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Steven Spielberg’s ‘Western Story’: Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Ansel Elgort and Rita Morena shine in historical reenactment

NEW YORK – Rachel Zegler is the star of tomorrow, here today.

She has gone from singing in her bathroom and posting videos on Instagram to performing on the big screen a remake of one of the most acclaimed musicals in history and the person who directed the new version of “West Side.” Story” definitely approves.

“She was phenomenal,” Steven Spielberg told me at the film’s premiere in New York City.

“She can do anything,” agrees Ariana DeBose, who plays old sister Anita in the film. “She’s so young. She’s matured so much, so quickly, but she just handles it with the grace of someone who’s been doing this for 20 years.”

THAN: Newcomer Rachel Zegler Shines In Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

Spielberg explains that Rachel was discovered in her hometown of Clifton, NJ. “A junior high school student. She sent her tape in, and it was just a tape along with 35,000 other tapes that were sent just for review.”

Ansel Elgort stars opposite Rachel as Tony, who falls in love with her character Maria and is caught between two gangs, one white, the other Puerto Rican, in a tumultuous time in NYC half a century ago. Rachel was born.

“That was a long time ago,” I observed as I asked her how she came to understand this bygone era.

“We have been provided with such incredible resources,” she replied. “Steven put together pictures of people who actually lived in the San Juan Hills, this is the set of blocks that became Lincoln Center.”

This location was used in the original film after most of the residents were relocated and before Lincoln Center was built.

The link between then and now is provided by one of the stars of the original. Rita Moreno is the first and so far only Latina to earn an Oscar for acting, for her role as Anita in the original.

DELICIOUS Dish | Rita Moreno’s 60-year journey ‘West Side Story’

In the new version she plays, Valentina, a role dedicated to her by screenwriter Tony Kushner.

Via Zoom Moreno told me she is, “a very different character from Anita. This woman is very quiet and has a sense of dignity, she knows what she is talking about.”

“West Side Story” is from 20th Century Studios, owned by Disney, which is the parent company of this ABC station.

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https://abc13.com/west-side-story-premiere-steven-spielberg-rachel-zegler/11320434/ Steven Spielberg’s ‘Western Story’: Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Ansel Elgort and Rita Morena shine in historical reenactment

Dais Johnston

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