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Rita Moreno Joins Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ Remake

Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance in 1961’s West Side Story, is putting on her dancing shoes once again as she has signed on to return to the streets of New York.

The actress has joined the cast of Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, and will also be an executive producer on the feature.

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 (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!”

An adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, the story chronicles 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.

Stated Spielberg spoke on Moreno signing in his own statement:

“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.”

Filming on West Side Story is set to begin next summer.

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