BD Wong to Revisit Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, March 6 – March 31

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

Following rave reviews and audience acclaim at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this past spring, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon announced that Tony Award winner and San Francisco native BD Wong will reprise his role as ‘Wen Chang’ in award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) from Wednesday, March 6, through Sunday, March 31, 2019. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Says Wong: “I’m always looking for the rare work that’s as moving as it is funny, that has characters who are people you’ve never met before but whom you somehow immediately feel familiar with. This play, kind of miraculously, gives me all of it. I love Lauren Yee’s insightful vantage point that looks over family relationships and the unsettled scores such relationships keep, all wrapped up in a fresh athletic metaphor. It’s a play that is so specifically Chinese American, yet somehow all-embracing-and that isn’t an easy feat for a playwright. It is a gift of an opportunity to perform Lauren’s play on one of the great regional stages in the country.”

Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang
Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang

Adds MacKinnon: “The Great Leap was already going to be a celebration of San Francisco-a story set here, by a playwright from here, about a sport vital to here. We now add to that a homecoming for San Francisco’s own BD Wong. I cannot wait!”

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé-now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches. Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from Yee-developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival in 2017-explores cultural identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Under the direction of two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, The Great Leap soars through time and leaps across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of a revolution, building tension right up to the buzzer.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Wong is the only actor ever to have received all five major New York Theater awards for a single role-namely his performance in M. Butterfly (his Broadway debut): the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World Award, the Clarence Derwent Award, and the Tony Award.

Wong gained notice on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Oz” as the resilient prison priest (Father Ray) for the show’s six-season run. Then, for 11 seasons on the top-rated NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” he played George Huang, an FBI forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind. Other television credits include NBC’s “Awake,” ABC’s “All-American Girl,” HBO’s telefilms And the Band Played On and The Normal Heart, as well as guest-starring roles on “Sesame Street,” “The X-Files,” “Madam Secretary,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” He most recently has been seen in two drastically different television roles simultaneously: as the nefarious Hugo Strange on “Gotham” and as the mysterious trans-female hacker Whiterose on “Mr. Robot.” For his work on the latter, he received an Emmy, Gold Derby, and a Critic’s Choice Award nominations.

Wong has appeared in more than 20 feature films, including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Jurassic World, Focus, The Space Between Us, Stay, The Salton Sea, Executive Decision, Seven Years in Tibet, Jurassic Park, Father of the Bride (1 & 2), and The Freshman. He can also be heard as the voice of Shang in the Disney animated films Mulan and Mulan II. He will next be seen in Birdbox.

Wong’s additional New York theater credits include The Great Leap at The Atlantic Theater Company, The Tempest, A Language of Their Own, As Thousands Cheer, Shanghai Moon, and the Broadway revivals of the musicals You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures (the latter for which he received a Drama League nomination for distinguished performance). He recently starred regionally in The Orphan of Zhao at La Jolla Playhouse and San Francisco’s A.C.T. In addition, he has starred in five productions of the one-man musical Herringbone, a project dear to his heart.

Wong holds an honorary M.F.A. from American Conservatory Theater.

Three-, four-, and five-play subscriptions are available and offer incredible savings, unparalleled access, exclusive benefits, and personalized customer service. Subscribers save as much as 50% off single-ticket prices. Students and educators are eligible to save up to half price on subscriptions, and senior discounts are available for certain series. A.C.T.’s competitive subscriber benefits include free ticket exchanges up to the day of your scheduled performance, guaranteed best seating, ticket insurance, access to convenient prepaid parking one block away from the theater, discounts for neighborhood restaurants, and the opportunity to subscribe to Words on Plays, A.C.T.’s in-depth theater guide for each show.

BD Wong, Ned Eisenberg, Ali Ahn and Tony Aidan Vo Celebrate Opening Night of Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP 

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee

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Francis Jue, Peter Kim, Michelle Krusiec, Jaygee Macapugay, Joél Pérez, Kendyl Ito, Lulu Fall and More in Rehearsal for WILD GOOSE DREAMS at The Public, Extended through December 16

Michelle Krusiec and Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The Public is presenting the New York premiere of WILD GOOSE DREAMS, written by Hansol Jung and directed by Leigh Silverman. WILD GOOSE DREAMS has been extended through Sunday, December 16, with an official press opening on Wednesday, November 14. Click here for tickets.

Lulu Fall, Michelle Krusiec, Peter Kim, and Joel Perez. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Lulu Fall, Michelle Krusiec, Peter Kim, and Joel Perez. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The complete cast of WILD GOOSE DREAMS includes Dan Domingues (Chorus), Lulu Fall (Digital Nanhee/Chorus), Kendyl Ito (Heejin/Chorus),Francis Jue (Father), Peter Kim (Guk Minsung), Michelle Krusiec (Yoo Nanhee), Jaygee Macapugay(Wife/Chorus), Joél Pérez (Digital Minsung/Chorus), Jamar Williams (Chorus), and Katrina Yaukey (Chorus).

Lulu Fall and Michelle Krusiec. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Lulu Fall and Michelle Krusiec. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

WILD GOOSE DREAMS returns to The Public after its initial run in Public Studio in a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse, where it had a critically-acclaimed run last season. Minsung is a “goose father,” a South Korean man whose wife and daughter have moved to America for a better life. Deeply lonely, he escapes onto the internet and meets Nanhee, a young defector forced to leave her family behind in North Korea. Amidst the endless noise of the modern world, where likes and shares have taken the place of love and touch, Minsung and Nanhee try their best to be real for each other. But after a lifetime of division and separation, is connection possible? Tony nominee Leigh Silverman directs this strikingly original play with music, about two people from two cultures forced to choose between family and freedom.

Michelle Krusiec and Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Michelle Krusiec and Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

WILD GOOSE DREAMS features scenic design by Clint Ramos, costume design by Linda Cho, lighting design by Keith Parham, sound design by Palmer Hefferan, composition by Paul Castles, Korean music composition by Jongbin Jung, movement direction by Yasmine Lee, and music supervision by Charity Wicks.

Francis Jue, director Leigh Silverman, and playwright Hansol Jung. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Francis Jue, director Leigh Silverman, and playwright Hansol Jung. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Director Leigh Silverman and playwright Hansol Jung. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Director Leigh Silverman and playwright Hansol Jung. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Michelle Krusiec and Peter Kim. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Michelle Krusiec and Peter Kim. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Director Leigh Silverman and playwright Hansol Jung. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Director Leigh Silverman and playwright Hansol Jung. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Dan Domingues, Jamar Williams, and Katrina Yaukey. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Dan Domingues, Jamar Williams, and Katrina Yaukey. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Kendyl Ito and Jaygee Macapugay. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Kendyl Ito and Jaygee Macapugay. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Joel Perez and Peter Kim. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Joel Perez and Peter Kim. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Ryun Yu Set for The Old Globe’s New Voices In The Community Series at Mira Mesa Public Library on October 20

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

The Old Globe is presenting its inaugural New Voices in the Community series: free public performances at libraries across San Diego County, followed by conversations with the playwrights and experts in the community. The first New Voices in the Community features three solo shows by women: Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, “A” Train by Anne Torsiglieri, and Unveiled: A One-Woman Play by Rohina Malik.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

New Voices in the Community builds on the success of The Old Globe’s annual Powers New Voices Festival, which brings new work to the Globe’s stages every January. The Old Globe believes that theatre matters, and our work each day is to make theatre matter to more people. With the New Voices in the Community series, the Globe brings exciting contemporary playwrights to San Diego’s neighborhoods, collaborating with the San Diego library system to broaden the city’s access to new plays.

