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raymond twist | Flickr.com

raymond twist | Flickr.com

Famous filmmaker Steven Spielberg has finally finished casting the main roles for his version of “West Side Story.” The leads will be filled by Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez as Anita and Bernardo, theater performer Josh Andres Rivera as Chino and a 17 year old New Jersey High School Student named Rachel Zegler. Zegler will be making her film debut when she plays the role of Maria alongside Spielberg’s Tony, played by Ansel Elgort.

Zegler saw a notice on Twitter in January 2018 calling for Latino actors and actresses to audition for parts in the play. She submitted a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa.” Finding out that she would be playing Maria was overwhelming.

“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.”

Spielberg has been insistent that the central roles of the play be filled by members of the Latino community. “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.”

The script for “West Side Story” will be written by Oscar nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner, and the film will be adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway musical. The film will then be produced and directed by Spielberg. Filming is slated to start in the summer of 2019, and fans are no doubt eagerly waiting to see such a classic show migrate from the stage to the silver screen.

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