Lin-Manuel Miranda is celebrating Broadway’s reopening…
The 41-year-old Puerto Rican Tony Award-winning actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and playwright will take part in Broadway’s Back!, the live two-hour broadcast special immediately following this Sunday’s streaming-only Tony Awards ceremony.
In addition to Miranda, who created the Broadway hits In The Heights and Hamilton, the program will include appearances by Kristin Chenoweth, André De Shields, Jake Gyllenhaal, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Broadway legend Chita Rivera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, who originated the role of Mimi Marquez in the Broadway musical Rent, and more, according to CBS and The American Theatre Wing.
The special, presented live on Sunday, Sept. 26 from Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre, will be hosted by Leslie Odom, Jr.
Designed as a celebration of Broadway’s return to the stage following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the special (full title: The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!) airs on CBS from 9:00 – 11:00 pm ET (live) and PT (delayed). The special also will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
The concert special will include Broadway performers and Tony Award winners re-uniting on stage to perform classics, and will feature performances from the three Tony-nominated Best Musical contenders: Jagged Little Pill, Moulin Rouge! The Musical andTina: The Tina Turner Musical.
The special also will include the live presentation of three Tony Awards: Best Play, Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical.
The 74th Annual Tony Awards, delayed from June 2020 due to COVID-19 and representing a shorter roster of nominees because of the shutdown, will stream exclusively on Paramount+ live beginning at 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT. The ceremony will be hosted by Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning singer and actor Audra McDonald, and will cover productions from the abbreviated 2019-2020 Broadway season.
The line-up of Broadway’s Back! performers and presenters also includes Annaleigh Ashford, Kerry Butler, Christopher Jackson, Ruthie Ann Miles, Bebe Neuwirth, Leslie Odom, Jr., Kelli O’Hara, Ben Platt, Jeremy Pope and BD Wong. Additional performers and presenters will be announced later this week.
The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back! will be produced in collaboration with Tony Award Productions, a joint venture of The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, and White Cherry Entertainment, the team behind the annual Tony Awards telecast. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss are executive producers for White Cherry Entertainment. Weiss will serve as director.
Chita Rivera is Biden her time before the upcoming presidential election…
The 87-year-old half-Puerto Rican Broadway star will be among the stars of the Great White Way who’ll stage a fundraising concert for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, with plans to stream the event on October 21.
The event, which starts at 8:00 pm ET, is organized by the group Broadway for Biden and is called In Our America: A Concert for the Soul of the Nation, with donations going to the Biden Victory Fund.
In addition to Rivera, the lineup of the concert includes Derrick Baskin, Laura Benanti, Victoria Clark, Glenn Close, Chuck Cooper, Darren Criss, André De Shields, Renée Elise Goldsberry, John Goodman, Jayne Houdyshell, Jennifer Hudson, James Monroe Iglehart, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Norman Lear, Norm Lewis, BrianStokes Mitchell, Rita Moreno, Karen Olivo, Ashley Park, Steven Pasquale, Carrie Preston, Kelani Queypo, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Phillipa Soo, Ephraim Sykes, BD Wong, the Broadway Dreams Foundation Choir, and the casts of Sixand KPOP.
Liesl Tommy, director of the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect (with Hudson in the lead role), will direct the show. Tommy is the executive producer along with Julie Boardman, Nolan Doran, Halle Morse, and Jennifer Mudge.
The concert will stream on YouTube via news publisher NowThis, on Facebook via Broadway for Biden and NowThis, and on Broadway Unlocked.
In a statement, Tommy said, “It is a tremendous honor to direct this incredible collective of performers and artists, who are coming together to amplify the promise of Broadway and a nation that are future-looking, accessible, and deeply inclusive.”
The evening will include original material, stagings of musical numbers that have never been seen, and previews of productions bound for Broadway. Among those contributing are Chad Beguelin, Tony Kushner, Lynn Nottage, Robert O’Hara, Stacey Rose, Aurin Squire, DeLanna Studi, Paula Vogel and John Waters.
Christopher Gattelli, Lorin Latarro, Ray Mercer, and Abbey O’Brien will provide original choreography, with music direction by Jason Michael Webb. Chris Boardman and Charlie Rosen will provide orchestrations. Sean McLaughlin will serve as director of photography and Grady Bowman will be associate choreographer.
