Well, last night—after an extensive search process that focused on finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican/Latinx community—the WSS team finally revealed who'll be playing Maria, Anita, Bernardo, and Chino (joining Ansel Elgort, who was cast as Tony last fall). And you guys: It is a truly epic group.
First, the danciest roles. Our new Anita is the unstoppable Ariana DeBose, whose impressive Broadway credits include the original cast of Hamilton (she was "The Bullet") and Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, for which she earned a Tony nom last year. You already know how we feel about DeBose: She graced our July/August 2016 cover!
Taking on Bernardo is David Alvarez, aka one of the original Billys in Billy Ellioton Broadway. Alvarez's sensitive, nuanced, technically polished (he trained at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School) take on Billy stunned critics back in 2009. Afterward, he took some time off from performing to serve in the military. We're eager to see how he's grown and evolved as an artist.
Original "Billy Elliot" cast member David Alvarez performs "Electricity"
Who's Maria? That'd be 17-year-old Rachel Zegler, a high school student from New Jersey who's about to be very, very famous. (Her Instagram following jumped by thousands overnight.) And playing Chino is Josh Andres Rivera, a true triple threat with a BFA from Ithaca College, who most recently appeared in the Hamilton national tour.
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.