Krysta Rodriguez to Take Part in Special “Smash” Virtual Cast Reunion to Benefit Actors Fund

Krysta Rodriguezis ready for a Smashing reunion…

The 35-year-old Latina actress/singer is expected to take part in a virtual Smash cast reunion.

Krysta Rodriguez,

Rodriguez, who portrayed Ana Vargas on NBC’s 2012-2013 musical series, will appear in the one-night-only Actors Fund benefit event alongside her Smashcastmates Jaime CeperoWill ChaseBrian d’Arcy JamesJack DavenportAnn HaradaJeremy JordanAndy MientusLeslie Odom Jr. and Wesley Taylor.

The show’s stars Debra MessingKatharine McPheeChristian BorleMegan Hilty and other cast members will virtually reunite on May 20 for a streaming of the 2015 Bombshell in Concert, with Renée Zellwegerintroducing the event and Julie Klausner hosting a live, virtual cast reunion.

The concert of the show-within-the-show about the life of Marilyn Monroewas taped at Broadway’s Minskoff Theateron June 8, 2015, an event that remains one of the most successful fundraisers ever for The Actors FundBombshell– the creation of which formed the plot of Smash– features a score by Marc Shaimanand Scott Wittman, who also served as executive producers of Smash.

Rodriguez and her cast members will appear in a livestream reunion during the intermission. 

The concert and reunion will stream on Wednesday, May 20, at 8:00 pm ET on people.com, PeopleTV, and People social platforms.

Tony Awardwinner and Actors Fund chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell said, “Bombshell in Concertwill be a wonderful evening to share this benefit night with fans far and wide, and will raise much-needed funds to help The Actors Fund continue to help everyone in need in our entertainment community across the country.”

In the past seven weeks, The Actors Fund has distributed $10.1 million in emergency financial assistance to 8,558 people in need due to the current COVID-19pandemic, or more than five times the funds normally provided in a year.

Smashwas based on an original idea by Steven Spielberg, who was also executive producer of the series, and created by Theresa Rebeck.

Lin-Manuel Miranda to Take Part in Stephen Sondheim Virtual Birthday Concert

Lin-Manuel Miranda is celebrating a living musical theater legend.

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican composer, lyricist, singer, actor, producer and playwright, widely known for creating and starring in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton, has signed on to appear on Sunday’s Stephen Sondheim virtual birthday concert.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Miranda, who starred in Mary Poppins Returns, joins a roster of new additions that includes Jake GyllenhaalLinda LavinLaura BenantiNeil Patrick Harrisand Ben Plattfor the all-star benefit for Artists Striving To End Poverty.

Previously announced stars participating in the concert include Annaleigh AshfordMelissa ErricoBeanie FeldsteinJosh GrobanJudy KuhnRandy Rainbow and Lea Solanga

Special appearances will be made by Victor GarberJoanna GleasonNathan Lane and Steven Spielberg.

They’ll all join the previously announced Meryl StreepBernadette PetersPatti LuPone and Audra McDonald, among many others, in the special virtual concert to celebrate Sondheim’s 90th birthday.

Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, hosted by Raúl Esparza, is set for this Sunday, April 26, the 50th anniversary of the opening night of Sondheim’s groundbreaking musical Company.

The concert kicks off at 8:00 pm ET, and will be available for free at Broadway.comand the Broadway.com YouTubechannel.

Other artists performing songs from the Sondheim catalog will include Mandy Patinkin, Christine BaranskiDonna MurphyKristin ChenowethSutton FosterBrian Stokes MitchellKelli O’HaraAaron TveitMaria Friedman, Iain ArmitageKatrina LenkMichael CerverisBrandon UranowitzStephen SchwartzElizabeth StanleyChip Zien, Alexander Gemignani and, from the cast of Pacific Overtures at Classic Stage CompanyAnn HaradaAustin KuKelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma.

Esparza starred as Bobby in the 2006 Tony Award-winning revival of Companyand in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration productions of Sunday in the Park with George and Merrily We Roll Along in 2002, as well as the City Center Encores! production of Anyone Can Whistle and in last year’s Road Show.

“The world is in a hard place,” Esparza said in a statement, “and we are all searching for something great. Well, Stephen Sondheim is greatness personified.”

