“Man in The High Castle” Star Joel de la Fuente Set for Benefit Performances of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS at Cultch Historic Theatre in Vancouver, October 18 – November 2

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

The Umami Fund (Daniel Blinkoff and Tamlyn Tomita) is presenting the international/Canadian debut of Jeanne Sakata’s award-winning play, Hold These Truths at the Cultch Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street in Vancouver from Friday, October 18 – Saturday, November 2. Opening night is Sunday, October 20 at 8:00 pm.


Joel de la Fuente (Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle”) will reprise his Drama Desk-nominated turn in this solo play inspired by the life of Gordon Hirabayashi, in which he seamlessly portrays more than thirty characters under the direction of Lisa Rothe (Irish Repertory Theatre’s Wild Abandon).

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

Unsung American hero Gordon Hirabayashi fights passionately for the Constitution against an unexpected adversary: his own country. During World War II, he defies the US government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry, launching a 50-year journey from college to courtroom and eventually to a Presidential Medal of Freedom. A story filled with hope, this play will leave you cheering for a man who stood up for the true meaning of patriotism.

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

The design team includes Cat Tate Starmer (lights), Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams (sets), Daniel Kluger (sound) and Margaret Weedon (costumes), with stage manager Mary K. Botosan.

Mary K. Botosan, Jeanne Sakata, Lisa Rothe, Cat Tate Starmer and Mikiko Suzuki Adams. Photo by Lia Chang
Mary K. Botosan, Jeanne Sakata, Lisa Rothe, Cat Tate Starmer and Mikiko Suzuki Adams. Photo by Lia Chang

Performance schedule and ticket information:
For preview performances on Friday, October 18 @ 8pm and Sunday, October 20 @ 2pm, tickets are $25.

Beginning with the opening night performance on Sunday October 20 @ 8pm, general admission tickets are $50, seniors/students are $25. The remaining performance schedule isTuesday, October 22 – Friday, October 25 @ 8pm; Saturday, October 26 and Sunday October 27 @ 2pm and 8 pm; Tuesday, October 29 – Friday, November 11 @ 8pm; Saturday, November 2 @ 2pm and 8pm. For tickets and more information, click here.

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

Proceeds of the performances of Hold These Truths will be donated to three Vancouver organizations: the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, the University of British Columbia Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies, and the Kokoro Dance Theatre Society.

Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel de la Fuente (Gordon Hirabayashi) received a Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Principal Performance for the run of Hold These Truths at Theatreworks SV and garnered a Drama Desk Nomination in New York City for Outstanding Solo Performance when it debuted in 2012. On television, Joel plays Chief Inspector Kido on “The Man in the High Castle,” one of Amazon Studios’ most watched original series. He also portrays Dr. Johann Pryce on Netflix’s second original series, “Hemlock Grove,” and can be seen in perpetual reruns on “Law & Order: SVU,” where he played TARU Tech Ruben Morales for 10 seasons. Currently, he appears as President Datu Andrada on “Madam Secretary” for CBS. Joel has performed in theaters all over the world, as both an avid classical theater actor and as a developer of new work. He is an alumnus of Brown University and the Graduate Acting Program at NYU.

Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Actress and playwright Jeanne Sakata, whose talents span across TV, film, voiceover and stage, recently received the East West Players Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement and Raising the Visibility of the API Community. This summer, Ms. Sakata appeared in the Off Broadway premiere of the brilliant new comedy Do You Feel Anger? at the Vineyard Theatre in New York. She is familiar to TV audiences in the recurring roles of genius scientist Lenore Shimamoto/Mayor Saito on the animated TV series “Big Hero 6,” based on the Disney smash hit movie, and can currently be seen in three national commercials. Jeanne’s nationally acclaimed solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Principal Performance and Direction) has had over twenty productions across the country, and will be produced in the 2019-20 season at Barrington Stage, San Diego Rep, and People’s Light, after sold-out and extended runs last year at Arena Stage and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Since April 2019, Hold These Truths became available internationally as a special audio recording, produced by L.A. Theatre Works. The play has also been produced in recent years at Pasadena Playhouse, ACT Seattle, Portland Center Stage, Guthrie Theater, PlayMakers’ Rep, Perseverance Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (Daniel Dae Kim, co-producer), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising, Coachella Valley Rep, Plays and Players, and New Century Theatre. Premiering with the East West Players in Los Angeles, and then Off Broadway with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, the play was workshopped by the Lark Play Development Center and the New York Theatre Workshop. Hold These Truths is now published by Ageloff Books and available on Amazon, and it is on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011. Special honors: LA Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Chay Yew’s Red, East West Players; Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre. For more information on Hold These Truths, click on www.holdthesetruths.info.

Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente, Tamlyn Tomita. Photo by Lia Chang

Barrington Stage Presents Return Engagement Of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Joel de la Fuente, September 20 – 26 

East West Players to Honor Jeanne Sakata and Aaron Takahashi at EWP NIGHT MARKET on September 14 

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

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 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: © 2000-2019 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

Mark Linn-Baker, Mark Blum, Jill Eikenberry, John Glover, Jodi Long, and Ellen Parker Open in New York Premiere of Michael Tucker’s FERN HILL at 59E59 Theaters on September 19

59E59 Theaters is presenting the NYC premiere of FERN HILL, written by Michael Tucker and directed by Nadia Tass. Produced by Mary J. Davis and MBL Productions, Inc., FERN HILL began preview performances on Tuesday, September 10 for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 20. Press Opening is Thursday, September 19 at 7 PM. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Friday at 7 PM; Saturday at 2 PM & 7 PM; and Sunday at 2 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison). Single tickets are $25 – $70 ($49 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call the 59E59 Box Office at 646-892-7999 or visit www.59e59.org. The running time is 120 minutes, including intermission.

Three couples in their golden years, thick as thieves, are gathered at Sunny and Jer’s farmhouse to celebrate milestone birthdays that span three decades. The foundation of their long friendship is honesty and support-as well as a commitment to the enjoyment of food, wine, and laughter. They’re so close that Sunny suggests that they all move in together-to live and work and assist one another as they grow older.

Their companionship is put to the test, however, when a marital betrayal is discovered. The bonds of loyalty and truth are explored in this mature comedy.

The cast features a noteworthy company of Broadway and NYC stage veterans, including Mark Linn-Baker, Mark Blum, Jill Eikenberry, John Glover, Jodi Long, and Ellen Parker. Philip Hoffman and Pilar Witherspoon are the understudies.

The design team includes Jessica Parks (scenic design); Kate McGee (lighting design); Patricia Doherty (costume design); Kenneth Goodwin (sound design); and Addison Heeren (prop master). The Production Stage Manager is Stephanie Clark.

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering Talk Diversity and Inclusion with THE LAST 5 YEARS

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering (MY REAL MOTHER, ON THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD) recently held a private industry screening of their short film featuring five songs from Jason Robert Brown’s Drama Desk Award-winning musical, The Last 5 Years at Prime Produce in New York.

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

The Last Five Years is an emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The show’s unconventional structure consists of Cathy, the woman, telling her story backwards while Jamie, the man, tells his story chronologically; the two characters only meet once, at their wedding in the middle of the show.

Garth Kravits, Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

With Ms. Mahendra as Cathy and Mr. Schuering as Jamie, the pair chose the source material featuring two performers of color on screen as a collaborative effort to contribute towards the evolving conversation about representation, inclusion, and diversity.

Director Billy Bustamante, Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Billy Bustamante, The Last Five Years features cinematography and editing by Garth Kravits and music direction by  Steven Cuevas (violin, piano), Brandon Ilaw (guitar) and Jonathan Cuevas (cello).

Steven Cuevas, Director Billy Bustamante, Priya Mahendra, Kevin Schuering, Gath Kravits, Jonathan Cuevas and Brandon Ilaw. Photo by Lia Chang
Steven Cuevas, Director Billy Bustamante, Priya Mahendra, Kevin Schuering, Gath Kravits, Jonathan Cuevas and Brandon Ilaw. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How did you choose to collaborate?
Priya: I initially had this idea as I was examining roles and stories that I deeply connected to, but had not had the chance to explore yet. I knew I wanted to tell this story, and asked Kevin to collaborate with me and bring this idea to life. The project evolved as the team came together.

