Jonathan Del Arco to Star in Joanna Gleason’s Directorial Debut Film “The Grotto”

Jonathan Del Arco is headed to the grotto

The 55-year-old Uruguayan actor and former Major Crimes star has signed on to star in The Grotto, the first feature written and directed by Tony Award-winning actress Joanna Gleason.

Jonathan Del Arco

Del Arco will star opposite Betsy Brandt, Dan BucatinskySteve Kazee and Susan Sullivan in the film.

The film centers on Alice (Brandt), who uncovers her recently deceased fiancé’s secret past when she inherits part ownership of a forgotten nightclub in the Mojave Desert.

Del Arco will play Victor, the owner of the nightclub, with Bucatinsky portraying Alice’s new best friend, Kip. The roles played by Kazee and Sullivan have not yet been disclosed.

Actors set to appear in supporting roles include Miguel Sandoval, Caroline Aaron, Michael Nouri, Amy Aquino, Lindsay Mendez (Broadway’s Carousel) and Kevin Chamberlin.

It will enter production in Los Angeles in a matter of days.

“The cast for ‘The Grotto’ is an embarrassment of riches. I have had these characters in my mind for the past few years and always believed that by some miracle, the right actors were going to show up. And they have — with big thanks to our casting directors,” said Gleason. “The chance to work with these actors led by the incomparable Betsy Brandt is a dream come true.”

Gleason’s first feature comes on the heels of several directorial outings in television. Back in the ’90s, she helmed episodes of the series Love & War (CBS), The Louie Show (CBS) and Oh Baby (Lifetime).

Cassandra Sanchez-Navarro Signs with Buchwald & Anonymous Content for U.S. Representation

Cassandra Sanchez-Navarro is ready to crossover stateside…

The 30-year-old Mexican actress and telenovela star has signed with Buchwald and Anonymous Content for representation in the United States.

Cassandra Sanchez-Navarro

Sanchez-Navarro starred in the romantic comedy Cindy La Regiaa film that went on to become the most successful film in her native Mexico in 2020.

She most recently appeared in the Pantaya release El Peligro En Tu Miranda, currently available for viewing on streaming platforms.

Up next, she will appear in two films: Malcriados and Enfermo Amor opening in Mexico later this year.

Other credits include appearances in Netflix’s Sense 8 and El Dragon: Return of the Warrior for Univision and Televisa.

Sanchez-Navarro was classically trained at LA’s Lee Strasberg Academy and New York American Musical and Dramatic Academy, before going to London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

She’s a fifth-generation actor and granddaughter of Manolo Fabregas, often referred to as ‘The Man of Theater’, and the first Mexican to perform on Broadway, starring opposite legends including Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood.

She continues to be represented by manager Prensa Danna in Mexico.

Danny Pino to Appear on Soundtrack for Film Adaptation of Broadway Musical “Dear Evan Hansen”

Danny Pino isn’t just starring in Dear Evan Hansen… He’s also appearing on the soundtrack.

Universal has announced the track list for the film adaptation of the award-winning Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, with the 47-year-old Cuban American actor among the talents appearing on the album.

Danny Pino

Pino appears on the film’s track “Requiem,” alongside Kaitlyn Dever and Amy Adams.

The soundtrack, which will be available on September 9 – the same day as the film’s theatrical release via Interscope Records, will also feature Sam Smith with Summer WalkerSZACarrie Underwood with Dan + Shay, Finneas, and Tori Kelly. They’ll be performing reimagined versions of the musical’s Tony Award-winning songs and as well as original recordings from the film’s score.

Dear Evan Hansen

Songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul also wrote original tracks for the movie adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen. The album also features 16 tracks that include recordings by the film’s cast.

“Pasek and Paul’s songs from the Dear Evan Hansen stage play are so amazing and timeless — newly recorded by our film’s cast for the soundtrack (and freshly produced by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, Alex Lacamoire and Dan Romer, and supervised by Jordan Carroll) — and they’re now also complemented by two new original songs written for the film (with one of them co-written and performed in the film by Amandla Stenberg),” Mike Knobloch, president of global film music and publishing at Universal Pictures, tells Billboard.

