Alan Muraoka and Sesame Street Muppeteers Pam Arciero and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph Perform at The Met’s Annual Lunar New Year Festival on Feb. 9

Alan Muraoka and muppeteer Pam Arciero at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting its annual Lunar New Year festival on Saturday, February 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunar New Year Festival: Year of the Pig will feature dozens of programs—for visitors of all ages—that reflect traditions from across Asia. Dance and music performances, artist-led workshops, and interactive gallery activities will take place throughout The Met Fifth Avenue as part of the festival celebration. All Lunar New Year Festival programming is free with Museum admission. The Met Fifth Avenue is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street in New York.

Alan Muraoka and muppeteer Pam Arciero at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

May art bring you good fortune! Mark the Year of the Pig, one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, with performances, interactive gallery activities, and artist-led workshops for all ages.

Performances

Space is limited; first come, first served.

Lunar New Year Parade

11–11:30 am

Ring in a prosperous New Year with the Chinese Center on Long Island Lion Troupe.

Floor 1, Great Hall

Alan Muraoka and Sesame Street Muppeteers Pam Arciero and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph 

11:30 am–12 pm

Tickets distributed 15 minutes prior at event location.

Discover the traditions of Lunar New Year with Sesame Street puppeteers.

Floor 1, The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

Photo Op with Sesame Street Muppeteers

12:30–1:30 pm

Snap a pic and meet some friendly Sesame Street characters.

Ground floor, Carson Family Hall East, Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education

Lunar New Year Performances

Tickets distributed 15 minutes prior to each session at event location.

1–1:45 pm, 2:30–3:15 pm, 4–4:45 pm

Be entertained by the Chinese Center on Long Island Lion Troupe, New York Chinese Cultural Center dancers, drummers from New York Korean Performing Arts Center, and Chinese yo-yo tricks from the Valley Stream South High School Cultural Society.

Floor 1, The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

Art Activities and Demonstrations

Meet artists and make art together inspired by The Met collection! Unless otherwise noted, activities are best for ages 3 and up.

Hands-on opportunities available.

Zodiac Zone

Discover more about your sign. Proudly wear your zodiac animal sticker to meet others who share the same characteristics.

Ground floor, Carson Family Hall West, Uris Center for Education 

Golden Piggy Bank

Create a year of good fortune! Design your own boarish bank.

Ground floor, Carson Family Hall West, Uris Center for Education

Wishful Fish with the Museum of Chinese in America

Fish symbolize abundance in the New Year. Using traditional Chinese paper cuts as inspiration, fold and cut a moveable paper fish to usher in a year of plenty.

Ground floor, Carson Family Hall West, Uris Center for Education

When Pigs Fly Scrolls

Put your imagination to the test to create your own scroll story inspired by flying pigs using sumi ink.

Ground floor, Carroll Classroom, Uris Center for Education

Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony & Bubble Tea Gatherings (Best for ages 6 and up)

12–3 pm

Cheer the New Year with freshly made bubble tea from Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng Co., then join a demonstration by tea masters at 1 pm and 3 pm.

Ground floor, Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Uris Center for Education

Hand-Pulled Noodle Demonstration with Chef Zhang

1:30–2 pm, 2:30–3 pm, 3:30–4 pm

Tickets distributed 15 minutes prior to each session at event location.

The longer the noodles, the longer and happier the life!

Ground floor, Studio, Uris Center for Education

Mud Play!

Stimulate your senses by contributing to our textured mud painting, inspired by the Buddha of Medicine Bhaishajyaguru mural in Gallery 206, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Ground floor, North Classroom, Uris Center for Education

Celestial Drawing Stations

11:30 am–4:30 pm

Explore and sketch animals depicted in the lunar zodiac across cultures.

Floor 1, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Gallery 350

Hide and Seek with The Sheep’s Meow

11 am–5 pm

Blend into your surroundings with EXPOSURE by game designers GJ Lee and Brian S. Chung. Create your own digital camouflage to hide from predators.

Floor 1, The American Wing, The Charles Engelhard Court, Gallery 700

Korean Paper Doll Making

Dress your own paper doll pig in the finest hanbok, Korean traditional clothing, to celebrate the New Year with the Korea Society.

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 209, The Astor Forecourt

Ring in the New Year: Jewelry Making

Start your New Year with a bit of luck. Design jewelry inspired by Chinese fortune coins.

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 209, The Astor Forecourt

Collaborative Village

Around the world, families return home to celebrate the New Year. Design your own magical home to add to our growing village.

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 217, The Astor Court

Storytelling and Quiet Spaces

Piglet’s Play Pen (Best for ages 0–5)

Play and learn with books, blocks, and more just for early learners.

Ground floor, Nolen Library, Uris Center for Education 

Bilingual Storytime (Best for ages 3 and up)

1–1:30 pm, 2–2:30 pm

Enjoy quiet time with stories in English and Mandarin.

Ground floor, Nolen Library, Uris Center for Education

Kamishibai Storytelling with CMOM

1–1:20 pm, 1:30–1:50 pm, 2–2:20 pm, 2:30–2:50 pm

Join Children’s Museum of Manhattan educators for an interactive form of Japanese storytelling that mixes traditional and modern kawaii-inspired stories.

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 206, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery 

Quiet Spaces

11:30 am–4:30 pm

Stop by these quiet spaces for time with art and books.

Floor 1, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Gallery 353

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 238, South Asian Hindu-Buddhist and Jain Sculpture

For Adults

Collection Chats with New New Yorkers

(Best for ages 13 and up)

Join recent immigrants in exploring great works of Asian art. In Partnership with the Queens Library and The New New Yorkers Program at the Queens Museum.

Daoist Immortals with Chuankui Jiang

1–1:20 pm, 1:30–1:50 pm in English

2–2:20 pm in Mandarin

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 222, Chinese Decorative Arts

Chinese Jade with Tsae Jiaug Su 

1–1:20 pm, 1:30–1:50 pm in English

2–2:20 pm in Mandarin

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 207, The Charlotte C. Weber Galleries

Chinese Painting with Olivia (ChiMing) Hsieh

2:30–2:50 pm, 3–3:20 pm in English

3:30–3:50 pm in Mandarin

Floor 2, Asian Art, Gallery 210

Wu Na + Chang Jing: Sound and View

12–12:45 pm, 2–2:45 pm

Hailing from China, master musicians Wu Na and Chang Jing elicit the sounds of nature—mountains, water, wind, and moon—from traditional Chinese zithers. Celebrate the Lunar New Year with the feeling of sonic scenery.

Ground floor, Robert Lehman Wing, Gallery 963

ETHEL and Friends: Erhu-Cello Duo

5–5:30 pm, 6–6:30 pm, 7–7:30 pm

Go on a musical journey with acclaimed string quartet ETHEL.

Floor 2, Great Hall Balcony, Gallery 204

This event is made possible in part by the Tiger Baron Foundation.

More about the event and directions to programming throughout the Museum will be available at the information desk inside the main entrance at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street and in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, located near the ground-floor entrance at Fifth Avenue and 81st Street. All Lunar New Year Festival programs are free with Museum admission. Recommended Museum admission is $25 for adults, $17 for seniors (65 and over), and $12 for students. Children under 12 who are accompanied by an adult are free.

A full list of festival programming, along with further details and a schedule of events, is available on The Met website.

Lunar New Year Festival: Year of the Rooster will also be featured on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #MetFest.

Lia Chang
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 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: © 2000-2019 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

Tony Award winner and San Francisco Native BD Wong, Arye Gross, Tim Liu and Ruibo Qian Set for Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, March 6-31

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon announced the full cast and creative team for award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) March 6-31, 2019.

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé-now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches. Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from Yee-developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival in 2017-explores cultural identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Under the direction of two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, The Great Leap soars through time and leaps across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of a revolution, building tension right up to the buzzer. Press night for The Great Leap will be held on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Single tickets (ranging from $15-$110) are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at www.act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Following rave reviews and audience acclaim in The Great Leap at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this past spring, Tony Award winner and San Francisco native BD Wong (The Orphan of Zhao at A.C.T.; “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) will reprise his role as “Wen Chang.” Joining him are (in alphabetical order) Arye Gross (ABC’s “Castle”; Wild Oats at South Coast Repertory Theatre) as “Saul,” Tim Liu (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Incident at Hidden Temple at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre) as “Manford,” and Ruibo Qian (Bull in a China Shop at Lincoln Center Theater; Water by the Spoonful at The Old Globe) as “Connie.”

