Celebrating Nancy Lee Chang, 1921 – 2017

Nancy Lee Chang (right) with daughters Pauline and Beverly and granddaughters Lia and Tami.
Nancy Lee Chang on her 90th birthday on July 16, 2011.
Nancy Lee Chang on her 90th birthday on July 16, 2011.

On November 2nd, we lost our queen and our original women warrior, my grandmother Nancy Lee Chang, who died peacefully in San Francisco, surrounded by family members. She was 96.

Please join us for a celebration of my grandmother’s life on Friday, November 17th from 10am- 12noon at Tiffany Chapel at Cypress Lawn (main building)
1370 El Camino Real, Colma, CA 94014.  The luncheon will follow her burial in the 2nd floor reception room above Tiffany Chapel.

My grandmother was a hardworking mother of two, holding down many roles in customer service to support her family until she retired at the age of 75.

Nancy Lee Chang (right) with daughters Pauline and Beverly and granddaughters Lia and Tami.
Nancy Lee Chang (right) with daughters Pauline and Beverly and granddaughters Lia and Tami.

Fiercely independent until the age of 86, my grandmother was a pioneering spirit, inspiring her family and many others.

Nancy Lee Chang
Nancy Lee Chang

She enjoyed dancing, playing mahjong, traveling, gambling, and working out at the YMCA. Her love for her family was unconditional. Her open door policy at 28 Homestead, gave her grandchildren and great grandchildren the opportunity to live with her and take advantage of her worldly wisdom.

Nancy Lee Chang and her family
Nancy Lee Chang and her family

Lee Bak Huen-Nancy Lee was born on July 12, 1921 in the Lee Ancestral Home in Foo Choong, HEUNG SHAN DISTRICT in Kwantong, China. In 1929 when her mother Louie Shee departed for “Gum San” (Gold Mountain in California) with Lee Bak Choon-John Lee, her maternal grandmother Ng Shee raised her at her home in Too Dow, (a 5 hour walk from Foo Choong Village) until 1937.

1928- Lee Bak Huen (Age 6) and her father Lee Ah Kon
1928- Lee Bak Huen (Age 6) and her father Lee Ah Kon

My great-grandparents Louie Shee & Lee Ah Kon had four children. My grandmother’s older sisters, Electra and Minerva, were named after Greek goddesses; my grandmother was named after a ship, the S.S. Nancy Lee; and their younger brother was named John.

Sisters Electra Gee, Minerva Wong and Nancy Lee Chang with Ada Gee.
Sisters Electra Gee, Minerva Wong and Nancy Lee Chang with Ada Gee.

My great-grandfather arrived in San Francisco in the late 1800’s as a teenager, traveling between China and San Francisco by ship as a merchant. He was instrumental in helping other Chinese immigrate to America He became a successful businessman in San Francisco opening general merchandise stores on Mission Street and in Chinatown.

My grandmother Nancy Lee Chang (second from left) celebrates her father Lee Ah Kon’s 98th birthday in San Francisco with her siblings Minerva Wong, John Lee and Electra Gee in San Francisco in 1970. (Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Lee)
My grandmother Nancy Lee Chang (second from left) celebrates her father Lee Ah Kon’s  birthday in San Francisco with her siblings Minerva Wong, John Lee and Electra Gee in San Francisco in 1970. (Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Lee)

My grandmother, whose Chinese name was Lee Bak Huen, was just one of over 175,000 Chinese detained for over a month at the Angel Island Immigration Station, the major port of entry to the U.S. for immigrants from the Pacific Rim.

1937- Lee Bak Huen (age 15) at the Angel Island Immigration Station.
1937-
Lee Bak Huen (age 15) at the Angel Island Immigration Station.
1937- Lee Bak Huen (age 15) at the Angel Island Immigration Station.
(San Francisco) Lia Chang receives the 2001 AAJA New Media Award for her grandmother’s story of Coming to America through the Angel Island Immigration Station with her stepmother Thel Wong, grandmother Nancy Lee Chang, and sister Tami Chang at the AAJA Convention Awards Luncheon in August 2001.

I received an AAJA New Media Journalism Award for my grandmother’s first hand of account of coming to America, based on a series of her oral histories, originally published on A. Magazine’s online site in 2000. My grandmother was on hand to claim the award for her life story at the AAJA convention in San Francisco and enjoyed meeting all of my Asian American journalist colleagues that she had watched on television for so many years.

Below is an excerpt of her account:

“My name is Lee Bak Huen. In 1937, I was 15 years old when Japan bombed China and many of the people in my grandmother’s village were killed. At the time, my father, brother and two sisters lived in Locke, CA, and my father sold clothes to farmers to support us. Fearing for my life, he sent my passport and a booklet that detailed everything about my family and my home for me to study. He managed to scrape together $300 Hong Kong dollars, enough for third class passage on the SS President Hoover. My journey from Hong Kong to San Francisco took 18 days. I slept on a hammock and was seasick the entire time.

I expected to get off the ship in San Francisco, but was taken to Angel Island instead, and detained. My father hired a lawyer to facilitate the processing. The Chinese interpreter who interrogated me was so rude that she confused me with many questions. I was asked how many stones it took to build my house in China, how many sisters I had, the year I was born, why didn’t I come with my mother? She asked me to draw a picture of my house in China. My family home had four or five bedrooms, but I lived in my grandmother’s house in a different village five hours away. The officials wanted to make sure I wasn’t a “paper” person (someone with false identity papers), but I looked a lot like my brother and that was my saving grace. Once our pictures were compared, I was released.”

My grandmother was allowed to join her family in Locke, where she worked in a cannery.

In 2012, The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation added Lee Bak Heun to their website database of Chinese American Coming to America Stories.

Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station

Rosie The Riveter
Rosie The Riveter

From 1941-1944 during World War II, my grandmother worked as a ship fitter and was among the six million women who were being recruited to join the workforce. “Rosie the Riveter” and her “We Can Do It” motto came to symbolize all women Home Front workers. The war created liberation for women like my grandmother, who would leave early in the morning before dawn to catch the bus to Richmond, CA, where she worked at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards.

