Dinner with Broadway Vet and “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” Star Lori Tan Chinn; She’ll be a Special Guest in THE ILENE GRAFF HOLIDAY SHOW at Feinstein’s/54 Below on Dec. 17

Chez Josephine’s on Theater Row in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

I caught up with Lori Tan Chinn last night over a late night supper at Chez Josephine. It felt like an early Thanksgiving meal, and it was our first time breaking bread, post-pandemic, in almost two years. For our appetizer, we began with the potato leek soup, while she devoured the Roasted Breast of Long Island Duck in an Orange Glaze, served with Wild Rice. I had my favorite, Rack of Lamb with Ratatouille and Crushed Olive Potatoes. For dessert, we shared Profiteroles.

Lori stayed busy during the pandemic, shooting the second season of Comedy Central’s “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens,” where she plays Awkwafina’s Grandma. Hollywood Reporter has declared Lori a style icon and Time Magazine called her a scene stealer.

Lori Tan Chinn as Grandma, BD Wong as Wally, Awkwafina as Nora and Bowen Yang as cousin Edmund in ‘Awkwafina is Nora From Queens.’ Photo courtesy of Comedy Central

For the holidays, Lori will be a special guest in THE Ilene Graff HOLIDAY SHOW at FEINSTEIN’S/54 BELOW on Friday, December 17 at 9:45 p.m.  www.54Below.com

Ilene Graff and Lori Tan Chinn

Considered the definitive Bloody Mary, Lori became the first racially-correct Asian personification of James Michener’s muse in ABC-TV’s “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.” She is proud to have been instrumental in correcting this 50-year miscasting, for which she was honored with a Helen Hayes Award for her first onstage performance of this role at Arena Stage.

2003- Lori Tan Chinn received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Resident Musical, pictured with fellow nominees, Brad Anderson and Kate Baldwin at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Lori Tan Chinn

Lori shared, “Further research with DNA from 23 and Me, has placed my origins as a member of the Chinese Dai, which settled in Vietnam, Thailand, then to southern China, which places me 40 miles from Bloody Mary’s Tonkinese Chinese beginnings. So, one could say, I actually am the closest personification to the real Bloody Mary. Josh Logan also zeroed in on the pidgin spoken in the show being of the same Hoisan Chinese dialect.”

Lori Tan Chinn, Rade Serbedzija, Glenn Close, Robert Pastorelli, Natalie Mendoza, Harry Connick Jr. in SOUTH PACIFIC. Photo courtesy of ABC/Disney

Ilene and Lori met in Australia while doing the ABC/Disney film version of South Pacific, and have been friends ever since. Lori will be singing Bloody Mary’s signature song from South Pacific, “Bali Ha’i,” for THE Ilene Graff HOLIDAY SHOW.

Lori also served seven seasons as the model prisoner, Mei Chang, on Netflix’s first original streaming series, “Orange is the New Black.”

Her theater credits include the original Broadway companies of M. Butterfly, G.R. Point, Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen, and Marvin Hamlisch’s pre-Broadway production of a seniors hip hop group, Half Time. She is featured on the Original Cast Recording of Half Time.

Montclair Local theater critic Gwen Orel writes, “Lori Tan Chinn (M. Butterfly) as Mae struggles with the routine, and has the most affecting song in the show: “The Waters Rise,” about her husband being swallowed by dementia.”

Lori also was invited as the first Asian-American actor to work on new plays for seven seasons at the prestigious O’Neill Playwrights Conference and another four, working with Artistic Director, Lloyd Richards.

Lori Tan Chinn, second from left, with a group that includes Roger Robinson, Lloyd Richards, Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference (top) and Dramaturg Edith Oliver (second from right), and Mary Alice. Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

She may have recent creds on film and television, but for the past 53 years, her blood, sweat and tears have been on Broadway and the theater. She is the recipient of the 2018 Dancers Over 40 Legacy Award; 2003 Helen Hayes Award (Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Supporting Role, South Pacific); 1998 Charles Bowden Actor Award at New Dramatists; and the 1984 American Theatre Wing/O’Neill Theater Center/Clarence Ross Fellowship.

Lori Tan Chinn is the recipient of the 2018 Dancers Over 40 Legacy Award. She is pictured with Lia Chang, Amy Chin, Lori Tan Chinn, Richard Young, Mel Young, Michael Sean Lee and Baayork Lee. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lori Tan Chinn, Lawrence Leritz, Larry Ross Virginia Seidel and Sharon Wendrow Receive 2018 DO40 Legacy Awards

Lori has also joined the voice cast of Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red, directed by Academy Award® winner Domee Shi (Pixar short Bao) and produced by Lindsey Collins, set for release on March 11, 2022. Click here to read more about the film.

THE Ilene Graff HOLIDAY SHOW will featured Ilene and her very special guests including performing a host of holiday favorites inspired by the iconic Holiday specials of the ’60’s and ’70’s that were always a highlight of the season. Ilene, a Grammy nominee and Broadway veteran best known for playing the mom on the TV show “Mr. Belvedere,” is thrilled to return to the Feinstein’s/54Below stage for this special evening which combines the joy of the Holiday season with the joy of finally celebrating together. There will be candy, dreidels, and jingle bells for all, and maybe even a visit from Santa himself! Ilene’s husband, ASCAP Award-winning composer Ben Lanzarone, will be bringing his sparkling arrangements and incomparable piano playing to the show. Combining humor, heart, great music, and the spirit of the marvelous Andy Williams Christmas Shows, the evening will be a holly jolly celebration of the most wonderful time of the year. Joining Ilene are her good friends Lori Tan Chinn, John Miller, and grandniece Meg Lanzarone.

“THE Ilene Graff HOLIDAY SHOW!” plays Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 West 54th Street) on Friday, December 17, 2021 at 9:45 PM. There is a $35-$45 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551. www.ilenegraff.com

themarysue.com: INTERVIEW: Lori Tan Chinn and Teresa Hsiao on Season 2 of Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens

Lia Chang in the parking lot of West Valley Performing Arts Center in West Valley City, Utah. Photo by Amanda Morton

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 (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2021 Lia Chang Multimedia, unless otherwise indicated. 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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