David Henry Hwang, James Houghton, Cicely Tyson, Maria Irene Fornes, Adrienne Kennedy and More Among 2018 Theater Hall of Fame Inductees

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

The Theater Hall of Fame has announced its 2018 Inductees which include actors Rene Auberjonais, Christine Baranski, and Cicely Tyson; playwrights Maria Irene Fornes, David Henry Hwang, and Adrienne Kennedy; director Joe Mantello, and posthumously James Houghton.

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

The 48th Annual Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater will be presented on Monday evening, November 12 at the Gershwin Theatre. Three-time Tony Award nominee and Theater Hall of Fame inductee, Dana Ivey, will be the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Founded in 1971 by James M. Nederlander, Earl Blackwell and Gerard Oestriecher, the Theater Hall of Fame’s primary mission is to annually honor lifetime achievement in the American theatre. To be considered for the ballot, the theatre professional must have 25 years on Broadway and five major production credits or be an Off-Broadway or regional theatre founder or pioneer. The voters are United States theatre critics and drama editors.

Visit theaterhalloffame.org for more information.

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Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND and Jaclyn Backhaus’s INDIA PALE ALE are 2018 Recipients of the Horton Foote Prize

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Mari Marchbanks announced today the 2018 recipients of the biennial Horton Foote Prize, named in honor of the late playwright, which recognizes excellence in American theater. The 2018 Prize for Outstanding New American Play, presented to a work produced in the 2016-17 or 2017-18 seasons, is awarded to Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. The 2018 Prize for Promising New American Play, presented to a previously unproduced work, is awarded to India Pale Ale by Jaclyn Backhaus.

Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang
Lauren Yee. Photo by Lia Chang

Their achievements will be celebrated at a private reception on Monday, October 15th at The Lotos Club (5 East 66th Street, New York City). Ms. Yee and Ms. Backhaus will each be presented with $25,000 and a limited edition of Keith Carter’s iconic photograph of Horton Foote, which is found in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The four judges of the 2018 Horton Foote Prize are two-time Tony Award-winning actress Judith Ivey, serving as Chair; New Georges Artistic Director and playwright Susan Bernfield (Sizzle Sizzle Fly, Tania in the Getaway Van, My Last Car); Two River Theater Artistic Director John Dias; and Ensemble Studio Theatre Director of New Play Development and Associate Director of the EST/Sloan Project Linsay Firman.

On behalf of her fellow judges, Chair Judith Ivey said, “The playwright is the beginning for all other theatre artists. The story, the characters, and the words give the rest of us the opportunity to share that story. It is truly an honor to have been part of this year’s Horton Foote Prize committee. We four all expressed our joy and passion for all six of the final choices. The playwrights all explored the human condition and social circumstances in such creative ways, always with a solid truth and desire to share the inhumanity each character was experiencing. Each one beautifully wrote of the challenges of todays’ world. Making a decision was very difficult for all four of us.”

Abraham Kim, Daisuke Tsuji, Joe Ngo, Brooke Ishibashi, Raymond Lee and Jane Lui in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Danielle Bliss/SCR.
Abraham Kim, Daisuke Tsuji, Joe Ngo, Brooke Ishibashi, Raymond Lee and Jane Lui in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Danielle Bliss/SCR.

Ms. Ivey continued, “Stylistically daring, Cambodian Rock Band deftly juxtaposes humor and rock music against the terrible truth of genocide. It is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, and survival. Lauren Yee is a remarkable writer and Cambodian Rock Band is our choice for the 2018 Horton Foote Prize Award for Outstanding New American Play.”

Brooke Ishibashi, Joe Ngo, Jane Lui, Raymond Lee and Abraham Kim in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.
Brooke Ishibashi, Joe Ngo, Jane Lui, Raymond Lee and Abraham Kim in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.

Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered in March 2018 at South Coast Repertory and will open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Victory Gardens in 2019. Part comedy, part mystery, part rock concert, Cambodian Rock Band is a thrilling story that toggles back and forth in time, as father and daughter face the music of the past. Neary, a young Cambodian American has found evidence that could finally put away the Khmer Rouge’s chief henchman. But her work is hardly done. When Dad shows up unannounced – his first return trip to Cambodia since fleeing 30 years ago – it’s clear this isn’t just a pleasure trip.

