Major Latino Hollywood studio Pantelion Films is starting production on what it describes as its “most ambitious undertaking to date”: “La Usurpadora, the Musical.”
Given Pantelion was the distributor of “Instructions Not Included,” the highest grossing Spanish-language film of all time in the U.S., as well as producer of “No Manches Frida,” its highest grossing Spanish comedy, that claim to ambition means something, singling out “La Usurpadora, the Musical” as one of the big Spanish-language releases of 2022.
Produced by Pantelion Films and The Lift Entertainment, the movie marks a modern musical adaptation of one of the most succesful telenovelas of all time, “La Usurpadora,” a 1998 Televisa classic that hit huge ratings and was exported to 125 countries.
Directed by Santiago Limón, (“Cindy La Regia,” “Rebelde”), “La Usurpadora, the Musical” teams music producer Sebastian Krys, winner of eight Grammy awards and 12 Latin Grammy awards, choreographer Priscilla Hernández, creator of the Day of the Dead parade in “James Bond: Specter,” and producer Matt Walden, an ex-Columbia Pictures, Fox and Arista Records executive, who oversaw the music for “Waiting to Exhale” and “Romeo+Juliet.”
Capitalizing on the current nostalgia for all things ’90’s, the soundtrack will feature the cast performing 15 of the biggest Latin music hits from that era, Pantelion Films announced Thursday. It will feature dialogue and music in both Spanish and English, in a play for both core Latino U.S. audiences who are mostly bilingual, and audiences beyond.
“La Usurpadora, the Musical” features a stellar Latino cast, starring Isabella Castillo (“El Señor de los Cielos,” “Malverde: El Santo Patrón”) who portrays both Valeria and Victoria, twin sisters, and Alan Estrada (“¿Conoces a Tomás?” “Día de Muertos”), the man one falls in love with.
The adaptation looks set to maintain the basic plot line of the iconic original, turning on two identical twin sisters, separated at birth and unknown to each other, one truly decent but humble, the other ultra rich, conniving and truly destructive. A chance meeting in Las Vegas brings the two together, and they soon find themselves hopelessly intertwined in each other’s lives, the synopsis runs.
María Hinojos (“Mirreyes vs Godinez”) wrote the screenplay with Limón.
Supporting cast takes in Susana Zabaleta (“Sexo, pudor y lágrimas”), Jesús Ochoa (“Overboard,” “¿Qué culpa tiene el niño?”), Cecilia Toussaint (“Amor de barrio”), Valentina (“Rupaul’s Drag Race,” “Rent”) and Alejandra Ley (“Vencer el pasado”). Alejandra Guzmán (“El Juego de las Llaves”) and Shane West (“Gotham,” “A Walk to Remember”) make special appearances.
“La Usurpadora, The Musical” is currently in production in the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Jalisco, Nayarit and Mexico City.
According to Pantelion, it will be “full of humor, emotion and great storytelling, all underscored by Latin hits.”
These include iconic ‘90s titles such as “La Vida Es un Carnaval,” “Mi Tierra,” “Dame Otro Tequila,” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “Vuelve,” “Con Zapatos de Tacón,” “Cosas Del Amor” and “No Me Ames,” among many others.
Announcement of the modern movie musical comes after L.A.-based Spanish-language streaming platform Pantaya and Pantelion unveiled multi-year first look deals with a brace of Latin American companies including The Lift Entertainment as well as El Estudio and Traziende Films.
Mexico City-based The Lift launched in 2005 as a production services outfit. Led by founder-CEO Avelino Rodríguez, in 2019 it moved into developing and producing long format content for Pantelion Films, 3Pas Studios, Amazon Prime, Televisa Networks, Anonymous content, Hulu and Viacom. Collaborations with Pantelion include upcoming “Y Cómo Es Él” and “Cuando Sea Joven.”