Mary-Mitchell Campbell will be the music director, with Paul Wontorek serving as director.

The online event will act as a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), the organization conceived by Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth through art.

David Alvarez to Star in Showtime’s Drama Series “Rust”

David Alvarez is ready for showtime

The 25-year-old Cuban-Canadian actor/dancer is set to star in Showtime’s drama series Rust. 

David Alvarez

Alvarez will star oppositeMaura Tierney, Jeff DanielsBill CampAlex Neustaedterand newcomer Julia Mayorga in the series. 

Based on Philipp Meyer’s debut novel American Rust, the Showtime adaptation is described as a compelling family drama that will explore the tattered American dream through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Daniels) in a Rust Belttown in southwest Pennsylvania. When the woman he truly loves (Tierney) sees her son accused of murder, Harris is forced to decide what he’s willing to do to protect him.

Tierney’s Grace Poe is a woman from a devastated Pennsylvania steel town trying to organize a union among co-workers at her dress factory, while her son Billy (Neustaedter) is accused of murder.

Camp will play Henry English, a disabled former steel worker and widower who has placed the entire burden of his care on his son, Isaac (Alvarez). When Isaac runs away, Henry is forced to call his daughter Lee (Mayorga) back from her new life in New York City and finally reckon with the reality of his wife’s death.

Alvarez’s Isaac English is a recent high school graduate who abandons both his ailing father and his troubled friend to hitchhike cross-country. He’ll have to weigh the value of self-discovery against that of personal loyalty.

Neustaedter’s Billy Poe is a former high school football star who turned down a scholarship to stay in town. When he’s accused of the murder of an ex-cop, he must weigh his personal loyalties with the value of his own life.

Mayorga’s Lee English is a young woman, who upon graduating from Columbia Law School, is pulled back to her hometown as her brother runs away, and her father’s condition deteriorates.

Rust is executive produced by Dan Futterman, who is writing multiple scripts, Michael De Luca, Daniels and Elisa Ellisfor Platform One Media.

Alvarez received a Tony Awardfor his performance in Billy Elliot. A military veteran, he most recently wrapped production playing Bernardo in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story.

Paramount/Skydance Moves Up Release Date for Monica Barbaro’s “Top Gun: Maverick”

Monica Barbaro has been cleared for takeoff earlier than expected…

Paramount/Skydance’s long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick, starring the 29-year-old part-Mexican American actress, will fly into theaters on Wednesday, June 24 instead of Friday, June 26. 

Monica Barbaro,

That’s standard for Paramount to take a big summer event tentpole out on a Wednesday, ala their Transformers movies and even Tom Cruise’s Steven Spielberg-directed 2005 hit War of the Worlds

Joseph Kosinskidirects the Top Gunsequeloff a script by Ehren KrugerEric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie.

Barbaro stars as ‘Phoenix,’the sole female pilot in the action drama film that sees Tom Cruise return to his iconic role as Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

Colman Domingo Signs First-Look Deal with AMC Studios

It’s a new deal for Colman Domingo

The 50-year-old Guatemalan American actor, playwright and television/stage director has signed a first-look deal with AMC Studios, the studio behind Domingo’s zombie drama series Fear the Walking Dead.

Colman Domingo,

Domingo made his debut as Victor Strand in a two-episode guest arc during the first season of Fear the Walking Dead, a spinoff from The Walking Dead.

He was made a series regular at the start of Season 2. He made his directorial debut on the show and has directed two episodes to date.

“From the moment AMC viewers first saw Colman Domingo as the mysterious and dynamic Victor Strand in season one of Fear The Walking Dead,they haven’t been able to look away, and neither have we,” said Sarah Barnett, President of AMC Networks Entertainment Group & AMC Studios. “He has become a core character of the series and, as anyone who knows him knows, his talents go far beyond that one character in that one show. He is a writer, producer and performer who can move effortlessly between film, television and the stage and we are thrilled to be expanding our relationship with this extraordinary talent and individual through this first-look deal with AMC Studios.”

Domingo is currently in production on the upcoming sixth season of Fear the Walking Dead and stars in A24’s Zolawhich premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He’s also had a recurring role on HBO’s Euphoria and will be seen in Jordan Peele’s spiritual sequel to the 1992 gothic horror film CandyMan, as well as opposite Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in the Netflix film adaption of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,produced by Denzel Washington.

