Steven Spielberg is working to ensure his upcoming film adaptation of the popular musical “West Side Story” avoids the 1962 version of the show’s Whitewashed casting. Deadline reported yesterday (January 14) that Latinx actors and singers will star in the production’s four principal Puerto Rican roles.
— Rita Moreno (@TheRitaMoreno) January 14, 2019
Tony-winning performers Ariana DeBose (“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”) and David Alvarez (“Billy Elliott: The Musical”) will portray Anita and her boyfriend Bernardo, leader of the Puerto Rican Sharks. High school student Rachel Zegler makes her film debut as Maria, Bernardo’s sister and Anita’s co-worker who falls in love with Tony (Ansel Elgort), a former member of the White Jets gang. Josh Andrés Rivera (“Hamilton” tour) rounds out the principal cast as Chino, Bernardo’s best friend.
“I relate so strongly to Anita, a strong Puerto Rican woman who came to New York in search of opportunity—and I feel so fortunate for the chance to work with this amazing cast and creative team,” DuBose told Deadline.
Rita Moreno won an Oscar for DuBose’s role nearly six decades ago. She serves as executive producer for the new film, and will play Valentina, an updated version of Tony’s employer and gang peacemaker Doc.
“I simply cannot wait to get on set to work with this group of young actors,” Moreno told Deadline. “What an ensemble, and I look forward to passing the baton to this next generation of Sharks!”