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon: “I am delighted to have this San Francisco story-written by one of theater’s most exciting new voices and developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival-play The Geary Theater. Yee’s basketball play puts a surprising search for self and belonging center court.”

The creative team for The Great Leap includes Robert Brill (Scenic Designer), Meg Neville (Costume Designer), Yi Zhao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), and Hana Sooyeon Kim (Video Designer).

In connection with The Great Leap, A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events-many of which are presented free of charge-that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while having an entire night out at the theater. Visit act-sf.org/interact to learn more about subscribing to these events throughout the season: Bike to the Theater Night:

Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Providing a greener alternative to theater transportation, A.C.T. and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offer free valet bike parking, as well as a special discount on tickets, for these select performances.

Prologue:
Tuesday, March 12, 5:30 p.m.
Before the curtain goes up, get a sneak peek at the artistic process at this fascinating preshow discussion with the director and artistic staff.

Audience Exchanges:
Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m. | Sunday, March 24, 2 p.m. | Wednesday, March 27, 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.

OUT with A.C.T.:
Wednesday, March 20, following the 8 p.m. performance
The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular after-party.

Wente Vineyards Wine Series:
Tuesday, March 26, 7 p.m.
Before the show, raise a glass at this wine-tasting event featuring the Bay Area’s hottest local winery.

PlayTime:
Saturday, March 30, 12:45 p.m.
Before this matinee performance, get hands-on with the artists who make it happen at this interactive theater workshop. A.C.T.’s production of The Great Leap is made possible by executive producers The Milledge and Patti Hart Family; Jo S. Hurley; and Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; and producers Lloyd and Janet Cluff; and David and Carla Riemer.

A.C.T.’s production of The Great Leap is made possible by executive producers Kevin and Celeste Ford; The Milledge and Patti Hart Family; Jo S. Hurley; and Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; and producers Lloyd and Janet Cluff; and David and Carla Riemer.

Lia Chang
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 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: © 2000-2019 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

Stage Door Records Releases Pat Suzuki: ‘The Complete Album Series’ and ‘Singles And Rarities 1958-1967’

I spent Christmas morning listening to the Stage Door Records CD debut release of Broadway actress and singer Pat Suzuki’s back catalogue of solo recordings.

Released this year across two albums, ‘The Complete Album Series’ (2 CD Set) and ‘Singles And Rarities 1958-1967’ is a treasure trove representing Pat Suzuki’s complete discography as a solo recording artist.

Click here to read a review of the CDs.

Pat Suzuki and dancers (“Fan Tan Fanny”) (Photo: Friedman-Abeles)
Pat Suzuki and dancers in the Broadway production of FLOWER DRUM SONG. (“Fan Tan Fanny”) (Photo: Friedman-Abeles)

Pat Suzuki, best known for starring in the original Broadway production of ‘Flower Drum Song’ and originating the Rodgers & Hammerstein standard ‘I Enjoy Being A Girl’, enjoyed great success as a solo recording artist (receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Album in 1960), issuing four solo albums for RCA Records between 1958-1960. For the first time ever, all four of Pat Suzuki’s solo albums ‘The Many Sides Of Pat Suzuki’ (1958), ‘Miss Pony Tail’ (1958), ‘Broadway ’59’ (1959) and ‘Looking At You’ (1960) now make their debut on CD as the Deluxe 2CD set ‘Pat Suzuki – The Complete Album Series’.

Source: The Official Masterworks Broadway Site

The retrospective collection features 50 tracks including Suzuki’s haunting interpretation of ‘How High The Moon’ (later featured in the 1988 film ‘Biloxi Blues’) and her solo recording of ‘I Enjoy Being A Girl’ which became a Top 50 hit in the United Kingdom when issued as a single in April 1960.

The release of ‘The Complete Album Series’ is a joint collaboration between Pat Suzuki and Stage Door Records. Also available is the limited edition release ‘Singles And Rarities’ featuring all Suzuki’s non album singles and unreleased tracks recorded between 1958-1967. Click here to for more information and here to purchase the CDs.

Click below to learn more about Pat Suzuki.  https://masterworksbroadway.com/artist/pat-suzuki/

DISC ONE
THE MANY SIDES OF PAT SUZUKI (MONO)
1. From This Moment On (from ‘Out Of This World’) [LISTEN]
2. Fine And Dandy
3. A Sunday Kind Of Love
4. Something’s Gotta Give (from ‘Daddy Long Legs’)
5. Solitude
6. Poor Butterfly
7. Just One Of Those Things (from ‘Jubilee’)
8. I Had The Craziest Dream
9. The Song From Moulin Rouge / Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo
10. Always True To You In My Fashion (from ‘Kiss Me Kate’)
11. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
12. Lazy Afternoon (from ‘The Golden Apple’) [LISTEN]

PAT SUZUKI – MISS PONY TAIL (STEREO)
13. The Song Is You (from ‘Music In The Air’) [LISTEN]
14. Star Dust
15. Black Coffee [LISTEN]
16. Anything Goes (from ‘Anything Goes’)
17. I’ve Grown Accustomed To His Face (from ‘My Fair Lady’)
18. Daddy
19. My Heart Belongs To Daddy (from ‘Leave It To Me!’)
20. As Time Goes By
21. How High The Moon [LISTEN]
22. The Lady Is A Tramp (from ‘Babes In Arms’) [LISTEN]
23. Be My Love
24. I’ll Never Smile Again

DISC TWO
BROADWAY ’59 (STEREO)
1. I Enjoy Being A Girl (from ‘Flower Drum Song’) [LISTEN]
2. Love Look Away (from ‘Flower Drum Song’)
3. Sunday (from ‘Flower Drum Song’)
4. Two Faces In The Dark (from ‘Redhead’) [LISTEN]
5. Just for Once (from ‘Redhead’) [LISTEN]
6. Tonight (from ‘West Side Story’)
7. On The Street Where You Live (from ‘My Fair Lady’)
8. The Party’s Over (from ‘Bells Are Ringing’)
9. Just In Time (from ‘Bells Are Ringing’)
10. Not Like Me (from ‘First Impressions’) [LISTEN]
11. I Feel Sorry for the Boy (from ‘First Impressions’)
12. Till There Was You (from ‘The Music Man’)
LOOKING AT YOU (STEREO)
13. Looking At You
14. Small World (from ‘Gypsy’) [LISTEN]
15. Cheek To Cheek (from ‘Top Hat’)
16. He’s My Guy
17. My Funny Valentine (from ‘Babes In Arms’) [LISTEN]
18. You Better Go Now
19. You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me
20. I See Your Face Before Me
21. I Didn’t Know About You
22. Easy Living
23. Don’t Look At Me That Way!
24. Let Me Love You
FLOWER DRUM SONG (ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST ALBUM)
25. I Enjoy Being A Girl (from ‘Flower Drum Song’ – Bonus Track)
26. Grant Avenue (from ‘Flower Drum Song’ – Bonus Track)

2018 RED BUCKET FOLLIES’ FLOWER DRUM SONG Photo Diary 

Lia Chang
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 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: © 2000-2018 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

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

Lori Tan Chinn. Photo by Lia Chang
Legacy Award honorees Lawrence Leritz, Lori Tan Chinn, Virginia Seidel, Larry Ross, Sharon Wendrow. Photo by Lia Chang
Legacy Award honorees Lawrence Leritz, Lori Tan Chinn, Virginia Seidel, Larry Ross, Sharon Wendrow. Photo by Lia Chang

Lori Tan Chinn, Lawrence Leritz, Larry Ross, Virginia Seidel and Sharon Wendrow received 2018 DO40 Legacy Awards at the 10th annual Legacy Awards and Dinner at LIPS Restaurant in New York on December 10th. Speakers  included Jerry Mitchell, Host Jim Brochu, Joan Cohen and Mimi Turque and Mary Alice, who introduced Ms. Chinn prior to her receiving the award from John Sefakis.

