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'West Side Story' Remake Announces Cast, Including An Unknown Teen As Maria

The Mirsch Company / Seven Arts Productions

Since its release in 1961, audiences of all ages have been tapping their feet to the memorable songs from West Side Story.

The classic tale, a twist on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set in 1950s New York, saw teenagers Tony and Maria fall in love, despite being on opposite sides of a turf war between the Sharks and the Jets.

Now, Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg is remaking the classic musical for a new generation, and we've just been given the first glimpse at who will fill the movie's iconic roles.

West Side Story Cast
New actress Rachel Zegler joins Ansel Elgort in the movie's leading roles.Fox

Ansel Elgort, known for starring in movies like The Fault in our Stars, landed the lead role of Tony.

But the search for a new Maria - who would have to step into the shoes of actress Natalie Wood - was not so simple. More than 30,000 girls auditioned for the part, before high school student Rachel Zegler was finally announced as the film's star.

Zegler, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, submitted a video of herself singing the musical's songs "Tonight" and "Me Siento Hermosa" after learning about the open casting call on Twitter.

Hear a sample of Zegler's impressive voice in this video:

This won't be Zegler's first time playing Maria - she previously had the role in her performing art school's presentation of the show - but obviously appearing in a Hollywood film is a step up for the unknown actress.

Other casting news announced so far includes Broadway stars Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez as Anita and Bernardo. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the original film, will also have a specially adapted part as the owner of the shop where Tony works.

In a press release about the casting news, Spielberg said that he was "in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they'll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that's more relevant than ever."

West Side Story
The new cast have their work cut out for them remaking the classic musical.The Mirsch Company / Seven Arts Productions

The original West Side Story is still one of the best-loved musicals of all time, and took home 10 Oscars in 1961. So even a critically acclaimed director like Spielberg has his work cut out for him with the new version.

[H/T: Deadline]

Do you think the new movie will measure up to the original?

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