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).

Matthew López to Pen the Remake of Warner Bros.’ “The Bodyguard”

Matthew López is preparing for a new body(guard) of work…

The 44-year-old Puerto Rican award-winning playwright and screenwriter, who earned a Tony Award nomination for The Inheritance, will pen the remake of Warner Bros’ 1992 blockbuster The Bodyguard.

Matthew Lopez

The original film, which starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston (who died in 2012), grossed $411M WW.

The new film is reportedly inspired by the 1992 romantic drama which followed a former Secret Service agent, played by Costner, who takes on the job of bodyguard to an R&B singer, whose lifestyle is most unlike a President’s.

The Bodyguard served as Houston’s big screen debut at the time.

The film’s original soundtrack is the top selling of all-time with 45M copies sold around the globe. The soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and certified 18x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Two songs, “Run to You” and “I Have Nothing,” were nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars, but lost out to “A Whole New World” from Disney’AladdinThe film’s signature song “I Will Always Love You” went 8x Platinum in the U.S. selling 8M copies. Overall, it was the 15th-best selling album in the U.S., big shoes for this reboot, as yet uncast, to fill.

Lawrence Kasdan wrote and produced the original movie, which was directed by Mick Jackson.

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.

 

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.

Rosanny Zayas to Star in Netflix’s Psychological Thriller Limited Series “Echoes”

Rosanny Zayas is making (sound) waves

The Afro-Latina actress will star as a series regular in Echoes, Netflix’s psychological thriller limited series from 13 Reasons Why showrunner Brian Yorkey.

Rosanny Zayas

Zayas joins a cast that includes Tony Award winner Ali Stroker, Karen Robinson, Michelle Monaghan, Matt Bomer and Daniel Sunjata.

Created and written by Vanessa Gazy, Echoes is a mystery thriller about identical twins Leni and Gina, both portrayed by Monaghan, who share a dangerous secret. Since they were children, Leni and Gina secretly have swapped lives, culminating in a double life as adults: They share two homes, two husbands and a child, but everything in their perfectly choreographed world is thrown into disarray when one of the sisters goes missing.

Zayas is Deputy Paula Martinez. She has enjoyed her first year working in the sleepy town of Mt. Echo where the crimes are as mild as the weather. But when her new friend Leni disappears, the true character of Mt. Echo reveals itself—and she finds herself caught in the middle.

Zayas currently stars on Season 2 of Showtime’s The L Word: Generation Q. She will next be seen in Sam Esmail’s limited series Angelyne for Peacock and UCP. She previously recurred on Orange Is The New Black, Modern Persuasion, The Code and Instinct

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.

Christina Ochoa Teaming Up with Inner Child Production Banner for “Around The World In 80 Dates”

It’s a world of excitement for Christina Ochoa.

The 36-year-old Spanish actress and Animal Kingdom star is partnering with Emmy-winning production designer David Korins and his Inner Child production banner for Around The World In 80 Dates.

Christina Ochoa

Inner Child has acquired the romance experiment show to co-develop and executive produce alongside Ochoa. Around The World in 80 Dates is a cross-cultural exploration of international romance, courtship rituals and love.

Ochoa appears in TNT’s Animal Kingdom as Renn Randall. She has landed a spot in ABC’s Matt Lopez drama Promised Land. Her additional credits include ABC’s A Million Little Things, CW’s Valor and NBC’s Blood Drive.

Korins is both an Emmy winner and Tony Award nominee. He earned his Emmy for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special in 2019 for that year’s Oscars ceremony. In 2016 he nabbed his first scenic design Tony nom for Hamilton. On year later he received a nomination for his work on War Paint and in 2019 earned a Best Scenic Design of a Musical nomination for Beetlejuice.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Artists Offering Civic Lessons in Netflix’s Animated Series “We the People”

Lin-Manuel Miranda is giving a civics lesson…

The 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and playwright, the mastermind behind the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton, lends his voice to the new animated Netflix series We the People.

Lin-Manuel Miranda 

Created by Chris Nee and produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, the 10-part series provides a range of civics lessons through three-minute music videos on topics that include the Bill of Rights, immigration and the courts.

In addition to Miranda, the series also features award-winning artists H.E.R., Brandi CarlisleBebe Rexha and others.

Miranda took on the topic of “The Three Branches of Government” episode, writing and performing the song “Checks and Balances,” alongside Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Daveed Diggs, Brittany Howard and Robert Lopez.

With its light hip-hop bear, the catchy number explains the checks and balances of the United States government.

Meanwhile, Jorge R. Gutierrez directs the immigration-themed episode, which features the track “American Citizen,” performed by Bebe Rexha.

The 46-year-old Mexican animator, painter, writer, voice actor, and production designer helms Rexha’s pop message that lets everyone know from the second they are born, they are an “American Citizen.”

The episode is full of visual treats showing how the country is one built from a nation of immigrants, as animated versions of Sofia Vergara, Steven Chen, Anousheh Ansari and Padma Lakshmi are all featured to illustrate the point.

We the People premiered on Sunday, July 4 on Netflix.