Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” update has rounded out its ensemble cast. 17-year-old Rachel Zegler will be playing Maria, the role made famous by Natalie Wood in the 1961 film version, with Ariana DeBose as Anita (played by Rita Moreno in that same film), David Alvarez as Bernardo, and Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino. Ansel Elgort was previously cast as Tony, and Moreno — who originally said she wouldn’t be making a cameo — joined the cast in late November and is also serving as executive producer. Deadline first broke the news.
“When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors. I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community,” said Spielberg. “I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”
“I simply cannot wait to get on set to work with this group of young actors,” Moreno said. “What an ensemble, and I look forward to passing the baton to this next generation of Sharks!”
Zegler, a newcomer, submitted a video of herself singing the songs “Me Siento Hermosa” (“I Feel Pretty”) and “Tonight” as part of the audition process, beating out 30,000 other contenders; DeBose has a Tony nomination under her belt for playing Donna Summer in “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” and was also in the original cast of “Hamilton.” Alvarez won a Tony for playing the title role in “Billy Elliot: The Musical” 10 years ago, and Rivera was in the first national tour of “Hamilton.”
Spielberg is producing and directing “West Side Story” from a script by Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”), with shooting set to begin this summer.