Rita Moreno has paid tribute to 'West Side Story' composer Stephen Sondheim, who died on Friday (26.11.2021) at the age of 91.
The 89-year-old actress won an Oscar for a role as Anita in the 1961 film adaptation of the classic musical and admitted it was a "privilege" to have worked alongside the legendary composer.
She said: "I feel privileged to have been in the same generation as he. To be here, to hear them in person, as they were written. That is a huge privilege. I’m so glad he was able to attend our recording sessions when we were doing the movie."
The musical impresario - who was also behind other hit scores such as 'Sweeney Todd', 'Gypsy' and 'Into the Woods' - was survived by his husband Jeffrey Romley, and his half-brother Walter.
Tony Award-winner Rita also has a part in the upcoming remake of 'West Side Story' and revealed that her expertise led to director Steven Spielberg giving her an additional credit as executive producer.
She told 'Entertainment Tonight': "The reason I got credit for executive producer was that he was taking everything that he needed and I was there to help out. I have opinions and some are not always greeted with enthusiasm but that's what producers do. It's an amazing experience."
She also became a mentor to the younger cast, notably newcomer Rachel Zegler - who takes on the lead role of Maria - and 'Hamilton' star Ariana DeBose, who steps into Rita's dancing shoes as Anita.
Rita added: "What was lovely, soon after I joined the cast ... I used to see them trail in at lunchtime and say, 'Can you tell me what happened when ... Who said what?' I loved it. I felt like Mami. [It was] just lovely! I loved that they were interested."
The remake of 'West Side Story' - known for its classic songs 'Somewhere' and 'America' - is set for release next month.
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