Steven Spielberg’s upcoming adaptation of “West Side Story” has filled out its main cast, as 17-year-old newcomer Rachel Zegler has been chosen to play Maria opposite Ansel Elgort as Tony.
Zegler leads a quartet of Latinx actors who have signed on to play key members of the Sharks, with the three other members coming from Broadway careers. Tony winner David Alvarez will play Maria’s brother Bernardo, while Tony nominee Ariana DeBose has been chosen to play Anita with Josh Andres Rivera as Chino.
Alvarez, the son of Cuban immigrants, won a Tony in 2009 for playing the lead role in “Billy Elliot: The Musical.” DeBose, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was nominated for a Tony in 2018 for playing the lead role in “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” while Rivera recently performed on the first national tour of “Hamilton.”
The cast will join the original Anita, Rita Moreno, who will play Valentina, a reimagined version of Tony’s boss, Doc. Moreno is also attached as executive producer.
“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 am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” said Zegler. “‘West Side Story’ was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”
“West Side Story” will be produced and directed by Spielberg from a script by Oscar nominee and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. Filming is set to begin this summer, with additional casting for the Jets still to be announced.