Rita Moreno returning to West Side Story in Spielberg’s remake
EGOT winner Rita Moreno (One Day at a Time, Singin’ in the Rain, Carnal Knowledge), who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Anita Palacio in 1961’s West Side Story, will be returning to the musical in an original role in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming adaptation, Deadline has confirmed.
Spielberg wanted Moreno to be included in the production, so they created an original role for her based on the character of Doc from the original. Doc was the owner of the corner store where Tony worked, and the character has been reimagined and expanded as Valentina.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work. And to be asked by Steven Spielberg to participate is simply thrilling! Then to work together with the brilliant playwright, Tony Kushner – what a glorious stew! I am tingling!” said Moreno.
West Side Story is also largely based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and it features a star-crossed romance between Tony and a girl named Maria. While Tony is closely tied to the Jets, Maria’s brother, Bernardo, is the leader of the Sharks. When the story begins, the tensions between the rival Jets and Sharks gangs led each side to the brink of war. Tony and Maria’s courtship helped push that conflict over the edge.
Moreno will be joining Ansel Elgort in the project, who has been cast as Tony, the co-founder of the Jets The role was originated on screen by Richard Beymar in the classic 1961 adaptation.
Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner (Lincoln) wrote the new script for the West Side Story remake, an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical, which was written by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim. Leonard Bernstein created the music for the show, which went on to earn six Tony nominations. The feature film adaptation was helmed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins on its way to 10 Academy Awards.
Spielberg, Kevin McCollum, and Kristie Macosko Krieger will produce the film musical, which will be released by Twentieth Century Fox. The feature is expected to begin filming in the summer of 2019.
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