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Why did you choose The Last 5 Years?
Kevin: The Last 5 Years embodies the rollercoaster of life and runs the spectrum of human emotion and experience. What better way to explore those themes with a different lens and see what possibilities exist.
Priya: It’s a very unique story which delves so deeply into two people as individuals and as a couple, but at the same time is so universally relatable. It has a very special way of portraying what many people have gone through but are unable to voice. I am also fascinated with the different colors and shades of love.

Lia: What speaks to you about the project?
Kevin: You hear it all the time but representation matters. And maybe seeing two POC actors telling a version of this story, people will start to see that we are all a lot more alike. And start to see the common ground we all share.
Priya: The amount of passion and wholeheartedness that everyone on the team has for this project. And how collaborative and fulfilling this process has been every step of the way. You can really make magic when you have a team full of people who are possibility and intention driven.

Lia: What are you interested in doing with this going forward?
Kevin: I’m interested in releasing this in the world with the intention of inspiring people. The hopes are that people walk away from this wanting to create something of their own or start to explore what stories look like with unconventional lenses.
Priya: My goal as an artist is to contribute towards inclusive and diverse storytelling, especially in the way existing stories are told and portrayed. I believe that by bringing the lens of possibility and humanity to the forefront, theater has the power to create a space and place where everyone feels like they belong. My hope is that this project inspires people to seek to be seen, heard, and known for who they are.

Garth Kravits, Avelina Sanchez, Steven Cuevas and Anna Noble. Photo by Lia Chang

The Prime Produce Apprentice Cooperative operates 424 w 54 Street as a legally incorporated and wholeheartedly organized co-op supporting entrepreneurs, educators, and artists who share values of service and hospitality. Here, we work to design experiences, build companies and organizations, practice our crafts, cultivate relationships, and grow as people. Click here for more information.

Sitting: Daniel Johnson, Q Lim and Brian Kim. Standing Billy Bustamante, Garth Kravits, Viet Vo, Kevin Schuering, Jason Ma and Eric Elizaga. Photo by Lia Chang
Brian Kim, Daniel Johnson and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante and Peyton Royal. Photo by Lia Chang
Chad Coudriet, Joanne Javien Coudriet and a guest. Photo by Lia Chang
Christopher Cuevas, Christina Cuevas, Steven Cuevas, Andrei Strizek, Jonathan Cuevas. Photo by Lia Chang
Christopher Cuevas, Christina Cuevas, Steven Cuevas, Jonathan Cuevas Photo by Lia Chang
Steven Cuevas, Andrei Strizek. Photo by Lia Chang
Maria Briggs and Q Lim. Photo by Lia Chang
Jermaine Brown, Jr., Anna Noble and Ian Coulter Buford. Photo by Lia Chang
Joanne Javien Coudriet and Kevin Schuering.Photo by Lia Chang
Maria Briggs, Kevin Schuering, Chad Coudriet and Joanne Javien Coudriet. Photo by Lia Chang
Maria Briggs and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma, Q Lim and Daniel Johnson. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Steven Cuevas, Jonathan Cuevas and a guest. Photo by Lia Chang
Ian Coulter Buford, Maria Briggs, Kenny Tran, Kevin Schuering, Jermain Brown Jr., Jessica McGrew. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Garth Kravits and Lia Chang. Photo by Kevin Schuering
Anna Noble, Lainie Sakakura, Avelina Sanchez and Jason Ma. Photo by Lia Chang
Lainie Sakakura, Avelina Sanchez and Lia Chang. Photo by Jason Ma
Billy Bustamante, Garth Kravits, Viet Vo, Jason Ma and Eric Elizaga. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel Johnson, Viet Vo, Brian Kim and Eric Elizaga. Photo by Lia Chang
Peyton Royal, Chad Coudriet, Joanne Javien Coudriet, Viet Vo and Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang
Yuko Kudo, Kevin Schuering, Priya Mahendra and Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Screening of THE LAST FIVE YEARS at Prime Produce in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

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.

MOCA Headliner Series presents Scott “Chops” Jung of Mountain Brothers on September 17

MOCA and $6.99 Per Pound Podcast are presenting their first live recording featuring Asian American Hip Hop pioneer, Scott “Chops” Jung at 215 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013 (b/w Howard & Grand Sts; one block north of Canal St) on Tuesday, September 17 at 6:30 P.M. Tickets are $20 and include Museum admission. Members $10. Not a Member? Join today!

