Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND #CRBChallenge Fundraiser Raises $6,500; Joe Ngo and Mikhail Fiksel Receive 2020 Obie Awards

Joe Ngo. Photo by Lia Chang

Congratulations to Cambodian Rock Band’s Joe Ngo who received the 2020 Obie Award for Performance during the 65th Annual Obie Awards ceremony on July 14, 2020.

Presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Village Voice, the 2020 Obie Award ceremony recognized Ngo for “his electric and devastating performance as Chum.”

Joe Ngo and his mother, Tina.

Obie committee citation
“Rarely do roles ask an actor to live a whole life onstage, much less one that survives a genocide and fronts a rock band playing guitar and singing in Khmer. Somehow this actor made it all look effortless, making audiences laugh and dance while gutting them emotionally. Ina performance that brought decades of history and humanity onstage, he imbued the role with a heartbreaking authenticity and warmth that only comes when a play is perfectly matched with its performer.”

Watch the video of his acceptance speech courtesy of Jane Lui.

Joe also garnered a 2020 Drama League Distinguished Performance Award nomination.

Mikhail Fiksel also received an Obie for Sound Design for Cambodian Rock Band (Signature Theatre), Dana H. (Vineyard Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group).

Mikhail Fiksel receives 2020 Obie Award for Sound Design on CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND AND DANA H.

Signature Theatre’s Off-Broadway production of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, featuring music by Dengue Fever, received a 2020 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play and a 2020 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for Francis Jue. 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.

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

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.

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 launched the week-long #CRBChallenge on July 5. Their original plan was to launch a series of covers from the show on May 31 in celebration 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.

The #CRBChallenge turned into 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. Over 90 covers from all over the country were submitted with Dengue Fever’s “Family Business” being the clear favorite with 20+ covers. More than $6,500 via GoFundMe and direct donations were raised for United Cambodian Community of Long Beach’s Cambodia Town Business Relief FundBlack Girls CodeMekong NYC and The Movement for Black Lives.

Videos can be viewed on

Lauren and Joe hosted Facebook Livestream chats during the week featuring Eileen Doan, Rithy Hanh, Abraham Kim, Jane Lui, Matt MacNelly, Albert Park, Christopher Thomas Pow, Courtney Reed, Peter T. Simpla, Caylee So, Sokunthary Svay, Moses Villarama, Greg Watanabe and Aja Wiltshire.

Check out the chats and covers below.

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.

The full ceremony is available on the American Theatre Wing’s official YouTube channel.

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

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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