Joe Ngo and Brooke Ishibashi in South Coast Repertory's world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.
Joe Ngo and Brooke Ishibashi in South Coast Repertory’s world premiere production of Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. Photo by Tania Thompson/SCR.

India Pale Ale explores what it means to be a Sikh American in this day of racism and fear”, commented Ms. Ivey. “Gorgeously told through a Sikh family’s myth of a family member a century ago being a pirate and what that means in today’s world, framed the play as a modern-day fable rooted in stark reality at the same time. Jaclyn Backhaus has given us a story so richly poetic; it is ambitious and full of life. We are delighted to announce India Pale Ale as our selection for the 2018 Horton Foote Prize award for Promising New American Play.”

The world premiere of India Pale Ale at Manhattan Theatre Club will begin previews October 2, 2018 with opening night set for October 23, 2018 at New York City Center’s Stage I. In Ms. Backhaus’s poignant and smartly funny new play about legacy, life and longing, a tight-knit Punjabi community in a small Wisconsin town gathers to celebrate the wedding of a traditional family’s only son, just as their strong-willed daughter announces her plans to move away and open a bar. As they come together for feasts filled with singing and dancing, one generation’s cherished customs clash with another’s modern-day aspirations, and ghosts and pirates from the family’s past linger in everyone’s thoughts – until one sudden event changes everything.

Ms. Yee and Ms. Backhaus were nominated by South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theatre Club, respectively. After a national reading committee narrowed the field of entries, ensuring that each script received multiple blind readings, a selection committee including Dramaturg, Tofte Lake Center Director, and University of Texas – Austin professor Liz Engelman, serving as Chair; Seattle-based stage director, producer, and educator Rosa Joshi; award-winning Seattle-based stage director Allison Narver; and American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Director of Dramaturgy and New Works Joy Meads; selected the top finalists to be presented to the judges.

Previous recipients of the Horton Foote Prize include Lynn Nottage for Ruined, Will Eno for Middletown, David Lindsay-Abaire for Good People, Naomi Wallace for The Liquid Plain, Dan O’Brien for The Body of an American, Suzan-Lori Parks for Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3), Jordan Harrison for Marjorie Prime, and Zayd Dohrn for The Profane.

The Horton Foote Prize is funded by the Greg and Mari Marchbanks Family Foundation of Austin, Texas.

Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered in March 2018 at South Coast Rep and will open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Victory Gardens in 2019. Her play The Great Leap premiered this past season at Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, and Atlantic Theater with 2019 productions slated for the Guthrie, American Conservatory Theater, Arts Club, and InterAct Theatre. Also upcoming for 2018-19: King of the Yees at Baltimore Center Stage and San Francisco Playhouse, and The Song of Summer at Trinity Rep. Recent honors include the Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, an upcoming Hodder Fellowship at Princeton, the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List, as well as a finalist of both the ATCA/Steinberg Award and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize. She is a Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and an alumni playwright of Playwrights Realm. She received her BA from Yale University, and her MFA in playwriting from UCSD. Current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Mixed Blood, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Repertory, and Trinity Repertory Company. www.laurenyee.com

Jaclyn Backhaus is a playwright of Punjabi, German, and desert botanical descent. Her play India Pale Ale will receive its world premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in Fall of 2018 after development at Powerhouse with New York Stage & Film. Select plays: Men on Boats (NYT Critics’ Pick, Clubbed Thumb & Playwrights Horizons, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Playwriting Award Finalist, published by Dramatists Play Service, Kilroys List 2015), Folk Wandering (Pipeline Theatre Company), You Across From Me (Humana Festival of New Plays), People Doing Math Live! (Under The Radar Festival), and You on the Moors Now (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble, The Hypocrites in Chicago). Jaclyn was the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb and is currently a playwright-in-residence at Lincoln Center. BFA: NYU, where she now teaches. She is co-founder of FRESH GROUND PEPPER, a New York-based arts incubator established in 2009. She lives in Queens with her husband, theater director Andrew Scoville, and their son Ernie.