Lori Tan Chinn. Photo by Lia Chang
Lori Tan Chinn. Photo by Lia Chang

Lori Tan Chinn was born and raised in Seattle, WA. Broadway (original casts): Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen (Broadway and theatrical debut), G. R. PointM. Butterfly. Off Broadway: The Primary English ClassG. R. PointThe Ballad of Soapy Smith, Peking Man. Off-Off:  La Mama, E.T.C., La Mama Chinatown, 52nd Street Project, Young Playwrights, New Dramatists, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Federal Theatre, AMAS Repertory Theatre, NY Shakespeare Festival, NY Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages, New Dramatists. Regional: Arena Stage (South Pacific, Bloody Mary—Helen Hayes Award); Goodman Theatre (Peter Sellars’s The Merchant of Venice), Harold Prince Theatre (Hough in Blazes); Walnut Street Theatre (South Pacific); O’Neill Memorial Theater Center (seven seasons as an actor, five seasons as a reader to artistic director Lloyd Richards), Yale Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Center Stage, Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Studio Arena. Film: Mickey Blue EyesWhat About Bob?Glengarry Glen RossShe-Devil, . Television: “Orange Is the New Black,” “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific” (Bloody Mary), “Roseanne”, “Revealing Evidence”, “The Cosby Show”, “It’s Like, You Know…”, “Spin City”, “Law & Order”, “Law & Order: Trial By Jury.  Ms. Chinn was interviewed for the Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project. She is the recipient of the 2018 Dancers Over 40 Legacy Award;  2013, 2014 Screen Actors Guild Award (Outstanding Ensemble, Comedy Series: “Orange is the New Black”); 2013 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.

Sydni Beaudoin, Lori Tan Chinn (Mae) and Garrett Turner; Photo by Jerry Dalia
Sydni Beaudoin, Lori Tan Chinn (Mae) and Garrett Turner; Photo by Jerry Dalia
Ms. Chinn recently appeared as Mae in HALFTIME, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, at Paper Mill Playhouse.
Tamara Torres, Lori Tan Chinn and Dale Soules. Photo by Lia Chang
Honoree Lori Tan Chinn is flanked by her “Orange is the New Black” cast mates Tamara Torres and Dale Soules. Photo by Lia Chang
Tamara Torres, Lori Tan Chinn, Marti Gould Cummings II, Dale Soules, John Sefakis. Photo by Lia Chang
Tamara Torres, Lori Tan Chinn, Marti Gould Cummings II, Dale Soules, John Sefakis. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang, Amy Chin, Lori Tan Chinn, Richard Young, Mel Young, Michael Sean Lee and Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang, Amy Chin, Lori Tan Chinn, Richard Young, Mel Young, Michael Sean Lee and Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang
Honoree Lawrence Leritz and Jerry Mitchell. Photo by Lia Chang
Honoree Lawrence Leritz and Jerry Mitchell, who directed Lori Tan Chinn in HALFTIME this summer at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Lia Chang
Honorees Larry Ross, Sharon Wendrow, Lori Tan Chinn, Lawrence Leritz and Virginia Seidel. Photo by Lia Chang
Honorees Larry Ross, Sharon Wendrow, Lori Tan Chinn, Lawrence Leritz and Virginia Seidel. Photo by Lia Chang
Jim Brochu, Lawrence Leritz, Lori Tan Chinn, Virginia Seidel, Larry Ross, Sharon Wendrow and John Sefakis. Photo by Lia Chang
Host Jim Brochu, Lawrence Leritz, Lori Tan Chinn, Virginia Seidel, Larry Ross, Sharon Wendrow and John Sefakis. Photo by Lia Chang
Amy Chin, Baayork Lee, Mary Alice, Luis Kraus, Lori Tan Chinn Eleanor Yung, Mel Young, Richard Young, Greg Everett, Ankeen McGuire, Michael Sean Lee, Michael DiGioia, Dale Soules. Photo by Lia Chang
Amy Chin, Baayork Lee, Mary Alice, Luis Kraus, Lori Tan Chinn Eleanor Yung, Mel Young, Richard Young, Greg Everett, Ankeen McGuire, Michael Sean Lee, Michael DiGioia, Dale Soules. Photo by Lia Chang

Dancers Over 40 is an all-volunteer, membership-driven non-profit arts organization dedicated to preserving the History, Legacy and Lives of our mature creative community, while sharing the knowledge with the younger generation just beginning their careers. The event was videotaped and donated to the Jerome Robbins Dance Collection at Lincoln Center’s Library for the Performing Arts.

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: © 2000-2018 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

BD Wong to Revisit Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, March 6 – March 31

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

Following rave reviews and audience acclaim at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this past spring, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon announced that Tony Award winner and San Francisco native BD Wong will reprise his role as ‘Wen Chang’ in award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) from Wednesday, March 6, through Sunday, March 31, 2019. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Says Wong: “I’m always looking for the rare work that’s as moving as it is funny, that has characters who are people you’ve never met before but whom you somehow immediately feel familiar with. This play, kind of miraculously, gives me all of it. I love Lauren Yee’s insightful vantage point that looks over family relationships and the unsettled scores such relationships keep, all wrapped up in a fresh athletic metaphor. It’s a play that is so specifically Chinese American, yet somehow all-embracing-and that isn’t an easy feat for a playwright. It is a gift of an opportunity to perform Lauren’s play on one of the great regional stages in the country.”

Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang
Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang

Adds MacKinnon: “The Great Leap was already going to be a celebration of San Francisco-a story set here, by a playwright from here, about a sport vital to here. We now add to that a homecoming for San Francisco’s own BD Wong. I cannot wait!”

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé-now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches. Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from Yee-developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival in 2017-explores cultural identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Under the direction of two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, The Great Leap soars through time and leaps across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of a revolution, building tension right up to the buzzer.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Wong is the only actor ever to have received all five major New York Theater awards for a single role-namely his performance in M. Butterfly (his Broadway debut): the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World Award, the Clarence Derwent Award, and the Tony Award.

Wong gained notice on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Oz” as the resilient prison priest (Father Ray) for the show’s six-season run. Then, for 11 seasons on the top-rated NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” he played George Huang, an FBI forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind. Other television credits include NBC’s “Awake,” ABC’s “All-American Girl,” HBO’s telefilms And the Band Played On and The Normal Heart, as well as guest-starring roles on “Sesame Street,” “The X-Files,” “Madam Secretary,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” He most recently has been seen in two drastically different television roles simultaneously: as the nefarious Hugo Strange on “Gotham” and as the mysterious trans-female hacker Whiterose on “Mr. Robot.” For his work on the latter, he received an Emmy, Gold Derby, and a Critic’s Choice Award nominations.

Wong has appeared in more than 20 feature films, including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Jurassic World, Focus, The Space Between Us, Stay, The Salton Sea, Executive Decision, Seven Years in Tibet, Jurassic Park, Father of the Bride (1 & 2), and The Freshman. He can also be heard as the voice of Shang in the Disney animated films Mulan and Mulan II. He will next be seen in Birdbox.

Wong’s additional New York theater credits include The Great Leap at The Atlantic Theater Company, The Tempest, A Language of Their Own, As Thousands Cheer, Shanghai Moon, and the Broadway revivals of the musicals You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures (the latter for which he received a Drama League nomination for distinguished performance). He recently starred regionally in The Orphan of Zhao at La Jolla Playhouse and San Francisco’s A.C.T. In addition, he has starred in five productions of the one-man musical Herringbone, a project dear to his heart.

Wong holds an honorary M.F.A. from American Conservatory Theater.

Three-, four-, and five-play subscriptions are available and offer incredible savings, unparalleled access, exclusive benefits, and personalized customer service. Subscribers save as much as 50% off single-ticket prices. Students and educators are eligible to save up to half price on subscriptions, and senior discounts are available for certain series. A.C.T.’s competitive subscriber benefits include free ticket exchanges up to the day of your scheduled performance, guaranteed best seating, ticket insurance, access to convenient prepaid parking one block away from the theater, discounts for neighborhood restaurants, and the opportunity to subscribe to Words on Plays, A.C.T.’s in-depth theater guide for each show.