Domingo, 20-year veteran theater director, co-wrote the book for the Broadway musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and for the Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole  musical.

At AMC, he developed a series based on his play Dottwo years ago.

Domingo’s film acting credits also include Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could TalkSelma, Lee Daniels’ The Butler,  Steven Spielberg’s LincolnFirst Matchand Spike Lee’s Miracle At St. AnaRed Hook Summerand Passing Strange

Josh Andrés Rivera to Star in HBO Max’s Coming-of-Age Drama Pilot “Vegas High”

Josh Andrés Rivera is on a High

The Latino actor has been cast as a lead in Vegas HighHBO Max’s coming-of-age period drama pilot from writer Sarah-Raquel Jimenez, director Gillian Robespierre and Michael Showalter’s Semi-Formal Prods

Josh Andrés Rivera

Written by Jimenez and directed by Robespierre, Vegas Highis inspired by Jimenez’s own experience. It’s a 1990s-set coming-of-age story about Laura, a girl who’s caught between two worlds: the fast-paced lifestyle of Las Vegas and her strong Mormon faith and community.

Rivera is playing Josh, Laura’s reckless and charismatic brother who lives unapologetically. Inappropriate but hilarious, troubled but never a brute, Josh is mysteriously complicated with an “it” factor no one can quite explain.

The role of Laura has not been cast yet.

Jimenez and Robespierre executive produce alongside Showalter and Jordana Mollick for Semi-Formal Productions and Michael Lewen.

Shortly after graduating from college, Rivera joined the Hamilton Angelica Tour as a principal standby. He then landed the role of Chino in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story film. 

Newcomer Rachel Zegler Lands Maria Role in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story”

Rachel Zegler is headed to the West Side

The 17-year-old Colombian American actress/singer,New Jersey High School studentand Hollywood newcomer has landed the lead role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.

Rachel Zegler

Zegler, who beat out more than 30,000 people from around the world, will make her film debut opposite Ansel Elgortas Tony.

Rounding out the principal Shark roles are Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarezas Bernardo. Theater performer Josh Andrés Rivera has been cast as Chino.

Spielberg and his team were committed to finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican as well as the broader Latinxcommunity. The team has been conducting research and having conversations with Hispanic heritage and advocacy groups. In December 2018, Spielberg and Tony Kushner, who is adapting West Side Story, sat with professors and students at the University of Puerto Rico(Universidad de Puerto Rico – Río Piedras) to learn more about performing arts on the island.  The production team maintains a dialogue with the University and Puerto Rican filmmakers there.

The new castmembers join Rita Moreno, who won an Oscarfor her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 movie, who will play Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works. Moreno also serves as executive producer. 

“When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors. I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community,” said Spielberg. “I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”

“I simply cannot wait to get on set to work with this group of young actors,” said Moreno. “What an ensemble, and I look forward to passing the baton to this next generation of Sharks!”

Zegler saw the notice on Twitterback in January 2018 for Latinx actors and submitted a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa” (“I Feel Pretty”).

“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” said Zegler. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”

DeBose, who was nominated for a Tony Award in 2018 for her portrayal of Donna Summerin Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, will play Anita, the role made famous on film by Moreno. DeBose’s other Broadway credits include the original cast of HamiltonA Bronx Tale: The MusicalPippinMotown: The Musical and Bring It On: The Musical. Her screen debut came in 2009 as a competitor on So You Think You Can Dance.

“I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of the remarkable women who have played Anita – including Chita Rivera and, of course, the incomparable Rita Moreno,” said DeBose. “I relate so strongly to Anita – a strong Puerto Rican woman who came to New York in search of opportunity – and I feel so fortunate for the chance to work with this amazing cast and creative team.”

Alvarez, who won a Tony in 2009 for originating the title role in Billy Elliot: The Musical, will play Bernardo, Maria’s brother and the leader of the Sharks. Following his appearance in Billy Elliot, Alvarez served in the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division, before returning to Broadway in 2014 to join the company of On the Town.

