An Unknown 17 Y.O. High Schooler Will Star In Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

An unknown 17-year-old high schooler from New Jersey has been plucked from virtual obscurity and will now fill a leading role in Stephen Spielberg‘s upcoming big-screen adaptation of the enduring and hugely beloved West Side Story.

Rachel Zegler, who had a Twitter post of her empty auditorium rendition of Shallow go viral, is set to fill the role of Maria in the big screen alongside Ansel Elgort who was previously announced as the film’s Tony.

[jwplayer Fv0MJyTx]

Zegler answered an open call for audition tapes that was placed in January of last year, following an announcement from the production that they would be exploring alternative casting avenues within the Puerto Rican and Latinx communities to find the right actors for the film. The 17-year-old submitted tapes of her performing Tonight and Me Siento Hermosa from the iconic musical’s soundtrack.

In addition to Zegler, the film has also added three Broadway heavy hitters to the Sharks side of the cast, with Tony Award winner David Alvarez set to play Bernardo, Tony nominee Ariana DeBose playing Anita, and former Hamilton cast member Josh Andres Rivera on board as Chino. They join the previously-announced Rita Moreno, who is playing Valentina, an expanded and re-conceived version of corner store owner Doc. Moreno previously won an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 film version of the musical.

The film, which is scheduled to begin filming this year, is being adapted from the original 1957 Broadway musical. 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.

And yeah, Zegler. From outta the dang clouds and into a major Hollywood musical film. It’s the stuff of dreams, really.

‘Course it’s not without good reason, either. The kid can sing.

Yep. Yep. YEP. This West Side Story update is gonna kick ass.