 Hosts Jaeki Cho and Joann Park will sit down with Chops to discuss how his group, Mountain Brothers, became the first ever Asian American Hip Hop group signed to a major label in the 1990s and how Hip Hop has evolved over the years. They will also highlight his work with artists (Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Raekwon, Talib Kweli), brands (Nike, Coca Cola, X Games), and TV shows/Films (“Warrior,” “Wu Assassins,” “Empire,” “Grey’s Anatomy”).

The conversation will be followed up by a listening party featuring exclusive music from Chops’ latest Chinese Hip Hop album D.REAMS C.OME T.RU with Founder of Iron Mic Freestyles in China, Dana “Showtyme” Burton. Along with a special live set from legendary beat juggler DJ Roli Rho.

Cash bar. Free $6.99 Per Pound Podcast inspired drinks will be provided by Suntory Haku Vodka while supplies last.

$6.99 Per Pound is a bi-weekly podcast featuring interviews with leaders and professionals from a wide variety of fields. Paying homage to Korean-owned hot food delis in New York City, the inquisitive duo Joann Park and Jaeki Cho treat listeners to a buffet of HOT takes on career, culture and community.
@699perpound
info@699perpound.com

Scott “Chops” Jung is a music maker whose multi-instrument style helped his group Mountain Brothers become the first Asian American rap group signed to a major label. He’s since worked with many of rap’s biggest and most respected artists (Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Raekwon, Talib Kweli, E-40, Ice Cube, Snoop). His Strength in NUMBERS album featured over 30 talented Asian American rappers and singers. Chops’ music is heard in ads (Nike, Coca Cola, X Games), TV shows (“Arrow,” “Empire,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House of Lies,” “Breaking Bad,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Parks & Recreation,” “The Night Of,” “iZombie,” “Pitch,” “Lucifer”), and movies (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Brown Sugar, House of Wax, Hurricane Season, Face, Ping Pong Playa). He credits the sports documentary 9-Man for reigniting his love of writing music to picture; scoring credits include the feature documentaries Breathin’: The Eddy Zheng Story, Good Luck Soup, & And Then They Came for Us.
https://chopsmusic.tumblr.com/
@chopsmusic

DJ Roli Rho is one of the founding members of the world renowned NYC turntablist crew 5th Platoon alongside other greats such as Daddy Dog, Neil Armstrong, Do Boy, Kuttin Kandi, Vin Roc, and I-Emerge. Roli quickly climbed the ranks of the battle scene and became one of the fiercest beat Jugglers of his time. It is this honed skill which brought him titles such as New York’s Zulu Champion (1995), the Rhythm Method Champion (1995), 105.9 (NYC) Champion (1995), the ITF East Coast Beat Juggling Champion (1998), a 2 time Vibe World Dominance Champion (98 & 99), and the DMC East Coast Champion (1999). He went on to teach the skills of the art form and shared his knowledge of the culture to students at Jam Master Jay of (RUN DMC) Scratch Dj Academy NYC. These days Roli can be found in his hometown of New York where he has been working on community projects such as Openfaders and Tableturns.
rolirho.com
mixcloud/djrolirho
@djrolirho



Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Dyllón Burnside, Ana Isabelle, Isabelle McCalla and More Set for Viva Broadway’s El Conjunto Concert Series at W Hotel on September 15

Ana Villafañe. Photo by Lia Chang

Viva Broadway is presenting a special Hispanic Heritage Month celebration concert series hosted by Broadway actress and singer Ana Villafañe, known for her role as Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet! The Musical – The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan and NBC’s “Sunnyside” and “New Amsterdam.” The cabaret style concert series titled “El Conjunto” will take place at the W Living Room Times Square (W Hotel, 1567 Broadway) on Sunday, September 15; Sunday, September 29; and Sunday, October 13. Doors will open at 6 PM and all performances will begin at 7 PM. Tickets are $10 and $20. For ticket info, click here.

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer. Photo by Lia Chang

The series will include special guest performances and some surprise appearances with musical direction by Justin Ramos. Performing at the September 15th concert will be: Dyllón Burnside (“Pose”), Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer (Hadestown), Ana Isabelle (West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg) and Isabelle McCalla (The Prom). More Broadway stars to be announced shortly. Performers are subject to change.

