Cast of Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in Robert Wise’s 1961 version of West Side Story, which won 10 Oscars.

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BY BILLY SUTER

PRINCIPAL casting is complete on Steven Spielberg’s planned remake of the Oscar-winning movie musical, West Side Story, a story of rival gangs in New York. Filming is due to start soon with an unknown 17-year-old high school pupil in the lead role of Maria.

It is widely reported online that Maria will be played by newcomer Rachel Zegler, alongside 24-year-old singer-dancer Ansel Elgort as Tony.

Ansel Elgort as he appears on the cover of his single, Thief.

Alvarez is a singer-actor and dancer who has released a string of singles. He was recently seen in the films Billionaire Boys Club, Baby Driver and The Fault in Our Stars.

Variety reports that Broadway veteran and a 2009 So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 contestant, Ariana DeBose, has been cast as the feisty Anita. The 27-year-old was most recently nominated for Broadway’s Tony Award for her featured role as Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

David Alvarez will portray Bernardo and theatre performer Josh Andrés Rivera will fill the role of Chino. Alvarez won a Tony award in 2009 for being the first to play the title role in Billy Elliot: The Musical.

In a deft plotting tweak, Spielberg will reportedly be featuring the legendary Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her Anita in the 1961 West Side Story, as Valentina. The character is said to be a gender-swop, expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the store where Tony works.

Variety reports that Moreno is also an executive producer on the remake.

The Hollywood Reporter has it on record that Spielberg first announced news of his planned remake in 2016, when he said he had wanted to remake the hit film for decades and had finally secured rights after many years of trying to get them.

The original West Side Story starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris. Directed by Robert Wise, it was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10, including that for Best Picture.

Wikipedia reports that the 1961 film was was deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for the National Film Registry in 1997.

 


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