BD Wong, Ned Eisenberg, Ali Ahn and Tony Aidan Vo Celebrate Opening Night of Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP 

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee

TheatreWorks SV’s Production of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Nominated for 3 2018 TBA Awards including Outstanding Production of a Play, Star Joel de la Fuente and Director Lisa Rothe

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Kevin Berne
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

San Francisco’s Theatre Bay Area has announced the nominees for their 5th Annual TBA Awards which will be handed out on Monday, November 5 at 7 pm at The Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102. For more information, email awards@theatrebayarea.org.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Kevin Berne
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Kevin Berne
Lisa Rothe, Jeanne Sakata and Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang
Lisa Rothe, Jeanne Sakata and Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s critically-acclaimed production of Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata, an inspiring true story following Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese-American student who fought internment to a relocation camp during World War II, snagged three 2018 TBA Award nominations including Outstanding Performance in a Play- Tier 1 for Joel de la Fuente; Outstanding Direction of a Play – Tier 1 for Lisa Rothe and Outstanding Production of a Play – Tier 1.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

Hold These Truths celebrates the human spirit as it chronicles Hirabayashi’s journey from college in Seattle all the way to the Supreme Court, and eventually to a Congressional Medal of Freedom. Hold These Truths shares the story of a young man who passionately defends his Constitutional rights against an unexpected adversary: his own country.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

The TBA Awards are designed to honor excellence in professionally oriented theatre through a peer-based, Bay Area-wide adjudication process of artists and productions from companies who are members of Theatre Bay Area and pay an awards registration fee.

Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel de la Fuente as Gordon Hirabayashi. Photo by Lia Chang

Over 120 theatre companies from all around the Bay participate in the TBA Awards program each year.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE IN A PLAY – TIER 1
Joy Carlin​ for ​Marjorie Prime​ at Marin Theatre Company
Joel de la Fuente​ for ​Hold These Truths​ at TheatreWorks
Emilio Delgado​ for ​Quixote Nuevo​ at California Shakespeare Theater
Santoya Fields​ for ​White​ at Shotgun Players
Margo Hall​ for ​Skeleton Crew​ at Marin Theatre Company & Theatreworks
Randy Harrison​ for ​Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Jeremy Kahn​ for ​The Liar​ at Center Repertory Company
Kerri Shawn​ for ​Shirley Valentine​ at Center Repertory Company
Stephen Spinella​ for ​Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Calvin M. Thompson​ for ​The Royale​ at Aurora Theatre Company
Zoe Winters​ for ​Reel to Reel​ at Magic Theatre

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Tier 1
Michael Butler​ for ​The Liar​ at Center Repertory Company
Rachel Chavkin ​for ​Small Mouth Sounds​ at American Conservatory Theater
Josh Costello​ for ​Eureka Day​ at Aurora Theatre Company
Lisa Rothe​ for ​Hold These Truths​ at TheatreWorks
Tony Taccone​ for ​Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at Berkeley Repertory Theatre

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A PLAY
Tier 1
Angels in America, Parts One and Two​ at ​Berkeley Repertory Theatre Eureka Day​ at ​Aurora Theatre Company
Hold These Truths​ at ​TheatreWorks
Our Great Tchaikovsky​ at ​TheatreWorks
Reel to Reel​ at ​Magic Theatre
The Liar​ at ​Center Repertory Company

Complete listings of nominees can be found at www.theatrebayarea.org

Hold These Truths made its world premiere in 2007 at East West Players in Los Angeles. In 2012, the solo play made its Off Broadway premiere at Epic Theatre Company starring Joel de la Fuente, and received a 2013 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance. Since its world premiere, it has gone on to play throughout the nation including theatres in Boston, Honolulu, Washington, D.C., Portland, and many others. Critics have lauded the period piece as “a top-notch production” (The New York Times), “particularly impactful” (TheaterMania), and a show which “gives hope that the arc of the moral universe does indeed eventually bend toward justice” (Los Angeles Times).

The production team includes Sound Designer/Composer Daniel Kluger, Scenic Designer Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, Scenic Design Assistant Joo Hyun Kim, Costume Designer:Margaret E. Weedon, Lighting Designer: Cat Tate Starmer, Casting Director Jeffrey Lo and Stage Manager Randall K. Lum.

kqed.org: ‘Hold These Truths’ Remembers One Man’s Refusal to Cede His Civil Rights During WWII

The Rafu Shimpo: ‘HOLD THESE TRUTHS’ AT LUCIE STERN THEATRE

sfexaminer.com: July 11-12: Hold These Truths

mercurynews.com: Now playing on SF Bay Area stage: 1 man’s fight against the Japanese internment camps

metroactive.com: ‘Hold These Truths’ Remembers Japanese Internment

register-pajaronian: Watsonville native celebrates Bay Area premiere of 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

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Emmy Winner Denise Burse Stars in Kenny Leon Helmed DOT by Colman Domingo at Billie Holiday Theatre at RestorationART, October 20 – November 18

Denise Burse
Denise Burse
Denise Burse

The Billie Holiday Theatre at RestorationART, in association with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, presents Colman Domingo’s Dot to launch its 2018-2019 Season with this compelling work under the direction of Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon (American Son currently on Broadway starring Kerry Washington, A Raisin in the Sun and August Wilson’s Fences) and starring Emmy Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre alumna Denise Burse (“Black Mirror,” Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne”) as Dotty. Previews begin October 20 – 24, 2018 with the Opening on Thursday, October 25, 2018 and will run through November 18, 2018 at The Billie Holiday Theatre, 1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216.

Director Kenny Leon, Denise Burse, Playwright Colman Domingo, Rhynn Saver, Amber A. Harris, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, Lee Spencer Osorio, Gilbert Glenn Brown and Bendetto Robinson. Photo courtesy of Gilbert Glenn Brown/Facebook
Director Kenny Leon, Denise Burse, Playwright Colman Domingo, Rhynn McLemore Saver, Amber A. Harris, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, Lee Spencer Osorio, Gilbert Glenn Brown and Bendetto Robinson. Photo courtesy of Gilbert Glenn Brown/Facebook

Crackling with humor, Dot takes a light-hearted look at an illness facing all communities and explores the interactions of widowed matriarch Dotty and her family and mental health in the Black community. As Dotty struggles to hold onto her memory – a result of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis – her children must fight to balance care for their mother with care for themselves.

Denise Burse. Brenda Nicole Photography
Denise Burse. Brenda Nicole Photography

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the newly-reimagined Billie Holiday Theatre and to present True Colors’ production of Colman Domingo’s Dot to Brooklyn audiences,” remarked True Colors’ Artistic Director Kenny Leon. “Dot allows us the opportunity to come together as community; not just as individuals, but as two theaters committed to the best, wisest and most challenging parts of ourselves and our stories.”

Bendetto Robinson and Denise Burse. Brenda Nicole Photography
Bendetto Robinson and Denise Burse. Brenda Nicole Photography

“To curate storytelling for the largest African American community in the nation – Central Brooklyn – demands that we bring our audiences stories that matter,” stated Dr. Indira Etwaroo, The Billie’s Executive Director. “Colman Domingo’s Dot, helmed by Kenny Leon with a cast led by Denise Burse, in partnership with True Colors is an embarrassment of riches. Excellence and relevance are in the very DNA of this production and partnership.”

Gilbert Glenn Brown, Denise Burse, Lee Osorio. Brenda Nicole Photography
Gilbert Glenn Brown, Denise Burse, Lee Osorio. Brenda Nicole Photography

Denise Burse stars as Dot with Tinashe Kajese-Bolden as Shelly, Rhyn McLemore Saver as Jackie, Gilbert Glenn Brown as Donnie, Lee Osorio as Adam, Amber A. Harris as Averie, and Benedetto Robinson as Fidel. The cast recently enjoyed a critically acclaimed run produced by True Colors Theatre Company this summer, with standing ovations every night.

Gilbert Glenn Brown and Tinahse Kajese-Bolden. Brenda Nicole Photography
Gilbert Glenn Brown and Tinahse Kajese-Bolden. Brenda Nicole Photography

General Information
Single Tickets: $25 – $40; Tickets: (866) 811-4111, www.thebillieholiday.org or Box Office (1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY). Group Sales: (929) 432-3322, (866) 811-4111.

