West Side Story Star Natalie Cortez Reveals The Three Key Ingredients to Her Anita
June 23rd, 2016
by Natalie Cortez
After playing Anita on Broadway (and all around the country in various productions), Natalie Cortez reprises her signature role in Paper Mill Playhouse's acclaimed West Side Story.
BroadwayBox caught up with the A Chorus Line revival star to hear from her about the three most important building blocks she used to create her vivid Anita.
That’s a big house because the first thing is love. Love is important with every character. Every character in [West Side Story] has a love interest—whether it’s Riff who loves Tony as his friend, or Anita who loves Bernardo or who loves Maria as a sister. Love is the reason for everything. That’s a direct quote from Arthur Laurents, who reminded me of that. It all starts from love, and that’s the sad thing about the show. You have to get to a love so deep.
How She Loves
The second part is how she loves. She’s very sexual. Sex comes before communication. Physicality comes before communication. That’s why she dances. There’s a reason for her to dance; its because that’s how she communicates—through her body.
What I do for iconic characters is I justify everything. Don’t just sing a high note. She sings a high note because she’s loud. Why is she loud? She comes from a loud family. She’s had to speak up, she has 10 brothers and sisters. Nothing in the script is ever wrong so you have to justify it. Where does this come from? In my world, Anita comes alone to The States and clings onto Bernardo’s family. Then I have a whole story about what happened back there [in Puerto Rico] and why she can’t go back.
You only have until Sunday, June 26 to see Natalie Cortez's Anita in Paper Mill's 'West Side Story'.