Chita Rivera Cast in Like Water for Chocolate at Sundance; Nicholas Rodriguez Part of Acting Company

News   Chita Rivera Cast in Like Water for Chocolate at Sundance; Nicholas Rodriguez Part of Acting Company
Tony Award winner Chita Rivera, Robert Petkoff, Nicholas Rodriguez, Sharon Washington and Dan Butler are among the actors participating in the Sundance Institute's 2011 Theatre Lab in Alberta, Canada.

Chita Rivera
Chita Rivera Photo by Laura Marie Duncan

A host of works are being explored during the March 27-April 17 retreat, including the musicals Like Water for Chocolate and Stuck Elevator, as well as Colman Domingo's Wild with Happy, an adaptation of Africa Kills Her Sun, Annie Bosh is Missing, Froggy, Light Years to the Delling Shore and Untitled World’s Fair Play.

In addition to Rivera (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Chicago, The Rink), who appears in Like Water for Chocolate, Petkoff (Fiddler on the Roof), Rodriguez (Tarzan, "One Life to Live"), Washington (The Scottsboro Boys) and Butler ("Frasier"), the acting company includes Julius Ahn, Marisa Bernal, Elisa Bocanegra (The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore), Nadia Bowers (The Farnsworth Invention), Eddie R. Brown III, Billy Bustamante, Molly Camp, Robert Curto, Celso Duarte, Lisa Emery (The Women, Marvin’s Room), Rona Figueroa (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables), Carlos Henderson, Lillian Hurst ("Lost"), Joseph Keckler, Chris Lowell ("Private Practice"), Justina Machado (In the Heights, "Six Feet Under"), Curtis McClarin (Bring in 'Da Noise Bring in the 'Da Funk, The Good Negro), Maurice McRae, Monica Raymund, Jon Rua (In The Heights), Yayo Serka, Aaron Serotsky (August: Osage County), Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, Rebecca Soler, Susan Kelechi Watson (A Naked Girl on the Appian Way), Merritt Wever ("Nurse Jackie"), C.J. Wilson (A Steady Rain) and Emily Young. Henry Russell Bergstein is casting director.


Lab advisors are Mark Brokaw (How I Learned to Drive), Carey Perloff (artistic director, American Conservatory Theatre), and Pulitzer and Tony Award winner Doug Wright (Grey Gardens, I Am My Own Wife).

As previously reported, Tony Award winner Ted Sperling (The Light in the Piazza, Titanic) and Jonathan Butterell (The Light in the Piazza, Giant) co-direct Like Water for Chocolate, which features a book by Tony Award nominee Quiara Alegria Hudes (In the Heights), and music by Mexican singer-songwriter Lila Downs and her longtime collaborator Paul Cohen. Like Water for Chocolate, which "incorporates Mexican cooking and the power of food, the magical realism of Mexican folk tales, and both contemporary and ancient theater techniques," will have designs by Michael Levine and puppet design by Michael Curry.

Scottsboro Boys and Passing Strange actor Domingo is developing his dark comedy Wild with Happy, under the direction of Robert O'Hara. Domingo, who also starred in his own solo play A Boy and His Soul, explores "the surreal, bizarre and outrageous comedy that lies in everyone’s search for answers as they try to deal with death and healing," when a young man named Gil plans to scatter his mothers ashes in the place where she was the most happy: Disneyland.

Sundance is also guiding Africa Kills Her Sun, which was last developed as part of the Sundance Kenya Lab. The work was created by adapter/performers Mrisho Mpoto and Irene Sanga, as well as composer Elidady Msangi and assistant director and performer Gilbert Lukalia. Indhu Rubasingham will direct.

The play, based on the novel by Nigerian author Ken Saro-Wiwa, is described as "a condemned man’s last letter to his loved one." The original text is combined with slam poetry and storytelling to explore corruption and the abuse of power in Africa.

Trip Cullman directs Janine Nabers' Annie Bosh Is Missing, which centers on a young, recovering drug addict who returns home to her Houston family and attempts to reconnect during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Jennifer Haley's Froggy, about a young woman who winds up in a Mojave Desert ghost town after spotting her long-lost lover in a bootleg video game, is being directed by Matt Marrow.

Light Years to the Delling Shore is Sam Marks' play about two grown men with a competitive past, who take their college-age daughters along with them for a weekend of catching up over wine, cheese, literary games and bad behavior.

Chay Yew directs the new musical Stuck Elevator, written by Aaron Jafferis with a score by Byron Au Yong. The work is based on the true story of an undocumented immigrant who survived 81 hours in a Bronx elevator.

The Debate Society is represented with Untitled Worlds Fair Play by Hanna Bos and Paul Thureen. Oliver Butler stages the Chicago-set play, which takes place in 1893 and in 1933, as the unfinished business of the past resurfaces.

Sundance provides each selected artist with a $500 honorarium, as well as artistic support including actors, dramaturges, rehearsal space and stage management. Each lab culminates in a presentation for the theatre lab community and a feedback session with Sundance staff.


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