Rita Moreno is ready to talk shop as part of a special night…
The 88-year-old Puerto Rican Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress will be honored during this year’s virtual AFI Fest, which will take place from October 15-22.
Moreno, who currently stars on PopTV’s One Day at a Time, will be honored alongside Sofia Coppola, Kirby Dick and Mira Nair, with each taking par t in an evening of conversation celebrating their careers.
“Artists of this caliber are essential players in our global culture,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “To honor each of them – and all of them – at AFI FEST will prove a symphony of talent at a time the world needs it most.”
Moreno’s career began with a Broadway debut at 13 years old. Since then she has won all four of the most prestigious awards in show business – an Oscar, a Tony, two Emmys, and a Grammy – as well as a Peabody Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. Moreno has also been recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.
Moreno received an Honorary Degree from the AFI Conservatory in 2016.
Moreno is starring in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, which will debut in theaters in December of 2021. She currently stars on the remake of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom, One Day at a Time.
The 25-year-old Cuban-Canadian actor/dancer is set to star in Showtime’s drama seriesRust.
Alvarez will star oppositeMaura Tierney, Jeff Daniels, Bill Camp, Alex 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 ofWest Side Story.
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.
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 Hamilton, A Bronx Tale: The Musical, Pippin, Motown: 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.
The 84-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer will be honored by the New York-based Victory Dance Project at its third anniversary celebration.
Rivera, a Broadway legend, will be presented with the company’s Woman of Valor Award at the celebration at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center on June 15.
The award honors “a woman whose artistic excellence, advocacy, and legacy represents the highest level of integrity and artistic vision.”
The event, themed From This Movement On, will also include a world premiere piece choreographed by the company’s artistic director Amy Jordan, as well as pieces from the company’s repertoire.
Jordan and Rivera share a similar experience. Victory Dance Project was founded in 2014 by Jordan after she survived a bus accident that nearly claimed her life. She says she resolved that if she survived, she would do a “victory dance” to celebrate, and launched VDP Project with the mission to “Make the Impossible Possible with the Power of Movement.”
Rivera survived a 1986 Manhattan car accident that shattered her left leg. After therapy, she returned to the stage, winning the 1993 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance in Kiss of the Spider-Woman. She had previously won a Tony for her performance in The Rink.
Her additional credits include the original Broadway productions of Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Can-Can, Chicago, Merlin, The Visit and her autobiographical musical, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life.
“We are thrilled to be honoring the amazing Chita Rivera with Victory Dance Project’s Woman of Valor Award. I can’t think of a more apt recipient—Her incredible talent, spirit and strength inspire us on so many levels—she is truly a woman of valor,” said Jordan in an interview with Playbill.
Miguel Cervantes is helping bring Broadway’s hottest musical to the Windy City.
The Latino actor has landed the lead role of Alexander Hamilton for the upcoming Chicago production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton.
Cervantes previously appeared on Broadway in If/Then, American Idiot and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Karen Olivo, a Tony winner for the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story and an original castmember of Miranda’s breakout musical, In the Heights, will play Anjelica Schuyler. The role of King George III will be played by stage veteran Alexander Gemignani, who starred as Jean Valjean in the 2009 revival of Les Miserables and has also appeared on Broadway in Violet, Assassins, Sunday in the Park with George and Sweeney Todd.
The Chicago staging of Hamilton will feature former American Idol contestant Ari Asfar as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Chris Lee as Lafayette and Jefferson, Joseph Morales as Cervantes’ alternate, Jose Ramos as John Laurens and Phillip Hamilton, Wallace Smith as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison, and Samantha Marie Ware as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds. Both Lee and Morales are alumni of the In the Heights national tour.
Casting for the joint lead role of Aaron Burr in Chicago has not yet been announced.
Performances of Hamilton begin Sept. 27 at Chicago’s PrivateBank Theatre, marking the first production of the show beyond New York.
A separate touring production kicks off next March in San Francisco, while a London production will also begin in 2017.
Hamilton has been the biggest smash to hit Broadway in decades, winning 11 Tony Awards and selling out for months in advance. The show’s cumulative box office since it began performances at the Richard RodgersTheatre on July 13 last year has hit $88 million.
The 42-year-old Mexican actor and Jane the Virgin star has made Broadway history.
With his performance in Chicago on Monday night, it’s the first time, two Mexican-born actors have lead a Broadway musical, as he plays Billy Flynn opposite Bianca Marroquin as Roxie Hart.
“One of my dreams has always been to be in a Broadway musical,” says Camil, who has led musicals in Mexico City including West Side Story, Hook and Aladdin. “I love the stage — the fact that you only have one take to get it right, the interaction with the audience, and how every show is different even though you’re doing the same thing.”
Eleven years ago, Camil nearly made his Broadway debut in The Mambo Kings—until producers pulled the plug on the musical adaptation just weeks before previews were to begin.
But Camil has finally had his moment on the Great White Way stage…
“Chicago is amazing because there’s no special effects or explosions. It’s just a group of talented human beings doing amazing things,” he says. “Billy Flynn is a character who manipulates these people like puppets. Everything happens because of him; it’s not a matter of if he’s going to win a case, it’s a matter of when. I love that he’s the mastermind behind everything that happens. He’s a fun character to play.”
In “All I Care About,” Camil even throws in a line in Spanish.
