May 28: The Lucille Lortel Foundation is Presenting an IG Live Chat with Broadway Vet Lainie Sakakura and Viet Vo in Celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

As part of the ongoing celebration of Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month, The Lucille Lortel Foundation continues to use its social media platforms to help elevate and honor AAPI community members , Please join Viet Vo on the Lucille Lortel Foundation Instagram account, “IG LIVE WITH” on Friday, May 28 at 7pm as he chats with the Broadway Vet Lainie Sakakura (FOSSE, The King and I, Flower Drum Song, Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life). Please follow @lorteltheatre to tune in. 

Lainie Sakakura in rehearsal for Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Photo by Lia Chang

Lainie Sakakura is a writer, director, award-winning choreographer, educator and advocate for diversity and inclusion. She is the recipient of the 2015 Joe A. Callaway Award Outstanding Choreography for the Off Broadway show, RED EYE OF LOVE in collaboration with co-choreographer Alex Sanchez, directed by Ted Sperling. and a recipient of the 2002 Joseph Jefferson Award Best Choreography for DAMN YANKEES, Marriott Theatre in collaboration with director/co-choreographer David H. Bell. She was nominated for the 2003 Joseph Jefferson Award Best Choreography for HOT MIKADO, directed by David H. Bell.

She is  currently developing Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a musical adaptation of the New York Times Best Seller, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Corner of Bitter and Sweet features a Book by Lainie Sakakura, and Music & Lyrics by Paul Fujimoto.

Darius de Haas, Spencer Jones, Avelina Sanchez, Kenny Ingram in Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Photo by Lia Chang
Lainie Sakakura, Darius de Haas, Kenny Ingram, Alex Sanchez and Jamie Ford after the reading of Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Photo by Lia Chang
The Company of Corner of Bitter and Sweet at Open Jar Studios. Photo by Lia Chang

Musical Theatre writing team Lainie Sakakura and Paul Fujimoto were awarded a residency in the 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals  to develop their new musical Corner of Bitter and Sweet in January 2020.

L to R: Jonathan Brielle, Clifford Lee Johnson III Lainie Sakakura, Paul Fujimoto and Donna Lynn Hilton at the 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura
The Class of 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals Residency recipients. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Lainie Sakakura and Paul Fujimoto To Develop CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET at 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals

She was a Dance Reconstructor for the 1999 Best Musical Tony Award winning show, FOSSE. Over a five year period worked countless hours with Gwen Verdon, Chet Walker, Bill Hastings, Brad Musgrove to meticulously recreate over 70 Bob Fosse numbers.  In 2005, Ms Sakakura was honored to recreate BIG SPENDER from the musical SWEET CHARITY featuring Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking for Cy Coleman’s Memorial at the Broadway’s Majestic Theatre.

Lainie Sakakura and the Company of FOSSE perform at The Tony Awards in 1999. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Ms Sakakura started as a concert dancer, training with San Francisco Ballet 9 years before joining BALLET HISPANICO as the youngest member at 18 years old.

In 1994 Sakakura became the second Asian Rockette following Setsuko Maruhashi hired in 1985.

Always one to love the creative process and working on shows from scratch, Ms Sakakura worked on dozens of original musicals over the years including Jimmy Buffett and Herman Wouk’s DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL, Paul Blake’s ROMAN HOLIDAY. She co-choreographed CASPER The Musical starring Chita Rivera, and performed in the original cast of 6 Broadway shows: FOSSE (on stage dance captain, dance reconstruction, and featured in the duet FROM THIS MOMENT ON with Andy Blankenbuehler); CHITA RIVERA THE DANCER’S LIFE; FLOWER DRUM SONG (2002 revival); Tommy Tune’s THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE GOES PUBLIC; THE KING AND I (1996 revival and the 2015 revival). Original company of the premiere of ARMIDA at the Metropolitan Opera starring Renee Fleming. She is featured on four Broadway cast albums including 2015 Grammy Nominated, THE KING AND I.

Lainie Sakakura’s 1st Broadway show, Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, pictured with Amy Heggins and Jeff Calhoun on the Cover of Theaterweek. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura
“From This Moment On” “The vignette, here vibrantly performed by Andy Blankenbuehler and Lainie Sakakura” Ben Brantley, New York Times. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Lainie Sakakura, Chita Rivera on view in the Museum of Dance. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura
In rehearsal with the 2002 FLOWER DRUM SONG Revival Company. Photo by Lia Chang
In rehearsal with the 2002 FLOWER DRUM SONG Revival Company. Photo by Lia Chang

Extensive teaching career includes: American Ballet Theatre, Broadway Dance Center, CAP21, Jacob’s Pillow, Joffrey Ballet, LINES Dance Center, New York University Tisch – New Studio on Broadway (Adjunct Professor), NJ Ballet, Pace University (Adjunct Professor), Steps NYC, The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC, University of the Arts. Private programs include Sakachez​.

Lainie Sakakura is one of only 17 AAPIs in 70 years tradition to receive The Legacy Robe. She is pictured here with her husband, Alex Sanchez, and daughters Avelina and Isa Sanchez at Lincoln Center on the opening night of the revival of The King and I in 2015. Photo by Walter McBride
Legacy Robe recipients: Aaron J. Albano, Nina Zoie Lam, Lydia Gaston, Catherine Ricafort, J. Elaine Marcos, Lainie Sakakura, Rommy Sandhu, Alan Ariano, (not pictured: Baayork Lee). Photo by Lia Chang
Lainie Sakakura directing AAPI legends, Alvin Ing and Virgina Wing. Photo by Lia Chang

In 2017 certain dancers self-organized into an entity known as Rockettes of Color Alumnae (ROCA). Over the course of three years 63* women came together based on their shared experience as dancers with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. Their mission is to be a place of support, education, and mentorship for current, past, and future Rockettes of color.

Read more about ROCA in Bird in the World: The 63 Rockettes of Color.

Nurturing the next generation: Sakachez Dance

Originally from Hawaii, Viet Vo thought moving from that island to the island of Manhattan was going to be the same. Until he realized there were no beaches, just a lot of pavement. However, he has had many a great opportunity to work with amazing as well as well known people. For that, he is living beyond his dreams. Theatre: ROMEO AND BERNADETTE, CAROUSEL, FISHING FOR WIVES, MISS SAIGON, MIKADO. TV/FILM: THE BLACKLIST, A CRIME TO REMEMBER, TALES OF THE CITY, LOST.

The Lucille Lortel Foundation was created by Lucille Lortel to foster excellence and diversity in the theatre, as well as to faithfully preserve the rich history and support the continued prosperity of Off-Broadway.

The Foundation has several major programs, including its General Operating Support Program that has provided millions of dollars to New York City theatre companies. Companies outside of New York City are ineligible for funding. Only companies that receive a request for proposal are eligible for the General Operating Support Program.

Watch: The Lucille Lortel Foundation is Presenting an IG Live Chat with Francis Jue and Viet Vo in Celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 

Video: The Lucille Lortel Foundation Presents an IG Live Chat with Jason Ma and Viet Vo in Celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Apr. 30, May 7 and May 22: Steps on Broadway in association with The Verdon Fosse Legacy is Presenting Intro Fosse® Dance Classes with Lainie Sakakura 

The Verdon Fosse® Legacy’s Online Global Fosse® Festival: Learn Trumpet Solo from SING, SING, SING with Lainie Sakakura and Georgina Pazcoguin on Mar. 15

Lainie Sakakura and Paul Fujimoto To Develop CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET at 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals 

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 filmsWolf, 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.  

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 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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