Nancy Lee Chang receives a certificate of acknowledgement for her contributions as a “WWII Rosie” from the Rosie the Riveter/WW II Home Front National Historic Park on November 9, 2017
Nancy Lee Chang receives a certificate of acknowledgement for her contributions as a “WWII Rosie” from the Rosie the Riveter/WW II Home Front National Historic Park on November 9, 2017

Over 100,000 people flocked to the city of Richmond (original population 30,000) to work and were paid $1 per hour, $1.10 per hour for the graveyard shift, and $2 per hour on Sunday.

My grandmother wore the classic Rosie the Riveter uniform including a Red bandana, flannel shirt and blue bib overalls. She carried the classic lunch box with the thermos inside the rounded cover. Her duties as ship fitter included putting the pieces of a ship together. She worked with riggers, crane operators, welders and riveters. She made sure pieces were properly aligned, using hammers to nudge heavy pieces into position. It was very dangerous work and she wore a scarf so the flying sparks created by welders would not burn her hair.

Nancy’s granddaughter Marissa, who worked alongside Auntie Pauline to organize this celebration, obtained a certificate of acknowledgement for our grandmother’s contributions as a “WWII Rosie” from the Rosie the Riveter/WW II Home Front National Historic Park on November 9, 2017.

Harry Kai Chong Chang and his wife Nancy Lee Chang
Harry Kai Chong Chang and his wife Nancy Lee Chang

My grandmother met her future husband at her father’s Dry goods store located at 607 Jackson St. in San Francisco and took an instant liking to him. My grandfather, Harry Kai Chong Chang, was a dapper gent who grew up in Honolulu where he had attended Catholic schools. He spoke Chinese with an American accent. The chemistry was quite evident even though she didn’t speak much English.

In recounting their first meeting, my grandmother shared with her daughter Pauline, “I told him that his pant’s zipper was down in Chinese.” Imagine that was their first conversation.

As was customary of the times, my grandmother was supposed to have an arranged marriage, but true to form, she refused and insisted she would pick her own husband. She realized how fortunate she was that their families knew one another. The deal was sealed with her marriage to the man of her choice, two years her junior.

They had two daughters – my mother Beverly was born in 1945, and my Auntie Pauline was born in 1954.

During the late 40’s and 50’s, my grandmother worked as a beautician with a diverse group of women in the basement of Emporium. While her husband was at sea, she and her friends would get glammed up to go dancing at The Forbidden City. .

Nancy Lee Chang and her beautician friends at Emporium.
Nancy Lee Chang and her beautician friends at Emporium.

My grandmother and her friends loved mahjong and would play late in the evening or until the wee hours of the morning with her daughter in tow, as there were no baby sitters around. She could talk, knit, smoke and play mahjong all at the same time.

A family banquet at The Four Seasons in San Francisco.
A family banquet at The Four Seasons in San Francisco.
Nancy Lee Chang with her nephew Roland Wong in San Jose.
Nancy Lee Chang with her nephew Roland Wong in San Jose.

The family lived in several areas of Chinatown and North Beach including on Clay Street, on Jones Street and on Greenwich St. My Uncle Ronnie remembers the family gatherings at the Clay Street flat reminiscent of scenes straight out of the Joy Luck Club.

In the early 60’s my grandmother retired from Emporium and she opened her own salon. She and my grandfather signed a contract to rent Nan’s Palace of Beauty, a tiny storefront on Leavenworth between Sutter and Post, which she operated by herself for 10 years. Her customers loved her and she thrived in this atmosphere.

In 1963, my grandfather decided it was time to move out of Chinatown. They bought the newly built flats at 26-28 Homestead St in Noe Valley for $40,000. My grandfather wanted his wife and two daughters to be comfortable in their nice neighborhood and a brand new home.

Nancy Lee Chang's bureau at her rest home.
Nancy Lee Chang’s bureau at her rest home.

During this time, my grandmother embraced Nichiren Shoshu, the denomination that follows the orthodox teachings of true Buddhism. My grandmother would chant daily, travel around the country and even to Japan, for meetings with her Buddhism group in search of enlightenment.

In search of spiritual enlightenment.
In search of spiritual enlightenment.
Nancy Lee Chang
Nancy Lee Chang

In 1970, my grandmother lost her husband and her father. My grandmother was generous to a fault and took my sister Tami and I to visit our grandfather’s relatives in Honolulu.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, my grandmother worked at various Chinatown based stores owned by Sinclair Louie, including China Bazaar. During my grammar school years at St. Mary’s Chinese Day School in Chinatown, after class, I would walk a block to the shop where I met all of her young friends/co-workers, who affectionately called her “Grandma”.

She was an avid exercise buff and her workout routine at the Stonestown YMCA consisted of water aerobics, weight lifting and the Nordic Track.

Family photo montages from Nancy Lee Chang's visitation at Cypress Lawn in Colma, CA. on November 16, 2017.
Family photo montages from Nancy Lee Chang’s visitation at Cypress Lawn in Colma, CA. on November 16, 2017.

She is survived by her daughter, Pauline and her sons-in-law Bob and Russell, her grandchildren, Kim, Tami, Marissa (Carlos), Eric, Alaina (Marcos), Karina (Jon), Leah & great-grandchildren, Asia, Tai, Mya, Mason, Myles and Indio.

My grandmother’s energetic personality & love of life spirit will be missed. We are so very lucky to have had her touch all of our lives.

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Rajiv Joseph’s DESCRIBE THE NIGHT in Previews at Atlantic Theater Company

Rajiv Joseph. Photo by Lia Chang

Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director) is presenting the New York premiere of Pulitzer Prize finalist and Lortel and Obie Award winner Rajiv Joseph’s (Guards at the Taj) play Describe the Night, directed by Giovanna Sardelli (Animals Out of Paper).

