An Icon Just Joined The West Side Story Remake

Photo: Mirisch-7 Arts/United Artists/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet ‘til the end, and that same level of loyalty exists for a former member of the original West Side Story cast. According to Deadline, Rita Moreno has joined the West Side Story remake, officially offering a seal of approval of sorts to Steven Spielberg’s buzzed-about musical redo.
Though she is now the star of Netflix’s One Day At a Time, and one of just 15 people (and the only Latina) to have earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, Moreno is perhaps most beloved as the “America”-singing Anita in the 1961 musical. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Anita is the best friend of Maria (Natalie Wood) who urges her not to cross racial and social lines by taking up with rival gang member Tony (Richard Beymer).
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Moreno — who re-wore the dress she accepted her 1962 West Side Story Oscar in at this year’s Academy Award ceremony — will not reprise this role in the new film, but take on a new role entirely. According to the Deadline report, the actress will portray Valentina, who is a reconceived version of drugstore owner “Doc,” originally portrayed by Ned Glass. In the 1961 film, Doc (himself a version of Friar Laurence from Romeo & Juliet) attempts to help Tony and Maria escape their warring gangs.
As excited as fans will be to see Moreno back on the Upper West Side, no one is as stoked as Moreno herself.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” said Moreno in a statement to Deadline. “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!”

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