De'Adre Aziza, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Zachary Noah Piser & More Join Idina Menzel-Led REDWOOD at La Jolla Playhouse

Redwood will run February 13 – March 31, 2024 in the Playhouse’s Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre.

By: Jan. 05, 2024
De'Adre Aziza, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Zachary Noah Piser & More Join Idina Menzel-Led REDWOOD at La Jolla Playhouse
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La Jolla Playhouse has revealed the cast and creative team for its world-premiere production of Redwood, with book and direction by Tony Award nominee Tina Landau (Playhouse’s Beauty), music by Kate Diaz, lyrics by Diaz and Landau. Conceived by Landau and Tony Award winner Idina Menzel (Broadway’s Rent, Wicked), with additional contributions by Menzel, Redwood will run February 13 – March 31, 2024 in the Playhouse’s Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. 

In addition to Idina Menzel in the role of “Jesse,” the cast features De’Adre Aziza as “Mel,” Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as “Becca,” Michael Park as “Finn,” and Zachary Noah Piser as “Spencer,” along with understudies Giovanny Diaz de Leon and Lance Arthur Smith.

The Redwood creative team includes Kimberly Grigsby, Music Supervisor; Haley Bennett, Music Director; Jason Ardizzone-West, Scenic Designer; Toni-Leslie James, Costume Designer; Scott Zielinski, Lighting Designer; Jonathan Deans, Sound Designer; Hana S. Kim, Media Designer; Melecio Estrella, BANDALOOP: Vertical Movement and Staging; The Telsey Office, Patrick Goodwin, CSA/Jacole Kitchen, Casting; Lora K. Powell, Stage Manager; Topaz Cooks, Assistant Stage Manager.

“What an absolute thrill to cap off our 2023/2024 season with this riveting new musical. The Playhouse has been developing Redwood for several years, working with the dynamo team of Tina Landau, Kate Diaz and Idina Menzel – each a visionary artist in her own right – to create an extraordinary work that overflows with invention, inspiration and empathy,” said Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse.

Broadway legend Idina Menzel makes her La Jolla Playhouse debut in the world premiere of Redwood, a transportive new musical experience about one woman’s journey into the precious and precarious world of the redwood forest. Idina plays Jesse, a successful businesswoman, mother and wife. She seems to have it all, but inside, her heart is broken. Finding herself at a turning point, Jesse leaves everyone and everything behind, gets in her car and drives…. Thousands of miles later, she hits the ancient forests of Northern California, where a chance meeting and a leap of faith change her life forever. With its deeply personal story, refreshingly contemporary sound, and awe-inspiring design, Redwood explores the lengths – and heights – one travels to find strength, resilience and healing.

Idina Menzel

is a powerhouse multi-hyphenate: a singer, an actress in film and TV, a songwriter, a Broadway star, and a philanthropist. She rose to fame for her role as Maureen in the popular Broadway musical Rent, and her career took off when she won a Tony Award for her role as Elphaba in the smash musical Wicked. Her voice can be heard as Elsa in Disney’s Oscar®-winning Frozen, the second highest grossing animated film of all time. The film’s song “Let It Go”, voiced by Menzel, became an instant international phenomenon, winning the Oscar® for Best Original Song – where Menzel performed it at the ceremony – and the Grammy® Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. She reprised her role as Elsa in Disney’s Frozen 2, which broke records to become the highest grossing animated movie of all time. She joined Adam Sandler in the Safdie Brothers’ Film Independent Spirit Award-winning A24 film Uncut Gems. Menzel can currently be seen in the Disney+ documentary Idina Menzel, Which Way to the Stage?, Disney’s Enchanted sequel, Enchanted 2: Disenchanted, alongside Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, and Susan Sarandon; as well as Amazon Studios’ Cinderella, for which she wrote and sang the song “Dream Girl.” Menzel’s prolific recording career includes multiple cast albums and the solo albums: Still I Can’t Be Still, Here, I Stand, idina, and her latest album, Christmas: A Season of Love. Her first Christmas album, Holiday Wishes, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Holiday Albums chart. Menzel received the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award at Billboard’s annual Women in Music event in 2014 and performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLIX. Additional screen credits include Lifetime’s remake of Beaches, Disney’s Enchanted, Maureen in Chris Columbus’ film version of Rent, as well as the recurring role of Shelby Corcoran on Fox’s Glee. Menzel was previously seen on stage in If/Then, for which she earned her third Tony Award nomination, Broadway's Aida and the Encores! production of Hair. Menzel also premiered Wicked in the West End, receiving the Theatregoers Choice Award. She and her sister Cara Mentzel recently released a children’s picture book, “Loud Mouse,” which centers on self-acceptance and being true to yourself. Menzel co-founded the A BroaderWay Foundation in 2010, dedicated to offering girls from underserved communities an outlet for self-expression and creativity through arts-centered programs.

Tina Landau

is a writer and director whose Broadway credits include The Spongebob Musical (also conceiver; Drama Desk & Outer Critics Circle winner Best Direction and Best Musical, 12 Tony Award noms), Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts, and the revival of Bells Are Ringing (Tony noms). Tina has written and directed productions including the musicals Floyd Collins (with composer Adam Guettel, Playwrights Horizons) andDream True (with composer Ricky Ian Gordon, The Vineyard), as well as Ms. Blakk for President (with Tarell McCraney, Steppenwolf Theatre),Space (Steppenwolf, The Taper, The Public), Beauty (La Jolla Playhouse), and Stonewall: Night Variations (En Garde Arts). Her Off-Broadway productions include Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s Old Hats, Chuck Mee’s Big Love and Iphigenia 2.0 (all Signature), Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas (NYTW), and many works by Tarell McCraney including Head of Passes, In the Red and Brown Water (both at the Public) and Wig Out! (Vineyard).  Tina is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, where her over 20 productions also include McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays, The Wheel (with Joan Allen), The Doppelganger (with Rainn Wilson) and The Time of Your Life (also Seattle Rep, ACT). Tina’s work has been recognized by the Tonys, Drama Desks, Drama League, Outer Critics, Lucille Lortel, Obies, and many more, and she’s a recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship, Princess Grace Statuette, NEA/TCG Directing Fellowship, and Rockefeller and Pew grants. She’s the author, with Anne Bogart, of The Viewpoints Book, and is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Little Island in NYC.  

Kate Diaz

is an LA-based composer-songwriter-producer. Kate has scored animated series, feature documentaries and docu-series, and she also composes music for trailers and commercials. Her pop/rock songs have been placed in multiple TV shows, and she recently co-wrote and produced an end credits song for an upcoming documentary.  A multi-instrumentalist, she self-produces her scores and songs.   

La Jolla Playhouse

is a place where artists and audiences come together to create what’s new and next in the American theatre, from Tony Award-winning productions, to imaginative programs for young audiences, to interactive experiences outside our theatre walls. Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, the Playhouse is currently led by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, and Managing Director Debby Buchholz. The Playhouse is internationally renowned for the development of new works, including mounting 110 world premieres, commissioning 70 new works, and sending 35 productions to Broadway, garnering a total of 38 Tony Awards, as well as the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.