Doreen Montalvo


John Moore's 2018 interview after the Denver Center's world-premiere co-production of 'American Mariachi’ at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. With actors Amanda Robles, Doreen Montalvo, Crissy Guerrero, Jennifer Paredes, Natalie Camunas and Heather Velazquez.

By John Moore, Senior Arts Journalist

The first time I saw Doreen Montalvo was in the original Broadway production of “In the Heights.” Ten years later, when she entered the room for the DCPA Theatre Company’s meet-and-greet for the world-premiere play “American Mariachi" in 2018, she lit up the room like a human generator. Thus began four months of uninterrupted kindness and daily decency as the play’s journey eventually moved from Denver to San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre.

She returned to Denver later that year playing Gloria Estefan's mother, Gloria Fajardo, in the 2018 national touring production of the Broadway musical "On Your Feet." 

Montalvo, who died Saturday after a sudden illness, will appear in the upcoming film adaptations of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s "In the Heights" and Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story." At the time of the COVID shutdown, Montalvo was playing network executive Janet Lundy in the new Broadway musical "Mrs. Doubtfire."  She was 56.

You didn’t have to know Montalvo for long to feel the loss. Take it from Lin-Manuel Miranda: Everyone who met her became her new friend.

"Doreen Montalvo was the first actress to audition for 'In The Heights' in the basement of the Drama Book Shop in 2002, and she embedded herself in my heart in an instant," Miranda wrote on Twitter.

"It is monstrously unfair that we did not get more time with her. More shows with her. More music with her. More life with her. When someone brings that much joy and love to everyone they meet, that much commitment to the craft they love ... it's unfair. And heartbreaking."

'It is monstrously unfair that we did not get more time with her. More shows with her. More music with her. More life with her.' – Lin-Manuel Miranda

Montalvo played Amalia and Doña Lola in José Cruz González’s “American Mariachi” world-premiere staging in Denver. Set in the 1970s American southwest, the “play with music” follows the journey of a young woman named Lucha who has become the caretaker for a mother with dementia (played by Montalvo). Yet she endeavors to become one of the first female mariachi players in the United States. Amalia is stirred by a certain ballad that momentarily brings her back to reality.

"The core of 'American Mariachi' is the heart," Su Teatro Artistc Director Tony Garcia wrote for Latin Life Denver. "It is about family, and intense love, and like any good bolero it carries with it that aching moment of hubris that will not only harm, but scar for years into the future."

Montalvo plays the Neighbor Lady as well as the voice of the bolero singer "Siempre" in the upcoming film version of "In The Heights." She will be seen as a political activist during the song "America" in Spielberg's upcoming "West Side Story" film.

Montalvo recently released her solo album "American Soul/Latin Heart" distributed by Broadway Records. 

Television and film credits include: 'Alternatino," "Madame Secretary," "The Tale of Timmy Two Chins," "Elementary," "Smash," "The Good Wife," "Law and Order," "One Life to Live," "All My Children," "Tracked," "Jack, Jules, Esther and Me," and "Hooray for Love."

Montalvo, wife of film director Michael Mann ("Manhunter"), was born November 15, 1963, in the Bronx. Their home outside of New York was in the Poconos Mountains, where she was an avid kayaker. 

Additional reaction:

  • Crissy Guerrero, "American Mariachi” castmate: “Absolutely gutted by the loss of my wonderful friend. Doreen was a gorgeous soul full of compassion, grit and talent. With Doreen at the helm, my wonderful cast became family during ‘American Mariachi,’ and have continued our love affair with one another, even now. I was awestruck upon first meeting her, marveling at her gorgeous voice and the depth of her acting. But it was as my friend I became truly grateful for Doreen. Generous, kind and funny, Doreen always had time to talk about life and offer sage advice. Despite being the awesome Broadway presence she was, she knew there was room for everybody at the table and encouraged us each to be our best selves onstage and off. As bright as her light shone on Broadway, she was also a beacon in my life of love and friendship. Doreen, you leave a massive hole in theater and in my life. I love you, my sweet friend.”
  • Jon M. Chu, "In the Heights" film director: “Doreen was a force of love that seeped into every inch of ‘In the Heights.’ ”
  • Heather Velazquez, “American Mariachi” castmate: “Amiga mía, ya te extraño. Que descanses en el cielito lindo. You are one of the greats! Your spirit will live on forever my dearest Doreen. I will always love you.”
  • Jennifer Paredes, “American Mariachi” castmate: “My words fail me — miss you so hard, love you forever queen. Thank you for your LIGHT for your LOVE for your STRENGTH. Your life profoundly touched so many of us. Rest in brilliant song and peace.”
  • Regina Garcia, “American Mariachi” Scenic Designer: "The better humans are meant to be our angels, or so it seems. My broken heart and deep admiration always with our DCPA and Old Globe "American Mariachi familia."