The Old Globe, in partnership with the Mira Mesa Public Library, kicks off the series on Saturday, October 20 at 2:00 p.m. with Hold These Truths, written by Jeanne Sakata, directed by Jessica Kubzansky, and performed by Ryun Yu. The Mira Mesa Public Library is located at 8405 New Salem St., San Diego, 92126.

The performance is FREE to the public. Click here to RSVP.

During World War II, in Seattle, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi fights the U.S. government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass-incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. As he struggles to reconcile his country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution, Gordon begins a 50-year journey toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs-and a confrontation with its failures. New York Theatre Review calls it “a play where one man’s singular story, so full of heart and heartbreak, can speak to the struggles of an entire nation.”

Jeanne Sakata (Playwright, Hold These Truths ) is a renowned actor and playwright known for using her passion, versatility, talent, and wit to provoke public conversation about culturally significant topics. Ms. Sakata’s talents span theatre, film, television, and voice-over, with productions in 2017-2018 of her nationally acclaimed solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance) at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Hang A Tale/Sheen Center in New York City, The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, and Arena Stage in Washington DC. She has had guest and recurring roles on “Big Hero 6 The Series,” “Dr. Ken,” and Bravo’s “True Fiction.” She has also had acclaimed comic turns onstage in the 2015 Los Angeles Times Critic’s Choice Figaro at A Noise Within, and A Single Shard at People’s Light & Theatre Company. Ms. Sakata can also be heard as Soon Yang in Jennifer Phang’s acclaimed indie sci-fi film Advantageous, streaming exclusively on Netflix (2015 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, 2016 Film Independent Spirit Award nomination).

Jessica Kubzansky (Director) has been an Artistic Director of Boston Court Pasadena since its inception, and she is an award-winning director working nationally. She was privileged to develop and direct the world premiere of Hold These Truths at East West Players in 2007, and she has directed many subsequent productions, including at A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Pasadena Playhouse, and most recently Arena Stage. For Boston Court, Ms. Kubzansky has directed Luis Alfaro’s Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles at Getty Villa and Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater/Cherry Lane Theatre. At Boston Court, her directing credits include the upcoming world premiere of Sarah B. Mantell’s Everything That Never Happened, the West Coast premiere of Julia Lederer’s With Love and a Major Organ, Camino Real, Mother Courage and Her Children, and the world premieres of Stefanie Zadravec’s Colony Collapse, Everything You Touch, Ms. Kubzansky’s R II (a three-person adaptation of Richard II), Michael Elyanow’s The Children, Jordan Harrison’s Futura, Laura Schellhardt’s Courting Vampires, Nick Salamone and Maury McIntyre’s Gulls, Mickey Birnbaum’s Bleed Rail, Carlos Murillo’s Unfinished American Highwayscape #9 & 32, Jean Claude Van Itallie’s Light, and Cody Henderson’s Cold/Tender. Her other credits include Sofia Alvarez’s Amos & Boris and Aditi Kapil’s Orange (South Coast Repertory), Stupid F***ing Bird (A Contemporary Theatre), Pygmalion and Mauritius (Pasadena Playhouse), and Hamlet with Leo Marks (Theatre 150). Ms. Kubzansky has received many awards and honors, among them the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle’s Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theatre.

Ryun Yu (Performer, Hold These Truths ) plays the recurring character of Pastor Daniel Kwon in the FX show “Baskets” starring Zach Galifianakis and Louie Anderson. He has done two pilots for NBC and one for CBS, working with James Burrows, John Wells, Henry Winkler, Sissy Spacek, Janeane Garofalo, and others. He has also played characters on “Fuller House,” TBS’s “Animal Kingdom,” and the new Amazon series “Forever” with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. In film, he played Mark in the film adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s Bondage, and DHH in Yellow Face, which was the first adaptation of a major play for YouTube, where it can still be viewed. In theatre, Mr. Yu originated the role of Gordon Hirabayashi in Hold These Truths at East West Players in 2007 and has since performed it to sold-out houses at A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Pasadena Playhouse, and most recently Arena Stage in Washington DC. He also originated the lead role of Takeshi in the world premiere of Kimber Lee’s tokyo fish story at South Coast Repertory. Mr. Yu’s other theatre credits include the West Coast premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out (Geffen Playhouse), the world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap (Magic Theatre), and Art and the Los Angeles premiere of Julia Cho’s The Language Archive (East West Players). As a writer and director, Mr. Yu directed and co-wrote the feature film The Last Tour , which won the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and was also selected for the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival and the Korean American Film Festival New York. He is the first Korean American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He also has the first theatre degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

SWEET CHARITY’s Kenny Ingram Stars In Benefit Concert Reading of SHANE BOY DARLING at Ruth Page Center on October 22

Kenny Ingram. Photo by Lia Chang

The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is presenting a benefit concert reading of Shane Boy Darling on Monday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St.

Kenny Ingram. Photo by Lia Chang
Kenny Ingram. Photo by Lia Chang

Shane Boy Darling is a one man musical written and starring Kenny Ingram with music and lyrics by Peter Candela.

General admission tickets are $25. Discounted tickets are available for seniors, and students over 18. Subject Matter Not Suitable for under 18.

Proceeds from the performance to benefit the Young Men’s Scholarship Program at the Ruth Page School of Dance. To reserve a ticket or find more information, click here.

Shane Boy Darling is a series of vignettes based on true stories with original music and lyrics. Performed as a concert reading, the play is a cosmic ride of laughter, inspiration and reflections on life and overcoming adversity, Ingram reflects on his career, family history and how he dealt with his greatest challenge – being diagnosed with prostate cancer. This challenge creates a special bond between his artistic collaborator, Peter Candela, who was also diagnosed with prostate cancer at the same time. Ultimately, the journey inspires faith and gratitude in an array of musical styles.

Kenny Ingram hails from San Jose, California and he has been a part of the Chicago Theatre Community since 1983. He started his professional career at the Marriott Theatre playing Ritchie in A Chorus Line! He has since choreographed and won a Jeff Award for 42nd Street at Marriott and a Jeff Award for playing Mr. Magix at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. Mr. Ingram recently completed a ten year run on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King. Ingram recently won a New York Musical Festival Award for Outstanding Choreography for Emojiland and is currently featured as Daddy Brubeck in Marriott’s Theatre Sweet Charity.

Peter Candela was born and raised in Rochester, New York. During his college career, Candela studied various forms of music and with esteemed Gary Burton, Rayburn Wright, Bill Dobbins, Samuel Adler and Robert Morris. He moved to the New York metropolitan area in 1983 and quickly established himself as a freelance musician. His Broadway credits include playing keyboards for Disney’s The Lion King since 1998, and the latest Broadway revival of Bells Are Ringing. He has performed at Radio City and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. As composer, lyricist, and orchestrator, he wrote the 2012 Broadway/Cares Equity Fights Aids Easter Bonnet presentation entitled “Hallelujah Harlem” that won first prize for best presentation. You can also hear his song “Wreath of Kindness” performed by members of the cast of The Lion King on the 2012 “Carols for a Cure” CD. In 2015, he wrote the arrangements for “Face the Light,” an original Christian CD composed by Peter Kidd. He has accompanied many Broadway veterans including Jo Sullivan Loesser and Constantine Maroulis.