Horton Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for his play The Young Man From Atlanta and received two Academy Awards for his screenplays for the films To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies. His work has also been produced on Broadway, off-Broadway as well as in theaters throughout the United States. His many honors, in addition to the Pulitzer and Academy Awards, include Drama Desk, Obie, Outer Critics Circle and Lortel Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Drama and the 2000 National Medal of Arts Award from President Bill Clinton. He is also a member of The Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2008, his play Dividing the Estate won the Obie and Outer Critics Circle Best Play Awards for its Off-Broadway premiere by Primary Stages. In 2008, the play transferred to Broadway under the auspices of Lincoln Center Theater, earning Foote his second Best Play Tony nomination. In 2009-2010, his epic masterwork, The Orphans’ Home Cycle was co-produced by Hartford Stage Company and Signature Theatre Company, and received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award. In 2013, The Trip to Bountiful was revived on Broadway (winning a Best Actress Tony Award for Cecily Tyson), and premiered in 2014 as a new Lifetime film, earning two Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Movie. His memoirs, Farewell and Beginnings, are published by Scribner.

André De Shields, Ken Page, Charlayne Woodard, Johmaalya Adelekan, Rheaume Crenshaw, Tyrone Davis, Jr., Zurin Villanueva, Frenchie Davis and Cynthia Thomas Set for 54 SINGS AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’: THE MUSIC OF FATS WALLER on September 9

Feinstein’s/54 Below is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Tony Award winning musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ with 54 SINGS AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’: THE MUSIC OF FATS WALLER , directed by its original Tony Award-winning director, Richard Maltby, Jr. for two shows on September 9 at 7pm and 9:30pm. Click here for tickets.

The inimitable Thomas “Fats” Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club and that jumpin’ new beat, swing music. Ain’t Misbehavin’ evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American original as some of Broadway’s best struts, strums, and sings the songs that he made famous in a career that ranged from uptown clubs to downtown Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood and concert stages in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Audiences can expect to hear some of Waller’s most iconic works including the incomparable “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Mean To Me,” “You’re Feets Too Big,” “I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” and so many more!

Featuring cast members from the Broadway company- André De Shields, Ken Page and Charlayne Woodard; Johmaalya Adelekan, Rheaume Crenshaw, Tyrone Davis, Jr. and Zurin Villanueva from the Crossroads Theatre Production; Frenchie Davis (“American Idol”) from the National Tour and Cynthia Thomas from Delaware Theatre Company.

Music Directed by William McDaniel
Produced by Robert W. Schneider

Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club & Private Event Destination, is a performance venue in the grand tradition of New York City nightlife. Feinstein’s/54 Below presents iconic and rising stars from the worlds of Broadway and popular music and has set a new standard for culinary excellence worthy of the world-class entertainment on the stage. Located at 254 West 54th Street.

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André De Shields, Ken Page, Charlayne Woodard, Johmaalya Adelekan, Rheaume Crenshaw, Tyrone Davis, Jr., Zurin Villanueva, Frenchie Davis and Cynthia Thomas Set for 54 SINGS AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’: THE MUSIC OF FATS WALLER on September 9

Feinstein’s/54 Below is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Tony Award winning musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ with 54 SINGS AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’: THE MUSIC OF FATS WALLER , directed by its original Tony Award-winning director, Richard Maltby, Jr. for two shows on September 9 at 7pm and 9:30pm. Click here for tickets.

The inimitable Thomas “Fats” Waller rose to international fame during the Golden Age of the Cotton Club and that jumpin’ new beat, swing music. Ain’t Misbehavin’ evokes the delightful humor and infectious energy of this American original as some of Broadway’s best struts, strums, and sings the songs that he made famous in a career that ranged from uptown clubs to downtown Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood and concert stages in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Audiences can expect to hear some of Waller’s most iconic works including the incomparable “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Mean To Me,” “You’re Feets Too Big,” “I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” and so many more!

Featuring cast members from the Broadway company- André De Shields, Ken Page and Charlayne Woodard; Johmaalya Adelekan, Rheaume Crenshaw, Tyrone Davis, Jr. and Zurin Villanueva from the Crossroads Theatre Production; Frenchie Davis (“American Idol”) from the National Tour and Cynthia Thomas from Delaware Theatre Company.

