IC Alum Cast in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

By Dan Verderosa, January 23, 2019
Josh Andrés Rivera ’16 will make his feature film debut in the film adaptation of the classic musical.
A man in military fatigues sings on stage

Josh Andrés Rivera performs in Ithaca College Theatre's 2016 production of the musical “Dogfight.”

(Photo by Sheryl D. Sinkow/Ithaca College)

Just a few years after graduating from Ithaca College with a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theatre, Josh Andrés Rivera ’16 has been cast in director Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film adaptation of the classic musical “West Side Story.” Rivera will star alongside actors including Ansel Elgort and Rita Moreno.

“‘West Side Story’ is the dream for any performer, and to tackle it with this creative team is truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Rivera told Deadline. “I feel very fortunate to be able to portray the Nuyorican experience alongside these amazingly talented actors. I’m confident Puerto Ricans on and off the island will see ourselves reflected in this project.”

Written by Arthur Laurents with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, “West Side Story” tells the story of rival New York street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. Rivera will play Chino, a member of the Sharks gang who is arranged to be married to the lead character Maria.

Rivera most recently appeared in the first national tour of the 12-time Tony-award-winning musical, “Hamilton.”

“West Side Story” was previously adapted to film in 1961 and won 10 Academy Awards, including best picture. Spielberg’s version is being adapted from the original 1957 Broadway musical by celebrated playwright Tony Kushner, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Ithaca College in 2015.