For more information about The Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts and its programs visit www.RuthPage.org.

Lainie Sakakura, Kenny Ingram, Baayork Lee, Tisa Chang. Photo by Lia Chang
Lainie Sakakura, Kenny Ingram, Baayork Lee, Tisa Chang. Photo by Lia Chang

I recently caught up with Kenny Ingram when he appeared in the developmental reading of Lainie Sakakura (producer/book) and Paul Fujimoto’s (music/lyrics) CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, a musical adaptation of The New York Times Best Selling novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford at The Playroom Theater in New York on September 17.

André De Shields, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney, Amber Gray, Patrick Page and More in Rehearsal for HADESTOWN at the National Theatre

Following record-breaking runs at New York Theatre Workshop and Canada’s Citadel Theatre, Hadestown comes to the National Theatre prior to Broadway.

André De Shields and Rachel Chavkin. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
André De Shields and Rachel Chavkin. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

In the warmth of summertime, songwriter Orpheus and his muse Eurydice are living it up and falling in love. But as winter approaches, reality sets in: these young dreamers can’t survive on songs alone. Tempted by the promise of plenty, Eurydice is lured to the depths of industrial Hadestown. On a quest to save her, Orpheus journeys to the underworld where their trust in each other is put to a final test.

Eva Noblezada. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Eva Noblezada. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

Celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin have transformed Mitchell’s acclaimed concept album into a genre-defying new musical that mixes modern American folk music with vintage New Orleans jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.

Patrick Page and Amber Gray. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Patrick Page and Amber Gray. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

The cast stars Reeve Carney as Orpheus, Eva Noblezada as Eurydice, André De Shields as Hermes, Amber Gray as Persephone and Patrick Page as Hades. The cast also includes Sharif Afifi, Rosie Fletcher, Beth Hinton-Lever, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Seyi Omooba, Gloria Onitiri, Patrick Page, Aiesha Pease, Joseph Prouse, Jordan Shaw and Shaq Taylor.

André De Shields, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Gloria Onitiri, Rosie Fletcher. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
André De Shields, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Gloria Onitiri, Rosie Fletcher. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

Directed by Rachel Chavkin, with set design by Rachel Hauck, costume design by Michael Krass, lighting design by Bradley King, sound design byNevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, choreography by David Neumann, musical direction and vocal arrangements by Liam Robinson, orchestrations and arrangements by Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, with Ken Cerniglia as dramaturg.

Reeve Carney. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Reeve Carney. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
André De Shields. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
André De Shields. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Company. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Company. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Liam Robinson, Rachel Chavkin. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Liam Robinson, Rachel Chavkin. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Liam Robinson and company Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Liam Robinson and company Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Anais Mitchell. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Anais Mitchell. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Amber Gray, Anais Mitchell, and Reeve Carney. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Amber Gray, Anais Mitchell, and Reeve Carney. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Company. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Company. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Rosie Fletcher, David Neumann, Eva Noblezada, Carly Mercedes Dyer. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Rosie Fletcher, David Neumann, Eva Noblezada, Carly Mercedes Dyer. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Rachel Chavkin. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Rachel Chavkin. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Eva Noblezada and Patrick Page. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Eva Noblezada and Patrick Page. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Amber Gray. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Amber Gray. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Patrick Page. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Patrick Page. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
David Neumann. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
David Neumann. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Liam Robinson with Sharif Afifi, Joseph Prouse, Jordan Shaw, Aiesha Pease, and Beth Hinton-Lever. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Liam Robinson with Sharif Afifi, Joseph Prouse, Jordan Shaw, Aiesha Pease, and Beth Hinton-Lever. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Shaq Taylor and Beth Hinton-Lever. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Shaq Taylor and Beth Hinton-Lever. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Carly Mercedes Dyer, Gloria Onitiri, and Rosie Fletcher. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Carly Mercedes Dyer, Gloria Onitiri, and Rosie Fletcher. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Sharif Afifi with David Neumann. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks
Sharif Afifi with David Neumann. Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

Jennifer Lim, Midori Francis, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Abby Corrigan, Ali Rose Dachis, Karl Kenzler, Ryann Redmond, Nicole Rodenburg and Raviv Ullman Set For Roundabout’s World Premiere of Ming Peiffer’s USUAL GIRLS, October 11 – December 9

Ming Peiffer

Roundabout Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere production of Usual Girls by Ming Peiffer, directed by Tyne Rafaeli, October 11 – December 9.

Ming Peiffer
Ming Peiffer

The cast includes Sofia Black-D’Elia as “Sasha / Older Girl 2 / KKG Sister,” Abby Corrigan as “Anna,” Ali Rose Dachis as “Marina / Older Girl #3,” Midori Francis as “Kyeoung,” Karl Kenzler as “Father,” Jennifer Lim as “Woman,” Ryann Redmond as “Older Girl / KKG Sister,”Nicole Rodenburg as “Lindsay,” and Raviv Ullman as “Rory.”

Usual Girls begins preview performances Off-Broadway on Thursday, October 11, 2018 and opens officially on Monday, November 5, 2018 at the Black Box Theatre in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 West 46th Street). This is a limited engagement through Sunday, December 9, 2018.

How do girls grow up? Quickly, painfully, wondrously. On an elementary school playground, a boy threatens to tell on the girls for swearing – unless one of them kisses him. But just before lips can touch, Kyeoung tackles the boy to the ground. The victory is short-lived. Over the coming years, Kyeoung’s stories get stranger, funnier, more harrowing – and more familiar. This hilarious, explicit gut-punch of a play bursts with playwright Ming Peiffer’s bold, explosive voice.

The creative team includes: Arnulfo Maldonado (Sets), Ásta Hostetter (Costumes), Jen Schriever (Lighting) and Tei Blow (Sound).

All tickets for Usual Girls are $25. General Admission tickets and are available by calling 212.719.1300, online at roundabouttheatre.org, in person at any Roundabout box office: American Airlines Theatre Box office (227 West 42nd Street); The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 W 46th Street) and Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street). For groups of 10 or more please call 212-719-9393 x 365 or emailgroupsales@roundabouttheatre.org.

Usual Girls plays Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:00PM with Saturday matinees at 1:30PM and Sunday matinees at 2:00PM.

roundabouttheatre.org

SOFIA BLACK-D’ELIA (Sasha, Older Girl 2, KKG Sister) is thrilled to be making her New York stage debut with Roundabout Theatre Company. Recent TV credits include: FOX’S comedy “The Mick” and HBO’s Emmy-nominated mini-series “The Night Of.” Other TV credits include: “Gossip Girl” and “Skins.” Film credits include: Paramount’s Ben Hur and Project Almanac, and Blumhouse’s Viral. Thank you Tyne and Ming!

