“Man in The High Castle” Star Joel de la Fuente Set for Benefit Performances of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS at Cultch Historic Theatre in Vancouver, October 18 – November 2

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

The Umami Fund (Daniel Blinkoff and Tamlyn Tomita) is presenting the international/Canadian debut of Jeanne Sakata’s award-winning play, Hold These Truths at the Cultch Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street in Vancouver from Friday, October 18 – Saturday, November 2. Opening night is Sunday, October 20 at 8:00 pm.


Joel de la Fuente (Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle”) will reprise his Drama Desk-nominated turn in this solo play inspired by the life of Gordon Hirabayashi, in which he seamlessly portrays more than thirty characters under the direction of Lisa Rothe (Irish Repertory Theatre’s Wild Abandon).

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

Unsung American hero Gordon Hirabayashi fights passionately for the Constitution against an unexpected adversary: his own country. During World War II, he defies the US government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry, launching a 50-year journey from college to courtroom and eventually to a Presidential Medal of Freedom. A story filled with hope, this play will leave you cheering for a man who stood up for the true meaning of patriotism.

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

The design team includes Cat Tate Starmer (lights), Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams (sets), Daniel Kluger (sound) and Margaret Weedon (costumes), with stage manager Mary K. Botosan.

Mary K. Botosan, Jeanne Sakata, Lisa Rothe, Cat Tate Starmer and Mikiko Suzuki Adams. Photo by Lia Chang
Mary K. Botosan, Jeanne Sakata, Lisa Rothe, Cat Tate Starmer and Mikiko Suzuki Adams. Photo by Lia Chang

Performance schedule and ticket information:
For preview performances on Friday, October 18 @ 8pm and Sunday, October 20 @ 2pm, tickets are $25.

Beginning with the opening night performance on Sunday October 20 @ 8pm, general admission tickets are $50, seniors/students are $25. The remaining performance schedule isTuesday, October 22 – Friday, October 25 @ 8pm; Saturday, October 26 and Sunday October 27 @ 2pm and 8 pm; Tuesday, October 29 – Friday, November 11 @ 8pm; Saturday, November 2 @ 2pm and 8pm. For tickets and more information, click here.

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

Proceeds of the performances of Hold These Truths will be donated to three Vancouver organizations: the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, the University of British Columbia Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies, and the Kokoro Dance Theatre Society.

Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel de la Fuente (Gordon Hirabayashi) received a Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Principal Performance for the run of Hold These Truths at Theatreworks SV and garnered a Drama Desk Nomination in New York City for Outstanding Solo Performance when it debuted in 2012. On television, Joel plays Chief Inspector Kido on “The Man in the High Castle,” one of Amazon Studios’ most watched original series. He also portrays Dr. Johann Pryce on Netflix’s second original series, “Hemlock Grove,” and can be seen in perpetual reruns on “Law & Order: SVU,” where he played TARU Tech Ruben Morales for 10 seasons. Currently, he appears as President Datu Andrada on “Madam Secretary” for CBS. Joel has performed in theaters all over the world, as both an avid classical theater actor and as a developer of new work. He is an alumnus of Brown University and the Graduate Acting Program at NYU.

Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Actress and playwright Jeanne Sakata, whose talents span across TV, film, voiceover and stage, recently received the East West Players Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement and Raising the Visibility of the API Community. This summer, Ms. Sakata appeared in the Off Broadway premiere of the brilliant new comedy Do You Feel Anger? at the Vineyard Theatre in New York. She is familiar to TV audiences in the recurring roles of genius scientist Lenore Shimamoto/Mayor Saito on the animated TV series “Big Hero 6,” based on the Disney smash hit movie, and can currently be seen in three national commercials. Jeanne’s nationally acclaimed solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Principal Performance and Direction) has had over twenty productions across the country, and will be produced in the 2019-20 season at Barrington Stage, San Diego Rep, and People’s Light, after sold-out and extended runs last year at Arena Stage and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Since April 2019, Hold These Truths became available internationally as a special audio recording, produced by L.A. Theatre Works. The play has also been produced in recent years at Pasadena Playhouse, ACT Seattle, Portland Center Stage, Guthrie Theater, PlayMakers’ Rep, Perseverance Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (Daniel Dae Kim, co-producer), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising, Coachella Valley Rep, Plays and Players, and New Century Theatre. Premiering with the East West Players in Los Angeles, and then Off Broadway with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, the play was workshopped by the Lark Play Development Center and the New York Theatre Workshop. Hold These Truths is now published by Ageloff Books and available on Amazon, and it is on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011. Special honors: LA Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Chay Yew’s Red, East West Players; Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre. For more information on Hold These Truths, click on www.holdthesetruths.info.

