On the Scene: West Side Story back in theaters. We speak to acting legend Rita Moreno.
From Broadway to movie musical, one of the classics of American theatre and film, West Side Story, is about to be back in theaters, and among its stars is acting legend Rita Moreno, who was in the original movie some 60 years ago.
Moreno may carry the legacy of West Side Story, for which she won an Oscar playing Anita in the original film in 1961. But in a new role written especially for her, she is helping to redefine a classic.
“I play the widow of Doc, who used to run the candy store where the Jets hung out,” says Moreno.
Moreno prefers to call this West Side Story a reimagining, not a remake.
“It addresses things that the other film didn't,” says Moreno. “What we did was the Broadway show. In the sense that you didn't really address much, the whole business of being Hispanic."
West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg, takes place in the 1950s, a Romeo and Juliet inspired love story complicated by a battle between rival New York City street gangs, with songs written by music legend Stephen Sondheim, who died last month.
The film's release will come one day before Moreno celebrates her 90th birthday.
“I'm much, much stronger,” says Moreno. “But life has made me that way. That didn't just happen yesterday. My life has made me stronger, you know, you can sink or swim."
The film will be in theatres Friday. The release was delayed for one year due to the pandemic.