Viva Broadway is the Broadway League’s audience development partnership with the Hispanic community to help bridge the world of Broadway with Latino audiences around the country. The long-term initiative aims to increase awareness about Broadway while culturally enriching lives, bringing families together, and building new careers in the theatre.

For more about Viva Broadway visit www.Viva.Broadway. For Broadway information in NYC as well as for shows on tour across North America and internationally, visit Broadway.org.

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

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 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.

Chatting with HADESTOWN Star and 2019 Tony Winner André De Shields

The hits just keep coming for HADESTOWN star André De Shields, who will be inducted to the Theater Hall of Fame at an invitation only ceremony of the 49th Annual Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater, being held at the Gershwin Theatre on November 18.

City Council President Brandon Scott, Mayor Jack Young, André De Shields, Comptroller Joan Pratt in the rotunda of Baltimore City Hall on August 19, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

In this interview, the 2019 Tony Award winner talks about having a social contract with Baltimore, and the significance of going home to receive the Key to the City from Mayor Jack Young and to serve as the grand marshal of Baltimore’s 2019 Pennsylvania Avenue Cadillac Auto Parade. He also shared what it will mean to receive The York Theatre’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre at The Edison Ballroom (240 West 47th Street) on November 11.

André De Shields with his Tony Award in the Ceremonial Room of Baltimore City Hall on August 19, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

The VIP Reception will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed by a concert and award ceremony at 8:00 p.m. Michael Unger (York’s former Associate Artistic Director and recently appointed Artistic Director of Skylight Music Theatre in Wisconsin) is set to direct the evening’s celebration. For additional information, pricing and reservations, please contact Director of Development Shana Farr at (212) 935-5824, ext. 214 or sfarr@yorktheatre.org, or go online at YorkTheatre.org.

The Oscar Hammerstein Award is named in honor of the legendary lyricist and librettist who helped shape American musical theatre through his collaborations with a number of different composers and writers. His contributions to such landmark musicals as Show Boat, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and Carousel are a legacy for all time. The award was created in 1988 by Janet Hayes Walker, Founding Artistic Director of The York Theatre Company, with the endorsement of the Hammerstein family and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. Its purpose is to recognize significant lifetime achievement in musical theatre, and it is presented at a gala evening held for the benefit of The York Theatre Company.

André De Shields served as the Grand Marshal of Baltimore’s 2019 Pennsylvania Avenue Cadillac Auto Parade in Baltimore on August 31, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang
Vinie Burrows with André De Shields, winner of the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for “Hadestown,” at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2019 in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
Front Row: Reeve Carney, Eva Noblezada, André De Shields, Patrick Page, Amber Gray. Back Row: Afra Hines, Timothy Hughes, Ahmad Simmons, Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Kay Trinidad, John Krause, Kimberly Marable. Photo by Lia Chang
Front Row: Reeve Carney, Eva Noblezada, André De Shields, Patrick Page, Amber Gray. Back Row: Afra Hines, Timothy Hughes, Ahmad Simmons, Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Kay Trinidad, John Krause, Kimberly Marable. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 theater awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his unanimously critically acclaimed performance as Hermes, Messenger to the Gods, in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. Mr. De Shields will receive The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre on November 11. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination). In a career spanning fifty years, he has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator, receiving in 2018 the 8th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, and the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award. Among his other accolades are the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. www.andredeshields.com

Team HADESTOWN at the Outer Critics Circle Awards at Sardi’s in New York on May 23, 2019: Danielle Long King, Dale Franzen, André De Shields, Montego Glover, Mara Isaacs, Noah Hahn, Bradley King, Rachel Chavkin, Tom Kirdahy, Anaïs Mitchell and Hunter C. Arnold. Photo by Lia Chang
2019 Richard Seff Award winner and 2019 Tony Award winner André De Shields and his HADESTOWN family. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

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 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.

Broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Serves As Grand Marshal Of Baltimore’s 2019 Pennsylvania Avenue Cadillac Auto Parade

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 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

Rehearsal Photos: David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at The Public Theater; Previews Begin September 24

The Public Theater presents Soft Power, with play and lyrics by Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang, music and additional lyrics by Tony Award winner Jeanine Tesori, choreography by Tony nominee Sam Pinkleton, and is directed by Tony nominee Leigh Silverman.

Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo by Jenny Anderson

Soft Power begins with a Joseph Papp Free Preview performance on Tuesday, September 24 in The Public’s Newman Theater and will run through Sunday, November 10. Opening night is set for October 15.

Sam Pinkleton, David Henry Hwang, Jeanine Tesori, and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Jenny Anderson

The complete cast of Soft Power includes Billy Bustamante (Xue Xing Standby), Jon Hoche (Tony Manero/Chief Justice/Ensemble), Kendyl Ito (Jing/Ensemble), Francis Jue (DHH), Austin Ku (Bobby Bob/Ju Ming), Raymond J. Lee (Randy Ray/VEEP/Ensemble), Alyse Alan Louis (Zoe/Hillary), Jaygee Macapugay (Campaign Manager/Ensemble), Daniel May (Ensemble), Paul HeeSang Miller (Ensemble), Kristen Faith Oei (Ensemble), Geena Quintos (Ensemble), Conrad Ricamora (Xue Xing), Trevor Salter (Ensemble), Kyra Smith (Ensemble), Emily Stillings (Swing), Emily Trumble (Zoe/Hillary Standby), and John Yi (Swing).

Alyse Alan Louis, Conrad Ricamora, Kyra Smith, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May, Francis Jue, Jaygee Macapugay, Austin Ku, Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Jenny Anderson

Soft Power features orchestrations by Danny Troob; music direction and supervision by Chris Fenwick; dance arrangements by John Clancy; scenic design by Clint Ramos; costume design by Anita Yavich; lighting design by Mark Barton; sound design by Kai Harada; sound effects design by Bart Fassbender; video design by Bryce Cutler; hair, wig, and makeup design by Tom Watson; special effects by Lillis Meeh; music contracting by Antoine Silverman; and additional orchestrations by Larry Hochman and John Clancy.

Jon Hoche, Kendyl Ito, Kyra Smith, Daniel May, Francis Jue, Kristen Faith Oei, Trevor Salter, Raymond J. Lee, Alyse Alan Louis, Jaygee Macapugay, Austin Ku and Geena Quintos. Photo by Jenny Anderson

Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori bring their groundbreaking new musical-within-a-play to The Public for its New York premiere. One of the most exciting theatrical collaborations in recent memory, Soft Power is an exploration of America’s current place in the world, told through an East-West musical from China’s point of view, in which a theater producer from Shanghai forges a powerful bond with Hillary Clinton. Soft Power is a fever dream of modern American politics amidst global conversations, asking us all-why do we love democracy? And should we?

Geena Quintos, Trevor Salter, Raymond J. Lee, and Jaygee Macapugay. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Choreographer Sam Pinkleton, Kyra Smith, Austin Ku, Geena Quintos, Alyse Alan Louis, Trevor Salter and Raymond J. Lee. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Daniel Irving Rattner, David Henry Hwang, and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Leigh Silverman, Geena Quintos, Kendyl Ito, Alyse Alan Louis, Trevor Salter, Conrad Ricamora and Daniel May. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Jon Hoche and Conrad Ricamora. Photo by Jenny Anderson

The Public Extends David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER through November 10 

KING KONG’s Jon Hoche Joins David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at The Public, September 24 – November 3

Award-winning Broadway Vet Francis Jue Talks about SOFT POWER, KING OF THE YEES, WILD GOOSE DREAMS, “Madam Secretary” and Getting Married

Chatting with Raymond J. Lee about SOFT POWER, GROUNDHOG DAY

Melvin Abston to Play Mister in Drury Lane Theatre’s THE COLOR PURPLE, September 13 – November 3

Melvin Abston

Drury Lane Theatre is presenting a production of the 2016 Tony Award-winning The Color Purple, with book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russel, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The Color Purple is directed by Lili-Anne Brown, choreographed by Breon Arzell, and music directed by Jermaine Hill. The production runs September 13 – November 3, 2019, at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. The press opening is scheduled for Thursday, September 19 at 8:00 p.m.

