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Cast Announced for José Rivera's "The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona"





LOS ANGELES (August 31, 2018) – Geffen Playhouse today announced the full cast for its production of Academy Award-nominated and Obie Award-winning José Rivera’s (Motorcycle Diaries, References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot) The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona, directed by Obie Award- and Drama Desk Award-winning Jo Bonney (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Cost of Living). This world premiere marks the launch of Artistic Director Matt Shakman’s inaugural season for Geffen Playhouse.

The cast features Cate Scott Campbell (Tartuffe, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Maren and Lisandra; Ricardo Chavira (The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Desperate Housewives) as Orlando; Zilah Mendoza (Living Out, Modern Family) as Noelle, Paloma, Bobbi and Maria Sol; Onahoua Rodriguez (Lydia, Weeds) as Abril and Nikki; and Juan Francisco Villa (Oedipus El Rey, Chicago PD) as Manny, Priest, Bernardo, Eldon and Felipe.

Previews for The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona begin Tuesday, September 4 in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, with opening night on Wednesday, September 12. The production closes on Sunday, October 7.

The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona is a poignant journey through love, hope and the unknown. How many of us have wished for one more chance to say the right thing? A Better Orpheus Inc. provides an alternative to regret—a service that allows the living to communicate with the dead. When Nikki Corona loses her twin sister, A Better Orpheus puts her in touch with Orlando, a man dying too young. The ensuing love story leads to a quest through a vivid, fantastical afterlife as Orlando learns whether Nikki’s message to her sister has the ability to transcend death.

The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona is a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Major support for this world premiere production is provided by the Edgerton Foundation New Play Production Fund.


Written by José Rivera
Directed by Jo Bonney

Previews: Tuesday, September 4 – Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Opening Night: Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Closing Night: Sunday, October 7, 2018

Cate Scott Campbell as Maren, Lisandra
Ricardo Chavira as Orlando
Zilah Mendoza as Noelle, Paloma, Bobbi, Maria Sol
Onahoua Rodriguez as Abril, Nikki
Juan Francisco Villa as Manny, Priest, Bernardo, Eldon, Felipe

Scenic Designer Myung Hee Cho
Costume Designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz
Lighting Designer Lap Chi Chu
Sound Designer Cricket S. Myers
Projection Designer Hana S. Kim
Dramaturg Rachel Wiegardt-Egel
Production Stage Manager Ross Jackson
Assistant Stage Manager Julie Ann Renfro
Casting Director Phyllis Schuringa, CSA

Monday No performance
Tuesday – Friday 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 3:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tickets currently priced at $30.00 - $120.00. Available in person at the Geffen Playhouse box office, by phone at 310.208.5454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org. Fees may apply.

Rush tickets for each day’s performance are made available to the general public 30 minutes before showtime at the box office. $35.00 General / $10.00 Student


Through a variety of events and other opportunities, the Geffen Playhouse welcomes college students to experience the live storytelling presented on our stages. We are proud of our association with UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television, and open our doors to all college students throughout Los Angeles. More information is available at www.geffenplayhouse.org/college.


José Rivera (Playwright)
The first Puerto Rican screenwriter to be nominated for an Academy Award, for The Motorcycle Diaries, Rivera is also the author of 26 full-length plays including the Obie Award-winning Marisol and References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot, both produced at the Public Theater, New York. Other plays include Cloud Tectonics (Playwrights Horizons), School of the Americas (Public Theater), The Maids (INTAR), Adoration of the Old Woman (INTAR), Massacre (Sing to Your Children) (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Brainpeople (ACT, San Francisco), Sonnets for an Old Century (Barrow Group), Another Word for Beauty (Goodman Theatre), Boleros for the Disenchanted (Yale Repertory Theatre), The Street of the Sun (Mark Taper Forum), Sueño (Manhattan Class Company) and Lovesong (Imperfect) (Chaskis Theatre, London). Screenplays include On the Road, The 33, Trade, Letters to Juliet and A Thousand Miles to Freedom. Rivera co-created and produced the NBC series Eerie, Indiana, and has written pilots for HBO, TNT and Showtime. Awards include a Fulbright Arts Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a McKnight Fellowship, a Rockefeller Grant, a Whiting Foundation Award and New York Council for the Arts grant. Rivera has mentored the Sundance Screenwriting Lab in Utah, Jordan and India, and leads the New York-based Writers Group.

Jo Bonney (Director)
Jo Bonney has directed premieres of plays by Alan Ball, Eric Bogosian, Culture Clash, Eve Ensler, Jessica Goldberg, Danny Hoch, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Martyna Majok, Lynn Nottage, Dael Orlandersmith, Suzan-Lori Parks, Darci Picoult, John Pollono, Will Power, David Rabe, José Rivera, Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, Diana Son, Universes, Naomi Wallace and Michael Weller, and productions of plays by Caryl Churchill, Nilo Cruz, Anna Deavere Smith, Charles Fuller, Lisa Loomer, John Osborne, Carey Perloff and Lanford Wilson. She has directed at American Repertory Theater, Performance Space 122, Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Second Stage Theater, Goodman Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, MCC Theater, Geffen Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, McCarter Theatre Center, Playwrights Horizons, Arena Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Signature Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, New Group, Classic Stage Company, Humana Festival, Royal Court Theatre, Almeida Theatre (London), Edinburgh Festival, Market Theatre (Johannesburg), Baxter Theatre Centre (Cape Town) and Cine 13. She is the recipient of a Lucille Lortel Best Musical and Lucille Lortel Best Revival, a Drama Desk nomination for By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, an Audelco Award for Father Comes Home from the Wars, an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Direction and a Lilly Award.

