White star pulls out of West Side Story concert following race row

A Broadway and West End star has pulled out of a BBC Proms West Side Story concert saying it would be a "huge mistake" for her to play Maria instead of a Latina performer.

American stage star Sierra Boggess was due to play the famous female lead in the performance of the musical at the Royal Albert Hall this summer.

However, in a statement posted on her Facebook page, she wrote that she has withdrawn from the show because she believes she has been miscast.

Maria and her family are Puerto Rican in the original musical, which has lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim.

Boggess has played Maria in the past but in 2015 said she would not do it again as she was "not Puerto Rican".

She said she had accepted the part for the London show because it was a "concert presentation and not the show proper".

But after widespread criticism, she wrote: "After much reflection, I've realised that if I were to do this concert, it would once again deny Latinas the opportunity to sing this score, as well as deny the IMPORTANCE of seeing themselves represented onstage. And that would be a huge mistake.

"Since the announcement of this concert, I have had many conversations about why this is a crucial time, now more than ever, to not perpetuate the miscasting of this show.

"I apologize for not coming to this realization sooner and as an artist, I must ask myself how I can best serve the world, and in this case my choice is clearer than ever: to step aside and allow an opportunity to correct a wrong that has been done for years with this show in particular.

"I have therefore withdrawn myself from this concert and I look forward to continuing to be a voice for change in our community and our world!"

The musical is being performed on 11 August as part of the Proms' celebration marking 100 years since composer Leonard Bernstein was born.

Steven Spielberg is planning a West Side Story remake and recently issued a casting call for young performers of Latin-American heritage.

The decision to cast Natalie Wood as Maria in the Oscar-winning 1961 film is often used as an example of Hollywood whitewashing.

It has been reported that Spielberg will make the film after he has shot Indiana Jones 5.