West Side Story Reborn; Rita Moreno Executive Producer

59 years after the movie musical won 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Steven Spielberg is remaking West Side Story. In 1961, Rita Moreno won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in this famous Romeo and Juliet story set in Manhattan. Rita Moreno brought authenticity to her role as she was a Puerto Rican immigrant to New York. For the new film, Spielberg requested her participation as Executive Producer to ensure Puerto Rican culture is respected. She will also portray the owner of the corner store where Tony is employed.

1961 West Side Story Movie Poster Designed by: Joe Caroff

The classic film has beautiful songs and dance sequences, but was plagued by the casting of numerous non-Latinos in Latino roles; Natalie Wood as María heads the list. Spielberg wanted to right that wrong in the new version. The cast in the new movie is Latinos playing Latinos; 20 of Puerto Rican origin or descent and thirteen Latino actors with heritage from other Latin American countries. In the current production, María is Rachel Zegler, a young woman of Afro-Colombian heritage from New Jersey.

The story’s key themes of racial tension, gang violence and immigration are as relevant today as they were six decades ago.

West Side Story opens in theaters on December 18, 2020 over Winter break.

Update December 2020: Due to the pandemic, the opening will be postponed to December 10, 2021.

Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco! ¡Olé! –Rebecca

Thanks to Repeating Islands for inspiring this post.

Rita Moreno at the 50th Anniversary of West Side Story Photo: John Ferguson
Rebecca Cuningham

14 thoughts on “West Side Story Reborn; Rita Moreno Executive Producer

  1. Rita Moreno looks amazing! God bless her! I think the project will be a success, but I don’t like the designation “Latino” to group all those from Spanish – speaking countries as those countries all have very diverse populations. Each person should be called what they are, Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Argentinian et cetera…
    Great post Rebecca and my greetings from Spain 🇪🇸

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    1. Good point, Francisco. Not as specific as I’d like to be about the nationalities of origin, but the information is incomplete online as of yet. I’m very sure we’ll be hearing a lot more soon. : )

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