Music Directed by William McDaniel
Produced by Robert W. Schneider

Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club & Private Event Destination, is a performance venue in the grand tradition of New York City nightlife. Feinstein’s/54 Below presents iconic and rising stars from the worlds of Broadway and popular music and has set a new standard for culinary excellence worthy of the world-class entertainment on the stage. Located at 254 West 54th Street.

Christine Toy Johnson, Andrew Samonsky, Megan McGinnis, Kevin Carolan and More Set for COME FROM AWAY National Tour

Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson
Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson
Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson

Full casting has been announced for the touring production of the new musical Come From Away. Come From Away will begin performances at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in October 2018.

The touring production of Come From Away will star Kevin Carolan (Disney’s Newsies), Harter Clingman (Peter and The Starcatcher), Nick Duckart (In the Heights), Chamblee Ferguson, Becky Gulsvig (School of Rock the Musical), Julie Johnson (Memphis), Christine Toy Johnson (The Music Man), James Earl Jones II (The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess), Megan McGinnis (Les Misérables), Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific), Danielle K. Thomas (Avenue Q), Emily Walton (August Osage County), Marika Aubrey, Jane Bunting, Michael Brian Dunn, Julie Garnyé, Adam Halpin and Aaron Michael Ray.

With a book, music and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award nominees Irene Sankoff & David Hein, Come From Away is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), musical staging by two-time Tony nominee Kelly Devine (Come From Away, Rocky), with music supervision by Grammy nominee Ian Eisendrath (Come From Away), scenic design by Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt (Act One), costume design by Tony Award nominee Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by two-time Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Hamilton), sound design by Tony Award nominee Gareth Owen (End of the Rainbow), orchestrations by Tony nominee August Eriksmoen (Bright Star), music arrangements by Grammy nominee Ian Eisendrath and casting by Telsey + Company.

Come From Away tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.

On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all.

Following sold-out, record-breaking, critically acclaimed world premiere engagements at La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre, Come From Away landed on the “Best Theater of 2015” lists in the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, San Diego Union Tribune, and Times of San Diego. Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times called the show “An affecting, stirring and unpretentious new musical. Christopher Ashley’s production lets the simple goodness of ordinary people outshine sensational evil,” and Bob Verini of Variety raved, “Superb! Canadians Irene Sankoff and David Hein have forged a moving, thoroughly entertaining tribute to international amity and the indomitable human spirit.”

Come From Away  began performances on Broadway on February 18, 2017 and officially opened to critical acclaim on March 12, 2017 at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street), and continues to play to standing-room- only audiences.

The Tony Award-winning musical launched a Second Company in Canada with a sold out four-week engagement in Winnipeg and is currently playing to standing-room-only audiences in Toronto at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

The Mark Gordon Company will produce and finance a feature film adaptation of Come From Away. Two-time Tony Award nominees, Grammy nominees and Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award winners Irene Sankoff and David Hein, who wrote the book, music and lyrics, will adapt the feature screenplay for the project and Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley will direct. MGC’s Mark Gordon will produce.

A “Best Musical” winner all across North America, the smash hit musical has won the Tony Award for “Best Direction of a Musical” (Christopher Ashley), 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding New Broadway Musical,” 3 Drama Desk Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding Musical,” 4 Helen Hayes Awards (D.C.) including “Outstanding Production of a Musical,” 4 Gypsy Rose Lee Awards (Seattle) including “Excellence in Production of a Musical,” 6 San Diego Critics Circle Awards including “Outstanding New Musical,” 3 Toronto Theatre Critics Awards including “Best New Musical,” 3 Dora Awards (Toronto) including “Outstanding New Musical/Opera” and “Outstanding Production,” and the 2017 Jon Kaplan Audience Choice Award (Toronto).