ABBY CORRIGAN (Anna) is thrilled to make her off Broadway debut with the Usual Girls family. Stage: Medium Alison, in Fun Home (Broadway National Tour, Helen Hayes Award), Apostle/Ensemble in Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE!, Emcee in Cabaret, Cassie in A Chorus Line(TCS); Fiona in Shrek (2014 Blumey Award), Daniela in In the Heights, Peter in Peter Pan, Maureen in Rent (NWSA); Natalie in Next to Normal (QCTC); Sally in The Day They Shot John Lennon(C.A.S.T.). Film/TV: Headed South for Christmas (Painted Horse); A Smile as Big as the Moon (Hallmark); The Ultimate Life (Reelworks); “Homeland” (HBO); “Rectify” (Sundance); “Banshee” (Cinemax).
ALI ROSE DACHIS (Marina/Older Girl #3) is so pleased to be making her Roundabout debut! Most recently she was seen in Anna Zeigler’s world premiere of The Wanderers at The Old Globe. Ali has appeared on Broadway in Larry David’s Fish In The Dark. New York and off-Broadway credits include: The Wedge Horse (Fault Line Theatre), Hamlet (The Factory), Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, As You Like It (Backroom Shakespeare), The Awesome 80s Prom, and Exit 27. Ali has appeared regionally in The Edge Of Our Bodies, Circle Mirror Transformation, Vanya &Sonia &Masha &Spike, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Great Gatsby, and others (the Guthrie theater), Leveling Up (Cincinnati Playhouse), Gaslight (Barrington Stage), Pride and Prejudice (Baltimore Center Stage), Romeo And Juliet (Southwest Shakespeare). Her film and Television credits include: Unicornland, Match Perfect, The Magnificent Eve, The Last Breath and Fatal Encounters. Ali received her B.F.A. from the University of Minnesota Guthrie Actor Training Program. Ali is a proud volunteer with Artist’s Striving To End Poverty.
MIDORI FRANCIS (Kyeoung). At age 6, Midori Francis dreamed of playing “Annie” on Broadway. That didn’t happen but the seed was planted. Midori joined the local community theatre scene in New Jersey and when cast in a production of Titanic at 10 years old, she realized that acting was something more than an after-school activity. Since earning her BFA in Theatre from Rutgers, Francis has earned accolades for her roles in the award-winning play, The Wolves (LCT), directed by Lila Neuberger, which garnered her Obie and Drama Desk Awards for Best Ensemble, and Connected (59E59), for which she won NYIT Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress. This fall Midori stars as “Kyeoung” in the Roundabout Underground world premiere production of Ming Peiffer’s Usual Girls, directed by Tyne Rafaeli. The new drama, which follows the story of Kyeoung—from a schoolyard tackle and beyond—is billed as a “hilarious, explicit gut-punch of a play.” Midori is currently shooting the Universal Pictures comedy, Good Boys, produced by Seth Rogen and directed by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, to be released in 2019. Earlier this year, Midori appeared in the epically female-centric, Ocean’s Eight. Midori’s TV resume includes episodes of “Gotham,” “Divorced,” and “Younger.” Her regional theatre work encompasses roles ranging from “Molly” in Peter and the Starcatcher (Virginia Stage Co.) to “Nina” in Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike (Syracuse Stage). Midori lives in Brooklyn and runs daily.
KARL KENZLER (Father). Broadway: Fiddler on the Roof, You Can’t Take It with You, Mary Poppins, Twelve Angry Men, The Caretaker, Dinner at Eight, The Heiress. NY Theatre: Three Wise Guys and Beyond Therapy (TACT), Clinton: The Musical! (NYMF), Peter & The Starcatcher(NYTW), Hamlet and The Tempest (CSC), Spinning Into Butter (LCT), Back From The Front(Working Theater). Regional theater includes: Williamstown, Barrington Stage, Guthrie, Shakespeare Theater, Old Globe. TV includes: “Madam Secretary,” “Suits,” “Mister Robot,” “House of Cards” (recurring), “Law & Order: SVU” (recurring), “Person of Interest,” “Made in Jersey,” “The Good Wife,” “Fringe,” “Rescue Me,” Law & Order” and “Darwin” (DarwinTheSeries.com). Training: UE (BFA), NYU (MFA). KarlKenzler.com
JENNIFER LIM (Woman). BWAY: Chinglish (Theater World Award, IASNY Trophy for Excellence & Drama Desk Nom). NYC: Caught (PlayCo), Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb), The World Of Extreme Happiness (MTC), The Urban Retreat (Public), The Most Deserving (Women’s Project), Golden Child (Signature), Vengeance Can Wait (P.S.122), and YJLee’s Songs of The Dragons Flying to Heaven (HERE Arts & European Tour). TV/FILM: Jessica JonesInstinct, High Maintenance, Hell on Wheels, Person of Interest, Elementary, Good WifeBlue Bloods, Law & Order (original/SVU and Criminal Intent), The Savages, and 27 Dresses. Upcoming: Impossible Monsters. MFA: Yale School of Drama. Jenniferlimonline.com
RYANN REDMOND (Older Girl/KKG Sister). Broadway: Escape to Margaritaville, If/ThenBring It On. TV: “Younger.” Film: “Double Exposure.” Off-Broadway: GiganticMarvelous Wonderettes. National Tour: Escape to Margaritaville, Bring It On. Regional: How to Succeed (TUTS), Hairspray (MUNY), Kiss Me Kate (Bay Street Theatre). Love to Mom, Dad, John, KMR, Kyle, Annette, Andrew, Craig and the Berlins. Proud faculty member of the Broadway Dreams Foundation. Thank you to Tyne, Ming, and the entire Roundabout team for bringing me along! NYU (CAP21). Twitter/Instagram: @ryannreds www.ryannredmond.com
NICOLE RODENBURG (Lindsay). Off-Broadway: Annie Baker’s The Antipodes (Signature Theatre) and The Flick (Barrow Street); The Winter’s Tale (TFANA). Multiple regional credits including Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Westport Country Playhouse); Venus in Fur (Alley Theatre); Cherie in Bus Stop (Huntington), and the world premieres of The Whale (Denver Center) and Slasher (Humana). TV/Film: “Inside Amy Schumer”, “The Shivering Truth” (Comedy Central); “Amish Witches” (Lifetime); What Children Do, Good News for Modern Man, Tic. Nicole is directing her first feature film Glob Lessons, which she also co-wrote, this winter in her home state of North Dakota. BFA: University of MN/Guthrie Theatre Actor Training Program.
RAVIV ULLMAN (Rory) is honored to be making his Roundabout debut at his favorite underground theater. Theater: Sticks & Bones, Russian Transport (New Group), Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner (Atlantic Theater), Bad Guys (Second Stage), Dead End (Ahmanson), Bad Jews (Geffen), Choice (Huntington), Deathtrap (Bucks County). TV credits include “Broad City,” “Phil of The Future,” “Strangers,” “Rita Rocks,” “Law & Order SVU/CI,” “Criminal Minds,” “Cold Case,” “Big Love,” “House.” His directorial documentary film debut Standing Ground is currently in post production.
MING PEIFFER (Playwright) is a playwright and screenwriter from Columbus, Ohio and a member of the Obie Award-winning playwriting group Youngblood. Her play Usual Girls will be produced at the Roundabout Underground and her work has been developed and/or presented by New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Ensemble Studio Theater, HERE Arts Center, The Flea, The Wild Project, New Ohio, Soho Playhouse, The Gene Frankel Theater, C.O.W., Theater for the New City, FringeNYC, Horsetrade Theater, Yangtze Repertory, among others. Awards/fellowships include: NYTW 2050 Fellowship, The Kennedy Center’s Paul Stephen Lim Playwriting Award Recipient (i wrote on ur wall and now i regret it), The Relentless Award Honorable Mention (Usual Girls), The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center NPC Finalist (Usual Girls), Playwright’s Realm Fellowship Semi-Finalist, Princess Grace Award Semi-Finalist (i wrote on ur wall and now i regret it), Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award Finalist. Ming was a Guest Artist at The Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and a 2012-2013 Member of NPTC’s Women’s Work Project. She has training from both the Stella Adler School of Acting and the Shanghai Theatre Academy where she lived abroad studying Traditional Peking Opera. She studied poetry at The New School and holds a BA with Honors in both Theater Arts and Mandarin Chinese from Colgate University. MFA: Columbia University (’16). In TV/Film, Ming is a staff writer on the Hulu Series “Locke & Key,” and is currently developing her own series with Color Force and F/X. Additionally, she is adapting Weike Wang’s Chemistry into a film for Amazon.
TYNE RAFAELI (Director) is a New York based director of new plays, classics and musicals. Recent productions include the world premiere of Michael Yates Crowley’s The Rape of the Sabine WomenBy Grace B. Matthias with Playwright’s Realm, the world premiere of Anna Ziegler’s Actually at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles (Ovation nominated), and the New York premiere of In a Word by Lauren Yee. Her work has also been seen at: Classic Stage Company, The Geffen Playhouse, Playwright’s Realm, Cal Shakes, Roundabout Theatre Company, The Atlantic Theatre, Two River, PlayMakers Rep, New York Stage & Film, Goodspeed, Juilliard, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Great Lakes Shakespeare, American Players Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and the O’Neill Playwright’s Conference among others. Upcoming productions include Ironbound by Martyna Majok at The Geffen Playhouse and The Heart of Robin Hood by David Farr at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Tyne is a 2016-18 Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women’s Project Theatre and received the 2014 SDC Sir John Gielgud Fellowship for Classic Direction. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and Columbia University.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Suzan-Lori Parks To Receive 2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award on December 3

Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang
Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang
Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust will present Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks with the 2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the 11th Annual “Mimi” Awards on Monday, December 3, 2018 at Lincoln Center Theater. The “Mimi” Awards are presented annually to honor the outstanding artistry and accomplishments of some of the most gifted American Playwrights.

“What an honor! What a joy! Thank you for your encouragement and support! The Steinberg Awards honor the most awesome playwrights. I’m thrilled to be included,” said Suzan-Lori Parks.

The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award is presented biennially to honor and encourage the artistic excellence and achievement of an American playwright whose body of work has made significant contributions to the American theatre. The recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award receives a cash award of $200,000.

“The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is honored to present the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award to Suzan-Lori Parks. We could not be prouder to acknowledge her incredible body of work,” Steinberg board member Jim Steinberg, said.

“Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the great writers of our time. Her fearless experimentation, her refusal to be confined by any categories or boundaries, her dazzling linguistic prowess and her joyous embrace of the struggle have made her an inspiration and role model for countless other artists. Her great subject is freedom, a freedom exemplified in her forms and her content,” said Advisory Committee Member, Oskar Eustis. “She has also defied Fitzgerald’s dictum that American artists have no second acts: in her maturity she is writing with a boldness and originality that amazes. She is a most fitting recipient of the Steinberg Award.”

“Suzan-Lori Parks is a great American artist. When she burst onto the scene in 1989 with her first play in New York, we all had the sense that a brilliant new talent had arrived. Ever since, her prolific career has flourished and dazzled us all,” said Advisory Committee Member, Lynne Meadow. “Ms. Parks has created an extraordinary and varied body of work-original, provocative, brilliantly theatrical works-that have defined and illuminated two of the most important topics of our age: race and gender. Her voice is poetic, intellectual, and primal-provocative, theatrical, and fearless. I am thrilled that she is the 2018 recipient of the Steinberg Award.”

“Who am I to comment on the genius of Suzan-Lori Parks or her contributions to the American theater? When I embarked on a career in the theater, she was already canonical. Her plays, and her writing about playwriting, furnished me with some of my first dramaturgical primers; she was one of a few writers who shook up and cracked open my sense of the potential of the form and helped build my vocabulary-as she has done for so many theater-makers,” said Sarah Lunnie. “The 365 project was a heroic affirmation of democracy and of the value of storytelling in our public life. And before it was that, it was a heroic affirmation of a disciplined but patient artistic practice. She continues to write with unparalleled incisiveness and vision. How fortunate we are to have her in our midst.”

Suzan-Lori Parks was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave,” and is the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog. She is a MacArthur “Genius Grant” prize recipient and she’s also received The Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts. Broadway credits include: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess which was awarded the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Topdog/Underdog, which starred Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def and was directed by George C. Wolfe. The play received a Tony Nomination and recently was named by the New York Times as the most important American play within the last 25 years. Other plays include: In The Blood (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Fucking A, The Death of The Last Black Man In The Whole Entire World aka The Negro Book Of The Dead and more recently Father Comes Home From The Wars (parts 1,2&3) (Pulitzer Prize Finalist). In 2003 Parks wrote a play a day culminating in 365 Days/365 Plays; the plays were produced globally in over 700 theatres, which, at the time, was said to be the largest theatrical grass-roots undertaking of its kind. More recently, to reflect on the current presidential administration Parks wrote 100 Plays For The First Hundred Days. Parks has authored a novel: Getting Mother’s Body which is published by Random House. Her screenplays include Girl6 (directed by Spike Lee); Their Eyes Were Watching God (produced by Oprah Winfrey); Anemone Me (produced by Christine Vachon and Todd Haynes) and she’s got two new screenplays in production: an adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son, (directed by Rashid Johnson) and The United States vs Billie Holiday, (directed by Lee Daniels.) She’s at work on a stage-musical adaptation of the film The Harder They Come and two new stage plays, one of them: White Noise which will receive its world premiere this coming season and will be directed by Oskar Eustis. Parks is The Public Theater’s Master Writer Chair, where she performs Watch Me Work, a weekly writing class free of charge and open to all. She also writes songs and fronts her band: Suzan-Lori Parks & The Band.

Along with a monetary award, playwrights receive “The Mimi,” a statuette designed by David Rockwell, Tony Award-nominated scenic designer and architect.

In 2008, the Board of Directors created an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to establish the awards criteria, nominate individual candidates and select each recipient.

The 2018 Advisory Committee is comprised of Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, Public Theatre; Sarah Lunnie, Literary Director, Playwrights Horizons; Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director, Manhattan Theatre Club; Hana S. Sharif, Associate Artistic Director, Baltimore Center Stage; Molly Smith, Artistic Director, Arena Stage; Kent Thompson, Theatre Director, Producer and Author; and Les Waters, Theatre Director.

The Board of Directors of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is made up of Carole A. Krumland, James D. Steinberg, Michael A. Steinberg, Seth M. Weingarten, and William D. Zabel.