The Color Purple tells the story of Celie, an African American woman in the American South during the early 1900s, as she navigates her love for her family, the strife of being in an abusive relationship, and her adoration for her beloved children. This heart-wrenching musical is based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and has earned nearly fifteen Tony Award nominations including two wins, one for the Best Revival of a Musical.

Melvin Abston makes his Drury Theatre debut as Mister in The Color Purple. The Chicago native’s credits include the Broadway/National Tours of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Lion King and Sister Act. He has worked regionally at Roundabout Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Lincoln Center, ZACH Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Northlight Theatre and Goodman Theatre. Film/TV: “Blue Bloods”, “Law & Order: SVU”, Solace, “Gotham”, Chastity Bites, “Raising Hope”, “Chuck”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “H+: The Digital Series”, “Awake”, “I’m In The Band”, “Early Edition”, and “Weeds”. Voice over for Verizon Wireless, South Park Studios, The Illinois Lottery and The Prince of Peace.

Abston will be joined by Eben K. Logan as Celie, Sydney Charles as Shug Avery, Nicole Michelle Haskins as Sofia, Gilbert Domally as Harpo, and Kyrie Courter as Nettie. The cast also includes Jos N. Banks, Sean Blake, Shantel Cribbs, Melanie Loren, Andrew Malone, Marvin Malone II, Gabriel Mudd, Adhana Reid, Camille Robinson, Alexis Roston, Lorenzo Rush Jr., and Joey Stone.

Creative Team: Arnel Sancianco (Scenic Design), Samantha C. Jones (Costume Design), Cat Wilson (Lighting Design), Ray Nardelli (Sound Design), and Paul Deziel (Projection Design).

For more information visit: DruryLaneTheatre.com

James Seol, Glenn Obrero, Keith Kupferer and Deanna Myers in Steppenwolf’s THE GREAT LEAP by Lauren Yee through October 20

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 2019/20 season kicks off with a Chicago premiere by Lauren Yee, directed by Jesca Prudencio. Set in 1989, The Great Leap tells the story of Manford Lum, a local star of the sidewalk basketball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown who strongarms his way onto an American college team travelling to Beijing for a “friendship” game. Set amidst the friction of the post-Cultural Revolution era, The Great Leap keeps tensions high right up to the final buzzer.

James Seol and Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol and Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow

The cast features Glenn Obrero (Manford), Deanna Myers (Connie), Keith Kupferer (Saul) and James Seol (Wen Chang).

James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow

The design team includes Scenic Design by Justin Humphres, Costume Design by Jenny Mannis, Lighting Design by Keith Parham, Sound Design & Original Music by Pornchanok (Nok) Kanchanabanca, Projection Design by Rasean Davonte Johnson, Company Voice & Text Coaching by Gigi Buffington, with Production Stage Manager Christine D. Freeburg and Assistant Stage Manager Kathleen Barrett.

Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Previews are now playing, (opening is Monday, September 16) and the show runs through October 20, 2019 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Press performances are Sunday, September 15 at 3pm and Wednesday, September 18 at 7:30pm. Single tickets ($20 – $89) are on sale now through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Classic and Flex Memberships are currently available for the 2019/20 Season. To purchase a Membership and secure the best seats at the lowest prices, contact Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org/memberships.

Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow

When an American basketball team travels to Beijing amidst tensions in the late 80s, past relationships collide with present day revelations. Witty and weighty, this Chicago premiere explores cultural barriers, political risks and personal sacrifice. Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap is sure to be compelling to basketball fans, history buffs and everyone who has ever had a dream.

James Seol, Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol, Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Jasmin Richardson to Helm Tia DeShazor’s NEW BLACK LEADING LADY Concert of Songs at TOWN Stages on September 11

Tia DeShazor with composers John Sloan III, Derrick Byarts and Andy Robinson, under the director of Jasmin Richardson, will present new songs from new musical comedies starring black women.

“The New Black Leading Lady” will take place at TOWN Stages, 221 West Broadway in Tribeca at 8pm, and will feature songs from three new musical comedies. For free tickets, click here.