Jeanne Sakata, Joel de la Fuente, Tamlyn Tomita. Photo by Lia Chang

Barrington Stage Presents Return Engagement Of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Joel de la Fuente, September 20 – 26 

East West Players to Honor Jeanne Sakata and Aaron Takahashi at EWP NIGHT MARKET on September 14 

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman 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

Mark Linn-Baker, Mark Blum, Jill Eikenberry, John Glover, Jodi Long, and Ellen Parker Open in New York Premiere of Michael Tucker’s FERN HILL at 59E59 Theaters on September 19

59E59 Theaters is presenting the NYC premiere of FERN HILL, written by Michael Tucker and directed by Nadia Tass. Produced by Mary J. Davis and MBL Productions, Inc., FERN HILL began preview performances on Tuesday, September 10 for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 20. Press Opening is Thursday, September 19 at 7 PM. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Friday at 7 PM; Saturday at 2 PM & 7 PM; and Sunday at 2 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison). Single tickets are $25 – $70 ($49 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call the 59E59 Box Office at 646-892-7999 or visit www.59e59.org. The running time is 120 minutes, including intermission.

Three couples in their golden years, thick as thieves, are gathered at Sunny and Jer’s farmhouse to celebrate milestone birthdays that span three decades. The foundation of their long friendship is honesty and support-as well as a commitment to the enjoyment of food, wine, and laughter. They’re so close that Sunny suggests that they all move in together-to live and work and assist one another as they grow older.

Their companionship is put to the test, however, when a marital betrayal is discovered. The bonds of loyalty and truth are explored in this mature comedy.

The cast features a noteworthy company of Broadway and NYC stage veterans, including Mark Linn-Baker, Mark Blum, Jill Eikenberry, John Glover, Jodi Long, and Ellen Parker. Philip Hoffman and Pilar Witherspoon are the understudies.

The design team includes Jessica Parks (scenic design); Kate McGee (lighting design); Patricia Doherty (costume design); Kenneth Goodwin (sound design); and Addison Heeren (prop master). The Production Stage Manager is Stephanie Clark.

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering Talk Diversity and Inclusion with THE LAST 5 YEARS

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering (MY REAL MOTHER, ON THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD) recently held a private industry screening of their short film featuring five songs from Jason Robert Brown’s Drama Desk Award-winning musical, The Last 5 Years at Prime Produce in New York.

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

The Last Five Years is an emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The show’s unconventional structure consists of Cathy, the woman, telling her story backwards while Jamie, the man, tells his story chronologically; the two characters only meet once, at their wedding in the middle of the show.

Garth Kravits, Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

With Ms. Mahendra as Cathy and Mr. Schuering as Jamie, the pair chose the source material featuring two performers of color on screen as a collaborative effort to contribute towards the evolving conversation about representation, inclusion, and diversity.

Director Billy Bustamante, Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Billy Bustamante, The Last Five Years features cinematography and editing by Garth Kravits and music direction by  Steven Cuevas (violin, piano), Brandon Ilaw (guitar) and Jonathan Cuevas (cello).

Steven Cuevas, Director Billy Bustamante, Priya Mahendra, Kevin Schuering, Gath Kravits, Jonathan Cuevas and Brandon Ilaw. Photo by Lia Chang
Steven Cuevas, Director Billy Bustamante, Priya Mahendra, Kevin Schuering, Gath Kravits, Jonathan Cuevas and Brandon Ilaw. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How did you choose to collaborate?
Priya: I initially had this idea as I was examining roles and stories that I deeply connected to, but had not had the chance to explore yet. I knew I wanted to tell this story, and asked Kevin to collaborate with me and bring this idea to life. The project evolved as the team came together.

Priya Mahendra and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Why did you choose The Last 5 Years?
Kevin: The Last 5 Years embodies the rollercoaster of life and runs the spectrum of human emotion and experience. What better way to explore those themes with a different lens and see what possibilities exist.
Priya: It’s a very unique story which delves so deeply into two people as individuals and as a couple, but at the same time is so universally relatable. It has a very special way of portraying what many people have gone through but are unable to voice. I am also fascinated with the different colors and shades of love.

Lia: What speaks to you about the project?
Kevin: You hear it all the time but representation matters. And maybe seeing two POC actors telling a version of this story, people will start to see that we are all a lot more alike. And start to see the common ground we all share.
Priya: The amount of passion and wholeheartedness that everyone on the team has for this project. And how collaborative and fulfilling this process has been every step of the way. You can really make magic when you have a team full of people who are possibility and intention driven.

Lia: What are you interested in doing with this going forward?
Kevin: I’m interested in releasing this in the world with the intention of inspiring people. The hopes are that people walk away from this wanting to create something of their own or start to explore what stories look like with unconventional lenses.
Priya: My goal as an artist is to contribute towards inclusive and diverse storytelling, especially in the way existing stories are told and portrayed. I believe that by bringing the lens of possibility and humanity to the forefront, theater has the power to create a space and place where everyone feels like they belong. My hope is that this project inspires people to seek to be seen, heard, and known for who they are.

