2 dancers from New Jersey describe experience in new West Side Story film

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Monday, December 13, 2021
Dancers from NJ describe role in new West Side Story film
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Toni Yates talks to two dancers from New Jersey, who say being cast on the big screen for the new West Side Story film was a dream come true.

MONTCLAIR, New Jersey (WABC) -- For two dancers from New Jersey, being cast on the big screen for the new West Side Story film was a dream come true.

Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon originally introduced us to Rachel Zegler, who plays the lead role of Maria in Stephen Spielberg's edition of Westside Story.

Eyewitness News learned she's from Clifton, New Jersey.

While they were making the movie, she had plenty of local company among the cast.

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Carlos E. Gonzalez plays Chucho and Melody Marti plays Pili in the movie. Both are alumni of Montclair State University. In fact, as we were talking to them, their former ballet teacher just happened to be walking to her next class.

To be cast in the movie was a dream come true for Marti.

"Just graduating from Montclair in 2018 and booking West Side Story in 2019. It was just so surreal to me," Marti said.

Gonzalez graduated from Montclair State in 2011. He's been very busy on Broadway, including a role in Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton.

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"There were Latinos from all over, which is fine ... we're not divided like you're Puerto Rican, you're Cuban there was definitely a unity, there was so much joy," Gonzalez said.

Montclair State University has been churning out star quality talent for a while. The dean says it's what they do.

"They want to be in an environment where they feel they're part of something and that makes a huge difference," College of the Arts Dean Dan Gurskis said.


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