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.
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.