The Rocket Thrower, set in 1964 in Harlem against a sixteen year-old girl who longs to be an astronaut. The Pact, set in present day, tells the story of four long-time best friends descending on New York City for a “girl’s weekend”, and explores barriers to intimacy within interracial friendship. This is How Miss Lillian LaRue Got Outta Louisiana is set in 1940, during the height of the Great Migration, and follows Lillian’s journey as she wittily navigates Harlem’s Society, shine being pursued by the Spirit of the South. The cast features Ashley Ware Jenkins (The Lion King), Nattalyee Randall (Caroline of Change), Tyla Collier (Pola Dots), Ashanti J’Aria (Disaster!), Virginia Woodruff (Violet, The Color Purple), CK Edwards (Shuffle Along), Renee Reid (Bubbly Black Girl), Jared Joseph (Broadway Bounty Hunter), Amy Hilner (The Marvelous Wonderettes), Zak Edwards (An American in Paris), Danielle Jackman and Desiree Murphy.

Tia Deshazor (Lyricist/Librettist/Performer) made her debut as a writer with her 10-minute musical “The Rocket Thrower”, which was featured in Prospect Theater’s Musical Theatre Lab. She is actively creating change on the stage and developing new projects in the Advanced BMI Lehman-Engel Workshop. She writes lyrics for the song “I’ve Got This” from Girlhood, the Musical, and for the song “Only One” that was featured in Astoria Performing Arts Center’s of BOLD, an organization that supports Black Women in the Performing Arts, and on the board of the AEA committee for Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity.

Andy Robinson (The Rocket Thrower Composer) Andy Robinson is a 2019 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient, a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop (Sherman Scholarship, Harrington Award), and a participant in the 2017 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project. He is the creator/host of the all-original ten-minute musical podcast TAKE A TEN, which featured Broadway and NYC voices like Laura Osnes, Rob McClure, George Salazar, and many more. Episodes of the podcast have been produced live around the world and have won numerous awards including Best Musical (twice) at TNNY’s SOUND BITES, the 2016 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting, and top prize at the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. To hear every episode for free, visit TakeATenMusicals.com. For even more videos and songs, visit AndyRoninson.com.

Derrick Byars (Composer, The Pact/Music Director) Derrick Byars is a professional writer, composer and theatre artist. He is also the Director of Music and Arts at Park Avenue United Metodist Church. While attending college in Birmingham, Alabama, he worked at Red Mountain Theater Company and Samford University as a sound and lighting designers. Derrick is currently a part of the Tony Award-winning BMI Lehman Musical Theatre Workshop. He has directed many shows including Annie, Fame, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and On the Town. His most recent directing credit was an immersive production of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. As a composer, lyricist and book writer, Derrick strives to tell interesting stories combining new techniques with traditional values. He is extremely excited to be writing The Pact with Tia DeShazor and to be a part of bringing the new black leading lady to life.

John Sloan III (Composer, This Is How Miss Lillian LaRue Got Outta Louisiana) Born and raised in Metro-Detroit, John studied Musical Theatre at the University of Michigan (BFA program ’01-’05) and has two decades of experience as a professional artist. An accomplished musician and actor, Sloan has performed in numerous regional theatre productions, commercials, concert events, and on the national tour of Disney’s The Lion King. In addition to his performance career, Sloan has worked as a writer, composer, script consultant and director; with his original work featured in venues and concerts across the country. Recent efforts include producing, directing and scoring film projects featured at the BlackStar Film Festival 2018 (Philadelphia) and Freep Film Festival 2019 (Detroit). As the founder and Artistic Director of GhostLight Productions, he regularly curates events of all sizes for corporate clients. And through his outreach organization The Helping Hands Campaign for the Arts, his efforts are dedicated to the intersection of art and activism. www.ghostlightinc.com www.helpinghandscampaign.org

Jasmin Richardson (Director) She made her directorial debut Kirsten Childs’ poignant piece “Bubbly Black Girl”…As she continues her mission in telling stories that empower women of color, joining forces with Tia DeShazor in presenting this collection of work that highlights the many facets of womanhood, while still being authentically black and telling important stories, written and performed by people of color. Jasmine’s Broadway credits include Book of Mormon, Broadway debut in Gettin’ The Band Back Together. she played Mikki Marron in the First National Tour of The Bodyguard. She will be performing at Lincoln Center later this month in a series called Warrior Women, which is a thrilling, live-action concert performed by Orchestra Moderne NYC featuring the music of renowned Hollywood female film composers.