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine during his time at The Denver Post. He also is the founder of The Denver Actors Fund, and is now contributing reports on the arts community for ArvadaCenter.Org. Reach him at

Doreen Montalvo'American Miariachi.' Photo by Adams VisCom.

Doreen Montalvo and Rodney Lizcano. Photo by Adams VisCom. 'This moment in our play was magical every night because of you,' wrote 'American Mariachi' castmate Rodney Lizcano. Photo by Adams VisCom.

Doreen Montalvo. Photo by John MooreRehearsal for 'American Mariachi.' Photo by John Moore.

Doreen Montalvo. Photo by John MooreWith American Mariachi' castmate Bobby Plasencia. Photo by John Moore.

Doreen Montalvo. Photo by John MooreWith American Mariachi' castmate Bobby Plasencia and Director James Vásquez. Photo by John Moore.

Doreen Montalvo. Photo by John MooreOpening Night of 'American Mariachi' in Denver. Photo by John Moore.

Doreen Montalvo. Photo by John Moore

Opening Night of 'American Mariachi' in San Diego: Doreen Montalvo, Heather Velazquez, Jennifer Paredes, Crissy Guerrero,  Natalie Camunas and Amanda Robles. Photo by John Moore.

Home,Reignite the Arts,Art at Home,Support Arvada Center Artists,Virtual Auction,Donate Now,Corporate Giving,Subscribe,AC Flex Package,YP Access,Four Play Package,Visit Us,COVID-19 Entry Policies,View All Events,Gift Certificates,Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express,528.0 Regional Juried Printmaking Exhibition,Imprint: Print Educators of Colorado,Pink Progression: Collaborations,Stories and Songs to Celebrate the Season,Black in Denver,Carley Warren: Three Pieces,Wood.Works,Small Mouth Sounds,Race and the Myth of Rock'n'Roll,Million Dollar Quartet,Amplify with Cleo Parker Robinson,Viral Influence Art in the Time of Coronavirus,Brady Smith: (Don’t be embarrassed by) your trouble with living,Melody Epperson: 100 + 1: Women and the Vote,Simply Swingin’: Great American Crooners,Brazil Calling: Featuring the Music of Antônio Carlos Jobim,Big Band Royalty: Dukes, Counts and Barons of Jazz ,Colin Hay Testing,Kinky Boots,Rockley Piano Sale,Coffee Concerts: Moonlight Sonata,Keyboard Conversations: The Glorious Music of Chopin,Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema,Word Play,I Do! I Do!,Roland Bernier: In Other Words,Jazz Classics: The Music You've Been Missing,Elf - The Musical,Amplify: A Breakbeat Testimony,Sylvia,The Liar,Stick Fly,Animal Farm,Dining Partners,Amplify,Amplify Performers,Theatre,main stage musicals,Black Box Plays,Theatre for Children,Auditions,Million Dollar Quartet Auditions,Holiday Plays,Galleries,Current Exhibitions,Wood.Works Know Before You Go,Gallery Events,Upcoming Exhibitions,Art Sales,Art Market,Art Submissions,Viral Influence Call for Entry,Sculpture Field,History Museum,Education,Dance Class FAQ,View All Classes,Summer Camps,FAQ,Full Day,Summer Camp Performances,Classes for Kids,Classes for Adults,Ceramics,Front Range Youth Symphony,Dance Academy,For Educators and Community Groups,Arts Day,Arts Day Outreach,Ageless Adults,Scholarships,Teen Intensive 2021,Yesterado,Music and Dance,Jeffrey Siegel,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra,AEDA Summer Concerts,Humanities,On Their Shoulders We Stand,Private Event Rentals,Humans of the Arvada Center,Straight Talk Series ,Straight Talk with Philip Sneed,COVID’s toll on Colorado theatre: 224 productions and counting ,Straight Talk with Lynne Collins,Straight Talk with Rod Lansberry,Straight Talk with Phamaly, Buntport, Colorado Shakes and Rocky Mountain Rep,Straight Talk with Creede Rep, Town Hall, Candlelight and Theatre Company of Lafayette,Straight Talk with Aurora Fox, BDT Stage, Cherry Creek Theatre and Misfits,Straight Talk with Su Teatro, Vintage, Backstage and Counterweight,Straight Talk with Local Theater Company, Theater 29, The