TheatreWorks SV’s Production of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Nominated for 3 2018 TBA Awards including Outstanding Production of a Play, Star Joel de la Fuente and Director Lisa Rothe

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Kevin Berne
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

San Francisco’s Theatre Bay Area has announced the nominees for their 5th Annual TBA Awards which will be handed out on Monday, November 5 at 7 pm at The Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102. For more information, email awards@theatrebayarea.org.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Kevin Berne
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Kevin Berne
Lisa Rothe, Jeanne Sakata and Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang
Lisa Rothe, Jeanne Sakata and Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s critically-acclaimed production of Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, an inspiring true story following Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese-American student who fought internment to a relocation camp during World War II, snagged three 2018 TBA Award nominations including Outstanding Performance in a Play- Tier 1 for Joel de la Fuente; Outstanding Direction of a Play – Tier 1 for Lisa Rothe and Outstanding Production of a Play – Tier 1.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

Hold These Truths celebrates the human spirit as it chronicles Hirabayashi’s journey from college in Seattle all the way to the Supreme Court, and eventually to a Congressional Medal of Freedom. Hold These Truths shares the story of a young man who passionately defends his Constitutional rights against an unexpected adversary: his own country.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

The TBA Awards are designed to honor excellence in professionally oriented theatre through a peer-based, Bay Area-wide adjudication process of artists and productions from companies who are members of Theatre Bay Area and pay an awards registration fee.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

Over 120 theatre companies from all around the Bay participate in the TBA Awards program each year.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE IN A PLAY – TIER 1
Joy Carlin​ for ​Marjorie Prime​ at Marin Theatre Company
Joel de la Fuente​ for ​Hold These Truths​ at TheatreWorks
Emilio Delgado​ for ​Quixote Nuevo​ at California Shakespeare Theater
Santoya Fields​ for ​White​ at Shotgun Players
Margo Hall​ for ​Skeleton Crew​ at Marin Theatre Company & Theatreworks
Randy Harrison​ for ​Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Jeremy Kahn​ for ​The Liar​ at Center Repertory Company
Kerri Shawn​ for ​Shirley Valentine​ at Center Repertory Company
Stephen Spinella​ for ​Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Calvin M. Thompson​ for ​The Royale​ at Aurora Theatre Company
Zoe Winters​ for ​Reel to Reel​ at Magic Theatre

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Tier 1
Michael Butler​ for ​The Liar​ at Center Repertory Company
Rachel Chavkin ​for ​Small Mouth Sounds​ at American Conservatory Theater
Josh Costello​ for ​Eureka Day​ at Aurora Theatre Company
Lisa Rothe​ for ​Hold These Truths​ at TheatreWorks
Tony Taccone​ for ​Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at Berkeley Repertory Theatre

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A PLAY
Tier 1
Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at ​Berkeley Repertory Theatre Eureka Day​ at ​Aurora Theatre Company
Hold These Truths​ at ​TheatreWorks
Our Great Tchaikovsky​ at ​TheatreWorks
Reel to Reel​ at ​Magic Theatre
The Liar​ at ​Center Repertory Company

Complete listings of nominees can be found at www.theatrebayarea.org

Hold These Truths made its world premiere in 2007 at East West Players in Los Angeles. In 2012, the solo play made its Off Broadway premiere at Epic Theatre Company starring Joel de la Fuente, and received a 2013 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance. Since its world premiere, it has gone on to play throughout the nation including theatres in Boston, Honolulu, Washington, D.C., Portland, and many others. Critics have lauded the period piece as “a top-notch production” (The New York Times), “particularly impactful” (TheaterMania), and a show which “gives hope that the arc of the moral universe does indeed eventually bend toward justice” (Los Angeles Times).

The production team includes Sound Designer/Composer Daniel Kluger, Scenic Designer Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, Scenic Design Assistant Joo Hyun Kim, Costume Designer:Margaret E. Weedon, Lighting Designer: Cat Tate Starmer, Casting Director Jeffrey Lo and Stage Manager Randall K. Lum.

kqed.org: ‘Hold These Truths’ Remembers One Man’s Refusal to Cede His Civil Rights During WWII

The Rafu Shimpo: ‘HOLD THESE TRUTHS’ AT LUCIE STERN THEATRE

sfexaminer.com: July 11-12: Hold These Truths

mercurynews.com: Now playing on SF Bay Area stage: 1 man’s fight against the Japanese internment camps

metroactive.com: ‘Hold These Truths’ Remembers Japanese Internment

register-pajaronian: Watsonville native celebrates Bay Area premiere of play

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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Raul Esparza, Thom Sesma, George Abud, Christopher Gurr, Mahira Kakkar, Eddie Cooper, Elizabeth A. Davis and Omozé Idehenre Set for Classic Stage Company’s THE RESISTABLE RISE OF ARTURO UI, October 30 – December 22

Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang
Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang

Classic Stage Company is presenting The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht’s unsettlingly timeless work, which kicks off CSC’s 2018-2019 season on October 30, with rehearsals beginning this week. Directed by John Doyle, this comical yet disturbing play from one of the greatest political satirists of all time follows a Depression-era Chicago mobster, Arturo Ui, who, with the help of his henchmen, manipulates and murders his way to totalitarian rule of the cauliflower trade. Society, of course, fails to act upon his “resistible rise.”

Four-time Tony Award nominee and “Law and Order: SVU” alum Raúl Esparza plays the Al Capone-like, Hitler-paralleling Arturo Ui in this production. Joining him is a talented cast that includes George Abud (CSC: Nathan The Wise, Peer Gynt, Allegro; Broadway: The Band’s Visit), Eddie Cooper (Off-Broadway: Atlantic Theater Company’s This Ain’t No Disco; TV: “Forever,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Banshee,” “The Night Of”),Tony nominee Elizabeth A. Davis (CSC: Caucasian Chalk Circle, Allegro; Broadway: Once; TV: “Law & Order: SVU,” “Blue Bloods,”), Christopher Gurr (Broadway: Cats, Tuck Everlasting, Kinky Boots, Amazing Grace, All the Way; National Tours: Memphis, Monty Python’s Spamalot), Omozé Idehenre (Her Portmanteau at the Boston Court Theater, Good Grief at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Caucasian Chalk Circle at ACT; Film: On the Road), Mahira Kakkar (Henry VI at NAATCO and The Winter’s Tale at TFANA, TV: “Friends From College,” “Blacklist,” “The Big C”),and Thom Sesma (CSC: Pacific Overtures; Broadway: The Times They are A-Changin’, Man of La Mancha; TV: “The Good Wife,” “Madam Secretary,” “Jessica Jones”).

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim 

The creative team includes Anne Hould-Ward (Costume Design), Jane Cox and Tess James (Lighting Design), Matt Stine (Sound Design), Bernita Robinson (Production Stage Manager) and Jessica Fleischman (Assistant Stage Manager).

John Doyle says of Arturo Ui, “Everyday I read the play, I think, ‘I hear these words on CNN as I read them on the page.’ The play will be falling right around the midterm elections, and it’s fitting that it reminds us of the choices that are available to us in relation to the way the world can go. That really is at the foundation of what classical theater says. Classic plays have politics at their heart-you take a play like Richard III or the Scottish Play-they’re warnings. And there’s a warning in Arturo Ui. This is a time for theater to say something; if we’re not screaming and shouting now, when are we ever going to do it?”

Brecht wrote Arturo Ui in 1941, while in exile from Nazi Germany, in Finland. During that time, he was awaiting his U.S. visa, and thereby imagined a vision of totalitarianism fit for America, and the American stage. (Though the play, ultimately, was never performed until 1958 in Germany, after Brecht’s death.) In Arturo Ui, Brecht recast and reframed the fascism whose roots he had experienced firsthand, before leaving Germany for fear of persecution for his politically scalding works in 1933. Within a make-believe, vaudevillian portrayal of American mafia culture, the narrative of Arturo Ui is written to meticulously parallel events and individuals that brought the Third Reich to power, and led them to overtake their neighbors.

