Lauren Yee and Joe Ngo Launch CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND Video Challenge as a Fundraiser for Khmer and Black-Led Organizations

Opening night for Chay Yew, Moses Villarama, Francis Jue, Jane Lui, Lauren Yee, Courtney Reed, Joe Ngo, Abraham Kim of CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at the Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

Signature Theatre’s Off-Broadway production of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, featuring music by Dengue Fever, recently received a 2020 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play.

Helmed by Chay Yew, the production featured Abraham Kim as Rom, Jane Lui as Pou, Joe Ngo as Chum, Courtney Reed as Neary/Sothea, Moses Villarama as Ted/Leng and Francis Jue as Duch, who garnered a 2020 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play,

CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND cast members Jane Lui, Joe Ngo, Francis Jue, Abraham Kim, Moses Villarama and Courtney Reed. Photo by Lia Chang
CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND cast members Jane Lui, Joe Ngo, Francis Jue, Abraham Kim, Moses Villarama and Courtney Reed. Photo by Lia Chang

The production was nominated for a 2019-20 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Musical, 2020 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Actor in a Play for Francis Jue, a 2020 Drama League Award nomination for Outstanding Production of Play, and a 2020 Drama League Distinguished Performance Award for Joe Ngo.

Joe Ngo, Abraham Kim, Francis Jue, Jane Lui, Courtney Reed and Moses Villarama in CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND. Photo by Joan Marcus

Guitars tuned. Mic checked. Get ready to rock! This darkly funny, electric new play with music tells the story of a Khmer Rouge survivor returning to Cambodia for the first time in thirty years, as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of Cambodia’s most infamous war criminals. Backed by a live band playing contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time as father and daughter face the music of the past. Directed by Chay Yew, the New York premiere of this intimate rock epic about family secrets is set against a dark chapter of Cambodian history. It launches Steinberg Award-winning playwright Lauren Yee’s Residency 5.

Lauren and Joe planned to launch a series of covers from the show  Cambodian Rock Band on May 31 to celebrate the gifts of the Asian American theater community and others involved in the show, but paused the project to support and give space to Black Lives Matter movement and protests.

They’ve now re-envisioned the CRB Challenge as a fundraiser to support the Khmer community that has been a huge part of this show, as well as fight systemic racism and anti-Blackness.

What is the CRB Challenge?
It’s a chance for anyone who loves the music of Cambodian Rock Band to make and post their own cover song.  Choose a song from the show, any Dengue Fever song, or your favorite Khmer oldie. (Hint: if you don’t speak Khmer, Dengue has plenty of great English language songs.) Post any time this week and use #CRBChallenge.

New videos will be posted on (You can also search for content using #CRBChallenge on Facebook and Instagram.) If you’ve enjoyed any of this work, please consider helping to support these very worthy causes.

The fundraiser will equally benefit Khmer and Black-led organizations that also reflect a geographic diversity. Once the GoFundMe is closed, playwright Lauren Yee will disperse funds to these  United Cambodian Community of Long Beach’s Cambodia Town Business Relief FundBlack Girls Code (chosen by Dengue Fever), Mekong NYC and The Movement for Black Lives (chosen by Mekong NYC). Click here to donate.

Because of how they will split up the funds, donations will not be tax-deductible via GoFundMe. If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible, please donate directly to these organizations.

Today’s video features special guest Sang Eng Oum and the Chicago/Pittsburgh/Lowell CRB cast. The Chiclos met Eng after a performance and he invited them to jam with him and his band for an epic night of songs. (Fun fact: he learned “Uku” in one day just so he could jam with the band here.) Guitar: Chris Pow, Sang Eng Oum, Albert Park. Bass: Greg Watanabe. Keys: Eileen Doan. Drums: Peter T. Sipla. Vocals: Aja Wiltshire. “Uku” by Dengue Fever #CRBChallenge – Christine Bunuan, Emjoy Gavino, Mia Park and any other Chicago music wizards want to jump in on the challenge?