Garth Kravits, Avelina Sanchez, Steven Cuevas and Anna Noble. Photo by Lia Chang

The Prime Produce Apprentice Cooperative operates 424 w 54 Street as a legally incorporated and wholeheartedly organized co-op supporting entrepreneurs, educators, and artists who share values of service and hospitality. Here, we work to design experiences, build companies and organizations, practice our crafts, cultivate relationships, and grow as people. Click here for more information.

Sitting: Daniel Johnson, Q Lim and Brian Kim. Standing Billy Bustamante, Garth Kravits, Viet Vo, Kevin Schuering, Jason Ma and Eric Elizaga. Photo by Lia Chang
Brian Kim, Daniel Johnson and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante and Peyton Royal. Photo by Lia Chang
Chad Coudriet, Joanne Javien Coudriet and a guest. Photo by Lia Chang
Christopher Cuevas, Christina Cuevas, Steven Cuevas, Andrei Strizek, Jonathan Cuevas. Photo by Lia Chang
Christopher Cuevas, Christina Cuevas, Steven Cuevas, Jonathan Cuevas Photo by Lia Chang
Steven Cuevas, Andrei Strizek. Photo by Lia Chang
Maria Briggs and Q Lim. Photo by Lia Chang
Jermaine Brown, Jr., Anna Noble and Ian Coulter Buford. Photo by Lia Chang
Joanne Javien Coudriet and Kevin Schuering.Photo by Lia Chang
Maria Briggs, Kevin Schuering, Chad Coudriet and Joanne Javien Coudriet. Photo by Lia Chang
Maria Briggs and Kevin Schuering. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma, Q Lim and Daniel Johnson. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Steven Cuevas, Jonathan Cuevas and a guest. Photo by Lia Chang
Ian Coulter Buford, Maria Briggs, Kenny Tran, Kevin Schuering, Jermain Brown Jr., Jessica McGrew. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Garth Kravits and Lia Chang. Photo by Kevin Schuering
Anna Noble, Lainie Sakakura, Avelina Sanchez and Jason Ma. Photo by Lia Chang
Lainie Sakakura, Avelina Sanchez and Lia Chang. Photo by Jason Ma
Billy Bustamante, Garth Kravits, Viet Vo, Jason Ma and Eric Elizaga. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel Johnson, Viet Vo, Brian Kim and Eric Elizaga. Photo by Lia Chang
Peyton Royal, Chad Coudriet, Joanne Javien Coudriet, Viet Vo and Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang
Yuko Kudo, Kevin Schuering, Priya Mahendra and Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Screening of THE LAST FIVE YEARS at Prime Produce in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by 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.

MOCA Headliner Series presents Scott “Chops” Jung of Mountain Brothers on September 17

MOCA and $6.99 Per Pound Podcast are presenting their first live recording featuring Asian American Hip Hop pioneer, Scott “Chops” Jung at 215 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013 (b/w Howard & Grand Sts; one block north of Canal St) on Tuesday, September 17 at 6:30 P.M. Tickets are $20 and include Museum admission. Members $10. Not a Member? Join today!

 Hosts Jaeki Cho and Joann Park will sit down with Chops to discuss how his group, Mountain Brothers, became the first ever Asian American Hip Hop group signed to a major label in the 1990s and how Hip Hop has evolved over the years. They will also highlight his work with artists (Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Raekwon, Talib Kweli), brands (Nike, Coca Cola, X Games), and TV shows/Films (“Warrior,” “Wu Assassins,” “Empire,” “Grey’s Anatomy”).

The conversation will be followed up by a listening party featuring exclusive music from Chops’ latest Chinese Hip Hop album D.REAMS C.OME T.RU with Founder of Iron Mic Freestyles in China, Dana “Showtyme” Burton. Along with a special live set from legendary beat juggler DJ Roli Rho.

Cash bar. Free $6.99 Per Pound Podcast inspired drinks will be provided by Suntory Haku Vodka while supplies last.

$6.99 Per Pound is a bi-weekly podcast featuring interviews with leaders and professionals from a wide variety of fields. Paying homage to Korean-owned hot food delis in New York City, the inquisitive duo Joann Park and Jaeki Cho treat listeners to a buffet of HOT takes on career, culture and community.
@699perpound
info@699perpound.com

Scott “Chops” Jung is a music maker whose multi-instrument style helped his group Mountain Brothers become the first Asian American rap group signed to a major label. He’s since worked with many of rap’s biggest and most respected artists (Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Raekwon, Talib Kweli, E-40, Ice Cube, Snoop). His Strength in NUMBERS album featured over 30 talented Asian American rappers and singers. Chops’ music is heard in ads (Nike, Coca Cola, X Games), TV shows (“Arrow,” “Empire,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House of Lies,” “Breaking Bad,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Parks & Recreation,” “The Night Of,” “iZombie,” “Pitch,” “Lucifer”), and movies (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Brown Sugar, House of Wax, Hurricane Season, Face, Ping Pong Playa). He credits the sports documentary 9-Man for reigniting his love of writing music to picture; scoring credits include the feature documentaries Breathin’: The Eddy Zheng Story, Good Luck Soup, & And Then They Came for Us.
https://chopsmusic.tumblr.com/
@chopsmusic