Lee Osorio, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, Amber A. Harris and Rhyn McLemore Saver. Brenda Nicole Photography
Lee Osorio, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, Amber A. Harris and Rhyn McLemore Saver. Brenda Nicole Photography

About The Billie Holiday Theatre at RestorationART
As cultural anchor and artistic presenter to the largest African-American community in the US, RestorationART presents world-class artistic expressions of Black culture from around the corner and around the world to Central Brooklyn audiences and beyond. The driving force of RestorationART’s creative complex is the Obie and AUDELCO Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre, a non-profit theatre whose mission is to present the diversity of voices within the African Diaspora. For more information, visit www.thebillieholiday.org.

Benedetto Robinson, Denise Burse, Amber A. Harris, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden. Brenda Nicole Photography
Benedetto Robinson, Denise Burse, Amber A. Harris, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden. Brenda Nicole Photography

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

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: © 2000-2018 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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Pamela Bob, Garth Kravits and Evan Daves Attend the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival Opening Reception; World Premiere of “Livin’ On A Prairie” at Spring Studios on September 22

Pamela Bob, Garth Kravits and Evan Daves. Photo by Lia Chang
Pamela Bob. Photo by Lia Chang
Pamela Bob at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

“Livin’ On A Prairie” is an official selection of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival and will screen at Spring Studios, 50 Varick Street, on Saturday, September 22 at 7:45pm, as part of an eclectic block of Indie Comedy Pilots that play with conventions of adulthood, sex and…William Shakespeare. The screening is currently sold out but you can click here for rush ticket information.

Pamela Bob, Evan Daves and Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Pamela Bob, Evan Daves and Garth Kravits at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

“Livin’ On A Prairie,” a six episode series created by and starring Broadway’s Pamela Bob (Hand to God, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder), follows Pamela as she navigates life and love while struggling to overcome her obsession with the 1970’s hit TV show “Little House on The Prairie.”

Garth Kravits, Pamela Bob and Evan Daves. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Pamela Bob and Evan Daves at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

The show stars members of the original “Little House” cast. Alison Arngrim (“Little House on the Prairie”) and Charlotte Stewart (“Little House on the Prairie,” “Twin Peaks”) guest star and the series also features current Broadway and TV performers: Taurean Everett (Cher, Miss Saigon), Aaron Ramey (The Visit), Matt Bogart (Jersey Boys), Jim Ferris (The Lion King), Justin Sams (When We Rise), Carlos Gonzales (On Your Feet) Dave T. Koenig (Nurse Jackie), Michael Kostroff (The Nance), Paul Moon (Tainted Dreams) and Matt Cody (Blue Bloods.)

Pamela Bob, Garth Kravits and Evan Daves. Photo by Lia Chang
Pamela Bob, Garth Kravits and Evan Daves at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

“Livin’ On A Prairie” is directed and produced by Cut&Dry Films’ Garth Kravits and Evan Daves with Executive Producer Roy Goderstad. cutanddryfilms.com

Garth Kravits, Pamela Bob and Evan Daves. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Pamela Bob and Evan Daves at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Pamela Bob and Evan Daves. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Pamela Bob and Evan Daves at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang
Evan Daves. Photo by Lia Chang
Evan Daves at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits and Pamela Bob. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits and Pamela Bob at the opening night reception of the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios in New York on September 20, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

Other shows that are part of the slate include the world premieres of “Great Expectations,” created by Pip Swallow and executive produced by Stefan Georgiou; “I Was a Teenage Pillow Queen,” executive produced by Bridget Moloney and Claire Coffee; “My Friend Will,” executive produced by Elijah Guo; and Shrimp, created by/executive produced by Zelda Williams and EP Joshua Thurston.

Inside the GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER Opening Night Party with Garth Kravits, Marilu Henner, Mitchell Jarvis, Jay Klaitz, Brandon Williams and More

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.

Chatting with Raymond J. Lee about SOFT POWER, GROUNDHOG DAY and Feinstein’s/54 Below Show with Sharone Sayegh on July 26

Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Kendyl Ito. Photo by Lia Chang
Raymond J. Lee
Raymond J. Lee

Raymond J. Lee is currently featured in the Bay Area premiere of Soft Power, the play featuring a musical by David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music and additional lyrics), at San Francisco’s Curran (445 Geary Street) through July 8, 2018. Click here for tickets.

A Center Theatre Group co-commission with The Public Theater, Soft Power had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

After the run, he’ll be sharing the stage with Sharone Sayegh in the Feinstein’s/54 Below’s Summer 2018 concert series: Duo Shows at 54! on July 26. Click here for tickets.

In Soft Power, Mr. Lee plays Randy Ray (a renegade cowboy hoodlum), Yao To (Senior Information Correspondent at CCTV), a roller-skating waiter, General Ensemble Dancer Man, a passed out druggie on a Street Fighter Arcade Machine, and the evil gun-toting Veep.

Jon Hoche; Daniel May (facing away); Kendyl Ito; Kristen Faith Oei; Maria-Christina Oliveras (obscured); Raymond J. Lee; Jaygee Macapugay and Geena Quintos. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Jon Hoche; Daniel May (facing away); Kendyl Ito; Kristen Faith Oei; Maria-Christina Oliveras (obscured); Raymond J. Lee; Jaygee Macapugay and Geena Quintos. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Directed by Leigh Silverman (Violet) and choreographed by Sam Pinkleton (Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812), Soft Power rewinds our recent political history and plays it back, a century later, through the Chinese lens of a future, beloved East-meets-West musical. In the musical, a Chinese executive (Conrad Ricamora) who is visiting America finds himself falling in love with a good-hearted U.S. leader (Alyse Alan Louis) as the power balance between their two countries shifts following the 2016 election.

Conrad Ricamora, Austin Ku, Francis Jue, Geena Quintos, Billy Bustamante and Raymond J. Lee. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Conrad Ricamora, Austin Ku, Francis Jue, Geena Quintos, Billy Bustamante and Raymond J. Lee. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

The cast of Soft Power features Billy Bustamante (Miss Saigon), Kara Guy, Jon Hoche (War Horse tour), Kendyl Ito (Matilda tour), Francis Jue (M. Butterfly), Austin Ku (Chinglish tour), Raymond J. Lee (Groundhog Day), Alyse Alan Louis (Amélie), Jaygee Macapugay (School of Rock), Daniel May (Thoroughly Modern Millie tour), Paul HeeSang Miller (Miss Saigon), Kristen Faith Oei (M. Butterfly), Maria-Christina Oliveras (Amélie), Geena Quintos (Miss Saigon), Conrad Ricamora (The King and I, “How to Get Away with Murder”), Trevor Salter (Here Lies Love) and Emily Stillings (The King and I).

Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Austin Ku, Kendyl Ito and Jon Hoche. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Austin Ku, Kendyl Ito and Jon Hoche. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Raymond J. Lee has appeared on Broadway as“Eddie” in Mamma Mia! (Broadway Debut), as “John” in Anything Goes; “Chan Elvis”/ “Raymond” in Honeymoon in Vegas; and “Ralph” in Groundhog Day. His television credits include “Billions,” “Smash,” “Red Oaks,” and “The Jim Gaffigan Show.” Below is my interview with him.

Lia: It’s Pride month – please share the details of the love of your life and the light of your life.
Ray: I am a proud married man to an awesome husband, Robbie Kearns. We are dads to a beautiful 4-year-old daughter, Ella Jean. My husband and I met through a dating website and have been married for six years. I think when I first knew I was gay, I didn’t think I’d be able to have a family like I do today and I’m so grateful everyday to live my life honestly. I grew up in a fundamental Christian household so homosexuality was a big no-no, but as I grew older and realized who I was and who I was attracted to, I made the decision to live my life happily and openly.

Raymond J. Lee, Mickey Mouse, Ella Jean and Robbie Kearns.
Raymond J. Lee, Mickey Mouse, Ella Jean and Robbie Kearns.

Lia: When did you first become attached to the Soft Power?
Ray: I got involved in spring 2017 with my first reading for Soft Power. At that point Act 1 had been written and two songs in Act 2 had been completed.