Tune in for Facebook Livestream chats from Monday, July 6 – Saturday, July 11 at 5:00pm PST/ 8:00pm EST by clicking on

Monday, July 6: Eileen Doan, Christopher Thomas Pow, Peter T. Simpla, Aja Wiltshire

Peter Sipla, Eileen Doan, Matthew Yee, Aja Wiltshire, Greg Watanabe; Photo by Liz Lauren courtesy of Victory Gardens

Tuesday, July 7: Matt MacNelly + Courtney Reed

Wednesday, July 8: Rithy Hanh and Caylee So

Thursday, July 9: Sokunthary Svay and Moses Villarama

Sokunthary Svay, Socheatta Meng, Lauren Yee, Chhaya Chhoum and Auntie at the opening night party of CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2020. Photo by Lia Chang

Friday, July 10: Jane Lui, Albert Park, Greg Watanabe

Aja Wiltshire and Greg Watanabe. Photo by Liz Lauren.
Aja Wiltshire and Greg Watanabe. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Saturday, July 11: Joe Ngo and friends

Jane Lui, Joe Ngo. Photo by Lia Chang

Yellow Sound Label’s Off-Broadway cast recording of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, featuring songs by Dengue Fever, is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and

The next production of CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND is set for Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Spring 2021.

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Lauren Yee is a playwright born and raised in San Francisco currently living in New York City. Her Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever and others, premiered at South Coast Rep, with subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Victory Gardens, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Signature Theatre, Portland Center Stage, and Jungle Theatre. Her play The Great Leap has been produced at Denver Center, Seattle Rep, Atlantic Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, InterAct Theatre, and Steppenwolf, with future productions at Long Wharf, Cygnet Theatre, and Asolo Rep/Miami New Drama. Her other work includes King of the Yees, Ching Chong Chinaman, The Hatmaker’s Wife, Hookman, In a Word, Samsara, The Song of Summer, and The Tiger Among Us.

Lauren is the winner of the Doris Duke Artist Award, the Steinberg Playwright Award, the Horton Foote Prize, the Kesselring Prize, the ATCA/Steinberg Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, and the Francesca Primus Prize. Lauren is a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, New Dramatists member (class of 2025), Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member, former Princeton University Hodder fellow, and Playwrights Realm alumni playwright. Current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Rep. She has a BA from Yale and a MFA from University of California San Diego.

Watch: Milwaukee Rep’s OUR HOME TO YOUR HOME Series Featuring Lauren Yee’s Monologue “3A” Performed by Tina Chilip 

Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Co And Asia Society Texas Presenting FEMFEST HOUSTON: VOICES OF ASIA VIRTUAL READING SERIES Featuring Soo-Jin Lee’s PEACHES; Taniya Hossain’s MOTHER IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE; and Lauren Yee’s THE HATMAKER’S WIFE in June 

June 3: SigSpace Summit with CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND’s Lauren Yee and Mekong NYC Executive Director Chhaya Chhoum

May 20: Asia Society WEBCAST – Telling Stories: CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND’s Francis Jue and Lauren Yee In Conversation With Diep Tran

Lauren Yee’s KING OF THE YEE’s Garners Five SFBATCC Excellence in Theatre Awards; Francis Jue Wins for Principal Actor in KING OF THE YEES and Featured Actor in THE LANGUAGE LESSON 

CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND’s Francis Jue Wins 2020 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play; Full List of Winners 


2020 Drama League Awards Nominees 

SOFT POWER Receives Eleven Drama Desk Nominations, HALFWAY BITCHES GO STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN Receives Eight Nods; Full List of Nominees 

Theater Mu Artistic Director Lily Tung Crystal Hosts Mu-tini Hour with CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND’s Lauren Yee, Joe Ngo and Jane Lui 

CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND, Chay Yew, Daisuke Tsuji, HOLD THESE TRUTH’s Ryun Yu Win San Diego’s 2019 Craig Noel Awards; Full List of Winners 

Yellow Sound Label to Release the Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND Featuring Francis Jue, Abraham Kim, Jane Lui, Joe Ngo, Courtney Reed and Moses Villarama on May 8

Inside Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND Opening Night; Extends Again at Signature Theatre Through March 22 

Video and Photos: Inside the 2nd Asian American Night of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND at Signature Theatre 

Inside Asian American Night at Signature’s First Preview of Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND 

Lauren Yee and Jackie Sibblies Drury Receive 2019 Steinberg Playwright Awards at the 12th Annual “Mimi” Awards

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. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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