Come From Away  is produced by Junkyard Dog Productions (Randy Adams, Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff and Sue Frost), Jerry Frankel, Latitude Link, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Steve & Paula Reynolds, David Mirvish, Michael Rubinoff, Alhadeff Productions, Michael Alden & Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Sam Levy, Rodney Rigby, Spencer Ross, Richard Winkler, Yonge Street Theatricals, Sheridan College, Michael & Ellise Coit, Ronald Frankel, Sheri & Les Biller, Richard Belkin, Gary & Marlene Cohen, Allan Detsky & Rena Mendelson, Lauren Doll, Barbara H. Freitag, Wendy Gillespie, Laura Little Theatricals, Carl & Jennifer Pasbjerg, Radio Mouse Entertainment, The Shubert Organization, Cynthia Stroum, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Gwen Arment/Molly Morris & Terry McNicholas, Maureen & Joel Benoliel/Marjorie & Ron Danz, Pamela Cooper/Corey Brunish, Demos Bizar/Square 1 Theatrics, Joshua Goodman/Lauren Stevens, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Bill & Linda Potter/Rosemary & Kenneth Willman, and La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Come From Away  was originally co-produced in 2015 by La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theater. Come From Away (NAMT Festival 2013) was originally developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project, Michael Rubinoff Producer, Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and was further developed at Goodspeed Musicals’ Festival of New Artists, in East Haddam, CT. The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, Steve and Paula Reynolds and The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle WA also provided development support.

Final Weekend to See Joel de la Fuente’s Masterful Performance in Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS, Additional Saturday Matinee Added

Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Kevin Berne
Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Kevin Berne
Joel de la Fuente. Photo by Kevin Berne

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley kicked off its 2018/19 season with 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. This Northern California premiere 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. Directed by Lisa Rothe, with Joel de la Fuente starring as Hirabayashi, Hold These Truths shares the story of a young man who passionately defends his Constitutional rights against an unexpected adversary: his own country. Due to audience demand, TheatreWorks has added an extra show for Saturday matinee, August 4, at 2pm. The play began previews on July 11 and will continue through August 5 at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto. Opening night is tonight. For tickets ($40-$100) and more information the public may visit TheatreWorks.org or call (650) 463-1960.

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 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.

Lisa Rothe, Jeanne Sakata_Joel de la Fuente_photo by Lia Chang (153)

Joel de la Fuente makes his TheatreWorks debut as Gordon Hirabayashi. He has been seen in movies and on many television shows and such as “The Man in the High Castle,” “Madam Secretary,” “Hemlock Grove,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Hawaii 5-O,” “ER,” Red Sparrow, The Adjustment Bureau, and more. De la Fuente has also performed throughout the United States at theatres including New York Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, The Public Theater, and others.

Lisa Rothe (Director), who last helmed Confederates at TheatreWorks, is returning to direct Hold These Truths. For her work on the Off-Broadway premiere of Hold These Truths, she earned a nomination for SDC’s Joe A. Callaway Award for Direction, with The New York Times noting the production was “elegantly directed.” Rothe has worked with New York Theatre Workshop, is an Artistic Affiliate with New Georges, a Drama League alum, a Women’s Project Director’s Lab member, a Fox Fellow recipient, a member of The Actor’s Center, a recent board member of the League of Professional Theatre Women as the VP of Membership, and a new member of the National Theater Conference. She received her MFA from New York University’s Graduate Acting Program before being invited by mentor Zelda Fichandler to be a part of the inaugural class of the Directing program. Rothe has workshopped, developed, and directed a multitude of new works with award winning writers and presented work across New York, including HERE, NYTW, New Georges, The Lark, The Culture Project, The Foundry, Ensemble Studio Theater, The 52nd Street Project, Naked Angels, Epic Theater Ensemble, Summer Play Festival, among others. As the Director of Global Exchange at The Lark in NYC, she expanded opportunities for playwrights to advance new works to production, both nationally and globally (connected to programs with Mexico, Russia, Romania, and China).

Jeanne Sakata (Playwright) is an actor and playwright whose work spans across theatre, film, television, and voiceover. She has been seen on television shows and movies such as Big Hero 6, “Dr. Ken,” “NCIS Los Angeles,” “NUMB3RS”, Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns,” “Desperate Housewives,” “ER,” and John Ridley’s I Got You. Sakata has performed throughout the nation at theatres including The Public Theater, South Coast Repertory, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, A Contemporary Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Syracuse Stage, Arizona Theatre Company, and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley where she starred in the 2017 production of Calligraphy. Her script for Hold These Truths was published in 2010 by the Japan Studies Association Journal, and is currently on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington D.C., where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in 2011. She is a recipient of the LA Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress, the 2016 lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre Outstanding Artist Award, Best Actress Award Entertainment Today Best Supporting Actress Award, and the Drama-Logue Outstanding Performance Award. Sakata resides in Los Angeles and is a member of the city’s acclaimed classical group the Antaeus Company.