Pino portrays Larry Mora in the film.

 

Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez has new representation…

The 30-year-old half-Afro-Puerto Rican actress has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA).

MJ Rodriguez

Rodriguez, who was with Gersh, recently made history as the first transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy in any lead acting category for her role as house mother Blanca in the FX drama from Steven Canals and Ryan Murphy.

UTA will represent Rodriguez in all areas as she continues to grow her career in film, television, theater and music, among other mediums.

With Pose having wrapped its run earlier this year after three seasons, Rodriguez will next star opposite Maya Rudolph in Apple‘s comedy series Loot.

Her previous television credits include roles in Showtime‘s Nurse Jackie and Marvel‘s Netflix drama Luke Cage.

On the big screen, Rodriguez will next star in Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s feature adaptation of Jonathan Larson‘s Tick, Tick … Boom! She previously earned praise for her role in Saturday Church, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

UTA will also help support Rodriguez as she expands her burgeoning music career. Rodriguez recently released a music video to accompany her debut single, “Something to Say,” the equality anthem she wrote with Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire, Neal Pogue and John Paris.

On stage, Rodriguez made her off-Broadway debut in the New World Stages production of Larson’s beloved Rent, playing the role of Angel. Her stage credits include the Encores! production of Runaways and portraying the lead role of Audrey in the Pasadena Playhouse’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Rita Moreno to Star in the Feature Film “The Prank”

Rita Moreno is pranking around…

The 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer, an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony Award winner) has landed a starring role in the feature film The Prank, which will be directed by Maureen Bharoocha.

Rita Moreno

Moreno will star opposite Connor Kalopsis and Ramona Young.

The Prank follows two high school students who play a prank on their physics teacher, Mrs. Wheeler, played by Moreno. When she fails them on a test; they teach the imperious, demanding, insulting instructor a lesson by falsely accusing her of the murder of a missing student.

Other cast in The Prank includes Keith David, Meredith Salenger, Jonathan Kimmel, Nathan Janak and Kate Flannery.

Filming begins this month in and around Los Angeles.

The dark comedy is written by Rebecca Flinn-White & Zak White.

“Rita Moreno is a force of nature and an icon who continues to redefine herself,” said Bharoocha. “Her brilliant comedic mind lends itself to the perfect ‘Mrs. Wheeler’, a character we have never seen her play, and one that will no doubt surprise audiences.”

Moreno has won an Oscar (West Side Story), a Tony (The Ritz), two Emmys (for her turns respectively in 1977 and 1978 on The Muppet Show and Rockford Files), and a Grammy (Best Children’s Album for The Electric Company).

Moreno has starred on Broadway and London’s West End, appeared in more than 40 feature films and has performed in numerous regional theaters, including her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She recently co-starred in the critically acclaimed Latinx reimagining of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom One Day At A Time.

Her documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, produced by Lear, Lin Manuel Miranda and Brent Miller had its world debut at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The film, which was met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike, will have its television debut on PBS’ American Masters nationwide on October 5.

Moreno also co-stars and is an executive producer of the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story, set to open on December 10.

The recipient of the Peabody Career Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture, she was also honored by her peers as the 50th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Moreno’s all-Spanish-language album, Una Vez Más, was produced by her good friend Emilio Estefan, and she is a New York Times bestselling author with her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir. Moreno has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

Rita Moreno to Perform in PBS’ “Wicked in Concert” Special

It’s a wicked time for Rita Moreno

The 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer, and singer, a living Latina legend, will take part in PBSWicked in Concert special.

