BBC West Side Story falls victim to ‘silly political correctness'

Broadway star Sierra Boggess had been cast in the lead role of Maria

Broadway star Sierra Boggess had been cast in the lead role of Maria

The BBC’s former music chief has dismissed a race row that led to a white actress pulling out of the broadcaster’s production of West Side Story as ‘silly political correctness’.

Broadway star Sierra Boggess had been cast in the lead role of Maria, a young Puerto Rican immigrant, for the performance at this year’s Proms.

But in April she dramatically quit after the corporation was accused of ‘whitewashing’ by casting the white star in a Latina role.

Critics accused her of ‘stealing’ the part – famously played by US star Natalie Wood in the 1961 film – from a Latina actress, with one urging the singer: ‘Step back. This is not your story to tell.’

However, yesterday Humphrey Burton, the BBC’s former head of music and arts, said he found the backlash over the decision to cast Miss Boggess ‘silly’. Speaking at the Hay Literary Festival, he said: ‘I thought Sierra Boggess was the best Maria I had ever heard. She says she doesn’t want to do it, it should be done by a Puerto Rican girl.’

‘I think it is silly, [although] it is politically incorrect of me to say that.’

Mr Burton said that, ideally, the part ‘should be

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