Source and Equinox,Straight Talk with the Denver Center, Jesters Dinner Theatre, Glenwood Vaudeville Revue and Germinal Stage-Denver,Actors' union issues safety guidelines for re-opening,Straight Talk with square product, Forge Light, Springs Ensemble Theatre and Coal Creek Theatre of Louisville,Straight Talk with the Fine Arts Center, Miners Alley Playhouse, Dangerous Theatre and Lone Tree Arts Center ,Straight Talk with Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Northglenn Arts,Straight Talk with The Catamounts, Bas Bleu and Thingamajig,Straight Talk with Curious Theatre Company,Straight Talk with OpenStage, Firehouse and Adams Mystery Playhouse,Straight Talk with Platte Valley Players and Theatreworks,Straight Talk with Parker Arts, Stories on Stage and Thunder River ,Staight Talk 2 with Philip Sneed: This much is uncertain,Pivoting With,Pivoting with The Black Actors Guild,Pivoting with ... Emily Van Fleet and Nathan Jones,Pivoting With ... Tammy Franklin and the Curtain Playhouse,Pivoting With Nick Sugar and the Town Hall Arts Center,Pivoting With Helen Murray and the Aurora Fox,Pivoting with Edith Weiss and Christy Montour Larson,Pivoting With Scott RC Levy and the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company,Pivoting with Todd Debrecini for Halloween,Pivoting with Ashley Campbell,Pivoting with Meghan Anderson Doyle,Pivoting with Jenna Moll Reyes,Pivoting with Erik Fellenstein,Pivoting with Ray Bailey ,Pivoting with Tara Falk,Community News,Inside the Arvada Center,Barbra Streisand,Governor's mask mandate does not apply to Candlelight actors,Pink Progression: Collaborations: Grow Love and Moe Gram,Director's Notes: A Midsummer Night's Dream,All About Printmaking Techniques,Watercolor Class,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Collin Parson ,Arvada Center Makes Masks,Earth Day Craft,Christina Noel-Adcock,"Bright Star" cast unveils video as message of hope,Podcast: B+ with Geoffrey Kent and Jessica Austgen ,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Christine Moore,Humans of the Arvada Center: Steven Cogswell,Humans of the Arvada Center: Ashi K. Smythe,City of Arvada to install new sculpture in Hoskinson Park,Humans of the Arvada Center Jessie Page,Here are the 2019-20 Henry Award nominations,Arvada Center to Offer Students World’s First Zoom Musical,Humans of the Arvada Center Cal Meakins,Humans of the Arvada Center: Adam Stolte,Supreme Court workplace ruling hits home for Lisa Leafgreen,'Time for talk is over': Arvada Center launch 'Amplify' series to raise black male voices,Humans of the Arvada Center Jon Olson ,The 5 Most Screwed Job Titles in COVID-era theatre,June in Colorado Theatre: 'The Reckoning' has begun,New Arvada Center, Aurora Fox seasons reflect current complexities,It's virtually impossible not to have fun in our summer camps,News roundup: Who The Denver Actor's Fund DEAR Fund has helped,Humans of the Arvada Center: Abygail Rosales,Pink Progression Collaborations: Jina Brenneman and Margaret Kasahara,Pink Progression: Julia Rymer and Drew Austin,Revealing The Dialogue,Amplify Epiode 3 launches, series expanding to include black women,Colorado Springs reaches the Mountaintop at 2020 Henry Awards,Photo Blog: Sweeney Todd Rehearsals,Humans of the Arvada Center: Gabriel Morales,Deeper Dive: A closer look at Million Dollar Quartet,Deeper Dive: A closer look at Small Mouth Sounds,Pink Progression: Sangeeta Reddy and Jodie Roth Cooper,Deeper Dive: A closer look at Private Lives,Front Porch Series Kickoff,Cleo Parker Robinson dances back in the box with Arvada Center,Amplify turns the mic over to local Black women ,Beth Malone bringing 'joy bomb' to Arvada Center oon September 4,Theatre news: Live streaming panel Monday on a big new 'Idea',Deeper Dive: A closer look at They're Playing Our Song,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Emily