Cate Scott Campbell (Maren, Lisandra)
Cate Scott Campbell is thrilled to be making her Geffen Playhouse debut. Stage credits include Tartuffe and Pride and Prejudice (South Coast Repertory), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (La Jolla Playhouse), Mommune (Chalk Rep), The Contrast (Mirror Repertory Company) and many shows as a member of The Groundlings Sunday Company. Television credits include How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Cousins For Life (Nickelodeon), You Kiddin’ Me (Facebook Watch), The Oh My Disney Show (Disney Digital) and multiple national commercial campaigns. Cate has created and starred in a number of critically acclaimed projects, including the digital series Tutored and the short films Math Brain and How I Do Math. Her podcast The Limit Does Not Exist (Forbes & PodcastOne) has been downloaded millions of times on iTunes and featured in The Washington Post and Adweek. Cate graduated from Northwestern University and has an M.F.A. in acting from UC San Diego.

Ricardo Chavira (Orlando)
Ricardo Chavira is a South Texas native whose acting career spans theater, film and television. His stage highlights include The Motherf**ker with the Hat at the National Theatre in London and the Off-Broadway production of Jesus Hopped the A Train. He has also appeared in regional theater productions across the U.S., including An Enemy of the People and A Streetcar Named Desire at the Guthrie Theater, Living Out, Tracers, Three Sisters, Dogeaters, ¡Bandido! and Macbeth. His television credits include Scandal; Jane the Virgin; Santa Clarita Diet; Hawaii 5-0; Castle; Burn Notice; Welcome to the Family; Desperate Housewives, garnering two SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series; George Lopez; 24; Joan of Arcadia; JAG; NYPD Blue; The Division and Six Feet Under. On the film side, he has appeared in Being Charlie, Powder and Gold, Don’t Let Me Drown, The Alamo, Piranha 3-D and Saving God. Chavira holds an M.F.A. in acting from the University of California, San Diego.

Zilah Mendoza (Noelle, Paloma, Bobbi, Maria Sol)
Zilah Mendoza has originated lead roles in the theater such as Ana in Lisa Loomer’s hit Living Out (Mark Taper Forum, Second Stage Theater), Matilde in Sarah Ruhl’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Clean House (Yale Repertory Theatre), Electricidad in Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad (Mark Taper Forum) and Perla in Juliette Carrillo’s Plumas Negras (Cornerstone Theater Company). Her performances have garnered awards including an Obie, a Garland and a Lortel nod in N.Y.C. for her work in Living Out, as well as numerous Backstage Awards for her work in Los Angeles. Mendoza has had recurring and guest-starring roles on Modern Family, The King of Queens, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Grey’s Anatomy, MAD TV, Law & Order, Medium and 24. She is the Associate Artistic Director of the Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (MAPP), a nonprofit arts-based literacy program working in North America.

Onahoua Rodriguez (Abril, Nikki)
Onahoua Rodriguez is proud to make her Geffen Playhouse debut with José Rivera’s The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona. She originated the role of Ceci for the Denver Center Theater production of Lydia, followed by productions at Yale Repertory Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum. Her other theater credits include Anna in the Tropics at South Coast Repertory and Coconut Grove Playhouse, Beauty of the Father at Seattle Repertory, Cutting Open Wings at the Met Theater and Blood Wedding at the La Jolla Playhouse, as well as roles in N.Y.C. stage productions at INTAR, MCC Theater, Theatre Row’s Beckett Theatre and Repertorio Español, among others. She has guest-starred and/or recurred in numerous TV series, including Major Crimes (TNT), Shameless (Showtime), Weeds (Showtime), Mad Dogs (Amazon) and The Shield (FX). Rodriguez is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).

Juan Francisco Villa (Manny, Priest, Bernardo, Eldon, Felipe)
Juan Francisco Villa has appeared in the NY Times Critic’s Pick Oedipus El Rey, by Luis Alfaro, directed by Chay Yew at the Public Theater in New York. He has portrayed Tennessee Williams in the Off-Broadway Abingdon Theatre Company production of The Gentleman Caller by Philip Dawkins at Cherry Lane Theatre. His Off-Broadway credits include The Play About My Dad (Collaboration Town/59E59), Nature of Captivity (Mabou Mines) and One Night in the Valley (INTAR). In Los Angeles, he starred in the autobiographical Empanada for a Dream (LATC), which he also wrote, and Kissing Che (Celebration Theater). His Chicago credits include Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Hillary and Clinton, Mojada (Victory Gardens Theater); 2666, El Grito del Bronx (Goodman Theatre); Our Lady of 121st (Steppenwolf Theater); Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue (Rivendell Theatre/Teatro Vista); Gun Show (16 Street Theater); and Take Me Out (Steppenwolf Theater Company). Villa’s television credits include Madame Secretary (CBS), Chicago PD (NBC), Blacklist: Redemption (NBC) and Betrayal (ABC).

Audi of America
City National Bank
KIND Snacks

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Geffen Playhouse has been a hub of the Los Angeles theater scene since opening its doors in 1995. Noted for its intimacy and celebrated for its world-renowned mix of classic and contemporary plays, provocative new works and second productions, the not-for-profit organization continues to present a body of work that has garnered national recognition. Named in honor of entertainment mogul and philanthropist David Geffen, who made the initial donation to the theater, the company was founded by Gilbert Cates and is currently helmed by Executive Director Gil Cates, Jr., Artistic Director Matt Shakman and Board Chair Howard Tenenbaum. Proudly associated with UCLA, the Geffen welcomes an audience of more than 130,000 each year, and maintains extensive education and community engagement programs, designed to involve underserved young people and the community at large in the arts. www.geffenplayhouse.org

Zenon Dmytryk
Geffen Playhouse


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