Theater League of Clifton alumna Rachel Zegler announced on her Instagram Monday that she had been cast in the iconic role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake. Having beaten out 30,000 hopefuls, she has rapidly gained national attention with features on Deadline, CNN, and Entertainment Weekly and with shout-outs from Elvis Duran on his Z100 Morning Show.
You may recognize the 17-year-old from a Twitter video of her performing Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” that went viral last December and which now has over 8.5 million views. However, the Theater League of Clifton is proud to have discovered her talent long before her appearing on the radar of the prolific director of Jaws and Indiana Jones.
Zegler made her TLC debut in 2014 at the age of 13 in our production of Fiddler on the Roof, and in 2017, she claimed the starring role in Thoroughly Modern Millie (pictured above).
“There was no question that Rachel was special from the minute she walked into our audition room in 2014,” said Mark Peterson, TLC President who formed the Theater League of Clifton in 2005. “We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase such extraordinary talent and to continue bringing quality productions to the Clifton and North Jersey communities.”
Zegler is excited to be making her film debut alongside movie stars including Ansel Elgort (from Baby Driver and The Fault in Our Stars) and screen legend Rita Moreno who played Maria’s best friend, Anita in the original 1961 film.
Even more so, Zegler is honored to be representing Clifton’s growing Hispanic community, writing on her Instagram, “As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important. To be able to bring that role to life — a role that means so much to the Hispanic community — is so humbling.”
The Theater League of Clifton shares in Rachel’s excitement and will be cheering her on, not only as she stars in this film, but every step of the way in what is sure to be an extraordinarily bright future.
**The Theater League of Clifton is dedicated to providing an appreciation of the arts through theatrical productions. TLC actively engages Clifton’s youth by involving students in our productions at a variety of levels as well as providing scholarships for Clifton High School Seniors.**