“My parents emigrated from Cuba with no connections, knowing no English, driven only by the hope of a better life. I know how challenging the decision was for them, and I see a lot of that internal conflict in Bernardo,” said Alvarez. “I have dreamt of playing this part since I first saw the original film, and I am so grateful for the chance to bring my own perspective and journey to this role – as an artist, a Veteran and a Latino – and to work with this incredible cast to breathe new life into these characters’ experiences.”

Rivera – an actor, singer and dancer who most recently appeared in the first national tour of Hamilton – will play the role of Chino.

West Side Story is the dream for any performer, and to tackle it with this creative team is truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said Rivera. “I feel very fortunate to be able to portray the Nuyorican experience alongside these amazingly talented actors. I’m confident Puerto Ricans on and off the island will see ourselves reflected in this project.”

West Side Story will be produced and directed by Spielberg from a script by Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. The film will be adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway musical, which was written by Arthur Laurentswith music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and concept, direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Also leading the production are Tony Award-winning producer Kevin McCollumand Academy Award-nominated producer Kristie Macosko Krieger.

West Side Story will be released by Twentieth Century Fox. Filming is slated to start in the summer of 2019.

Additional casting announcements will be made in the coming weeks, specifically in regards to The Sharksand The Jets.

Coral Peña Lands Recurring Role on NBC’s “The Enemy Within”

Coral Peña has found an Enemy

The Latina actress and 24: Legacy alumna has landeda recurring role opposite Morris Chestnutand Jennifer Carpenterin NBC’s The Enemy Within.

Coral Peña

From Gotham executive producer Ken Woodruff, Matt Corman, Chris Ordand Universal Television, the project was written and executive produced by Woodruff and with a pilot directed by Mark Pellington.

The Enemy Within is a fast-paced thriller set in the world of counterintelligence.

Peña will play Anna Cruz, an ambitiousCIAanalyst enlisted by FBISpecial Agent, Will Keaton (Chestnut) to assist in the hunt for a former Russian SVR agent turned rogue operative who’s responsible for the deaths of her fellow CIA officers. Cruz’s arrival tests the limits of the unprecedented partnership between Keaton and former CIA Deputy Director turned traitor, Erica Shepherd (Carpenter).

Peña was a series regular on Fox’s 24: Legacy opposite Corey Hawkinsand Miranda Otto and appeared recently in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated film The Post.

The Enemy Within is set for a midseason debut on NBC.

John Ortiz to Star in Transformers Spinoff “Bumblebee”

John Ortiz is transforming his resume…

The 49-year-old Puerto Rican actor is set to star opposite Hailee Steinfeld and Jon Cena in Paramount Pictures’ Bumblebee, the first spinoff of the Transformers franchise.

John Ortiz

It’s set in 1987, where Bumblebee, who is refuged in a junkyard, is discovered and revived by Charlie (Steinfeld) who, on the cusp of turning 18, is trying to find her place in the world.

The blockbuster film, which will open in theaters on December 21, 2018, has Travis Knight directing from a script by Christina Hodson.

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Stephen Davis.

Ortiz’s upcoming film slate includes Paramount’s God Particle, produced by JJ Abrams and starring David OyelowoReplicas opposite Keanu Reeves, and Nostalgia with Jon Hamm.

Isaac in Talks to Star in Steven Spielberg’s “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara”

Oscar Isaac is Amblin-g for a new role…

The 37-year-old Guatemalan and Cuban American actor and Star Wars star is in talks to star opposite Mark Rylance in Amblin Entertainment’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.

Oscar Isaac

Steven Spielberg is putting together the true-life religious drama to tackle after he wraps the sci-fi thriller Ready Player One.

Tony Kushner, who worked on Spielberg’s Lincoln and Munich, wrote the script adapting the David Kertzer novel, which has been in development with the filmmaker since 2008.

The true story centers on a 6-year-old Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy, in 1858 who was seized by the police and removed from his parents’ home. He was subsequently raised as a Catholic and became a priest in the Augustinian order. Rylance will star as Pope Pius IX.

Isaac had a breakout year in 2015 with a buzzy turn in Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller Ex Machina then scene-stealing work in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He last appeared as the villain in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Isaac recently wrapped Star Wars: Episode VIII as well as the Paramount sci-fi thriller Annihilation, which reteamed him with Garland.