Mikaela Bennett, Eden Espinosa & Ross Lekites Join WEST SIDE STORY Concert Following Casting Backlash

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Mikaela Bennett, Eden Espinosa & Ross Lekites Join WEST SIDE STORY Concert Following Casting Backlash

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, Broadway and West End star, Sierra Boggess, had been cast as Maria in an upcoming concert version of the classic musical West Side Story presented as part of the BBC Proms 2018 concert series at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Following immense backlash on social media over whitewashing of the role of Maria, meant to be Puerto Rican, Boggess took to Facebook to announce that she was withdrawing from the production.

Boggess wrote: After much reflection, I've realized that if I were to do this concert, it would once again deny Latinas the opportunity to sing this score, as well as deny the IMPORTANCE of seeing themselves represented onstage. And that would be a huge mistake. Since the announcement of this concert, I have had many conversations about why this is a crucial time, now more than ever, to not perpetuate the miscasting of this show. I apologize for not coming to this realization sooner and as an artist, I must ask myself how I can best serve the world, and in this case my choice is clearer than ever: to step aside and allow an opportunity to correct a wrong that has been done for years with this show in particular. I have therefore withdrawn myself from this concert and I look forward to continuing to be a voice for change in our community and our world!

Now according to the BBC, Canadian-born soprano Mikaela Bennett will play the role. Also joining the company are Ross Lekites as Tony, and Eden Espinosa as Anita.

Recent graduate of The Juilliard School, Mikaela Bennett made her professional stage debut last spring starring as Penelope in John Latouche and Jerome Moross's The Golden Apple with City Center Encores! She has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony and the New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, for the world premiere of his new work Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. Mikaela has appeared in New York City's prestigious cabaret venues including Joe's Pub working with Emmy- Award winning composer Lance Horne on his new works concert. Ms. Bennett joined the 'New York Festival of Song' for its Harry, Hoagy, and Harold program curated and accompanies by Steven Blier, and has worked closely with composer William Bolcom for Opera America's Composers in Concert: William Bolcom series with NYFOS. Mikaela is a native of Ottawa, Canada.

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