The star-crossed romance between Maria and Tony, set against a backdrop of racial discord, is an ageless story that will be told with new talent and fresh choreography in Broadway’s upcoming production of West Side Story, which begins previews later this year. The cast for this second Broadway revival of West Side Story was announced this week, and its producers are simply gushing with enthusiasm. Spoiler alert: There’s no brownface in this production.
“I couldn’t be more excited by this cast and this group of collaborators, featuring more Broadway debuts than I can ever remember,” Scott Rudin, one of West Side Story’s producers, told The Hollywood Reporter. “West Side Story is fundamentally about the life of kids — and this wildly gifted ensemble will, I expect, deliver and amplify the energy Ivo and Anne Teresa [respectively, the director and choreographer] are bringing to this incredible piece created by the four giants who made it. It’s a pedigree no other historic title shares.” Rudin emphasized that the production team has been treating the classic musical as an entirely new work in order to reimagine it for the modern day. “This is not like any West Side Story anybody has seen … It is being treated as a new work — and being made by a group of artists who have made a remarkable amount of visionary theater for their whole lives.”
Isaac Powell is taking on the role of Tony, Maria’s star-crossed lover. Powell played the role of Daniel on the award-winning show Once on This Island — it won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, which hopefully bodes well for this iteration of West Side Story. He and his long-time partner Wesley Taylor were engaged this past May; Powell and Taylor worked together on Indoor Boys, a Huff Post Queer Voices digital comedy series.
Playing the role of Maria’s brother Bernardo is Bronx-born Amar Ramasar, the New York City Ballet Principal Dancer who was briefly terminated from his position at the ballet following an incident in 2018 in which he and fellow Principal Dancer Zachary Catazaro were accused of sharing graphic texts outside of work that referred to some of their female colleagues with offensive language; both were reinstated to their positions earlier this year after an arbitrator ruled that a termination was too harsh a punishment.
The lead role of Maria will be played by award-winning Juilliard undergrad Shereen Pimentel, who had her Broadway debut as Young Nala in The Lion King at the age of nine. Pimentel is a recipient of the Kovner Fellowship, which is a full-ride scholarship awarded to artists of the “highest caliber.”
Several of the actors in the musical are also cast in roles in Steven Spielberg’s big screen remake, whose leading roles are filled by Latinx talent. By the way, Rita Moreno appears in the film to serve the role of Doc, the owner of the neighborhood drugstore.
Previews for the Broadway revival of West Side Story begin on December 10th at Broadway Theatre. The show officially opens next year on February 6th.