DJ Roli Rho is one of the founding members of the world renowned NYC turntablist crew 5th Platoon alongside other greats such as Daddy Dog, Neil Armstrong, Do Boy, Kuttin Kandi, Vin Roc, and I-Emerge. Roli quickly climbed the ranks of the battle scene and became one of the fiercest beat Jugglers of his time. It is this honed skill which brought him titles such as New York’s Zulu Champion (1995), the Rhythm Method Champion (1995), 105.9 (NYC) Champion (1995), the ITF East Coast Beat Juggling Champion (1998), a 2 time Vibe World Dominance Champion (98 & 99), and the DMC East Coast Champion (1999). He went on to teach the skills of the art form and shared his knowledge of the culture to students at Jam Master Jay of (RUN DMC) Scratch Dj Academy NYC. These days Roli can be found in his hometown of New York where he has been working on community projects such as Openfaders and Tableturns.
rolirho.com
mixcloud/djrolirho
@djrolirho



Rehearsal Photos: David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at The Public Theater; Previews Begin September 24

The Public Theater presents Soft Power, with play and lyrics by Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang, music and additional lyrics by Tony Award winner Jeanine Tesori, choreography by Tony nominee Sam Pinkleton, and is directed by Tony nominee Leigh Silverman.

Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo by Jenny Anderson

Soft Power begins with a Joseph Papp Free Preview performance on Tuesday, September 24 in The Public’s Newman Theater and will run through Sunday, November 10. Opening night is set for October 15.

Sam Pinkleton, David Henry Hwang, Jeanine Tesori, and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Jenny Anderson

The complete cast of Soft Power includes Billy Bustamante (Xue Xing Standby), Jon Hoche (Tony Manero/Chief Justice/Ensemble), Kendyl Ito (Jing/Ensemble), Francis Jue (DHH), Austin Ku (Bobby Bob/Ju Ming), Raymond J. Lee (Randy Ray/VEEP/Ensemble), Alyse Alan Louis (Zoe/Hillary), Jaygee Macapugay (Campaign Manager/Ensemble), Daniel May (Ensemble), Paul HeeSang Miller (Ensemble), Kristen Faith Oei (Ensemble), Geena Quintos (Ensemble), Conrad Ricamora (Xue Xing), Trevor Salter (Ensemble), Kyra Smith (Ensemble), Emily Stillings (Swing), Emily Trumble (Zoe/Hillary Standby), and John Yi (Swing).

Alyse Alan Louis, Conrad Ricamora, Kyra Smith, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May, Francis Jue, Jaygee Macapugay, Austin Ku, Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Jenny Anderson

Soft Power features orchestrations by Danny Troob; music direction and supervision by Chris Fenwick; dance arrangements by John Clancy; scenic design by Clint Ramos; costume design by Anita Yavich; lighting design by Mark Barton; sound design by Kai Harada; sound effects design by Bart Fassbender; video design by Bryce Cutler; hair, wig, and makeup design by Tom Watson; special effects by Lillis Meeh; music contracting by Antoine Silverman; and additional orchestrations by Larry Hochman and John Clancy.

Jon Hoche, Kendyl Ito, Kyra Smith, Daniel May, Francis Jue, Kristen Faith Oei, Trevor Salter, Raymond J. Lee, Alyse Alan Louis, Jaygee Macapugay, Austin Ku and Geena Quintos. Photo by Jenny Anderson

Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori bring their groundbreaking new musical-within-a-play to The Public for its New York premiere. One of the most exciting theatrical collaborations in recent memory, Soft Power is an exploration of America’s current place in the world, told through an East-West musical from China’s point of view, in which a theater producer from Shanghai forges a powerful bond with Hillary Clinton. Soft Power is a fever dream of modern American politics amidst global conversations, asking us all-why do we love democracy? And should we?

Geena Quintos, Trevor Salter, Raymond J. Lee, and Jaygee Macapugay. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Choreographer Sam Pinkleton, Kyra Smith, Austin Ku, Geena Quintos, Alyse Alan Louis, Trevor Salter and Raymond J. Lee. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Daniel Irving Rattner, David Henry Hwang, and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Leigh Silverman, Geena Quintos, Kendyl Ito, Alyse Alan Louis, Trevor Salter, Conrad Ricamora and Daniel May. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Jon Hoche and Conrad Ricamora. Photo by Jenny Anderson

The Public Extends David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER through November 10 

KING KONG’s Jon Hoche Joins David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at The Public, September 24 – November 3

Award-winning Broadway Vet Francis Jue Talks about SOFT POWER, KING OF THE YEES, WILD GOOSE DREAMS, “Madam Secretary” and Getting Married

Chatting with Raymond J. Lee about SOFT POWER, GROUNDHOG DAY

James Seol, Glenn Obrero, Keith Kupferer and Deanna Myers in Steppenwolf’s THE GREAT LEAP by Lauren Yee through October 20

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 2019/20 season kicks off with a Chicago premiere by Lauren Yee, directed by Jesca Prudencio. Set in 1989, The Great Leap tells the story of Manford Lum, a local star of the sidewalk basketball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown who strongarms his way onto an American college team travelling to Beijing for a “friendship” game. Set amidst the friction of the post-Cultural Revolution era, The Great Leap keeps tensions high right up to the final buzzer.

