'West Side Story' producers announce cast for Broadway revival

Portraying Bernardo, Maria’s brother and leader of the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks, is Amar Ramasar, a principal dancer with New York City Ballet who had a prime role in the 2018 Broadway revival of “Carousel.”

'West Side Story' producers announce cast for Broadway revival

Isaac Powell, best known for playing the young love interest in the 2017 revival of “Once on This Island,” will be Tony, a former leader of the Jets street gang. Shereen Pimentel, an undergraduate at the Juilliard School who made her Broadway debut in “The Lion King” at 9 years old, will be Maria.

Portraying Bernardo, Maria’s brother and leader of the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks, is Amar Ramasar, a principal dancer with New York City Ballet who had a prime role in the 2018 Broadway revival of “Carousel.”

Ramasar returned to the City Ballet stage in May after he was fired for sending sexually explicit photographs of a female colleague in the company. The dancers’ union successfully challenged his termination.

Plans for this “West Side Story” had been disclosed earlier, but Wednesday’s announcement was made by an especially high-powered trio of producers: media moguls Scott Rudin and Barry Diller, who have collaborated often, will be joined by David Geffen on this production, which begins previews Dec. 10.

Rick Miramontez, a publicist for the show, said the trio of producers would continue to work together.

Van Hove’s “West Side Story” promises to be unusual, given his strong stylistic hand and the presence of avant-garde choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, who is remaking the dances, diverging from the Jerome Robbins movement that has been front and center in the classic show.

Several cast members in the Broadway production are also appearing in Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s “West Side Story” film, which is expected to premiere next year. Both versions will showcase ties to City Ballet, where Robbins spent much of his career. Besides Ramasar’s Broadway role, Justin Peck, a resident choreographer at City Ballet, will create dance for the film.

“West Side Story” was created by the powerhouse team of Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents. Based on “Romeo and Juliet,” it follows a Puerto Rican girl and Polish-American boy who fall in love against a backdrop of violence between their communities.

The show made waves on Broadway in 1957 and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1961. The most recent Broadway revival, in 2009, drew attention for introducing Spanish lyrics, an experiment that did not live up to the director’s hopes, resulting in some of the songs being converted back to English.

Van Hove, who won a 2016 Tony Award for directing Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge,” is best known for his provocative interpretations of classic plays and stage adaptations of film scripts. But he has directed musicals before: “Rent” in Amsterdam in 2000, and the David Bowie-scored “Lazarus” at New York Theater Workshop and in London.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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