Rita Moreno

Co-hosted by the Tony Award-winning musical’s original Broadway stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, the musical event will feature performances by Moreno, Mario Cantone, Gavin Creel, Ariana DeBose, Cynthia Erivo, Stephanie Hsu, Jennifer Nettles, Alex Newell, Isaac Powell, Amber Riley, Gabrielle Ruiz and Ali Stroker.

The starry line-up was announced by Nouveau Productions Executive Producer Robert Pullen. The concert special will air on Sunday, August 29 at 9:00 pm ET on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video App.

The concert, directed by Baayork Lee, is designed as a celebration of the return of Broadway following the 16-month COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

This special will feature reimagined, never-before-heard Wicked musical arrangements created by music director and conductor Luke Frazier just for this broadcast, with performances filmed in multiple locations including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York City.

Since opening on Broadway in 2003, Wicked, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman based on Gregory Maguire’s novel reimagining some characters from The Wizard of Oz, is the fifth longest-running show in Broadway history.

The musical has been seen by over 60 million people worldwide and has amassed over $5 billion in global sales.

Natalie Mendoza to Star as Satine in Broadway’s “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”

Natalie Mendoza is seeing rouge

The 42-year-old part-Spanish Australian actress/singer has been cast as the lead role of Broadway’s Moulin Rouge! The Musical, filling the vacancy left when the Tony Award-nominated Karen Olivo resigned in April.

Natalie Mendoza

With the casting of Mendoza, the full Moulin Rouge! cast is in place for the resumption of performances on Friday, September 24, at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

The musical originally opened on July 25, 2019, but performances were suspended in March 2020 when Broadway went dark due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Mendoza joins a principal cast that also includes Aaron Tveit, Danny Burstein, Sahr Ngaujah, Tam Mutu, Ricky Rojas and Robyn Hurder.

The casting is a bit of a homecoming for Mendoza, who portrayed a can-can dancer named China Doll in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film Moulin Rouge!

“From the moment Natalie was cast as China Doll in Moulin Rouge! the film, we knew we had discovered a major young talent,” Luhrmann said in a statement. “That young talent has now blossomed into the lead in our Broadway production. I could not be more thrilled that Natalie will be lowered in that glorious swing as Broadway’s Sparkling Diamond.”

Said Mendoza, “Having been involved with the film from its early conception, the role of Satine has always been close to my heart. This rare jewel of an opportunity to play a character like her on Broadway feels like a full circle moment. With this stunning group of bohemian artists and this uniquely conscious creative team I couldn’t be in better care.”

Mendoza, raised in Australia, previously worked with the Broadway musical’s director Alex Timbers when she appeared as Imelda Marcos in Here Lies Love at London’s Royal National Theatre.

 

He starred on the BBC One drama series Hotel Babylon and The Descent horror film franchise.

On the film side, she’ll next be seen in the buzzy Cannes Film Festival film Annette, directed by Leos Carax and starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.

Mendoza’s other credits include Michael Winterbottom’s futuristic thriller Code 46, Miramax’s The Great Raid and, on television, ABC’s production of South Pacific, ITV’s McDonald & Dodds, CBS’ Blue Bloods and in upcoming episodes of Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan.

On stage, additional credits include Miss Saigon, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark and Ghost.

Emilio Sosa Named Chair of American Theatre Wing

Emilio Sosa is taking the chair

The Dominican Tony Award-nominated costume and fashion designer has been elected the Chair of the American Theatre Wing. Sosa succeeds current co-chairs David Henry Hwang and Ted Chapin.

Emilio Sosa

Sosa, who joined the Wing’s board in 2015, said in a statement, “I could not be more honored to step into this role at this crucial time, or more humbled to be succeeding two such accomplished leaders. I look forward to continue building the Wing’s ongoing, long-term equity work, expanding and deepening our education work, building bridges between all parts of the theatre ecology, and cultivating conversation and action across every region of the country to ensure all voices and occupations in our industry are heard.”

Sosa will be joined by newly named Vice-Chairs Dale Cendali, Patricia Crown, James Higgins, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Lee Perlman, and Nadine Wong.