James Seol and Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol and Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow

The cast features Glenn Obrero (Manford), Deanna Myers (Connie), Keith Kupferer (Saul) and James Seol (Wen Chang).

James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow

The design team includes Scenic Design by Justin Humphres, Costume Design by Jenny Mannis, Lighting Design by Keith Parham, Sound Design & Original Music by Pornchanok (Nok) Kanchanabanca, Projection Design by Rasean Davonte Johnson, Company Voice & Text Coaching by Gigi Buffington, with Production Stage Manager Christine D. Freeburg and Assistant Stage Manager Kathleen Barrett.

Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Previews are now playing, (opening is Monday, September 16) and the show runs through October 20, 2019 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Press performances are Sunday, September 15 at 3pm and Wednesday, September 18 at 7:30pm. Single tickets ($20 – $89) are on sale now through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Classic and Flex Memberships are currently available for the 2019/20 Season. To purchase a Membership and secure the best seats at the lowest prices, contact Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org/memberships.

Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow

When an American basketball team travels to Beijing amidst tensions in the late 80s, past relationships collide with present day revelations. Witty and weighty, this Chicago premiere explores cultural barriers, political risks and personal sacrifice. Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap is sure to be compelling to basketball fans, history buffs and everyone who has ever had a dream.

James Seol, Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol, Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Keith Kupferer. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero and Deanna Myers. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
Glenn Obrero. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow
James Seol. Photo: Michael Brosilow

The Public Extends David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER through November 10

Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, Francis Jue, Leigh Silverman, David Henry Hwang, Conrad Ricamora, Alyse Alan Louis. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Due to popular demand, The Public Theater is extending the New York premiere of Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang (Book and Lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori’s (Music and Additional Lyrics) SOFT POWER, a co-commission and co-production with Center Theatre Group, by one week through November 10.  Preview performances begin on September 24, with an opening night set for October 15.

Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, Francis Jue, Leigh Silverman, David Henry Hwang, Conrad Ricamora, Alyse Alan Louis. Photo by Lia Chang
Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, Francis Jue, Leigh Silverman, David Henry Hwang, Conrad Ricamora, Alyse Alan Louis. Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Tony nominee Leigh Silverman (Violet, Yellow Face, Wild Goose Dreams) and featuring choreography by Tony nominee Sam Pinkleton (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), the cast features Billy Bustamante (Xue Xing Standby), Jon Hoche (Tony Manero/Chief Justice/Ensemble),  Kendyl Ito (Jing/Ensemble), Francis Jue (DHH), Austin Ku (Bobby Bob), Raymond J. Lee (Randy Ray/VEEP/Ensemble), Alyse Alan Louis (Zoe/Hillary), Jaygee Macapugay (Campaign Manager/Ensemble), Daniel May (Ensemble), Paul HeeSang Miller (Ensemble), Kristen Faith Oei (Ensemble), Geena Quintos (Ensemble), Conrad Ricamora (Xue Xing), Trevor Salter (Ensemble), Kyra Smith (Ensemble), Emily Stillings (Female Swing), Emily Trumble (Zoe/Hillary Understudy), and John Yi (Male Swing).

Hwang and Tesori’s groundbreaking new musical-within-a-play, SOFT POWER, one of the most exciting theatrical collaborations in recent memory, is an exploration of America’s current place in the world, told through an East-West musical from China’s point of view, in which a theater producer from Shanghai forges a powerful bond with Hillary Clinton. SOFT POWER is a fever dream of modern American politics amidst global conversations, asking us all-why do we love democracy? And should we?

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
Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Tickets start at $95 and can be purchased online at www.publictheater.org, by phone 212-967-7555 and in person at the Taub Box Office, located at 425 Lafayette Street.

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
Conrad Ricamora and Alyse Alan Louis. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
L-R: Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Austin Ku, Kendyl Ito and Jon Hoche in the world premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s “Soft Power” at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre. Photo by Craig Schwartz
L-R: Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee (obscured), Austin Ku, Daniel May, Geena Quintos, Jon Hoche, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Billy Bustamante (obscured), Maria-Christina Oliveras and Kendyl Ito. Photo by Craig Schwartz

KING KONG’s Jon Hoche Joins David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at The Public, September 24 – November 3

Award-winning Broadway Vet Francis Jue Talks about SOFT POWER, KING OF THE YEES, WILD GOOSE DREAMS, “Madam Secretary” and Getting Married

Chatting with Raymond J. Lee about SOFT POWER, GROUNDHOG DAY

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by 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

Barrington Stage Presents Return Engagement Of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Joel de la Fuente, September 20 – 26

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

Barrington Stage Company (BSC), the award-winning theatre in the Berkshires under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, presents by popular demand, an encore engagement of Hold These Truths by Jeanne Sakata.

