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Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance in 1961’s West Side Story, is putting on her dancing shoes to return to the streets of New York.
The actress has signed on to join the cast of Steven Spielberg’s remake of the film, and will also be an executive producer on the pic.
An adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, the Romeo-and-Juliet-like story tells of the star-crossed love between Tony, a former member of the white gang known as the Jets, and Maria, the younger sister of the leader of a Puerto Rican gang.
In the original movie, Moreno played Anita, the best friend of Maria, who was portrayed by Natalie Wood. Anita sang the signature song “America.”
In the new take, Moreno will play Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony, to be played by Ansel Elgort, works.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” Moreno said Tuesday in a statement. “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!”
Stated Spielberg: “From our earliest discussions, we wanted to include Rita Moreno in our production. Her Anita is one of the greatest musical performances ever filmed, and a personal favorite of mine. We created an original role for her, and we feel beyond fortunate that Rita will bring her extraordinary gifts as an actress, as well as her deep understanding of West Side Story to this production as an executive producer.”
Morena, repped by Innovative Artists, currently stars on the Latino remake of One Day at a Time, which streams on Netflix. She is an EGOT winner, part of rare breed of performers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.
Filming on West Side Story is set to begin next summer.
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