Lia: What has the process been like of developing a new work – a play that becomes a musical?
Ray: I think developing a new work is so exciting. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of this crazy business. I think there’s something so exciting, terrifying, and rewarding about developing a show, and this show has been so groundbreaking in terms of format. I’ve learned so much during this process.

Lia: Have your worked with either David or Jeanine before and if so, in what context?
Ray: David and I worked together on a reading of a Bruce Lee musical back in the day. I worked with Jeanine in the workshop of Shrek the Musical.

Lia: What has it been like for you to work with this cast?
Ray: This cast has been absolutely amazing. Everyone in this company is a triple threat. Seriously. And to top it all of they are all wonderful and amazing collaborators. We completely trust each other on that stage.

Seated: Jeanine Tesori, Francis Jue, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May. Standing: Trevor Salter, Sam Pinkleton, Emily Stillings, Billy Bustamante, Kristen Faith Oei, Jon Hoche, Leigh Silverman, Austin Ku, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Conrad Ricamora, Alyse Alan Louis, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Seated: Jeanine Tesori, Francis Jue, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May. Standing: Trevor Salter, Sam Pinkleton, Emily Stillings, Billy Bustamante, Kristen Faith Oei, Jon Hoche, Leigh Silverman, Austin Ku, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Conrad Ricamora, Alyse Alan Louis, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Do you have a favorite character?
Ray: The Veep has to be my favorite because he gets to sing this awesome song in Act 2 about gun control in the United States. I channel my best Disney villain inner man-Ursula in that moment.

Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Kendyl Ito. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Kendyl Ito. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Do you have a favorite moment or scene in the show?
Ray: I love our finale number. We get to go on stage in our regular street-style costumes and sing together and convey our message to the audience one final time as a cohesive team. It is a powerful way to end the show, together on that stage singing one of Jeanine Tesori & David Henry Hwang’s beautiful songs entitled “Democracy.”

The cast. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
The cast. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Lia: You brought me such joy as Ralph in Groundhog Day. What was the casting process like and how did you develop him?
Ray: I loved the casting process for Groundhog Day because they truly color consciously cast the roles. The entire creative team tried to find the right people for the roles, despite skin color or size or age. It was truly refreshing. I remember seeing Vishal Vaidya at the callback and thinking “Oh of course we’re probably going in for the same part” but lo and behold we both went in for different roles and both got cast.

Vishal Vaidya, Rheaume Crenshaw, Andrew Call and Ray Lee backstage at GROUNDHOG DAY at the August Wilson Theatre in New York on April 5, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
Vishal Vaidya, Rheaume Crenshaw, Andrew Call and Ray Lee backstage at GROUNDHOG DAY at the August Wilson Theatre in New York on April 5, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

Ralph was a lot of fun to develop. He gets to be this drunkard at a bar, so I just channeled my inner college Ray at a Saturday night frat party, put a Punxsutawney accent on him, and there he was. Andrew Call was also the best partner-in-crime for that bar scene and we truly made comedy magic together on that stage. We had an amazing time together.

Andrew Call as Gus, Raymond J. Lee as Ralph and Andy Karl as Phil in GROUNDHOG DAY.
Andrew Call as Gus, Raymond J. Lee as Ralph and Andy Karl as Phil in GROUNDHOG DAY.

Lia: You’ve been appearing on TV lately. What is on your wish list?
Ray: I just appeared in an episode of “Billions” and an episode of “Succession”. I’ll also be in the upcoming Noah Baumbach film which will be released on Netflix later this year. I’m hoping to gain more TV credits in my career and my next dream is to be a series regular on a television show.

Lia: You performed with Sharone Sayegh in Mamma Mia!  on Broadway and will be sharing the stage with her in the Feinstein’s/54 Below’s Summer 2018 concert series: Duo Shows at 54! on July 26. How did you choose the theme?
Ray: I am so excited for our upcoming show. It’s called “Project Broadway: The Unconventional Materials Challenge” and we perform on Thursday, July 26 at 930pm. Be prepared for some pop songs, musical theater songs (that we could definitely play if given the chance), and a few mashups here and there. It’s going to be an amazing evening! My cabaret partner Sharone Sayegh is currently in The Band’s Visit and her voice is just phenomenal. Get ready y’all!

Lia: How have audiences been responding to Soft Power?
Ray: Oh they definitely have been responding! Each audience has been very different and been responding to different parts of the show in different ways, which I find fascinating. It also means that our audiences have been really engaged with our show. And I’ve heard from multiple people that our show inspires a lot of conversation post-show, which I think is great.

From left, cast members Alyse Alan Louis, Raymond J. Lee, Kendyl Ito, Jon Hoche, Maria-Christina Oliveras and Conrad Ricamora. Photos by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
From left, cast members Alyse Alan Louis, Raymond J. Lee, Kendyl Ito, Jon Hoche, Maria-Christina Oliveras and Conrad Ricamora at the Ahmanson on the opening night of SOFT POWER on May 17, 2018. Photos by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Lia: What do you hope people will take away from Soft Power?
Ray: I hope people will evaluate the state of our country and be more aware of their personal feelings on how our country is being run. Our show doesn’t insult America but rather points out what could be worked on and improved, by telling this story through a “Chinese lens.” I also want people to realize how many amazing and talented Asian performers there are out there! We just need more shows and roles written for us!

The Bay Area premiere of Soft Power, the play featuring a musical by David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music and additional lyrics), has performances at San Francisco’s Curran (445 Geary Street) through July 8, 2018. Click here for tickets.

raymondjlee.com 

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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Up Close and Personal with Daniel K. Isaac – William Inge in Abingdon Theatre’s Production of THE GENTLEMAN CALLER by Philip Dawkins, May 5 – 26

Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

Abingdon Theatre Company (Tony Speciale, Artistic Director; Denise Dickens, Producing Director) is presenting The Gentleman Caller, a new play by Philip Dawkins (Charm, Le Switch, The Homosexuals) as the first production of its 25th Anniversary main stage season.

Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa. Photo by Lia Chang
Juan Francisco Villa and Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang
Juan Francisco Villa and Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

Daniel K. Isaac (Showtime’s “Billions”) will play William Inge and Juan Francisco Villa (Oedipus El Rey) will play Tennessee Williams in the New York premiere production. Directed by Tony Speciale (Unnatural Acts, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey), the limited engagement runs May 5 – 26 at Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street, NYC) in Greenwich Village. The official opening night is May 10 at 7PM. Tickets are currently on sale at abingdontheatre.org or by calling Ovationtix at 212-352-3101. $25 Tix available for the first week of performances w/ Promo Code: “CALLER25”

Although now regarded as two of history’s finest American Playwrights, back in 1944, William Inge and Tennessee Williams hadn’t yet experienced anything close to success. The Gentleman Caller takes us back in time, before the Chicago premiere of The Glass Menagerie. Inge, a dissatisfied newspaper critic, invites Williams to his St. Louis apartment for an interview. This sexy, fraught rendezvous sparks a relationship, which radically alters the course of their lives and the American Theatre.

Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa. Photo by Lia Chang

Daniel invited me to his rehearsal room at Shetler Studios to chat after a rehearsal.

Lia: How did you get cast in The Gentleman Caller?
Daniel: One of my best friends, Keelay Gipson, is a playwright. He was the playwright assistant to Philip Dawkins when he was doing Charm in the fall with MCC at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. I met Philip briefly then. And then when Tony Speciale and Abingdon Theatre Company were doing a reading of this play in December, Philip’s boyfriend recommended me to be a part of the reading after seeing me on “Billions”. And here we are today!

Chris Manelli, managing director, Victory Gardens, Brian Bosque, Philip Dawkins and Chay Yew, artistic director, Victory Gardens at at the 45th Annual Jeff Equity Awards ceremony, held at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Oakbrook Terrace, Il on November 4, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang
Chris Manelli, managing director, Victory Gardens, Brian Bosque, Philip Dawkins and Chay Yew, artistic director, Victory Gardens at the 45th Annual Jeff Equity Awards ceremony, held at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Oakbrook Terrace, Il on November 4, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What was the thinking behind the non-traditional casting aspect of this play?
Daniel: Philip has always said while these are two historically white people, he has no interest in seeing two white actors portray these characters on the stage – that is not the society we are in or the storytelling that we should be doing in 2018, etc. He’s been committed to that. In Chicago, there is a Latinx actor playing Tennessee Williams and here in New York we have Juan, who is Columbian American, in that part. And I’m obviously Korean American. And, frankly, it’s a big deal. Until, one day, it won’t be. Which will be a wonderful day. Juan and have talked about it in the room. There is a lot of healing happening for us in that we never imagined that we would get to play these characters.

Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa. Photo by Lia Chang

Before Hamilton, I could not fathom any actor of color getting to play our founding fathers, let alone anyone from American History that wasn’t white. And in school, I didn’t get to study Williams or Inge with the same fervor as my white classmates because I never thought there would be a place for me in their work.

(Courtesy photograph by Joan Marcus) Joseph Morales as Alexander Hamilton and Marcus Choi as George Washington in the national tour, which will play Salt Lake City April 11 through May 6.
(Courtesy photograph by Joan Marcus) Joseph Morales as Alexander Hamilton and Marcus Choi as George Washington in the national tour, which will play Salt Lake City April 11 through May 6.
Sanjit De Silva, Mia Katigbak, Henry Yuk and James Saito in a scene from NAATCO’s revival of Clifford Odets’  “Awake and Sing!” (Photo credit: William P. Steele) 
Sanjit De Silva, Mia Katigbak, Henry Yuk and James Saito in a scene from NAATCO’s revival of Clifford Odets’  “Awake and Sing!” (Photo credit: William P. Steele)

NAATCO, the National Asian American Theatre Company, has been a great healing presence for me because they are committed to revivals of shows with full Asian American casts. Their production of Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing was stunning and heart wrenchingly beautiful.

I never fathomed that I would get to play William Inge. Even when I did the reading, I viewed it as a gift – that I would love and appreciate this day of workshopping and presenting a staged reading for a small audience. And that would be that. But then I got that magical phone call that so rarely happens, “Hey, you remember that reading? We want to slate that show into our season. Are you available?” I workshop so many new plays. I love them and I want to do new plays for the rest of my life. But I am realistic that you don’t often get to do the final production, because it’s out of town or scheduling conflicts. In this instance, I got to do the reading and the production – it’s a gift. And to have the playwright in the room. He really knows and loves these people. The play started for him when he did a residency at William Inge’s house. It was birthed from William Inge’s home in Independence, Kansas.

Juan Francisco Villa and Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How are you conducting your research to portray William Inge?
Daniel: I’d seen the Picnic revival at Roundabout Theatre Company several years ago. I’d maybe read Picnic and Bus Stop in college and that was it. So I had no real knowledge of him. In fact, Inge was a very private person in his personal life. There isn’t as much documentation on him. Our dialect coach, Ron Carlos, found me an Oscar winning speech clip of Inge when he won for Splendor in the Grass. It’s less than 30 seconds because Oscar speeches were much shorter back then. But it’s just enough of his voice. Philip recommended two biographies and one veiled autobiography, My Son Is a Splendid Driver, for me to read. I also set about reading all of his plays that were done on Broadway. He had four successive Broadway hits: Come Back Little Sheba, Picnic, Bus Stop and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. I read all four of them. After that, his Broadway success rate drastically declines and it really devastates him. He does some movies in Hollywood successfully, but only for a spell. I’m reading his short plays now and his other less successful plays, in addition to the biographies and autobiography. It’s an ongoing balance with research and learning all of my lines.

Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How old is Inge in the play?
Daniel: Our play is set in 1944. Inge is 31 and Williams is 33 – but they both lie about their ages for various reasons.

The play is in two acts and takes place over two different evenings- one prior to Glass Menagerie’s premiere in Chicago and one after Glass Menagerie premieres. They both had met in real life – in St. Louis and in Chicago. But there has been some fictional liberties taken about what actually happened in those meetings. Inge was an arts critic at the time and he interviewed Williams. Philip likes to joke that the article that Inge wrote about Williams is so full of errors and falsehoods – that even though Tennessee was always one to mythologize his origin story and the origins of his name and such – to Philip the article is proof that they did very little interviewing and probably much more whatever. The other thing that Philip always brings up is that Williams was notorious for shading everyone he encountered. He had something to say about everyone, and not in a positive light – bitchy, catty, just shade. With Inge, he doesn’t. There is something telling in that. Williams also introduced Inge to his Lit Agent. There is this whole generous side of Tennessee Williams that no one knows about.

Philip brought up this story in rehearsal of when Inge committed suicide, his girlfriend at the time called Williams to ask, “What do I need to get rid of before the authorities come?” There was a deep level of intimacy and closeness even though at that point they weren’t seeing each other regularly. There was a frenemy or competitive edge between them. But there was a level of intimacy that no one knows about. What bravery for that time period. This is pre-“Will and Grace,” “Queer and Folk,” and legalized gay marriage. They were trailblazers in their art but neither Inge nor Williams could survive their time period, which is the tragedy of their actual lives. This plays captures a beginning between the two of them.

Lia: Are there other things that Philip Dawkins draws upon to help inform the two of you?
Daniel: One day during table work Philip said, Williams and Inge were trying to create safe, queer spaces at a time in which there were no safe, queer spaces. The world conspired against them during their time. The fact that they even attempted to make that space for themselves is beautiful and tragic and what makes this story worth telling.

Lia: How does that particular point speak to you and the artist that you are?
Daniel: I went through so much self-hatred and repression and internalized homophobia. I had to come out multiple times before I finally did come out and not fight it as a “sin” or resist or suppress or deny. It’s been an ongoing journey and I think I’ve come a long way in my own personal life. I’ve been able to heal by sharing my own personal story, especially my relationship with my mom and our religious background. But I don’t think I’ve ever been able to explore that on stage. I don’t often play gay characters and it’s a privilege to get to play a historically, albeit closeted, important one. His repression and self-loathing and fear and baggage and depths of depression—I am bringing something very personal to that. Mining my own experience, so to speak. And that is a gift to get to explore in the safe space of the theatre.

Daniel K. Isaac in “Billions”.
Daniel K. Isaac at the Showtime and elit Vodka hosted BILLIONS Season 2 premiere and party, held at Cipriani's in New York City on February 13, 2017. (Facebook)
Daniel K. Isaac at the Showtime and elit Vodka hosted BILLIONS Season 2 premiere and party, held at Cipriani’s in New York City on February 13, 2017. (Facebook)

Lia: Who is Ben Kim in “Billions”?
Daniel: Ben Kim is an analyst at Axe Capital. He starts out in the pilot as a promising and potentially cocky new hire who brags about an education at “Stanford-Wharton.” But he is immediately eclipsed and humbled by Damian Lewis’ brilliant Bobby Axelrod. Over the course of two seasons you see Ben Kim navigating the trials and tribulations of the finance world with increasing neuroses and awkwardness. When I auditioned back in December of 2015, Ben Kim was only in one scene of the pilot. And here we are, three seasons later. It’s been incredible.

Lia: What has your experience been like, working on this show, with this cast and this crew?
Daniel: I was realizing after we wrapped season three that I’d never done 36 of anything! Maybe performances of a play? Maybe. But to do 36 episodes of this show with this cast and crew is truly mind-blowing. I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten to explore a character for this long, while also getting closer to the people I am working with. And I got to quit waiting tables and bartending! It has changed my life. And I have a new family!

Maggie Siff, Daniel K. Isaac and Dan Soder in "Billions."
Maggie Siff, Daniel K. Isaac and Dan Soder in “Billions.”
Maggie Siff and Daniel K. Isaac at the Showtime and elit Vodka hosted BILLIONS Season 2 premiere and party, held at Cipriani's in New York City on February 13, 2017. - Photo: Brian Bedder/SHOWTIME
Maggie Siff and Daniel K. Isaac at the Showtime and elit Vodka hosted BILLIONS Season 2 premiere and party, held at Cipriani’s in New York City on February 13, 2017. – Photo: Brian Bedder/SHOWTIME

Lia: Have you gotten to know the writers?
Daniel: Yes, they’re amazing! They’ll sneak in stuff from my personal life and add it to Ben Kim to enhance the character. I talk about my mom a lot in my own work and they’ve used that for Ben Kim in really hilarious ways. In the first season you learn that Ben Kim’s parents were Korean immigrants who had a convenience store. In episode three of this season Ben Kim has a mini-breakdown about his mom with Wendy, the brilliant performance coach played by Maggie Siff. The baggage of being an immigrant’s child is a very familiar theme in my own life. It is a privilege to get to portray Ben Kim with the personal experience of being a Korean American child of immigrants myself, and with such mature writing behind it. The trap with a character like Ben Kim would have been for him to be one-dimensional or stereotypical. Instead, the writers are so great about fully fleshing out the ensemble. This season we are seeing so many different sides of all these supporting characters that you maybe thought were ancillary, but are actually integral towards what makes the world of “Billions” so rich and vibrant and authentic on both the government and the finance side. It’s been a real joy to work on.