Rajiv Joseph and Giovanna Sardelli. Photo by Lia Chang
Rajiv Joseph and Giovanna Sardelli. Photo by Lia Chang

Describe the Night will begin previews on Friday, November 10, officially open Tuesday, December 5 and play a limited engagement through Sunday, December 24, 2017, Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater (336 West 20 Street). Click here for tickets.

Describe the Night will feature Tina Benko (The Crucible), Nadia Bowers (The Farnsworth Invention), six-time Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein (Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret), Rebecca Naomi Jones (Significant Other, Marie and Rosetta), Max Gordon Moore (Indecent) and Stephen Stocking (Off-Broadway debut).

In 1920, the Russian writer Isaac Babel (Burstein) wanders the countryside with the Red Cavalry. Seventy years later, a mysterious KGB agent spies on a woman in Dresden and falls in love. In 2010, an aircraft carrying most of the Polish government crashes in the Russian city of Smolensk.

Set in Russia over the course of 90 years, this thrilling and epic new play traces the stories of seven men and women connected by history, myth and conspiracy theories.

Rajiv Joseph. Photo by Lia Chang
Rajiv Joseph. Photo by Lia Chang

Rajiv Joseph returns to Atlantic following the critically acclaimed production of his Lortel and Obie Award-winning play Guards at the Taj. His plays include Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Pulitzer Prize finalist), The North Pool, Gruesome Playground Injuries and Animals Out of Paper. He has been awarded artistic grants from the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Director Giovanna Sardelli has staged Rajiv Joseph’s Off-Broadway world premieres of Huck & Holden, Animals Out of Paper, All This Intimacy and The Leopard and The Fox, as well as the world premiere of Archduke at The Mark Taper Forum and the West Coast premiere of Guards at the Taj at The Geffen Playhouse, which received the 2017 Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play.

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 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

Teal Wicks, Daniel K. Isaac and More Set for THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO Album Release Concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below on November 12

Eric William Morris, Daniel K. Isaac, Jane Bruce and Teal Wicks in THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO. Photo by Amanda Crommett

THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO played an acclaimed summer engagement at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, starring Teal Wicks (Wicked, Finding Neverland), Eric William Morris (Be More Chill, Mamma Mia!), Jane Bruce (Elf, The Theory of Relativity), and Daniel K. Isaac (“According to My Mother,” “Billions”). The company also included Cole Burden, Brian Flores, Leenya Rideout, Christopher M. Russo, Perry Sherman, Kristin Stokes, Ian Michael Stuart, and Barbara Tirrell.

Daniel K. Isaac, Teal Wicks, Jane Bruce and Eric William Morris, in THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO. Photo by Amanda Crommett
Daniel K. Isaac, Teal Wicks, Jane Bruce and Eric William Morris, in THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO. Photo by Amanda Crommett

On Sunday, November 12th, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club, will present an album release concert featuring members of the cast and band at 9:30 PM. Tickets are $35, include a CD and are available here. Tickets on the day of performance after 4PM are only available by calling 646.476.3551.

Two River Theater's THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO with Teal Wicks & More Gets Original Cast Recording

The Musical Company will release the original cast recording of the celebrated THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO on November 10, 2017. The album is also on Amazon and iTunes For more information on the album’s release, visit here.

THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO by Mike Reid (composer, co-bookwriter), Sarah Schlesinger (lyricist, co-bookwriter), and John Dias (co-bookwriter) is inspired by the real-life-story of Josephine Monaghan, a young woman from late 19th century Boston who made a new life in an Idaho mining town disguised as a man called Jo.

Grammy Award-winning, multi-Platinum songwriter Mike Reid (whose many hits include “I Can’t Make You Love Me”) and Sarah Schlesingertogether have received the Kleban Prize, Richard Rodgers Award, Gilman & Gonzalez Falla Theatre Foundation Award, and Chicago’s Jeff Award for Best Original Musical New Work for THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO.

John Dias, Two River’s Artistic Director, made his Two River directorial debut with this production, which featured choreography by Marc Kimelman.

The album was produced by Sean Patrick Flahaven, CEO of The Musical Company and a producer on over two dozen cast albums for Stephen Sondheim and others, nine of which were Grammy-nominated, including the triple-Platinum, Grammy-winning Hamilton.

The band consists of John O’Neill (conductor/piano) and Martin Agee(violin),Troy Chang (cello), Philip Coiro (drums/percussion), Simon Hutchings(reeds), Justin Rothberg (guitar), and Joseph Wallace (bass).

Prior to the production at Two River Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company produced THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO in 2000 as its first musical. It was subsequently produced at the Bridewell Theatre in London in 2003.

The creative team for Two River Theater’s production of THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO included orchestrator Danny Larsen, music supervisor & vocal arranger Patrick Vaccariello, scenic designer Michael Carnahan, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, sound designerDrew Levy, wig designer Leah J. Loukas, and fight director Thomas Schall. The casting was by Jack Doulin + Sharky. The production stage manager was Amanda Michaels and the assistant stage manager was Denise Cardarelli.

The Musical Company has also announced that it represents live stage performance licensing of THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO, available now to professional theatres, with subsequent amateur licensing coming soon.

THE MUSICAL COMPANY provides best-in-class, comprehensive service to creators and producers of musicals, including theatrical licensing, music publishing and cast recording. Our experienced, innovative, client-and customer-focused approach is designed to help bring theatre to a wide audience. Operating from our headquarters in New York, with offices in London and Los Angeles, we’re owned by two industry-leading, independent and like-minded music companies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Group and Concord Music. Visit themusicalcompany.com.

Since its founding in 1994, TWO RIVER THEATER has been committed to creating great American theater by developing and producing work by some of the country’s leading artists. We are proud to be viewed as a vital cultural resource in the community of Red Bank, New Jersey. Through 10 theatrical productions each year (including world premieres, musicals, classics and theater for young audiences) and 50+ annual events, we produce exceptional theater and cultivate engaged audiences. TWO RIVER THEATER is under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst. For more information, go to tworivertheater.org.