Though this is a highly contemporary work in the vast history of theater canon, Arturo Ui has a classical air, its “epic theatre” style emblematic of Classic Stage Company’s work. Written largely in verse, Brecht’s play nods to Richard III, speaking to the ubiquity of violent authority through time-while foreshadowing its potential for reemergence any time in the present and future. Before directing Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle in 2010, Doyle’s acclaimed style-often minimal and anti-naturalist, highlighting ensemble casts, making visible the act of performance-was noted for having already deeply incorporated Brechtian qualities. With the democratic ethos and introspection-inducing nature of Brecht’s and Doyle’s theater-making, the production takes to heart our ability to resist violent power structures.

Performances of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui take place at Classic Stage Company (136 E 13th St, New York), with previews beginning Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The production opens Wednesday, November 14, 2018, and closes Saturday, December 22. Performance times are Tues.-Thurs. at 7pm, Fri.-Sat. at 8pm, and Sat.-Sun. at 2pm.

There will be no Saturday matinee on the first Saturday, November 3, 2018. A student matinee scheduled for Wednesday, November 29, 2018. There will be no performances on Thursday, November 22, 2018 or Friday, November 23, 2018 due to Thanksgiving.

Tickets are currently on sale to members. Members receive the best prices, flexibility, exclusive benefits, and invitations to special events throughout the season. Memberships begin at $50 ($25 for Students). For more information visit classicstage.org or call 212.677.4210.

Single tickets ($75 previews, $80 post opening, $125 prime) are currently on sale, and can be purchased at classicstage.org or 212-352-3101(or toll free 866-811-411).

About the Cast
George Abud (Clark) is a proud Arab-American actor. CSC: Nathan The Wise (opposite F. Murray Abraham), Peer Gynt (opposite Gabriel Ebert), Allegro (dir. John Doyle). Broadway: The Band’s Visit starring Katrina Lenk & Tony Shalhoub (OBC Recording), The Visit starring Chita Rivera & Roger Rees (OBC Recording). Off-Broadway: The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company, dir. David Cromer). International: The New Prince with Barbara Walsh, Marc Kudisch & Paulo Szot (Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam). Regional: Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Geva Theatre Center), Fiddler on the Roof (Human Race Theatre). Please consider joining George in supporting these incredible organizations: anera.org, sams-usa.net, maketheroadny.org.

Eddie Cooper (Roma) Atlantic Theater Company: This Ain’t No Disco (The D.A.). Bucks County Playhouse: The New World (Miles Standish). Encores! Off Center: Assassins; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Jerome); and Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey II); Two Rivers: All-male A Funny Thing Happened… (Domina). TV: “Delco Proper”, “Forever”, “Mozart In The Jungle”, recurring on Cinemax’s “Banshee” as Fat Au and HBO’s Emmy nominated “The Night Of”. Proud graduate of Laguardia High School & Ithaca College. Big thanks to my family, and the team at Judy Boals Inc, and Ivy Rock Management. @MrEddieCooper

Elizabeth A. Davis (Giri) CSC: Caucasian Chalk Circle, Allegro (Drama Desk Nom; Dir John Doyle). Broadway: Once (Tony Award Nom; Dir John Tiffany). Select Off-Broadway: My Name’s Not Indian Joe (Book, Music, Lyrics; Director Don Scardino), King Lear, Zorba! (City Center Encores), Four Last Things (American Globe Theatre), Dust Can’t Kill Me (NYMF Award; Dir. Srda Vasiljevic) 39 Steps (New World Stages). Select Regional: Rain (The Old Globe), The Devil’s Disciple, The Misanthrope (STNJ), Once (American Repertory Theatre) Streetcar Named Desire (The Cleveland Playhouse). Film: Wisdom Tooth, Trauma Is A Time Machine, Blur Circle. TV: “L&O SVU,” “Blue Bloods,” “Jim Gaffigan Show, ” “Fringe.” BFA, MFA.

Raúl Esparza (Arturo Ui) is a Cuban-American actor, who has received Tony nominations for his performances in Broadway productions of Taboo, Company, Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, and David Mamet’s Speed The Plow. Other Broadway credits include the revival of The Rocky Horror Show, and the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He recently served as an actor and creative consultant for Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s second Main Stage Powerhouse production of The Waves, a musical adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf. He is known for his roles in TV series such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Hannibal,” “Bojack Horseman,” and “The Path,” and in film as a voice artist in the Oscar-nominated Twentieth Century Fox animated feature Ferdinand, as well as the 2010 horror thriller, My Soul to Take.

Christopher Gurr (Dogsborough) Broadway: Cats (dir. Trevor Nunn, chor. Andy Blankenbuehler), Tuck Everlasting, Kinky Boots, Amazing Grace, and All The Way with Bryan Cranston. National Tours: Memphis (dir. Christopher Ashley), Monty Python’s Spamalot (dir. Mike Nichols). Regional: The Sting (Paper Mill), Titanic (Pittsburgh CLO), Copenhagen, 1776, Twelve Angry Men (Geva), Tommy, Oklahoma! (Berkshire Theatre Festival), The Lion in Winter (Indiana Rep), The Drowsy Chaperone (Human Race). Television: “Madame Secretary.” Guest Artist/Educator at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Webster University, St. Louis, and Geva Theatre, Rochester, NY. Proud union member: Actors’ Equity, SAG/AFTRA, and Stage Directors & Choreographers Society. ChristopherGurr.com

Omozé Idehenre (Mrs. Dullfleet) Her Portmanteau (Boston Court Theater), Good Grief (Kirk Douglas), Runboyrun (Magic Theatre), Gem of the Ocean, The Convert, Seven Guitars(Marin Theatre Company), The Comedy of Errors and Richard III (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), The Winter’s Tale, Spunk, Macbeth (California Shakespeare Company), Clybourne Park, Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Scorched, A Doll’s House, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (American Conservatory Theater). Film: On the Road. Education: MFA, The American Conservatory Theater and The Groundlings.

Mahira Kakkar (Flake / Dockdaisy) was born in Kolkata, India. Selected theater: Henry VI (NAATCO), The Winter’s Tale (TFANA), The Importance of Being Earnest (Two River), Monsoon Wedding with Mira Nair, Miss Witherspoon and Vanya, Sonia… with Christopher Durang, Clive with Ethan Hawke. Film/TV: Hank and Asha (Slamdance favorite, Best Actress Napa Film Festival, Best Actress Wild Rose Film Festival), Hechki, Bite Me, “Friends From College”, “Law and Order”, “Louie”, “Odd Mom Out”, “Blacklist”, “Blue Bloods”, “The Big C.” Training: Juilliard. Website: mahirakakkar.com

Thom Sesma (Givola) CSC: Pacific Overtures (Lortel nom., Featured Actor, Musical). Broadway/National Tours: The Times They Are-A Changin’, Lion King, Miss Saigon, Titanic, Man of La Mancha (2002 revival), Face Value, Search and Destroy, Nick & Nora. Off-Broadway: Sweeney Todd (Barrow Street Theatre), Discord (Primary Stages), Awake and Sing! (NAATCO/Public Theatre), Othello (Public Theatre/NYSF), Cymbeline (NYSF). Regional: McCarter Theatre, Yale Rep, Arena Stage, Centre Stage, Old Globe, Cincinnati Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse and more. Recent television: “Instinct,” “The Good Wife,” “Madam Secretary,” “Person of Interest,” “Jessica Jones,” “Gotham.” Connect with Thom via Twitter: @ThomSesmaNYC, Instagram: @thsesma.

