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L-R: Crystal Manich, Celeste Moreno, and Bethany Brinton.

Theater Latté Da Announces NEXT Generation Commissions

Bethany Brinton, Crystal Manich, and Celeste Moreno are this year’s recipients.

MINNEAPOLIS: Theater Latté Da has named Bethany Brinton, Crystal Manich, and Celeste Moreno as the recipients of this year’s NEXT Generation Commission, which supports the creation and development of new musical theatre projects whose creative teams are at least 50 percent women or BIPOC artists. The creative team will share the $20,000 commission.

While under commission, Brinton, Manich, and Moreno will work on The Legend of La Llorona – A Zarzuela of La Frontera: A Border Story in Music. Imagined as a gothic music-theatre ghost story, the project is based on the Mexican myth of La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, reenvisioned through the lens of personal family history. The project will receive creative and developmental support over an 18-month period, including two developmental workshops.

“I’m delighted to begin our relationship with this amazing group of women and to support a new theatre piece steeped in Latinx myths and music,” said associate artistic director Elissa Adams, who oversees the theatre’s new works initiatives, in a statement. “We look forward to nurturing their unique theatrical talents at Theater Latté Da and providing opportunities for them to engage with our extraordinary community of artists in the Twin Cities.”

Composer and librettist Moreno is the lead character designer on the animated musical comedy series Central Park. Her television songwriting work includes Phineas and Ferb and the Emmy-nominated song “Taking A Stroll” from Milo Murphy’s Law. Her short film Inconvenient Ruth was featured in the Tribeca Film Festival and she has written and directed animated work for HBO, Anonymous Productions, and Cartoon Network.

Manich is a Puerto Rican director who has directed over 70 operas, plays, musicals, and films across the United States, Australia, and Argentina. She recently directed West Side Story at Opera San José and the world premiere of the Western opera film The Copper Queen at Arizona Opera. She has directed two Spanish-language operas by Daniel Catán, including La Hija de Rappaccini, which was nominated for a 2021 Chicago Emmy Award. Manich was the co-founding artistic director of Opera Omnia and has also served as the artistic director at Mill City Summer Opera and as the assistant artistic director with Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam in Brazil. She received her BFA and M.A. from Carnegie Mellon University.

Composer and arranger Brinton is a Los Angeles-based composer working in film, theatre, and television. Her work can be heard in the television series Pete the Cat, Milo Murphy’s Law, and the main title sequence of James May: Our Man in Japan. She has composed for films included in the San Diego International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival, and the Independent Shorts Awards, and won an Audience Award from the Dances with Films Festival.

Moreno, Manich, and Brinton join other commissioned artists creating new musical works for Theater Latté Da, including Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Steven Epp, Bradley Greenwald, Maria Isa, JuCoby Johnson, the Kilbanes, Meghan Kreidler and Michael Anderson of Kiss the Tiger, Harrison David Rivers, Kelley Rourke, Ted Shen, Andrew Wilkowske, and Sally Wingert.

Theater Latté Da is an award-winning musical theatre company in the Twin Cities that seeks to create new and impactful connections between story, music, artist, and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theatre.

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