FEINSTEIN’S/54 BELOW, Broadway’s Supper Club & Private Event Destination, is a performance venue in the grand tradition of New York City nightlife. A few blocks from the heart of Times Square and just below the legendary Studio 54, FEINSTEIN’S/54 BELOW is a classically designed state-of-the art nightclub in the theatre district that hosts audiences with warmth and style. FEINSTEIN’S/54 BELOW presents iconic and rising stars from the worlds of Broadway and popular music and has set a new standard for culinary excellence worthy of the world-class entertainment on the stage. Located at 254 West 54th Street, FEINSTEIN’S/54 BELOW features up to three shows nightly with cover charges ranging from $5-$105.

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 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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Kimberly Immanuel, Donica Lynn, Suzzanne Douglas, Gene Weygandt, Phillip Attmore and More in 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre through January 7

Mandy Modic, Sierra Schnack, Kimberly Immanuel, Donica Lynn and Annie Jo Ermel. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

Drury Lane Theatre continues its 2017-2018 season with 42nd Street, with music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, and original Broadway direction and dances by Gower Champion. 42nd Street is based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and was originally produced on Broadway by David Merrick.

Kimberly Immanuel (center) and the cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Kimberly Immanuel (center) and the cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

This production is directed by Michael Heitzman with choreography by Jared Grimes. 42nd Street runs now through January 7, 2018 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. The press opening is scheduled for this Sunday, November 5.

Suzzanne Douglass and Gene Weygandt. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Suzzanne Douglass and Gene Weygandt. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

Tap through this year’s holiday season with 42nd Street, the 1980 Tony Award winner for Best Musical. In this Broadway favorite, aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer lands a bigger break in New York City than expected. When the leading lady injures her ankle, Peggy gets the chance of a lifetime to rise from showgirl to star of a glitzy new Broadway musical. 42nd Street features show-stopping tap numbers and unforgettable hits such as “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.” Warm your Chicago winter with this love letter to the Great White Way.

Kimberly Immanuel, Phillip Attmore and the cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Kimberly Immanuel, Phillip Attmore and the cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

The cast of 42nd Street includes: Suzzanne Douglas (Dorothy Brock), Gene Weygandt(Julian Marsh), Kimberly Immanuel (Peggy Sawyer), Phillip Attmore (Billy Lawler), Justin Brill (Bert Barry), Donica Lynn (Maggie Jones), Brandon Springman (Pat), Cedric Young (Abner Dillon), Erica Evans (Andy Lee), Sierra Schnack (Annie), and Bret Tuomi (Mac/Thug/Doctor). Additional casting includes: Time Brickey, Lamont Brown, Tristan Bruns, Joe Capstick, Joel Chambers, Andrea Collier, Gabriela Delano, Annie Jo Ermel, Rachel Marie LaPorte, Mandy Modic, Thomas Ortiz, Allie Pizzo, Marisa Riegle, Anthony Sullivan Jr., and Davon Suttles.

Mandy Modic, Sierra Schnack, Kimberly Immanuel, Donica Lynn and Annie Jo Ermel. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Mandy Modic, Sierra Schnack, Kimberly Immanuel, Donica Lynn and Annie Jo Ermel. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

In addition to Director Michael Heitzman and Choreographer Jared Grimes, the creative team includes Roberta Duchak (music direction), Collette Pollard (scenic design), Emilio Sosa (costume design), Mike Baldassari (lighting design), Ray Nardelli (sound design), Claire Moores (wig and hair design), and Everett Bradley (music arrangements). The Production Stage Manager is Lucia Lombardi.

Phillip Attmore (center) and the cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Phillip Attmore (center) and the cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

42nd Street is suitable for all audiences but most enjoyable for ages 5 and up. For tickets and more information, visit DruryLaneTheatre.com.

Gene Weygandt and Kimberly Immanuel (background). Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Gene Weygandt and Kimberly Immanuel (background). Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Suzzanne Douglass. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
Suzzanne Douglass. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
The cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner
The cast of 42ND STREET at Drury Lane Theatre. Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 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

Francis Jue, Ned Eisenberg, Jennifer Lim, Daniel K. Isaac, Jeena Yi, Joe Ngo and Tobias C. Wong Set for Readings at Lauren Yee’s Kesselring Prize Ceremony on November 5

Francis Jue (Larry) in the world premiere of KING OF THE YEES. Photo by Liz Lauren
Francis Jue (Larry) in the world premiere of KING OF THE YEES. Photo by Liz Lauren
Francis Jue (Larry) in the world premiere of KING OF THE YEES. Photo by Liz Lauren

Actors Francis Jue, Ned Eisenberg, Jennifer Lim, Daniel K. Isaac, Jeena Yi, Joe Ngo and Tobias C. Wong are set for a reading of plays by Lauren Yee when the rising young playwright receives the 2017 Kesselring Prize on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 4 pm at the National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Park South). Ms. Yee earned the Kesselring for her play THE GREAT LEAP, to be produced this season by Denver Center, Seattle Rep and Atlantic Theater Company. The Prize includes a $25,000 award and the opportunity for Ms. Yee to reside for two weeks in the historic clubhouse of the National Arts Club in order to develop her work.

David Henry Hwang - Photo by Lia Chang, and Lauren Yee
David Henry Hwang – Photo by Lia Chang, and Lauren Yee

Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang will present Ms. Yee with the prize at an awards ceremony at the National Arts Club on Sunday, November 5 at 4 p.m. The evening will include readings of select scenes from Ms. Yee’s plays. A gala reception in the NAC parlors and dining room follows the awards presentation. For further information and to reserve seat for the awards ceremony and readings, visit Kesselring@thenationalartsclub.org.