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 stars Joel de la Fuente (Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle”) reprising his Drama Desk-nominated role in this solo play inspired by the life of Gordon Hirabayashi.

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

Directed by Lisa Rothe (Irish Repertory Theatre’s Wild Abandon), Hold These Truths will have eight performances September 20-26 at the St. Germain Stage at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center (36 Linden Street).

Unsung American hero Gordon Hirabayashi fights passionately for the Constitution against an unexpected adversary: his own country. During World War II, he defies the US government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry, launching a 50-year journey from college to courtroom and eventually to a Presidential Medal of Freedom. A story filled with hope, this play will leave you cheering for a man who stood up for the true meaning of patriotism.

Hold These Truths has scenic design by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, costume design by Margaret E. Weedon, lighting design by Cat Tate Starmer, sound design by Daniel Kluger. Production Stage Manager: Mary K. Botosan.

Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel de la Fuente (Gordon Hirabayashi) made his debut for Barrington Stage Company in Hold These Truths. Most recently, the play was awarded three Theatre Bay Area Awards for its run in San Francisco, including Outstanding Principal Performance, as well as garnering a Drama Desk Nomination in New York City for Outstanding Solo Performance when it debuted in 2012. On television, Joel plays Chief Inspector Kido on “The Man in the High Castle,” one of Amazon Studios’ most watched original series. He also portrays Dr. Johann Pryce on Netflix’s second original series, “Hemlock Grove,” and can be seen in perpetual reruns on “Law & Order: SVU,” where he played TARU Tech Ruben Morales for 10 seasons. Currently, he appears as President Datu Andrada on “Madam Secretary” for CBS. Joel has performed in theaters all over the world, as both an avid classical theater actor and as a developer of new work. He is an alumnus of Brown University and the Graduate Acting Program at NYU.

Hold These Truths is sponsored in part by Carol and Alfred Maynard & Dick Ziter and Eric Reimer.

Performances: Friday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 21 at 3:00 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, September 22 at 3:00 p.m.; Tuesday, September 24 and Wednesday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, September 26 at 3:00 and 7:30 p.m. at the St. Germain Stage at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center (36 Linden Street). Tickets: $53 matinees and $58 evenings. Barrington Stage Box Office: 413-236-8888 or online at www.barringtonstageco.org.

Actor and Playwright Jeanne Sakata on the set of HOLD THESE TRUTHS. Photo by Lia Chang

Actress and playwright Jeanne Sakata, whose talents span across TV, film, voiceover and stage, is currently delighting New York audiences as struggling but spunky “Mom” in the Off Broadway premiere of the brilliant new comedy Do You Feel Anger? at the Vineyard Theatre, as well as TV audiences in the recurring roles of genius scientist Lenore Shimamoto/Mayor Saito on the animated TV series “Big Hero 6,” based on the Disney smash hit movie, and three national commercials. Jeanne’s nationally acclaimed solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Principal Performance and Direction) has had over twenty productions across the country, and will be produced in the 2019-20 season at Barrington Stage, San Diego Rep, and People’s Light and Cultch Historic Theatre, after sold-out and extended runs last year at Arena Stage and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Since April 2019, Hold These Truths became available internationally as a special audio recording, produced by L.A. Theatre Works. The play has also been produced in recent years at Pasadena Playhouse, ACT Seattle, Portland Center Stage, Guthrie Theater, PlayMakers’ Rep, Perseverance Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (Daniel Dae Kim, co-producer), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising, Coachella Valley Rep, Plays and Players, and New Century Theatre. Premiering with the East West Players in Los Angeles, and then Off Broadway with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, the play was workshopped by the Lark Play Development Center and the New York Theatre Workshop. Hold These Truths is now published by Ageloff Books and available on Amazon, and it is on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011. https://www.holdthesetruths.info

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman 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

Inside Ma-Yi’s Opening Night Party of FELIX STARRO with Jessica Hagedorn, Ching Valdes-Aran, Alan Ariano and More

Ma-Yi Theater Company’s world premiere of Felix Starro, a new musical by Jessica Hagedorn and Fabian Obispo, opened at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd St.) on September 1. Scroll down for photos of the opening night party at The Brazen Tavern.

Composer Fabian Obispo, Playwright Jessica Hagedorn. Photo by Lia Chang

Based on a powerful short story by acclaimed Filipino American writer Lysley Tenorio, who was in the house for opening night, Felix Starro marks the first-time-ever a musical created by Filipino Americans is being presented Off-Broadway.

