West Side Story, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, opened on Broadway in 1957 and received six Tony nominations, winning Best Choreography and Best Scenic Design. It has been revived in 1964, 1980 and 2009.
The 1961 film adaptation, starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, received ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Music.
Spielberg's interest in "West Side Story" follows the recent trend of adapting stage musicals to film, after Rob Marshall's "Chicago" received the first Academy Award for Best Picture since 1968's "Oliver!" In the past few years, Mamma Mia!, Nine and Les Misérables have found their way to the big screen. A film adaptation of Sondheim's Into the Woods, also directed by Marshall, will be released in December. Read more about the starry cast here.
Spielberg's prolific directing credits include "Lincoln," "War Horse," "Catch Me If You Can," "Schindler's List" and "Jurassic Park." He was an executive producer on the TV show "Smash."