The readings will feature selections from Yee’s plays KING OF THE YEES, THE GREAT LEAP and CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND.

Also present at the awards presentation as a guest speaker on Sunday: actress Regina Taylor.

Established in 1980 by Charlotte Kesselring – widow of playwright Joseph Kesselring – to honor and support young writers who are not as yet nationally recognized, and provide them with an honorarium and indirect support towards development of their work. Past recipients include Lucas Hnath (now on Broadway with A DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2), Tony Kushner, Anna Deavere Smith, Nicky Silver and last year’s honoree, Lindsey Ferrentino, whose play UGLY LIES THE BONE was produced this year at the National Theatre in London.

Each year, the National Arts Club invites theaters across the country to nominate an emerging playwright for the Kesselring Prize who is poised for a higher national profile through his or her growing body-of-work. Atlantic Theater Company nominated Ms. Yee.

Her previous works include IN A WORD, a finalist for the ATCA/Steinberg Award; THE HATMAKER’S WIFE, which was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for its John Gassner Award for best play by a new American playwright; and KING OF THE YEES, which premiered last season at The Goodman Theatre.

The 2017 Kesselring Prize Jury that selected Ms. Yee consisted of: famed playwright John Guare; Dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater, Anne Cattaneo; and two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage. The Kesselring Prize Artistic Director is Michael Parva.

www.nationalartsclub.org

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 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

André De Shields, Anson Mount, Bobby Moreno, Stephen Schnetzer, Ariel Shafir and David Ryan Smith Set for Robert O’Hara’s MANKIND at Playwrights Horizons, December 15-January 28

André De Shields Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields
Photo by Lia Chang

Playwrights Horizons is presenting the world premiere of MANKIND, written and directed by two-time Obie Award winner Robert O’Hara (Bootycandy, Bella: An American Tall Tale at Playwrights; Barbecue, In the Continuum, The Brother/Sister Plays).

Commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, the play will be the third production of the theater company’s 2017/2018 Season.

The cast of MANKIND features two-time Tony Award nominee, Emmy Award and Obie Award winner André De Shields (The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Full Monty, Play On!), Bobby Moreno (Grand Concourse at Playwrights, Fulfillment Center, Lazarus, The Year of the Rooster), Anson Mount (Corpus Christi, Three Sisters, star of the series “Hell on Wheels,” “Marvel’s Inhumans” and “Conviction”), Stephen Schnetzer (Oslo, Wit, The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?, Filomena), Ariel Shafir (Medea in Jerusalem, Craft, The Pirandello Project, “Orange Is the New Black”) and David Ryan Smith (One Man, Two Guvnors; Passing Strange; Twelfth Night; Marat/Sade).

The production will begin previews Friday, December 15 with an Opening Night set for Monday, January 8 at 7PM at the company’s Mainstage Theater (416 West 42nd Street). The limited engagement is currently scheduled to play through Sunday, January 28.

Mark (Mr. Mount) and Jason (Mr. Moreno) were keeping things casual until Jason got pregnant. But however unplanned the pregnancy was, nothing could be less expected than the chain of events it would set in motion. Robert O’Hara’s audacious, hilarious allegory envisions an uncannily familiar future – one long after women have gone extinct from centuries of mistreatment – where man’s capacity to f**k everything up soars to new heights.

The production will feature scenic design by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos, costume design by Dede M. Ayite, lighting design by Alex Jainchill, sound design by Lindsay Jones and video design by Jeff Sugg. Hair, wig and makeup design by J. Jared Janas and Dave Bova. Production Stage Manager is Erin Gioia Albrecht.

MANKIND was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons with the support of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Robert O’Hara (Playwright & Director). Playwrights Horizons: Bootycandy (writer and director), Bella: An American Tall Tale (director). He has received the NAACP Best Director Award, the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, two Obies and the Oppenheimer Award. He directed the world premieres of Nikkole Salter and Dania Guiria’s In the Continuum, Tarell McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays (Part 2), Colman Domingo’s Wild with Happy, Kirsten Childs’ Bella: An American Tall Tale, as well as his own plays, Bootycandy and Insurrection: Holding History. His new plays Zombie: The American and Barbecue world premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theater and New York Shakespeare Festival, respectively.

André De Shields (Jason’s Father and others) is an award-winning actor, director, choreographer and educator. Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway includes The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony nomination) and The Full Monty (Tony nomination). Recent Off-Broadway: As You Like It, 1776, Fortress of Solitude. Three Joseph Jefferson Awards, nine Audelco Awards, five Drama Desk noms., Obie Award for Sustained Excellence.

Bobby Moreno (Jason). Playwrights Horizons: Grand Concourse. New York Theater: Fulfillment Center, Alligator, Lazarus, The Year of the Rooster (Drama Desk nomination), Hand to God, Luther, Phoebe in Winter, I.E. – In Other Words. Film/Television: L.V.J., Five Nights in Maine, How He Fell in Love, Private Romeo, Kings, “Homeland,” ‘Elementary,” “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order.”

Anson Mount (Mark). Playwrights Horizons debut. Off-Broadway: Three Sisters, Mourning Becomes Electra, Elle, Corpus Christi, Cymbeline. Other Theater: Venus in Fur, Fifth of July. Television: Cullen Bohannon on “Hell on Wheels,” Black Bolt on “Marvel’s Inhumans,” Jim Steele on “Conviction,” Roy Ravelle on “Line of Fire,” Dr. Montville on “Third Watch.” Film: Mr. Right, The Forger, Non-Stop, Supremacy, Cook County, Tully, City by the Sea.

Stephen Schnetzer (Mark’s Father and others). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: Oslo, Wit, The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?, Filomena. Off-Broadway: Yours Unfaithfully, Tribes, We Live Here, Fallen Angel, Miss Julie. Film/Television: Aardvark, Ben’s Plan, Lobster Farm, Hail, “Blue Bloods,” “The Blacklist,” “Flesh and Bone,” “Homeland,” “The Good Wife,” “Fringe,” “Damages,” “The Wire,” “Law & Order.”

