Rachel Zegler, who played Maria in The Performing Arts School at bergenPAC’s 2017 summer musical West Side Story, was recently featured in Vogue in anticipation of her upcoming star turn in the same role in Steven Spielberg’s film remake.

The film was supposed to premiere this holiday season but was pushed back a year in hopes of a stronger release when conditions improve for large crowd gatherings. The 19-year-old Clifton native told Vogue she has been spending the pandemic-caused delay enjoying more time with her family and taking in as much virtual cultural programming as she can.

“It’s a horrible reality, not being able to have live theater,” she says, “but I really enjoy watching the way entertainment is adapting.”

Zegler first came to bergenPAC through an open audition at the Westfield Garden State Plaza for its 2016 summer musical Les Misérables.

“When Rachel auditioned for Les Misérables, we met a star,” Alexander Diaz, Creative Director at The Performing Arts School at bergenPAC, said. “She had an incredible ability to perform so effortlessly and have such a powerful presence and sound. It was truly an honor to be around.”

Zegler snagged Spielberg’s attention through another open casting call that drew 30,000 aspiring Marias. As a Colombian-American, she is excited and honored to bring this iconic role to life on the big screen.  

"I feel like Maria is somebody I know really well," Zegler told northjesey.com. "I'm a young Latina growing up in the New York-New Jersey area. She's someone I hold very near and dear to my heart.” 

Everyone at bergenPAC is excited to see Zegler’s debut and proud to have had her grace its stage. In the meantime, see her Vogue photoshoot and read more about what this role means to her personally: https://www.vogue.com/article/rachel-zegler-west-side-story