The event is in the vein of a fundraiser in 2012 for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, called Barack on Broadway, that was produced by Margo Lion and others.
The 29-year-old Mexican American drag performer and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant will team up with some of her fellow queens and Broadway celebrities to get out the vote for November’s presidential election.
Valentina and divas from the drag world and icons of the stage will come together for Divas For Democracy: United We Slay, a one-night-only variety show extravaganza promoting voter participation and key issues relating to the LGBTQIA+ community in the upcoming 2020 election.
Presented by the nonprofit voter engagement organization Drag Out the Vote and hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race star Nina West and Entertainment Tonight‘s Keltie Knight, Divas for Democracy: United We Slay features scores of talent who’ll sing and lip-synch through dazzling performances of theater classics and pop songs.
Special segments will highlight LGBTQIA+ activists in a nonpartisan effort to shine a light on community participation in the political process, including celebrity appearances by Tony winner Cyndi Lauper, Drag Race panelist Michelle Visage, Harvey Fierstein, James MonroeIglehart, Bianca Del Rio, Shangela, Cheyenne Jackson, Mila Jam, and Oscar-winning actress Allison Janney.
In addition to Valentina, other drag superstars slated to perform during the broadcast include Alaska, Jinkx Monsoon, Jujubee, Peppermint, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Shuga Cain, Honey Davenport, and Drag Out the Vote’s national co-chairs Brita Filter, Marti Gould Cummings, and Pixie Aventura.
Broadway figures set to appear include legendary three-time Tony-winning actress Chita Rivera, as well as Tony winners Stephanie J. Block, Lea Salonga, Nikki M. James, Beth Leavel and Annaleigh Ashford. Also joining the program are stage stars Shoshana Bean, Eden Espinosa, Jenn Collela, Chilina Kennedy, Keala Settle, Tamika Lawrence, L Morgan Lee, and Our Lady J.
The presentation will be directed by Josh Rhodes and Lee Wilkins, whose joint careers include work choreographing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, First Date, It Shoulda Been You, and Bright Staron Broadway. Tony winner Stephen Oremus will serve as music supervisor.
“One in five LGBTQIA+ people is not registered to vote, and 100 million people did not vote in the 2016 election. We must fix this,” said Drag Out the Vote founder Jackie Huba in a press statement. “We are excited to bring together the worlds of Broadway and drag to inspire voters to sashay their way to the polls or their mailboxes.”
Divas for Democracy: United We Slay airs October 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET exclusively on StageIt. Tickets — available on a “donate-what-you-can” basis — go on sale Thursday at 10:00 a.m. ET at divasfordemocracy.com.
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 43-year-old Mexican musical theatre and television actress has been cast in FX’s high-profile eight-episode limited drama series Fosse/Verdon, starring Oscar winner Sam Rockwell and Oscar nominee Michelle Williams in the title roles.
Written by Sam Wasson and based on his Fosse bio, the limited series tells the story of the singular romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse (Rockwell) and Gwen Verdon (Williams). He was a visionary filmmaker and one of theater’s most influential choreographers and directors. She was the greatest Broadway dancer of all time. Together they changed the face of American entertainment – at a perilous cost. Featuring Fosse’s choreography, the series explores the hidden corners of show business, the price of pursuing greatness, and the suffering inflicted in the name of art.
Marroquin will portray the legendary Chita Rivera in the series, which will also star Norbert Leo Butz, Margaret Qualley, Evan Handler, Aya Cash, Nate Corddry, Susan Misner, Kelli Barrett, Rick Holmes, Paul Reiser, Ethan Slater, Byron Jennings and Laura Osnes.
Originally from Mexico, Marroquin made her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago in 2002 and has since appeared on Broadway inThe Pajama GameandIn the Heights. On television in Miami and Mexico City, she can be seen as a judge in Pequeños Gigantes and Mira Quien Baila, among others.
The project hails from award-winning producers Thomas Kail, Steven Levenson, Lin Manuel-Miranda and Joel Fields, FX Television Studios and FX Productions.