Ariel Shafir (Detective and others). Playwrights Horizons debut. New York Theater: Victoria & Frederick for President, The Elephant in the Room, Medea in Jerusalem, American Maul, Craft, Pieces of the Throne, The Pirandello Project, Setting Fires. Regional: titles roles in Macbeth and Picasso at the Lapin Agile, John Proctor in The Crucible. Film/Television: What Happens Next, Bride Wars, What Happens in Vegas, “Orange Is the New Black,” “30 Rock.”

David Ryan Smith (OBGYN and others). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: One Man, Two Guvnors; Passing Strange. New York Theater: Twelfth Night, The Death of the Last Black Man, Romeo and Juliet, The Glory of the World, Comedy of Errors, Cymbeline, Pericles, The Steadfast, The Rover, Marat/Sade. Extensive Regional credits including Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Barrington Stage Company, American Conservatory Theater.

Broadwayworld.com: André De Shields Will Star in Robert O’Hara’s MANKIND at Playwrights Horizons; Cast Complete! 

Playbill.com: André De Shields, Bobby Moreno, Anson Mount Cast in Playwrights Horizons’ Mankind

Theatermania: André De Shields, Anson Mount, and More Set for Mankind

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 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

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL Named Best Political Documentary at Second Annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Ceremony

Steve James’ compelling film, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail was named Best Political Documentary at the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards tonight at a gala event, hosted by Penn Jillette at BRIC in Brooklyn.

Jillette lead the celebrations for this year’s Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary honorees — The Cats of Istanbul (Kedi), Etty Ausch (One of Us), Al Gore (An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power), Laird Hamilton (Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton), Dolores Huerta (Dolores), Gigi Lazzarato (This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous), The Sung Family (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail).

Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Heather Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Vera Sung and Jill Sung. Photo by Lia Chang
Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Heather Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Vera Sung and Jill Sung. Photo by Lia Chang

One of the past year’s most critically acclaimed documentaries during its robust international film festival run and a national theatrical release, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the saga of the Sungs — a Chinese-American family who own and operate Abacus Federal Savings in New York’s Chinatown.

But in 2009, the Sung’s fired a loan officer after they discovered fraud. They reported the fraud to law enforcement, but soon found themselves and the bank under scrutiny. Two-and-a-half-years later, Abacus Federal Savings and two senior officers were accused of mortgage fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, becoming the only U.S. bank prosecuted after the 2008 financial crash and the first bank indicted in New York since 1991.

With riveting detail, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail follows how the indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves — and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community — over the course of a five-year legal battle.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail examines the case against the bank, hearing from prosecutors, jurors, defense lawyers, and Mr. and Mrs. Sung and their four daughters — whom James filmed for more than a year as they fought to clear their names.

Credits
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a Mitten Media, Motto Pictures and Kartemquin Films Production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and Independent Television Service (ITVS). It is co-presented with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). The director is Steve James. The producers are Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman. The co-producers are Fenell Doremus and Nick Verbitsky. The executive producers are Gordon Quinn, Christopher Clements, Betsy Steinberg and Justine Nagan. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of ITVS is Sally Jo Fifer.

The second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards honor the finest achievement in documentary features and nonfiction television. The awards were determined by Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA)  members with expertise in the documentary field. The Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards was produced by Bob Bain Productions.

Click here for a full list of the winners.

About BFCA/BTJA
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) is a partner organization to the BFCA and includes TV, radio and Internet journalists who cover television on a regular basis. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com
FRONTLINE to Premiere ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL on September 12; Photos from Asia Society Screening

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

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M. BUTTERFLY Back on Broadway: A Conversation with David Henry Hwang and Julie Taymor at Asia Society on November 3

David Henry Hwang and Julie Taymor in front of the Cort Theatre on the opening night of M. BUTTERFLY on October 26, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

On Friday, November 3, 2017, Asia Society is presenting A Conversation with Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and director Julie Taymor at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. $20 members; $22 students/seniors; $25 nonmembers BUY TICKETS »

David Henry Hwang and Julie Taymor in front of the Cort Theatre on the opening night of M. BUTTERFLY on October 26, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang and Julie Taymor in front of the Cort Theatre on the opening night of M. BUTTERFLY on October 26, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

The revival of Hwang’s Tony Award-winning play M. Butterfly  opened on October 26th at the Cort Theatre starring Academy Award nominee Clive Owen and Jin Ha, helmed by the visionary Julie Taymor (The Lion King). Based on real-life scandal, M. Butterfly delves into a world of love, espionage, and deception. David Henry Hwang and Julie Taymor come together to discuss their artistic collaboration and the new vision they have developed in recognition of the wider issues that make the production contemporary, nearly 30 years after its original Broadway debut in 1988.

David Henry Hwang, Jin Ha, Julie Taymor and Clive Owen at the M. BUTTERFLY opening night party at the Red Eye Grill in New York on October 26, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang, Jin Ha, Julie Taymor and Clive Owen at the M. BUTTERFLY opening night party at the Red Eye Grill in New York on October 26, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

Inside the Opening Night Party of the Broadway Revival of David Henry Hwang’s M. BUTTERFLY with Clive Owen, Jin Ha and More

Speaker Bios

David Henry Hwang
David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. ButterflyChinglishYellow FaceKung FuGolden ChildThe Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, and the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. He is America’s most-produced living opera librettist, who has worked with composers Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, and Bright Sheng, among others. Hwang is a Tony© Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is currently a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair. Hwang won the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels, the 2012 Inge, the 2012 Steinberg “Mimi”, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist, and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Awards. He heads the MFA playwriting program at Columbia University School of the Arts, and was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre. From 1994-2000, he sat by appointment of President Bill Clinton on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. David Henry Hwang serves on the Board of the Lark Play Development Center and was recently elected Chair of the American Theatre Wing.

