SEASIDE — Ariana DeBose packs a big voice and a big name on Broadway.
An original cast member of New York’s — make that the world’s — hottest stage hit, “Hamilton,” DeBose and a team of cinematic talents are coming to the South County Friday to shoot the feature film, “Seaside.”
DeBose is set to star as “Daphne,” a determined young go-getter in the movie, a female-driven, revenge thriller from writer-director Sam Zalutsky.
This is Zalutsky’s second feature film, following his debut “You Belong to Me,” a 2007 thriller.
Shooting for “Seaside” started in Portland Sunday and continued through the week.
On Friday, cast and crew come to the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. They’ll be shooting through the weekend and next week will film in Hug Point and Arch Cape.
The Portland-raised Zalutsky always had Seaside as a location in mind.
“I am a proud native-born-and-bred Oregonian,” he said. “I haven’t lived here in a while, but I always consider it home.”
In choosing this area, Zalutsky said he wanted to “highlight the incredible beauty of Oregon, both on camera, and the uniqueness of the locations.”
The director said he’s received a “ton of help” from friends and family in the Portland area.
He wrote the script thinking of the Oregon Coast.
“‘Dangerous beauty’ is a term that comes to mind,” Zalutsky said. “The elements are very extreme, and you’re not protected like you are in New York or Portland. You see that everywhere you look — the incredible surf, the rocks, the cliffs, the trees.”
Zalutsky’s script tells the story of “Daphne,” played by DeBose, whose boyfriend inherits his childhood beach house. The couple move from Portland to the coast to start fresh and have a family. When they run into “Susanna,” a troubled local woman in Seaside (played by Oregonian Steffanie Leigh), Daphne discovers that Roger has been less than honest about his romantic past, and Daphne must fight, not just for her relationship, but for her own survival.
DeBose was fascinated with the character after reading the script and meeting with Zalutsky.
Daphne has “a lot of different circumstances in her life, taking care of their mother, who’s single with a disability and desperately taking care of her boyfriend,” DeBose said Wednesday from Portland. “It feels like the world is throwing all different punches at her. It’s very rare to come across something like this, for me to have this opportunity.”
It’s been a “very long time” since she’s performed a dramatic role, DeBose said, and she relished the “dark tone” of the script.
“I specialize in musicals that are fun-loving,” she said. “This is my first feature film, and an exciting one at that.”
DeBose is on a leave of absence from the cast of “Hamilton,” which she will resume after shooting “Seaside.”
The off-Broadway production of “Hamilton” won the 2015 Drama Desk award for outstanding musical, as well as seven other Drama Desk awards. The Broadway play won a Grammy award and is a leading contender for “Best Musical” at the Tony awards in June.
What is it like to be a part of the planet’s hottest theatrical production, the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton?
“It’s amazing,” DeBose said. “‘Hamilton’ is one of those dream shows no one ever really saw coming. For an artist, it’s a once in a lifetime thing.”
She added, “You don’t see many shows that have a big fan in the president.”
Working with the city of Seaside has been “incredible,” Zalutsky said.
Film locations include the convention center, Funland and the old Lutheran church.
Visitors Center Assistant General Manager Jon Rahl and staff member Nicole Bailey “were super-helpful,” Zalutsky said, embracing the project.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” he said. “They’ve helped us connect with so many businesses. It’s really fun to have people be so excited about it. It’s kind of a dream come true.”
As he begins shooting, the specter of another film shot in the vicinity, Steven Spielberg’s “Goonies,” always looms.
“‘Goonies,’ I don’t know if I ever saw it,” Zalutsky admitted. “But wherever you point the camera it’s going to be an interesting view. So you can’t lose.”