10, 2021
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BWW Album Review: WEST SIDE STORY (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is Rife with Resplendent Performances

A week before the film was distributed widely in movie theaters, Hollywood Records released WEST SIDE STORY (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on streaming and digital platforms, with physical CDs releasing to coincide with the December 10 release of the film. The new soundtrack soars, fully highlighting the brilliance of Leonard Bernstein's unforgettable jazz and latin infused musical score. Whether you've been a fan of WEST SIDE STORY for years, or even decades, or you're new to the material, the 2021 soundtrack is sure to delight.

WEST SIDE STORY's 2021 recording is as lush and vibrant as musical theater and musical film fans expected it to be. Conducted by renown composer Gustavo Dudamel, both the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic play Bernstein's indelible score, arranged and adapted for this film by composer David Newman, with abundant life and precision. Not confined to the constraints of Broadway's ever shrinking pit orchestra sizes, the music is always full and brims with wall-to-wall gusto. Even without the vocal tracks, it'd be impossible to not get swept away by this iconic score as it's performed on this album.

Newcomer Rachel Zegler, starring as Maria, is nothing short of impressive in her performances across this record. She brings wondrous tenderness and heart to tracks like "Balcony Scene (Tonight)" and "One Hand, One Heart." Her rendition of "I Feel Pretty" is imbued with the whimsy of teenage first love and is the perfect foil to her heartrending performance on "I Have a Love."

Opposite Zegler, Ansel Elgort charms as Tony. This score offers Elgort a chance to showcase his vocal range and is quite the departure from his own solo career as a musician. Tackling "Something's Coming," Elgort's bright and lilting vocals breathe life into every capricious whim that each new set of lyrics seems to offer. His performance on "One Hand, One Heart" is earnest and warm.

The always impeccable Ariana DeBose is absolutely radiant as Anita on the album, and her "A Boy Like That" is a tour de force performance that would absolutely stop a live performance dead in its tracks. Returning to WEST SIDE STORY 60 years after becoming a household name for her portrayal of Anita in the 1951 film, Rita Moreno delivers the most delicate and sublime rendition of "Somewhere" to ever be recorded. There's a lot of Oscar buzz already percolating around Moreno's performance in this film, and this track exemplifies where that fervor comes from.

WEST SIDE STORY, despite its problems and flaws, has always been an audience favorite. The 2021 film aims to correct many of the original film and the previous stage productions' misgivings. Unfortunately, as I have yet to see the film, I cannot speak to how well it tackles those issues, but I can assure you that this album is rife with resplendent performances. Ample space is given for each performer, regardless of ethnicity or gender, to shine, and they rise to the occasion with captivating bravado. Based on the soundtrack alone, it's going to be hard not to absolutely fall in love with this new WEST SIDE STORY.

To listen to or purchase WEST SIDE STORY (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), please visit


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