The dream: Doing a production of West Side Story in high school, and then actually getting to make West Side Story on film. According to Deadline, Rachel Zegler, a 17-year-old New Jersey High School student, will play Maria in Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s adaptation of the classic musical. The movie has also cast theater veterans in other key roles. Ariana DeBose, who got a Tony nomination for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, will play Anita. David Alvarez, of Billy Elliot and On the Town, will play Bernardo. Josh Andrés Rivera, recently in the first national tour of Hamilton, will play Chino. Zegler will star across from perpetual movie teenager Ansel Elgort, who is playing Tony in the movie, which also found room to give Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar playing Anita in the 1961 film, a new version of the character Doc.
Zegler, like any proper theater teen, appears to maintain a very active YouTube channel and, of course, has already given the world a cover of “Shallow” from A Star Is Born, The Great Comet, songs from Smash while wearing a blonde wig, a lot of The Last Five Years, and even a Greatest Showman cover where she reveals she has not seen the movie and is not a fan of P.T. Barnum. Please don’t delete the channel when you go Hollywood, Rachel!