We have always been a huge fan of Steven Spielberg's films, but we became an even bigger fan when he announced his new remake of West Side Story. To get the inside scoop about the new film, we sat down with Ilda Mason (AKA: Luz, Anita's friend in Spielberg's West Side Story) to find out more about her career on stage and on Broadway and get an inside scoop about the upcoming premiere of West Side Story!
Scroll below to watch our special insider episode!
The original West Side Story, starring the amazing Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno (among many others!) hit the box office in 1961 winning the musical 10 Oscars and over 23 other Nominations. It was such a success! The musical not only did well in Hollywood, it was a smash in the performing arts world with hit after hit songs composed by the incredible Leonard Bernstein and brilliantly choreographed dancing created by Jerome Robbins. What also made this such a success was that West Side Story wasn't like any of the other musicals that were being produced at that time...
The writers turned the iconic tale of Romeo and Juliet into a modern-day story that is laced with the truth and tragedy of racism and violence. Let's just put it this way... the ending doesn't include wedding bells and a happy finale song. This was new and different. Instead of just a "girl meets boy" story, this musical shined light on topics that weren't often discussed publicly and provoked much needed discussion around the importance of equality.
Now, Steven Spielberg will be shining a bright light on this still very relevant topic by creating his new remake of West Side Story that will be premiering in December 2021. Not just any director could do this remake, but given Spielberg's amazing track record for films, we think he's the best suited for the job!
Right off the bat, the casting selections have been fantastic. Keep in mind, many of the "Sharks" in the original film were not even Latino. Just one example of that is Natalie Wood (AKA: Maria) was from San Francisco who was born to Russian immigrant parents. (Sigh) So seeing amazing Latinas take on these roles is just one of the ways that Spielberg has already corrected the wrongs that were done in the original.
We wanted to learn more about some of the other differences that will be seen in the film and hear more about how these iconic scenes will be reimagined with a new cast in a new era. So, we sat down with talented Ilda Mason who plays Anita's best friend, Luz in the film and was also in the most recent production of West Side Story on Broadway.
A native of Panama, Ilda Mason is a performer and actress currently based in New York City. Her acting career began in Panama on in theatre productions such as Peter Pan, A Chorus Line and Hello Dolly among many others. Her all-time favorite musical is West Side Story and she has been in four productions of the show. And this December, she will make her feature film debut in Steven Spielberg's remake.
One of the new additions to West Side Story that is set to premiere in December, is Ilda's character, Luz! Luz is best friends with Anita and friends with Maria. She is a combination of a few characters from the original film who is a supporter of both the Sharks and the Jets. She wants Maria to find love but at the same time, she doesn't want her to get hurt. "The world of West Side Story has been expanded in this new film," says Ilda. "Tony Kushner gave a voice to Latinas and also everyone in the film. It's a reflection of what the life of these people would be in that time. I hope that this movie is just... everywhere!"