Vanessa Hudgens credits Natalie Wood for her love of musical theater

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Vanessa Hudgens has loved Natalie Wood in West Side Story since she was very young (Photo: Getty / Netflix)

Vanessa Hudgens praised Natalie Wood’s performance in the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story as the main reason she “fell in love with musical theater like I did”.

The 32-year-old star, who rose to prominence as Gabriella in the hugely popular 2006 Disney Channel High School Musical TV movies, stars as Karessa opposite Andrew Garfield in Netflix’s new version tick, tick… BOOM!

The film, like West Side Story, is an adaptation of an original Broadway show and an autobiographical work by Rent composer Jonathan Larson.

During a round table for tick, tick… Boom !, at the request of Metro.co.uk about a hero or musical theater inspiration, and if there had been any mentorship from them as Jonathan receives from industry titan Stephen Sondheim, Vanessa went straight to her childhood sweetheart of Natalie Wood, who also starred in the 1962 film adaptation of Gypsy.

She explained, “I didn’t get any advice from that person. But without Natalie Wood on West Side Story, I don’t know if I would have fallen in love with musical theater like I did.

Stephen Sondheim has been a lyricist for West Side Story and Gypsy, as well as a songwriter and lyricist for shows such as Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods.

tick, tick ... BOOM!  (LR) VANESSA HUDGENS in the role of KARESSA in tic, tic ... Boom!

Vanessa Hudgens in tick, tick… BOOM! (Photo: Macall Polay / Netflix)

Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in a scene from the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story (Photo: Donaldson Collection / Getty Images)

She added: “I remember watching this movie for the first time, when I was probably four, maybe five? And sitting right in front of the giant televisions we grew up with and falling in love with this world that people could just sing and dance to express what they were feeling.

Describing the experience as “such an informative thing for me,” she continued, “It just allowed me to live my life, a little bit in that wonder and know that if I feel like singing and dancing, It’s okay! This is really how we live our lives ”.

“The babies of the musical!” ” she laughed.


Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens in High School Musical
With Zac Efron in High School Musical (Photo: Fred Hayes / The Disney Channel / Kobal / Rex / Shutterstock)

West Side Story is set for a remake courtesy of Stephen Spielberg, with the new film adaptation arriving in theaters on December 10. The 1961 version won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Joshua Henry, co-star and three-time Tony Award nominee, who has also appeared onscreen in Army Wives and the dystopian drama Apple TV Plus See with Jason Momoa, praised Hudgens’ tendency to “sing along” .

He shared: “There have been so many times we have filmed that [we would] be on a 10 minute break and she’s like [vocalises and clicks] and I would jump with you, and it’s so great to be around this energy of freedom and impulse – I love that about you! ‘

Henry, who worked with tick, tick… BOOM! Director Lin-Manuel Miranda in the past for In The Heights, Bring It On: The Musical and Hamilton, where he played Aaron Burr on various tours in the United States, also had his own Sondheim story to share.

    JOSHUA HENRY as ROGER in tic, tic ... Boom!

Joshua Henry as Roger in tick, tick… BOOM! (Photo: Macall Polay / Netflix)

He recalled, “I was doing a show called Being Alive, which is a combination of Shakespeare and – [it’s] an incredible show, and Billy Porter was the director. After the show, in Westport, Connecticut, I went back to the lodge [and] was like, “Yeah, that was a great show!” [There’s a] knocks on the door and Stephen Sondheim walks in – I’m in my underwear – and he walks up to me [and says] “Oh my God, that was amazing! “

He joked, “A hug with Stephen Sondheim after a show in her underwear and I was like, ‘What am I doing with this? He’s one of my heroes that I studied and, you know, I went to a musical theater school and I was like “What ?!” It was a very, very big moment for me – I was like ‘I have arrived’.

Unfortunately, you can usually count on your friends and family to bring you back to earth after a time like this.

Stephen Sondheim at the 2019 American Songbook Gala

Legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim in 2019 (Photo: Walter McBride / WireImage)

Henry remembers, “I talked to my mom after that and she said, ‘Who is Stephen Sondheim? “And I was like, ‘Mom. Listen. King of musical theater! It was a great moment.

And as Hudgens added on the ‘iconic’ souvenir: ‘The fact that you’re in your underwear too makes things even better. “

Tick, tick… BOOM! is available to watch now on Netflix.

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