About the Creative Team
John Doyle (Director) first joined CSC in 2013 as Associate Director, and became Artistic Director in 2016. He has directed productions of Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures (2017) and Passion (2013, Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro (2014, Drama League Nomination, Best Revival of a Musical), as well as Dead Poets Society (2016), Peer Gynt (2016), and As You Like It (2017).

Additional theater in the U.S. includes: The Color Purple (Tony Award, Best Revival of a Musical; Drama Desk Award, Best Director of a Musical), Sweeney Todd (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Best Director of a Musical; Drama Desk Nomination Outstanding Set Design of a Musical), Company (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Awards Best Musical Revival; Tony and Drama Desk Nominations, Outstanding Director of a Musical), A Catered Affair (Drama League Award, Best Musical Production; Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), The Visit (Tony Nomination, Best Musical; Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), Ten Cents a Dance (Williamstown/ McCarter), The Exorcist (The Geffen, LA), Road Show (Public Theater/Menier Chocolate Factory), Where’s Charlie? and Irma La Douce (Encores!), Wings (Second Stage), A Bed and a Chair (City Center), Kiss Me Kate (Stratford), Caucasian Chalk Circle (ACT), Merrily We Roll Along and Three Sisters (Cincinnati).

In the U.K., John Doyle has been Artistic Director of four regional theaters: The Worcester Swan, The Cheltenham Everyman, The Liverpool Everyman, The York Theatre Royal, and was also Associate Director of the Watermill Theatre, Newbury. During these residencies, he directed numerous productions of new and classic works. Notable credits include: Female Parts, Sweeney Todd, Gondoliers, Mack and Mabel (West End), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Oklahoma! (Chichester), Amadeus (Wilton’s Music Hall), The Millenium Cylce of Mystery Plays (London), Carmen, Fiddler on the Roof (Watermill), The War of the Roses, The Madness of George III (York), The White Devil, Othello, Candide (Liverpool). He is co-author of Shakespeare For Dummies.

Ann Hould-Ward (Costume Designer) CSC: Passion, Allegro, Peer Gynt, Dead Poets Society, Pacific Overtures, As You Like It, Fire and Air. Select Broadway: The Color Purple, The Visit, The People in the Picture, A Free Man of Color (Drama Desk nom.), A Catered Affair (Drama Desk nom.), Beauty and the Beast (Tony Award), Into the Woods (Tony and Drama Desk noms), Falsettos, Sunday in the Park With George (Tony and Drama Desk noms), Saint Joan, Little Me. Other Off-Broadway: Notes from the Field, The Blue Flower, Russian Transport, Road Show, Lobster Alice, Cymbeline. Ms. Hould-Ward’s work can be seen in over 35 international companies of Beauty and the Beast, and her other designs are featured in shows all over the world. More than 100 regional theater credits. Recipient of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Patricia Zipprodt Award.

Jane Cox (Lighting Designer) CSC: Pacific Overtures, Peer Gynt, Allegro, Passion and Winter’s Tale. Broadway: Jitney (Tony nom.); Amelie, Color Purple (Drama Desk nom.); Machinal (Tony and Drama Desk nom); All the Way; Come Back, Little Sheba; Picnic. Jane is a member of theMonica Bill Barnes Dance Company, has a long collaboration with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and is the director of the theater program at Princeton University.

Tess James (Lighting Designer) is a freelance Lighting Designer and Associate based in New York. Her recent projects as a designer include Roe at Asolo Rep and as an associate designer include Soft Power at The Curran Theatre and The Public Theatre’s Othello; Throughout her career she has working with a array of amazing intuitions including BAM, New York City Center and the Sydney Opera House. She is currently an artist in residence at Princeton University.

Matt Stine (Sound Designer) Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include: Sweeney Todd (Sound Design, Barrow Street Theatre), The Liar (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company ), A Christmas Carol (Music Producer, McCarter Theater), Dead Poets Society (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company), The Clearing (Sound Designer, 59E59), The Black Crook (Sound Design, Abrons Art Center), Nathan The Wise (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company), Misery (Music Producer, Broadway), Mother Courage And Her Children (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company), The Tempest (Music Producer, Delacorte Theater), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Music Supervisor, Delacorte Theater) 27sound.com

Bernita Robinson (Production Stage Manager) is very happy to return to CSC with this wonderful production. Previous CSC Productions: PSM for Carmen Jones. Broadway credits include Ragtime(original) Thurgood, Man of La Mancha (revival), A Moon for the Misbegotten (revival), Aida, Beauty and the Beast among others. Regional theatre credits include Alabama Shakespeare, Pioneer Theater, Kansas City Rep and Casa Manana – productions of Ring of Fire, A Few Good Men, Evita and the world premiere of Roof of the World. Off-Broadway productions at Signature, Playwrights Horizons, The York, among others. Member of AEA National Council.

Jessica Fleischman (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to return to Classic Stage Company after working on Fire and Air this past winter! National Tours: Jersey Boys (2nd Nat’l). Off-Broadway: Jersey Boys (New World Stages), Little Rock (Sheen Center), King Liz, The Other Thing (2ST), Red Eye of Love (Amas Musical Theatre), Normativity (NYMF). Regional: Where Storms Are Born (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Opera: Piramo e Tisbe (LOTNY). Jessica is a proud graduate of Penn State University. http://www.Jessica-Fleischman.com

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GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER Cast Members Becca Kotte, Garth Kravits, Lindsey Brett Carothers, Ian Ward and Scott Foster Set for Broadway Sessions on September 27

Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

GETTIN' THE BAND BACK TOGETHER Cast Gets Back Together At Broadway Sessions This WeekBROADWAY SESSIONS is described as an evening of musical performances, games and open mic featuring a new Broadway guest each week. The show is created and hosted by Ben Cameron (Bway Wicked, Aida, Footloose, Dance Captain Dance Attack web series) and features musical director Joshua Stephen Kartes on piano. This Thursday night, Broadway Sessions reunites cast members from the recently closed Gettin’ The Band Back Together and more.

Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Gettin’ The Band Back Together cast members scheduled to reunite include Becca Kotte, Garth Kravits, Lindsey Brett Carothers, Ian Ward, Scott Foster and more

The evening will also feature performances by vocalists Jocelin Weiss and Eugene Ebner.

Open Mic will follow the show. Attendees wishing to sing in the open mic will be placed on the list on a first come first served basis.

Broadway Sessions takes place every Thursday evening at The Laurie Beechman Theater inside The West Bank Café located at 407 west 42nd street (corner of 42nd street and 9th avenue). Reservations strongly recommended at www.broadwaysessions.net. Doors open at 10pm for pre show open mic. Showtime at 11. $5 drink specials all night. $10 advance/ $15 at door cover includes a donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Past performances can be viewed on Broadway Sessions YouTube channel,www.youtube.com/bwaysessionswww.BroadwaySessions.net. Follow Broadway Sessions on social media at @BwaySessions.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.