Production on the series is currently underway in New York City ahead of its spring 2019 premiere on FX.
Chita Rivera is doing her part to help families on the border…
The 85-year-old half-Puerto Rican Broadway sensation will perform in the Concert For America, which will take place on June 30.
Rivera, the first Hispanic woman and the first Latino AmericanKennedy Center Honors recipient,will join a list of participants that includesTina Fey,Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Mandy Gonzalez and more.
Hosted by Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley of SiriusXM, the benefit consisting of music, comedy and commentary will take place in New York’s Great Hall at The Cooper Union.
Rudetsky said in a statement, “James and I have been increasingly horrified at what’s going on with these families struggling at the border.” He added that the scheduled Concert For America will coincide with the coming day of national protests, and will benefit the non-profits working with families at the southern border.
General Admission tickets are $25, and limited VIP seats are $250, with proceeds going to Al Otro Lado, Texas Civil Rights Project, ACLU Foundation of Texas and Florence Project, all groups working to protect the civil and human rights of families on the border. Tickets can be purchased here.
The event will livestream on Facebook and at ConcertsforAmerica.com, beginning at 5:00 pm, ET on Saturday, June 30.
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.
The 83-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress, dancer, singer and Broadway star will be spending inauguration day at a concert in New York City raising money for human-rights organizations.
Rivera, the first Hispanic woman and the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center Honorsaward, will perform at the Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out!
The event will be held at The Town Hall in Manhattan on January 20. It’s intended to be the first in a series of monthly benefit concerts and will be streamed live on Facebook.
In addition to Rivera, a two-time Tony Award winner, the lineup includes Kelli O’Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Betty Buckley, Jessie Mueller and Billy Porter.
Others slated to perform include Sharon Gless, Andrea Martin, Bebe Neuwirth, Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, Caroline Rhea, Stephanie Mills and Charles Busch.
The concert is the brainchild of Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, who also organized the Broadway for Orlando fundraising concert.
Mueller, currently starring in Waitress, will reach back to her Tony Award-winning role as Carole King to sing “Beautiful.” She hopes its message of love and tolerance resonates.
“Hate comes from a lack of love, so we can’t fight it with more of its own toxicity; we have to fill it with love,” she said. “There are really big things at stake. Things we can’t save or solidify or safeguard alone. We have to think bigger, we have to ask for help, we have to reach out to one another and band together. I hope this concert can be an example of that.”
Proceeds will benefit groups that protect civil rights, women’s health and environmental protection, including Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center and The Sierra Club Foundation. Tickets range from $25 to $50.
NBC has slated Bye Bye Birdie as its next live musical, with the 46-year-old Puerto Rican actress/singer set as the star.
Lopez will executive produce with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and her company Nuyorican Productions will produce with Universal Television.
Harvey Fierstein will write the television adaptation, with the special set to air in 2017.
The original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie won the Tony Award in 1961 for best musical. It starred Dick Van Dyke, who also won a Tony for best actor in a musical, as Albert Peterson, the manager of rock star Conrad Birdie, and Chita Rivera as Rosie Alvarez, Albert’s girlfriend and secretary. When Birdie is drafted into the Army, Albert and Rosie concoct a plan to have Birdie give “one last kiss” to a small-town high school girl live on The Ed Sullivan Show before heading off for induction.
The show was adapted into a 1963 feature film starring Van Dyke and Janet Leigh. A short-lived 2010 Broadway revival starred John Stamos and Gina Gershon.
Lopez, who stars in NBC’s Shades of Blue, will play the part of Rosie in the NBC version. No other casting has yet been announced.
Under Greenblatt, NBC has made a tradition of airing live musicals in December, where the network believes the holiday time is a fertile ground for family-friendly co-viewing. The first, Sound of Music Live! starring Carrie Underwood, aired in 2013 and was watched by 18.6 million viewers. That effort was followed by Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken, and The Wiz Live! starring Queen Latifah and Shanice Williams.
Zadan and Meron have served as exec producers on all four NBC live musicals, and Fierstein previously wrote the television adaptation for The Wiz Live! and wrote the adaptation for NBC’s upcoming Hairspray Live!, which will air on December 7.