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BWW Interview: The Anitas: When WEST SIDE STORY stars spoke with BroadwayWorld MSP


Actors Rita Moreno and Ana Isabelle were featured

BWW Interview: The Anitas: When WEST SIDE STORY stars spoke with BroadwayWorld MSP The 2021 film of WEST SIDE STORY hit theatres everywhere last weekend and will eventually be available on Disney+ for streaming so between your cinema visits or while you wait to catch the Steven Spielberg flick at home, MSP readers might recall two former Anitas discussed their work with this writer.

EGOT winner, executive producer and new character Valentina in the 2021 film, Rita Moreno, spoke with me before her 2019 planned appearance at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul was cancelled due to illness the following week.

Revisit this December 2019 interview with Moreno where she previewed the film that was to open a year later but was delayed due to the COVID pandemic. The Ordway one-woman show never happened as it was postponed when Moreno's phone-interview cough turned out to be more than she hoped. The closure of all theatres in March 2020 meant the tour was never rescheduled. The now 90-year-old actor may never remount that show but she's still feisty and strong as ever, so maybe she could be coaxed back.

One other actor from the WEST SIDE STORY film of 2021, Ana Isabelle (Rosalia), played Anita on the Guthrie Theater's stage in the summer of 2018 to much acclaim, even winning a BroadwayWorld Award for her role, voted on by local readers. Check out Isabelle's in-person interview with yours truly, where she talked about the role of Anita, being a Puerto Rican in this show and her own meeting with Broadway's original Anita, Chita Rivera (who I was fortunate to see in person once in NYC, too). Isabelle also reveals the desire to work with yet another Puerto Rican phenom, Lin Manuel Miranda.

In another interview, Isabelle recently revealed she and several male Puerto Rican castmates were included in a script revision by Screenwriter Tony Kushner in an effort to enhance the authenticity of how the Puerto Ricans were portrayed in the film and the use of Spanish language.

(Incidentally, Kushner has his own Guthrie connection, with a 2009 Kushner festival during previous artistic director Joe Dowling's tenure. Read a story behind that here. This author went to those shows and even met Kushner briefly at an event but this was prior to writing for BWW.)

The small world of the Twin Cities theatre, many iterations of WEST SIDE STORY, 1 degree of separation from multiple Anitas and nearly eight years of BWW interviews comes together with this film debut and I, for one, cannot wait to see it myself while I hope for my next wished-for interview: Ariana DeBose, the next Anita on my dream list. Putting that one out to the universe can't hurt.

Photo: WEST SIDE STORY poster, via/credit:

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From This Author Kristen Hirsch Montag