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

With some 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatregoers with their first look at acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast locally and from across the country.

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

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

Latoya Edwards and Joanna A. Jones Join Encore Off-Broadway Run of Jocelyn Bioh’s Critically Acclaimed SCHOOL GIRLS: OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY

Jocelyn Bioh. Photo by Lia Chang
Jocelyn Bioh. Photo by Lia Chang
Jocelyn Bioh. Photo by Lia Chang

MCC Theater is heralding the return of the critically acclaimed, sold out, extended, award-winning play School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, written by 2017-18 Tow Playwright-in-Residence Jocelyn Bioh, and directed by Tony® Winner Rebecca Taichman. Ms. Bioh recently received the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award for the play.

Inside The Dramatists Guild Awards Night with Kirsten Childs, Charles Busch, Jocelyn Bioh and More

The encore production will be performed at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street) from October 16th through November 25th. Opening night is set for October 22nd. Prior to the return, Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles will present the MCC production at the CTG Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City from September 2nd through September 30th.

Mirirai Sithole, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Jocelyn Bioh and MaameYaa Boafo. Photo courtesy of MaameYaa Boafo/Facebook
Mirirai Sithole, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Jocelyn Bioh and MaameYaa Boafo. Photo courtesy of MaameYaa Boafo/Facebook

The cast will feature original cast members Lortel Award nominee MaameYaa Boafo (Untamed), Paige Gilbert (Street Children), Obie Award winner Zainab Jah (Eclipsed), Abena Mensah-Bonsu (Ragtime on Ellis Island), Lortel Award winner Mirirai Sithole (The Death of the Last Black Man...), and Lortel Award nominee Myra Lucretia Taylor (Familiar) along with two new cast members, Latoya Edwards (Miss You Like Hell) and Joanna A. Jones (Hamilton).

MaameYaa Boafo and Zainab Jah. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
MaameYaa Boafo and Zainab Jah. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play had its world-premiere at MCC on November 2nd, 2017. The 2017-2018 Award season garnered four Lucille Lortel Award nominations including wins for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for Mirirai Sithole, and Outstanding Costume Design for Dede Ayite. It also received a 2018 Drama Desk Special Award for Ensemble, the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Playwrighting,  and nominations for Best Play by The Drama League and from the Off Broadway Alliance.

A Conversation with MaameYaa Boafo, Star of “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” 

Abena Mensah Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole and Paige Gilbert. Photo by Joan Marcus
Abena Mensah Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole and Paige Gilbert. Photo by Joan Marcus

In School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant. But the arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter–and Paulina’s hive-minded friends. This buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe. How far would you go to be queen bee?

The creative team for School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play includes scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Jen Schriever, sound design by Palmer Hefferan, hair and wig design by Cookie Jordan, and casting by Telsey + Company/Adam Caldwell, CSA, William Cantler, CSA, Karyn Casl, CSA. Production Stage Manager Rachel Gross and Stage Manager Ayisha Hunt.

 

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Tony Nominee John Earl Jelks Returns to Role of Brucie in Center Theatre Group’s Production of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize Winning SWEAT at Mark Taper, August 29 – October 7

John Earl Jelks and Lynn Nottage. Photo by LIa Chang

Center Theatre Group is presenting Sweat, Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning play at the Mark Taper Forum August 29 through October 7, 2018. Helmed by Lisa Peterson, opening night is set for September 5.

John Earl Jelks. Photo by Lia Chang
John Earl Jelks. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast features Kevin T. Carroll, Grantham Coleman, Will Hochman, John Earl Jelks, Mary Mara, Peter Mendoza, Michael O’Keefe, Amy Pietz and Portia. Jelks played Brucie in both the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions.

The creative team includes set design by Christopher Barreca, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Anne Militello, sound design by Paul James Prendergast and projection design by Yee Eun Nam. The production stage manager is David S. Franklin.

