20th Century Fox has shared the first image of Ariana DeBose as Anita in Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story remake. We were previously treated to an image of rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) are shown holding hands in the first-look image. Spielberg is directing and producing the project from a script by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner.
Ariana DeBose is portraying Anita in West Side Story, which is a role actress Rita Moreno won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1961. Moreno has also been cast in a new role by Steven Spielberg, playing a character named Valentina. She is on board as an executive producer too. In the original story, Anita is Bernardo’s girlfriend and Maria’s closest confidante, which is an integral role for the character as tensions begin to rise between the Sharks and the Jets.
An adaptation of the original Broadway musical, West Side Story explores young love and tensions between rival gangs the Jets and the Sharks on the streets of 1957 New York. In addition to Ariana DeBose, Ansel Egbort, and Rachel Zegler, the movie also includes Ana Isabelle (Rosalia), Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank), Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke), and Curtiss Cook (Abe).
West Side Story has been adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway musical, which was written by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and concept, direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Tony Award-winner Justin Peck will choreograph the musical numbers in Steven Spielberg’s version. Also leading the production are Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollum and Academy Award-nominated producer Kristie Macosko Krieger.
West Side Story‘s music team includes renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who will helm the recording of Bernstein’s iconic score; Academy Award-nominated composer and conductor David Newman (Anastasia) who will be arranging the score for the new adaptation; Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Broadway’s Fun Home and Thoroughly Modern Millie), who will be working with the cast on vocals; and Grammy-nominated music supervisor Matt Sullivan (Beauty and the Beast, Chicago), who will serve as executive music producer for the project.
West Side Story is currently in production in New York City. The movie isn’t set to hit theaters until December 18th, 2020, so we have a pretty long wait ahead of us. Ariana DeBose has been in Broadway shows including Motown, Hamilton, and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. The actress also appeared on the So You Think You Can Dance TV series. Expectations are going to be very high on Steven Spielberg to deliver the goods. West Side Story is a classic story on Broadway and in the iconic 1961 movie. However, if anyone is going to be able to do the source material justice, it’s Steven Spielberg and his crew. You can check out the first image of Ariana DeBose as Maria below, thanks to the Amblin Twitter account.