Composer Fabian Obispo, Playwright Jessica Hagedorn, Author Lysley Tenorio, who wrote the short story the musical is based on. Photo by Lia Chang

Directed by Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña (The Chinese Lady, Among The Dead) and choreographed by Brandon Bieber (FX’s “Fosse/Verdon”), Felix Starro also marks the long overdue return to New York stages of novelist and playwright Hagedorn whose critically-acclaimed Dogeaters (The Public Theater, 2001) was called “imaginative and fluidly impressionistic” (New York Times). Felix Starro began previews on August 23 and performances will continue through September 15.

Alan Ariano, Choreographer Brandon Bieber, Ching Valdes-Aran. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast for Felix Starro includes Alan Ariano (King and I, Miss Saigon) as Felix Starro, Caitlin Cisco (Hundred We Are) as Crystal, Francisca Muñoz as Mrs. Delgado, Ryan James Ortega as Bobby/Ramon, Diane Phelan (School of Rock) as Charma, Nacho Tambunting (NBC’s “Rise”) as Junior, and Obie and Lortel award-winner Ching Valdes-Aran as Flora.

Diane Phelan, Ching Valdes-Aran, Alan Ariano, Nacho Tambunting, Francisca Muñoz, Ryan James Ortega, Caitlin Cisco. Photo by Lia Chang

In Felix Starro, protagonist Felix is a famous faith healer in the Philippines, whose clients once included celebrities and big politicians. After falling on hard times, Felix decides to go to San Francisco for one last healing mission with ailing Filipinos in the Bay Area. Junior, Felix Starro‘s nineteen-year-old, orphan grandson, goes along as his assistant. Unbeknownst to Felix, Junior has plans of his own.

Nacho Tambunting, Francisca Muñoz, Ching Valdes-Aran, Caitlin Cisco, Diane Phelan, Ryan James Ortega, Alan Ariano. Photo by Lia Chang

Felix Starro explores issues of faith, family, love, loss, betrayal, and what it means to be an undocumented immigrant in America.

Lysley Tenorio, Ching Valdes-Aran. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team also includes Obie award-winner Marsha Ginsberg (scenic design), Becky Bodurtha (costume design), Oliver Wason (lighting design), Julian Evans (sound design), Paulo K Tiról (orchestrations), Ian Miller (musical director), Cristina Sison (production stage manager), and Jorge Z. Ortoll (executive producer)

Director Ralph B. Pena, Musical Director Ian Miller, Alan Ariano, Ching Valdes-Aran, Orchestrator Paulo K. Tirol. Photo by Lia Chang

Tickets, priced at $52-$102, can be purchased by visiting ma-yitheatre.org or by calling Telecharge at 212-239-6200.

Jessica Hagedorn and Ching Valdes-Aran. Photo by Lia Chang
Caitlin Cisco, Francisca Muñoz, Alan Ariano, Nacho Tambunting, Diane Phelan, Ryan James Ortega. Photo by Lia Chang
Nacho Tambunting, Ryan James Ortega, Caitlin Cisco. Photo by Lia Chang
Ching Valdes-Aran, Diane Phelan, Alan Ariano, Francisca Muñoz. Photo by Lia Chang
Musical Director Ian Miller and Orchestrator Paulo K. Tirol. Photo by Lia Chang
Han Ong, Esther Woo, Jessica Hagedorn, Ching Valdes-Aran and Paloma Woo. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang and Jessica Hagedorn. Photo by Garth Kravits
Composer Fabian Obispo, Playwright Jessica Hagedorn, Author Lysley Tenorio, who wrote the short story the musical is based on. Photo by Lia Chang
Tazewell Thompson, Jorge Z. Ortoll, Ralph B. Pena, Fabian Obispo. Photo by Lia Chang
Jessica Hagedorn with her daughters Esther and Paloma. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Alan Ariano. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Valdes, Nicole Ponseca, Jake Poulos. Photo by Lia Chang
Mirirai Sithole, Caitlin Cisco and Lauren N. Chou. Photo by Lia Chang
Brian Kim, Caitlin Burke, Joan Almedilla, Alan Ariano, Diane Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel Le, Diane Phelan, Cheeyang Ng. Photo by Lia Chang
Shannon Tyo and Anastacia McCleskey. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Valdes, Ching Valdes-Aran. Photo by Lia Chang
Alan Ariano, Joan Almedilla. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Valdes, Ralph Pena, Alfredo Narciso. Photo by Lia Chang
Jessica Hagedorn, Ian Miller, Caitlin Cisco, Ryan James Ortega. Photo by Lia Chang
Associate Producer Sarah Hanlon and Production Stage Manager Cristina Sison. Photo by Lia Chang
Melanie Joseph, Ching Valdes-Aran and Morgan Jenness. Photo by Lia Chang
Melanie Joseph, Fabian Obispo, Ching Valdes-Aran and Morgan Jenness. Photo by Lia Chang
Ching Valdes-Aran and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Ching Valdes-Aran, Jorge Ortoll, Francisca Muñoz. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang, Mirirai Sithole, Diane Phelan and Brian Kim. Photo by Garth Kravits
Alan Ariano and Francisca Muñoz. Photo by Lia Chang
Eli Zoller and Alan Ariano. Photo by Lia Chang
Assistant Stage Manager Samantha McCann and Ching Valdes-Aran. Photo by Lia Chang
Han Ong, Ching Valdes-Aran, Dax Valdes, Jake Poulos. Photo by Lia Chang
Fabian Obispo and Ching Valdes-Aran. Photo by Lia Chang
Diane Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Alan Ariano, Diane Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Mirirai Sithole, Diane Phelan and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Alan Ariano and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Diane Phelan, Alan Ariano and Francisca Muñoz. Photo by Garth Kravits
Alan Ariano, Orchestrator Paulo K. Tirol and Diane Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Richard Le, Diane Phelan, Cheeyang Ng, Brian Kim. Photo by Lia Chang
Nacho Tambunting and Jorge Z. Ortoll. Photo by Lia Chang
Jake Poulos, Suzette Porte and Dax Valdes. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Valdes, Alan Ariano, Diane Phelan and Caitlin Burke. Photo by Lia Chang
Rogier de Boer and Diane Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Anastacia McCleskey, Shannon two and Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits and Diane Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Richard Le, Ralph B. Pena, Diane Phelan and Rogier de Boer. Photo by Lia Chang
Orchestrator Paulo K. Tirol and Ching Valdes-Aran. Photo by Lia Chang
Ching Valdes-Aran and Alan Ariano. Photo by Lia Chang
Caitlin Cisco, Ching Valdes-Aran, Ryan James Ortega and Diane Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Ching Valdes-Aran and Diane Phelan. Photo by Garth Kravits
Brian Kim, Lia Chang, Ching Valdes-Aran and Diane Phelan. Photo by Garth Kravits