Trustees Pam Zilly and Natasha Katz will also join Board leadership as treasurer and secretary, respectively.

Both Hwang and Chapin will maintain active roles for the Wing as they take on responsibilities as its Immediate Past Chairs.

“We all owe a giant debt of gratitude to our two exemplary co-chairs, David Henry Hwang and Ted Chapin, who have helped navigate the organization during our industry’s most trying time,” said American Theatre Wing President & CEO Heather Hitchens, adding, “Now, as we enter the post-pandemic era, our extensive agenda and growing portfolio has created a need for our most robust leadership team ever, including an unprecedented six vice chairs. I can’t think of anyone better suited to lead that team than Emilio as we continue to elevate and advance the Wing’s work and its programs to ensure that this artform and our industry come back better than ever before.”

Sosa’s Broadway credits include Topdog/Underdog, On Your Feet, Motown: The Musical, Porgy and Bess and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Sosa rose to acclaim after taking second place on the seventh season of Project Runway. He later appeared on Season 2 of Project Runway: All Stars.

Jennifer Lopez Looking to Develop Original Projects Based on Concord’s Catalog of Musicals, Including Works by Rodgers & Hammerstein

Jennifer Lopez could be singing and dancing on the big screen in the near future…

The 51-year-old Puerto Rican superstar and her Nuyorican Productions are collaborating with Skydance and Concord to develop a slate of original projects based on Concord’s catalog of musicals, which includes the works of Broadway icons Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Jennifer Lopez

Lopez, along with partners Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina, will executive produce for Nuyorican Productions with an option to star in at least one of the projects.

“Musicals were a part of the tapestry of my childhood. We’re so excited to begin our association with Skydance and Concord in reinterpreting some of the most classic musicals and bringing them to life in new ways for a new generation,” said J.Lo.

“Jennifer Lopez is an international icon in every sense of the word, and we are thrilled to expand our relationship with Concord to partner with such a creative powerhouse,” said Bill Bost, President, Skydance Television. “Skydance aims to create stories that appeal to audiences around the globe, and Jennifer is the perfect partner to reimagine these beloved, classic musicals for a twenty-first century audience.”

“It is an honor to join forces with Jennifer Lopez and Nuyorican, while broadening our partnership with Skydance,” said Sophia Dilley, SVP, Film & TV Development and Production, Concord. “We are excited to collaborate with this impressive team as we continue to champion creative opportunities for the authors and works we represent, together with the copyrights we own.”

This deal expands Skydance Television’s previously announced partnership with Concord, which includes co-developing the first-ever television series based on one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s hit musicals, a modern-day adaptation of Oklahoma! from John Lee Hancock and Bekah Brunstetter.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Freestyle Love Supreme” to Receive Special Tony Award

Lin-Manuel Miranda is receiving some extra Love

A special Tony Award will be presented in September to Freestyle Love Supreme, the Broadway show about the hip-hop improv troupe founded by the 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, and playwright, Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale,

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Special Tony Awards are presented to outstanding productions, artists and organizations who do not fall into any of the competitive categories.

In a joint statement, Heather Hitchens, CEO and President of the American Theatre Wing and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, said that the Freestyle Love Supreme “take(s) theatre to the next level, delivering outside-of-the-box presentations that have gone beyond the stage and brought theatre into the homes of millions of people around the world.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Freestyle Love Supreme

Freestyle Love Supreme was developed in the basement of The Drama Bookshop in 2004 and slowly worked its way to Broadway’s Booth Theatre in 2019.

Directed by Kail, the acclaimed show features a comedic improvisational musical structure, and a rotating cast.

Freestyle Love Supreme will return to Broadway for a strictly limited engagement at the Booth on Thursday, October 7 through Sunday, January 2, 2022.

The 74th Annual Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will be a two-hour, streaming-only ceremony on Sunday, September 26, available on ViacomCBSParamount+ platform and followed immediately by a special two-hour CBS broadcast special called The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!