Julie Taymor
As a Tony®, Emmy®, and Grammy® winning and Oscar® nominated filmmaker, Julie Taymor has changed the face of Broadway with her innovative direction.

Her Broadway adaptation of The Lion King debuted in 1997. An instant sensation, it received 11 Tony® Award nominations, with Julie receiving awards for Best Director and Costume Designer. She was the first woman in theatrical history to receive the award for Best Direction of a Musical. In addition to her Tony® Awards, she also received awards for her puppet, costume, and mask designs. The Lion King has gone on to become the most successful stage musical of all time; 24 global productions have been seen by more than 90 million people. The show has played over 100 cities in 19 countries, and it’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any entertainment title in box office history.

Her credits also include the play Grounded, starring Anne Hathaway, at the Public Theater and a cinematic version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, filmed during her critically acclaimed, sold-out stage production at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn. Also, Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark; The Green Bird; and Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass, which earned five Tony Award nominations including one for her direction. Operas include Oedipus Rex, with Jessye Norman; The Flying DutchmanSalomeDie Zauberflote (in repertory at the Met); The Magic Flute (the abridged English version, which inaugurated a PBS series entitled “Great Performances at the Met”); and Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel. Film credits include Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange; Frida starring Salma Hayek; Across the Universe; and The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren. Taymor is a recipient of the 1991 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, as well as a 2015 inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater, the recipient of the 2015 Shakespeare Theatre Company’s William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, and a 2017 Disney Legends Award honoree. She is currently directing M BUTTERFLY starring Clive Owen on Broadway.

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“Black Mirror” Emmy winner Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and More Open in THE OLD SETTLER at The Billie Holiday Theatre

Warner Miller, Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and Maechi Aharanwa. Photo by Lia Chang

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie) launches its 46th Season in the newly-renovated theater with the opening of THE OLD SETTLER tonight, written by Brooklyn-born playwright John Henry Redwood and directed by Tony Award nominee Michele Shay.

Warner Miller, Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and Maechi Aharanwa. Photo by Lia Chang
Warner Miller, Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and Maechi Aharanwa. Photo by Lia Chang

THE OLD SETTLER features The Billie veterans Pauletta Pearson Washington (Two Trains Running, Autumn), “Black Mirror” Emmy winner Denise Burse (Brownsville Song: b side for Trey, House of Payne), and Warner Miller (“Luke Cage”), and newcomer and Juilliard graduate Maechi Aharanwa (An Octoroon).

Set in 1943 Harlem, THE OLD SETTLER focuses on two sisters’ struggle to afford their rising rent. Faced with a choice between giving up their apartment and renting out their extra room to a stranger, they decide to take a chance on a boarder, newly arrived from the South. In equal measures funny and poignant, THE OLD SETTLER is a glimpse into the heart of an American City.

Denise Burse, Michele Shay and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Lia Chang
Denise Burse, Michele Shay and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Lia Chang

“The vitality and beauty of this work moves me every time I see it,” said Michele Shay. “Our beloved Maya Angelou said it best: ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ That’s the all-important sweet spot playwright John Henry Redwood digs into in this humorous, passionate, insightful glimpse into the roller coaster of relationships . The characters’ struggles are our struggles; their desires, ours. When it was first written in the late 1990s, it became one of the most produced plays of its time , because you simply can’t forget how deeply these characters make you feel. It is a timeless story that rings as true now as it did then.”

Lia Chang, Denise Burse and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Denise Burse and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Garth Kravits

Carolyn Reich stage manages THE OLD SETTLER, and the creative team includes lighting design by David Moodey, sound design by Kevin Novinsky, costume design by Niiamar Felder, and scenic design and props by Frank Oliva.

Tickets are available at TheBillieHoliday.org. Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are on sale by calling 718-636-6995 or by visiting the website.

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie), founded in 1972 by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, is an OBIE and AUDELCO Award-winning theaterdevoted to the discovery of world-class storytelling with a focus on stories for, by and about people of African descent with 3-4 productions annually. The Billie presents, promotes and sustains art that reflects the definitive issues of our time in and through all of its forms of expression, especially drama, and including jazz, opera, ballet, film, poetry, and other forms of intellectual and instructive entertainment; to produce and stimulate performances or theatrical productions of all kinds with a focus on, but not limited to the African American experience; and to commission and premiere original works.

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 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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Emory University’s Rose Library to Honor 50th Anniversary of the Negro Ensemble Company with Screening of Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project (LLCVP) Featuring Douglas Turner Ward on October 24

Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and Project1VOICE (P1V) in association with The Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (Rose Library) at Emory University and Theater Emory are proud to announce a screening for the #LegacyLeaders video of Douglas Turner Ward in Atlanta.  The event will be held on October 24th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in White Hall 208, Emory University.  This event is FREE and open to the public.  

This is the conclusion of a three-city tour that celebrates the half-century legacy of the famed classic Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) and its three visionary co-founders Robert Hooks, Gerald Krone, and Douglas Turner Ward.

The three-city video screening tour kicked off in Los Angeles at Ebony Repertory Theatre—the resident theater company of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Centeron September 23rd; continued in New York City at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and now closes in Atlanta at Emory University on October 24th.  This event at Emory University will  include:  a 50th anniversary reunion of NEC alums who were involved with the NEC during Douglas Turner Ward’s artistic leadership; excerpts from the NEC’s award-winning and critically acclaimed canon of plays; a moderated panel discussion about the innovative legacy and initiation of NEC with the company’s three co-founders; and a special tribute to honor the many NEC talents we have lost over the years, the lives they touched and the art they made or made possible.  Award-winning Classic NEC alumni scheduled to appear include:  Thomas Jefferson Byrd (actor)  Pearl Cleage (playwright), Walter Dallas (director), Carlton Mollette (playwright), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (actor/director), Oz Scott (director), Michael Schultz (director) and Wynn Thomas (production designer).