BroadwayWorld: Photo Flash: Jessica Hagedorn, Ching Valdes-Aran, Alan Ariano And More Celebrate FELIX STARRO Opening Night

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman 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

George Salazar, MJ Rodriguez, Amber Riley, Kevin Chamberlin, Matthew Wilkas, T.V. Carpio, Tickwanya Jones, Cheyenne Isabel Wells and More Set for Pasadena Playhouse’s Production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, September 17 – 20 

George Salazar, BE MORE CHILL. Photo by Lia Chang

Pasadena Playhouse, the State Theater of California, is presenting Little Shop of Horrors from September 17 through October 20; the press opening is September 25.

The production stars the previously announced George Salazar as “Seymour Krelborn;” MJ Rodriguez as “Audrey;” and Amber Riley as “Audrey ll.” They will be joined by Kevin Chamberlin, three-time Tony Award nominee known for his theatre roles such as Horton in Seussical and Fester in The Addams Family on Broadway, who has been announced for the role of “Mr. Mushnik.” Matthew Wilkas, known for his starring role in the gay indie film Gayby and for playing Peter Parker in Broadway’s Spider-Man:Turn Off The Dark has been announced for the role of “Orin Scrivello.” The cast of Little Shop of Horrors is rounded out by T.V. Carpio, Tickwanya Jones, and Cheyenne Isabel Wells, and puppeteers Tyler Bremer, Kelsey Kato, Tim Kopacz, Sarah Kay Peters, and Paul Turbiak.

In Little Shop of Horrors (book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken), a power-hungry, R&B-singing, carnivorous plant sets its sights on world domination! Directed by Mike Donahue (The Legend of Georgia McBride, Geffen Playhouse) with Music Direction by Darryl Archibald and Choreography by Will B. Bell, this deviously delicious sci-fi musical comedy favorite comes to the Playhouse with some deliciously devious new twists: a brand new puppet concept for Audrey II, and a whole new take on Skid Row.

Danny Feldman, Pasadena Playhouse Producing Artistic Director said, “Our new electrifying production of Little Shop of Horrors will give our audiences the opportunity to see a show they know and love in a way they never have before. From a delicious new take on everyone’s favorite singing plant to the stunningly talented cast, this is sure to be a landmark theatrical event for Los Angeles.”

Director Mike Donahue says, “with its gritty early-Motown-meets-B-movie-horror-sci-fi vibe, Little Shop of Horrors has always been a favorite musical of mine, and it is a thrill for me to delve deeply into this rich material with this spectacular, electric cast. I look forward to not only paying homage to this musical theatre classic, but also exploring the themes that are still so much a part of our world today. More than anything, I look forward to Playhouse audiences having the time of their lives, and hearing our Little Shop with fresh ears, in a way they never have before.”

The creative team features direction by Mike Donahue, music direction by Darryl Archibald, accompanist and conductor John Gentry Tennyson, choreography by Will B. Bell, scenic design by Dane Laffrey; costume design by Danae Iris McQueen; lighting design by Josh Epstein; sound design by Veronika Vorel; puppet design, direction and choreography by Sean Cawelti; casting by Telsey + Company/Ryan Tymensky, CSA, and stage management by Jill Gold.

Tickets for Little Shop of Horrors start at $25 and are available at pasadenaplayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529, and at the box office at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.