‘West Side Story’ remake casts 17-year-old newcomer as Maria

Lydia FlemingJan 16, 2019

"I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this fantastic cast", said Zegler, who will star opposite Ansel Elgort as Tony, Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino and Rita Moreno (Anita in the 1961 film) as Valentina: a re-conceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.

A school student has reportedly seen off competition from more than 30,000 hopefuls to land a starring role in Steven Spielberg's film remake of West Side Story. But it is already earning hype given West Side Story is one of the most beloved Broadway shows of all time. Zegler submitted an audition video singing "Tonight" and "Me Siento Hermosa" ("I Feel Pretty") to the open casting call.

"I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this awesome cast", Zegler told the Hollywood Reporter.

Zegler has a YouTube channel, where she posts videos of her singing songs.

Moreno will play Valentina in Spielberg's film - once again a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, set in NY and centred on rival gangs The Jets and the Sharks.

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Speaking about landing the role Rachel said she is thrilled to be playing the iconic role. Moreno will also be an executive producer of the film, reports Deadline.

She wrote on Instagram on Monday: 'As a colombian-american woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like maria are so important.

Zegler joins Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose, who has been cast as Anita, and David Alvarez as Bernardo and "Hamilton" national touring cast member Josh Andrés Rivera, who will play Chino. Natalie Wood played the role of Maria in the movie.

When the story begins, the tensions between the rival Jets and Sharks gangs led each side to the brink of war.

Filming for the new feature is scheduled to begin this summer. Munich and Lincoln scribe Tony Kushner is adapting the play's book for the screen, however the original soundtrack and late-1950s setting are set to remain. "West Side Story" won 10 Oscars, including best picture.

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