Steven Spielberg casts newcomer Rachel Zegler in West Side Story remake

Steven Spielberg casts newcomer Rachel Zegler in West Side Story remake

Rachel Zegler, aged just 17, has no professional acting experience but her vocal talents are in no doubt after a video of her singing to an empty school hall went viral on social media.

But Zegler isn't the only new addition to the West Side Story cast.

The self-described "theatre kid" has more than 83,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, where she posts videos singing today's hits, Broadway favorites and throwback songs from bands like Queen.

"West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character", Zegler continued.

The new West Side Story film does not have a release date, but filming is due to begin from the middle of this year.

Zegler further expressed her gratitude for the opportunity on her Instagram account Monday, writing alongside a photo of the newly announced cast members, "When I played Maria on stage a few summers ago, I never could have imagined that I'd be taking on the role again in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story".

She will make her film debut opposite Ansel Elgort as Tony. "I'm so happy that we've assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America's multifaceted Hispanic community". Maria ends up falling in love with Tony, a member of her brother's rival gang, and since the musical is based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, you can probably figure out how this thing ends. In the new film, Moreno will take on the role of Valentina, a reimagined version of Tony's boss, Doc, and she will also executive produce.

In the original 1961 film, Maria was played by Natalie Wood with Richard Beymer as Tony, Rita Moreno as Anita and George Chakiris starring as Bernardo.

Joining Zegler in the project are young Broadway stars Ariana DeBose (Hamilton) as Anita and David Alvarez (Billy Elliot the Musical) as Bernardo, along with Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino.

Speaking about landing the role Rachel said she is thrilled to be playing the iconic role.

Zegler was the end result of an old fashioned nation-wide casting call, with Spielberg and company searching the Latinx performance community to fill out the Sharks side of the musical's gangland war.

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