TCG created the Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project (LLCVP) over a two-year period. With support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to work with video production company MOPED, TCG filmed a series of interviews chronicling the stories of founding leaders of theatre of color, including Douglas Turner Ward. Screening events will be held in the leaders’ communities to further celebrate their legacies and galvanize support for their enduring impact.

Notable Negro Ensemble Company alums include: Mary Alice, Debbie Allen, Angela Bassett, Rosalind Cash, Judyann Elder, Charles Fuller, Adolph Caesar, David Alan Grier, Bebe Drake, Giancarlo Esposito, Lawrence Fishburne, Louis Gossett, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Barbara Montgomery, Denise Nicholas, James Pickens, Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Esther Rolle, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Michael Schultz, Wynn Thomas, Glynn Turman, Denzel Washington,  Lynn Whitfield, and Hattie Winston

“Douglas Turner Ward played a tremendous role in developing the actors and directors that came through the Negro Ensemble Company,” says Pellom McDaniels III, curator of African American collections at the Rose Library. “We’re fortunate to have an extensive collection of his papers that includes scripts, correspondence, Negro Ensemble Company records, photographs, and printed material.”

“This event celebrates the robust future of the American theater by honoring, celebrating and acknowledging its richly diverse past,” said Erich McMillan-McCall, CEO/Founder of Project1VOICE. “The classic Negro Ensemble–under the firm artistic guidance of co-founder Douglas Turner Ward–nurtured, cultivated, and inspired generations of talented professionals from all backgrounds in all aspects of the entertainment industry and beyond. A legacy of this magnitude has no expiration date and continues to blaze trails because it was built by a visionary triumvirate who fully understood the gravitas of pride, tradition and above all excellence.”

“Our theatre field and broader culture owe an enormous debt to the artistry and activism of these extraordinary leaders,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “We hope these videos and screening events not only honor these nine leaders, but raise awareness more broadly of the essential role played by theatres of color in our field. As more and more theatres make equity, diversity, and inclusion central to their work, we must remember the theatres that have been working with artists and communities of color for generations.”

The nine leaders featured in the videos are: Lou Bellamy, Penumbra Theatre, St Paul, MN; Tisa Chang, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, New York, NY; Frank Chin, Asian American Theater Company, San Francisco, CA; Miriam Colón, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, New York, NY; Woodie King, Jr., New Federal Theatre, New York, NY; Muriel Miguel, Spiderwoman Theater, New York, NY; Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago, IL; Luis Valdez, El Teatro Campesino, San Juan Baptista, CA; and Douglas Turner Ward, Negro Ensemble Company, New York, NY.

The Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project is one of the key elements of TCG’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Initiative’s “Establishing a Baseline” programming, which also includes REPRESENT, a demographic survey that thinks outside the checkbox, and The Well, a hub of EDI-related resources.“Establishing a Baseline” programming received Phase I and Phase II support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s (DDCF’s) Fund for National Projects.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Program Director for the Arts Maurine Knighton said, “Each of the nine leaders whom TCG has interviewed has made tremendous contributions to the American theatrical canon. We are confident that by capturing their firsthand accounts and addressing the under-documentation of their work, this project can greatly encourage current and future theater-makers creating pioneering work that expands the community of theater.”

Project1VOICE, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit performing arts service organization based in New York City. Its mission is to support and promote the American theater specifically the narrative of and by people of African descent. P1V was formed after the economic downturn in 2008 to create awareness and support for the many community-building African American theaters whose doors were closing with no hope of re-opening. P1V’s core activity is the coordination of an international, same-day staged reading series that revives and re-introduces forgotten seminal works by playwrights from the African Diaspora, a critical thread in the tapestry of the American theater. This annual event is called Project1VOICE One Play One Day and takes place on the third Monday in June. The success of One Play One Day has resulted in full productions—Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress (2011), The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe (2016) and Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith (2017)—and other programs in African American and LORT theaters across the nation. Other P1V programs include P1V 2.0—an Online Book Club, P1V Conversations with Pioneers, P1V Workshops—networking and knowledge-building opportunities and P1V Honors—recognizing outstanding contributions in the arts. P1V has expanded its reach and influence by partnering with nationally and internationally recognized organizations like Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Howard University, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), Temple University, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYA/USA). To date other United States organizations, include League of Resident Theatres (LORT) members, African American theater companies including Billie Holiday Theatre, Ebony Repertory Theatre, Congo Square Theatre and Ensemble Theatre—Houston as well as, other diverse educational, artistic and social institutions. P1V’s network also includes theater companies in Nigeria and South Africa. Through its robust programs and innovative partnerships, P1V works to provide significant support, accessibility and adequate representation for African American theater, an integral sector of the English-speaking theater.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org

 

MOPED is a full-service digital media and video production company that intersects stories that matter with technology — to catalyze conversation, mobilize audiences and drive impact both on and offline. We help you achieve heightened visibility, audience understanding and greater success, by developing your story as a vehicle, and then leveraging the platforms you’ll use to share it with the world.http://mopedproductions.tv/

 

For over 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for U.S. theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit theatre. TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 12,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research, and communications; awards grants, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and through the Global Theater Initiative, TCG’s partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute. TCG is North America’s largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 15 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its Member Theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre. www.tcg.org.

The Rose Library event represents an ongoing effort to connect the archives more deeply to the community and to engage more artists with the collections. Brent Glenn, artistic director of Theater Emory, calls the collections a goldmine in our backyard.

The African American collection has given us the tools and materials to build something, and were having conversations now about how to engage our faculty and the greater Atlanta community more deeply with these theater resources,” says Glenn.

This NEC event is partially funded at Emory by the Richard Long Fund in support of African American collections. Long, who died in 2013, joined the Emory faculty in 1987 as Atticus Haygood Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. Known for his wide-ranging interests and scholarly pursuits, Long chaired the African American Collections Advisory Board at the Rose Library. He was known for both his erudition and generosity, according to Randall Burkett, research curator for African American Collections.