“That was the stage manager’s idea! When Eddie George was in this, he did his signature touchdown dance in ‘Razzle Dazzle.’ So when the girls are fondling me behind their feathers, I say in Spanish, ‘Oh please, stop it — you know I like it!’ It works nicely for the Spanish-speaking fans who come to the show.”
Camil will continue appearing in Chicago through July 31 at the Ambassador Theatre.
Rita Moreno is the epitome of excellence, and now she’s being acknowledged for her performing arts background…
The 84-year-old Puerto Rican actress, the only Latina to secure an EGOT (winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award), was feted for her performing arts legacy Thursday night at the Los Angeles Music Center’s inaugural summer soiree.
Moreno was presented with the center’s excellence in the performing arts award by The Nanny star Fran Drescher.
“She uses her celebrity and her fame for the greater good,” Drescher said of Moreno before welcoming her to the stage. “She leverages it for the advancement of women, for the advancement of the Latin community and anyone that happens to be marginalized in society.”
Gracing the Music Center stage with humor and humility, Moreno devoted her acceptance speech to the loved ones who contributed to her multi-faceted career success, including her immigrant mother who “did all that she could to underwrite [her] dreams.”
“That sweet elixir that I call the arts requires more than the creativity and passion of the arts,” said Moreno. “There would be no Misty Copeland, no Rita Moreno, no Lin-Manuel Miranda, no Justina Machado apart from those of you who encourage, support and applaud.”
The award presentation was followed by an American Ballet Theatre production of Firebird, starring Misty Copeland, and an outdoor after-party in Downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Park.
Michael Longoria is singing for Homeless LGBT Youth…
The Mexican-American Broadway veteran is teaming up with AmericanIdol alumni Constantine Maroulis and Diana DeGarmofor a special night of music on Thursday supporting the nonprofit organization New Alternatives at the New York City club Hardware.
The benefit, co-hosted by Ashley Austin Morris, will raise money for New Alternatives — an organization that helps homeless LGBT youth become self-sufficient and transition out of the shelter system and into stable adult lives. The center — which provides services including case management, education, life-skills training, community-building recreational opportunities for self-expression and support services for HIV-positive youth — will be losing its donated space after August, and Longoria hopes the benefit will raise enough money as well as awareness to keep the program alive.
“It’s a very dangerous situation for young people, where the only reason they’re homeless is because their family has abandoned them,” he tells Billboard. “That’s the only reason they’re in there, and that’s what we need to get involved in — if we don’t look out for them, who will?”
Programs like New Alternatives are necessary, he said, to help homeless youth map out their futures while staying out of “harm’s way.” “This organization is specifically for these people that go to these other shelters and are harassed or physically hurt because people don’t accept young gay people,” he said.
The event — which kicks off at 9 p.m. — will also feature raffles for a Broadway records album package, a bottle of Pinot by Tituss wine autographed by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess, as well as tickets to The Color Purple, Fiddler on the Roof, Kinky Boots,Finding Neverland, Himself, Nora,Trip of Loveand Feinstein’s/54 Below.
The evening will serve as a celebration of Pride Week and a reminder to the community to remain vigilant in the face of hate and bigotry in light of the tragic massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 and injuring 53.
“What happened in Orlando is just a reminder that no matter how much love we have, other sources of evil are always going to resist, so let’s find a way to get serious in a positive way that shows our support for each other and our love for each other in public,” he said. “The people that need to be the most out and proud are the youth — the young people that are seeing all this violence are now scared to be themselves. … I feel like now more than ever is the time we need to show affection and we need to show who we are, because those people that were in that nightclub were people that were living their lives and showing their love for one another.”
Longoria — who said he has visited Pulse while on tour with various productions — was heartbroken to learn of a mother who was killed in the club while out dancing with her son. “To know that that mother was there in support of her son and loved her son and was accepting of her son and she lost her life in that tragic moment was just the worst news that I got, and ultimately, it’s just an attack on all Americans, humanity and our American way of life,” he said. “In a gay club, we are in a place where we can be ourselves and be free and not worry about any of that judgment and live our lives, and to have an attack on that freedom is an attack on every freedom in America, and that’s why all Americans need to be paying attention and getting involved in hopes of preventing this kind of thing from happening again in the future.”
Longoria — an original member of the cast of Jersey Boysin the role of Frankie Valliafter a run in Hairspray— is currently supporting his new CD, Broadway Brick by Brick: a Latin-infused collection of Broadway classics including “Maria” (West Side Story), “The Sound of Music” (The Sound of Music) and “Music and the Mirror” (A Chorus Line). The record weaves in Longoria’s own personal story of his youth in Los Angeles leading to his success on The Great White Way.
“It became an autobiography of my life, my journey as a very young opera singer in a Mexican-American culture, a very heterosexual, Catholic culture, and finding myself in musical theater, in Broadway songs, and realizing that I was gay all the while,” he said. “Each song I chose tells a milestone of my journey, starting with my father, getting accepted to NYU and not having a means to get there, and getting the scholarship and getting on a plane in Los Angeles and leaving my family behind.”
A $10 donation is suggested to attend. Hardware is located at 697 10th Ave. in New York.
The 83-year-old Puerto Rican actress and singer, the only Hispanic entertainer with win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award, has joined the cast of the CW’s hit telenovela-inspired series Jane the Virgin.
Moreno will portray the mother of Rogelio De La Vega, Jane’s telenovela-star father, portrayed by Jaime Camil. That, of course, makes her Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) grandmother
Moreno’s character, according to TVLine, will appear in episode 18 and is apparently “fiercely protective” of Rogelio.