King,Amplify Women Episode 2,Special Book Honors Special Dance Teacher,Arvada Center pivots to radio-play series for fall ,amplify-series-comes-to-powerful-conclusion,Denver Film moving forward with longer, smaller, virtual 2020 festival ,How COVID is impacting individual artists,Take a stroll through 'Sculpture in the Field',Arts In Education Week,Colorado Theatre News: Miscast pivots to CAST ,Essay: Was the Aurora Fox a safe house on Opening Night? ,Lessons from a summer of outdoor theatre in the time of COVID ,Humans of the Arvada Center: John Hamilton,Theatre news of the week: DCPA launches Recovery Fund,Zachary Andrews take a one-man bite out of 'Dracula',Trick Art Treat coming to Arvada Center parking lot ,What to do? Theatre happenings for October 16,Spotlight Manos Soap,Doreen Montalvo in Denver: Compassion and grit,What to do: Theatre happenings for October 23,Betty Hart's presidential promise: Build a bigger tent,Theatre happenings October 30,Virtual theatre sprouts a new branch with Arvada Center's 'The Family Tree',Humans of the Arvada Center: Brenna Clendaniel and Sophia Koop,Theatre happenings November 12,the barnstormers are back,On being Black in Denver and all the colors that it brings,Getting to Know: Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales,Theatre happenings November 19: Companies entering cancellation mode,A Married Couple's Christmas in Wales,2021 in live theatre: A look into the Crystal Ball,Senior Art Kits,2020 True West Awards: Buntpivot ,2020 True West Awards: Lily Bradford,2020 True West Awards: The Scenesters,2020 True West Awards: Podcastic,2020 True West Awards: Phamaly takes 'Honk' to Japan,2020 True West Awards: Christine Moore,2020 True West Awards: Alive Inside,2020 True West Awards: Michael Ensminger,True West Awards: They Wrote the Book,True West Awards: Rent-A-Pals,True West Awards: Of Spacious Skies,True West Awards: Christopher Page-Sanders,2020 True West Awards: Suffer the little children,2020 True West Awards: Spirit of Giving,2020 True West Awards: Secret Gardeners,2020 True West Awards: Denis Berkfeldt,2020 True West Awards: Amplify,2020 True West Awards: Reclaiming One Star,2020 True West Awards: William Hahn and Jessica Robblee,2020 True West Awards: Lisa Wagner Erickson,'The Family Tree affords actors rare chance to work during pandemic,SCFD: New picture of COVID carnage on metro nonprofits,New Arvada Center video offers diverse slate of holiday stories,20 for 20,Meet the Frasers,Bev Newcomb-Madden: Colorado's feisty, ferocious fairy godmother passes away ,Lucy Roucis' final act is a gutpunch,Reunite the Arts Collin Parson,Jodie Steeves and Nancy Terry,International Women's Day,Reunite the Arts Lisa Leafgreen,The Con Must Go On,Clear Fork Cider Spotlight,Remembering John Gratkins,Reunite the Arts: From our CEO,Adapting the Great Gatsby,Small Mouth Sounds returns,Danielle Johnson Q&A,Reunite the Arts Lynne Collins,The Show Must Go On,Diana and Mike Kinsey,Get to Know Kazu Oba,Reunite the Arts Rod Lansberry,Meet Suzanna Champion,Getting to know Eric Many Winds Herrera and Red Feather Woman,The Gear of Million Dollar Quartet,Music for the Young and Young at Heart,FRYS and the Symphony,Get to Know Carlou D,Stories From the Studio,Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Lares Feliciano,Arts Advocacy,Volunteer,About Us,Ticketing Policies,Contact Us,Ticket discounts,Accessiblity,Health and Safety,Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access,Digital Magazine,Careers,Entry,Tours,Art of the State Submissions,Adopt an Actor 2022,Dinner and a Show,Temp,Virtual Theatre FAQ,New Website ,Pink Progression Events,On Demand Troubleshooting,Blog,Lorem ipsum,Lorem ipsum 2,Newk’s,Steuben’s Arvada,The Family Tree FAQ,Home for the Holidays,Land Acknowledgement,Gala,Errors,404,The Family Tree Dining Offers