Daniel K. Isaac and Dan Soder.
Daniel K. Isaac and Dan Soder.

Lia: Who are your favorite cast members to work with?
Daniel: Dan Soder, who plays Mafee, is a brilliant standup comedian and we both live in Astoria so we travel to and from set together. I‘ve gone to see his shows in the city and in Philly; and he has a brilliant Netflix special everyone should watch! We also both have single mothers and are only children so I think the bond is strong there. The whole Axe Capital gang gets to shoot together so we’ve gotten really close. I carry a flask around because of Kelly Aucoin (Dollar Bill). I love seeing David Costabile (Wags) and Chris Carfizzi’s (Rudy) baby pictures. Asia Kate Dillon and I had oysters the other week. Zina Wilde (Helena) just made a short film with Kelly and Stephen Kunken (Spyros). And we even cross-pollinated over to the #TeamChuck’s side and had a viewing party at Toby Leonard Moore’s (Connerty) place.

Dan Soder, Ilfenesh Hadera, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Daniel K. Isaac, Kelly AuCoin, Asia Kate Dillon and Malachi Weir (front) at the Showtime and elit Vodka hosted BILLIONS Season 2 premiere and party, held at Cipriani's in New York City on February 13, 2017. - Photo: Dave Kotinsky/SHOWTIME
Dan Soder, Ilfenesh Hadera, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Daniel K. Isaac, Kelly AuCoin, Asia Kate Dillon and Malachi Weir (front) at the Showtime and elit Vodka hosted BILLIONS Season 2 premiere and party, held at Cipriani’s in New York City on February 13, 2017. – Photo: Dave Kotinsky/SHOWTIME

Recently, I had the privilege of attending Condola Rashad’s (Sacker) Opening Night on Broadway in Saint Joan. She is a goddess! She’s so wonderful, so talented, so generous, and so humble and kind. I love seeing theatre. And I love seeing friends in theatre.

I guess it’s hard to pick a favorite! We’ve become a family!

“According To My Mother” update:
I’ve learned to take pain and turn it into art.

The director and writing partner of “According To My Mother,” Cathy Yan, did really well at Sundance with her debut feature film, Dead Pigs, and now she is set to direct the new Harlequin spinoff movie with Margot Robbie! It is so exciting, an Asian American female identifying Hollywood Blockbuster filmmaker. This is huge. We need to have more.
First Look Media has a production company called Topic and they are our biggest supporters. Now we are looking for the right network and the right people who want to present this story.

Other people have been trying to tell our stories for so long. It’s important that we get to tell our stories now, more than ever. Look how successful they have been in recent years, with Black Panther and Moonlight. I’m really excited for Crazy Rich Asians.

The Kevin Kwan connection
Daniel: I used to be a waiter at a steakhouse that Kevin liked to go to. I became friends with him by being his waiter. He offered me his first book to read and of course I devoured it. And then I was a reader for his second book! It was my first time getting to be a reader on a piece of fiction and I love fiction. I read mostly fiction. When he told me about the movie, I was so excited for him. I can’t wait to see it. Kevin has lots of projects in the pipeline. And he was on the 2018 TIME 100 List, and just got honored this past week.

Lia: What next for you?
Daniel: It’s been announced that “Billions” has been renewed for Season 4! Yay! I have some writing deadlines as a playwright so I’ll have a couple readings in June. One I have to finish is for Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre. And I’m currently working on my second full length play, Sex Play. In June we’ll have a public reading of it. More details to come!

Lia: What does it take for you to switch your gears as a multi-hyphenate artist?
Daniel: I will say that I am so thankful for “Billions” because it has allowed me the financial independence to not have to wait tables. I was waiting tables and bartending even between Season 1 and 2, as Season 1 was airing. Finally around Season 2—I had this deal with this steakhouse that I would pick up shifts when I could – I went to try and pick up a shift during the holidays and I could no longer log into the restaurants online database. I realized they had taken me off of their list of servers and bartenders. I thought that was my sign from the universe that you are not going to do this anymore. It was around that time that I dove head first into writing more because I had the privilege of time and resources to get to explore that voice more fully. Now I am a part of Youngblood at EST and Page 73’s Interstate Writers Group, my first two writers groups giving me support and feedback and structure.

It’s not hard for me to switch hats. I believe being a multi-hyphenate artist helps you in whatever artistry you are currently focusing on, because all the other hats help inform it. Your level of empathy for all the other artists in the room is so much deeper. Especially with theater which is such a collaborative art form during rehearsals. For example, with The Gentleman Caller, Juan is a playwright, Tony, our director, is a playwright and the play itself is about two playwrights. We have such deep empathy with their fears of failure and dreams of success and their ambition and torment and and and. And this enhances our story telling in the room.

Lia: Why should people come see The Gentleman Caller?
Daniel: It’s a two-person show. I’ve never been more vulnerable and honest. I’m given the privilege and the vehicle to get to bring these two people to life on a New York stage in an Off-Broadway capacity with the support that isn’t always offered to Others, artists of color, artists that are queer, etc. Anyone who has ever felt like a minority or the underdog, I hope, will see themselves in this show. And isn’t this the type of theatre we want to support so we can see more of it happening? Inclusive, queer, empathetic, radical in love and pain. There are risks being taken by not hiring two white actors to play these roles, these two historically recognizable and still relevant artists. I want that risk to pay off. And it should. I hope the community comes to support it. More than ever. All of that only deepens the storytelling. I want it to be the norm, the standard.

The Gentleman Caller features a scenic design by Sara C. Walsh (Queen of the Night), costume design by Hunter Kaczorowski (The Dork Knight), lighting design by Zach Blane (Too Much, Too Much, Too Many), and sound design and original music by Christian Frederickson (Antigone, Trojan Women).

Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

Daniel K. Isaac (William Inge) is an actor and writer based in New York City. You can currently see him on the small screen as ‘Ben Kim’ in Showtime’s “Billions.” Select NYC: Sagittarius Ponderosa (NAATCO), Underland (59E59), La Divina Caricatura (La MaMa, Under the Radar & St. Ann’s Warehouse), Anna Nicole the Opera (BAM). Select Regional: The Ballad of Little Jo (Two River Theater), Miss Electricity (La Jolla Playhouse). Film/TV: MONEY MONSTER (dir. Jodie Foster), “The Jim Gaffigan Show” (TV LAND), “Search Party” (TBS), “Crashing” (HBO), “The Following” (FOX), “Person of Interest” (CBS), “Believe” (NBC, pilot), TOO BIG TO FAIL (HBO), and “According To My Mother” (NYTVF Best Drama & Best Actor, Inaugural Sundance New Voices Lab, www.AccordingToMyMother.com). Daniel is a member of Page 73’s 2018 Interstate 73 Writers Group, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood, and a Lambda Literary Playwriting Fellow. Training: UCSD, BADA. www.DanielKIsaac.com

Daniel K. Isaac Talks “Billions” and “According to My Mother” 

Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa Star in Abingdon Theatre Co.’s New York Premiere of Philip Dawkins’ THE GENTLEMAN CALLER at Cherry Lane, May 5 -26 

Jon Norman Schneider, Jiehae Park, Keelay Gipson, Julian Leong, Diana Oh, David Shih and Teal Wicks in Daniel K. Isaac’s OR OR OR &&& at The Actors Fund Arts Center 

David Henry Hwang Presents 2017 Kesselring Prize to Lauren Yee at National Arts Club 

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: © 2000-2018 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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