(Editor’s note: News releases are published as submitted unless there are errors of fact.)
(PHOENIX) The Broadway-aimed musical Americano!, inspired by the life of DREAMer and Phoenix community reformer Tony Valdovinos, just announced its entire cast, including some Valley natives now making their debut at The Phoenix Theatre Company.
The world-premiere production, running January 29 – February 23 at The Phoenix Theatre Company, will feature Sean Ewing (Broadway’s West Side Story, Amazing Grace) as Tony Valdovinos, leading a company including Johanna Carlisle-Zepeda, Maria Amorocho, Edgar Lopez, Alyssa Gomez, Joseph Cannon, Justin Figueroa, Michael Scott, Sonia Rodriguez Wood, Anson Romney, Chris Eriksen, Joseph Cavasos, Matravius Avent, Jessie Jo Pauley, Shani Barrett, Nicholas Flores, Ricco Machado-Torres, Lucas Coatney, Anne-Lise Koyabe, Tarnim Bybee, Cole Newburg, Elyssa Blonder and Aidan Lutton.With America once again embroiled in heated debates about immigration, Americano! is the true story – the life, the challenges, and the perils – of Tony Valdovinos, a DREAMer brought to America by his parents when he was two years old. Inspired by 9/11, Tony walked into a Marine Corps office at Camelback High School in Phoenix on his 18th birthday to enlist, only to discover his parents hadn’t told him he was an undocumented immigrant.
But he didn’t give up on serving the only country he had ever known—he did it in alternatively powerful ways instead. Americano! casts a deeply human light on what it means to be a DREAMer, at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on their fate in June, 2020.
Among the local cast members hitting the stage — Johanna Carlisle-Zepeda of Phoenix who plays Felicita Valdovinos, Sonia Rodriguez-wood of Phoenix who plays Olivia/Ensemble, Anson Romney of Mesa who plays Young Tony/Ensemble, Chris Eriksen of Phoenix who plays Scott/Ensemble, Joseph Cavazos of Surprise who plays Manny/Ensemble, Matravius Avent of Phoenix who plays a high school dancer and recruiter, Jessie Jo Pauley of Mesa who is in the Female Ensemble, Shani Barrett of Phoenix who plays Jessica Flores/Female Ensemble, Nicholas Flores of Tempe who plays Celso/Male Ensemble, Ricco Machado-Torres of Mesa, who plays Jose/Male Ensemble, Lucas Coatney of Scottsdale who plays Joaquin/Male Ensemble, Anne Lisa Koyabe of Chandler who plays Harriett/Female Ensemble, Tarnim Bybee of Phoenix who is in the Female Ensemble, Cole Newburg of Paradise Valley who plays Jackson/Male Ensemble/Featured Dancer, Elyssa Blonder of Chandler in the Female Ensemble, Aiden Lutton of Avondale is in the Male Ensemble/Jackson/Featured Dancer and Julian Mendoza of Phoenix who is Tony Valdovinos’ Understudy.
Americano! is presented by The Phoenix Theatre Company, during the start of its 100th Anniversary season, and Producer Jason Rose (Arizona Public Relations Executive and Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships Owner), Tony Award-Winning Producer Ken Davenport (Altar Boyz, Godspell, Kinky Boots and Once on This Island) is the Executive Producer. Americano! features an original score by critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez (“Lola,” named as one of NPR’s top 50 albums of the year), with a book by Michael Barnard (Producing Artistic Director, The Phoenix Theatre Company) and Jonathan Rosenberg. Michael Barnard also serves as the director of Americano!,which features choreography by Sergio Mejia, and musical arrangements by Sergio Mendoza with Marco Rosano. Former New York Times Phoenix Bureau Chief Fernanda Santos is a creative consultant.
Tony Valdovinos, whose life story serves as the inspiration for Americano!, also serves as a consulting producer.
“I knew it was a big opportunity,” says Valdovinos. “I was approached by these fellows that wanted to write a story of an immigrant. They had read an article about me. I met with them and I told them my whole life story. Imagine someone calling you out of the blue and then a year or so later, you hear 20 songs involving the most intimate details of your life? Here were 17 artists investing their best talent in the depiction of some of my most personal challenges. But this journey is worth it to share the story of DREAMers and what their families are going through. And it will also put a smile on their faces.”
“From the moment I heard that the story of Tony Valdovinos was going to be a musical, I wanted to be involved, because it’s about the new American hero,” says Executive Producer Ken Davenport. “I’m thrilled to join a team of such passionate and unique voices and look forward to helping them tell this important and timely story to audiences in Phoenix, and hopefully, all over the world.”
“I believe Americano! has a chance to be the most emotionally resonant musical to ever come out of Phoenix,” says Michael Barnard, co-author and director of Americano! “It’s a very relevant topic, and nobody has been writing about it in the world of musical theater. It’s an Arizona-grown story, and I think it’s important to try to put a spotlight on a population of individuals who have been misunderstood. Tony Valdovino is so committed to this country and so believes in this democracy. The arts try to speak to the times that they were written and created, so it seems particularly important that a piece like this is presented at this time in our history. We’re very proud to have Americano! as the centerpiece of The Phoenix Theatre Company’s 100th Anniversary season.”
Americano! premieres on the mainstage at The Phoenix Theatre Company, January 29 – February 23. Opening night is January 31. Performances are Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30PM, with matinees at 2PM on Saturday & Sunday. Tickets for Americano! are $32 – $82 and available at www.phoenixtheatre.com.Visit AmericanoTheMusical.com for more information.