John Earl Jelks and Lynn Nottage. Photo by LIa Chang
John Earl Jelks and Lynn Nottage. Photo by LIa Chang

Filled with warm humor and tremendous heart, Sweat tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets and laughs while working together on the factory floor. But when layoffs, promotions and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in a heart-wrenching fight to stay afloat.

In his review of the Off-Broadway production for The New York Times, Charles Isherwood called Sweat, “Keenly observed and often surprisingly funny,” adding that “Ms. Nottage, a Pulitzer Prize winner for Ruined, is writing at the peak of her powers.” Deadline’s Jeremy Girard called the play “ferociously engrossing” stating, “no play in recent memory has shed more light on the crises and tribulations of America’s great retrenched working middle class.”

Lynn Nottage. Photo by Lia Chang

In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Nottage’s play Ruined, received an Obie, the Lucille Lortel Award, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Her other plays include Intimate Apparel (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play), Fabulation or, The Re-Education Of Undine (Obie Award), Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone, Por’knockers and Poof! Nottage’s numerous awards include the 2007 MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” the National Black Theatre Festival’s August Wilson Playwriting Award, the 2004 PEN/Laura Pels Award for Drama and the 2005 Guggenheim Grant for Playwriting, as well as fellowships from the Lucille Lortel Foundation, Manhattan Theatre Club, New Dramatists and New York Foundation for the Arts. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild, an alumna of New Dramatists and a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, where she is a visiting lecturer.

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles. Tickets are available online at CenterTheatreGroup.org, by calling Audience Services at (213) 628-2772 or in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Office (at the Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles). Tickets range from $30 – $99 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

Original Cast Members Jake Boyd, Betsy Morgan & Joseph Taylor Return to SWEENEY TODD for Final Weeks

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The Tooting Arts Club award-winning production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which recently became the longest running production of Sweeney Todd on record, runs through August 26th at the Barrow Street Theatre. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.SweeneyToddNYC.com.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Beginning Tuesday, July 31st, returning cast member Jake Boyd (as “Anthony”) and original cast members Betsy Morgan (as “Pirelli & Beggar Woman”) and Joseph Taylor (as “Tobias” – also original Tooting production cast member) join current cast members Thom Sesma (as “Sweeney Todd”), Sally Ann Triplett (as “Mrs. Lovett”), Michael James Leslie (as “Judge Turpin”), John Rapson (as “The Beadle”), and DeLaney Westfall (as “Johanna”). The cast also includes Daniel Berryman, Laura Darrell, Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Monet Sabel, Drew Seigla and Haley Swindal.

Tooting Arts Club production of Sweeney Todd, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler from an adaptation by Christopher Bond, and directed by Bill Buckhurst, is the winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival, the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Musical Revival and the Best Off-Broadway Musical, Theater Fans’ Choice Award. It was named “Best of the Year!” by Time, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, Variety, Forbes, BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast.

Michael James Leslie as Judge Turpin and Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Michael James Leslie as Judge Turpin and Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Sweeney Todd features set and costume designs by Simon Kenny, music supervision and arrangements by Benjamin Cox, music direction by Matt Aument, choreography by Georgina Lamb, lighting design by Amy Mae, sound design by Matt Stine, casting by Telsey + Company / Cesar A. Rocha, CSA and production stage management by Joanna Muhlfelder.

Immersing audiences in a completely new theatrical experience, this production of the classic tale of blood thirsty barber Sweeney Todd and resourceful pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett comes to New York City following sold-out runs in London. Tooting Arts Club first mounted this Sweeney Todd in the winter of 2014 in Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, one of the oldest continuously operating pie shops in London, seating only 35 people at each performance. In 2015, the production made the leap to the West End where Tooting Arts Club recreated Harrington’s in a 69 seat Shaftesbury Avenue venue provided by producer Cameron Mackintosh. The Harrington’s shop environment has once again been brought to life for its US debut in the 130 seat Barrow Street Theatre.

Sweeney Todd is produced by Rachel Edwards, Jenny Gersten, Seaview Productions, Fiona Rudin, Barrow Street Theatre, Jean Doumanian, Rebecca Gold and Nate Koch (Executive Producer).

Based on a Victorian horror story, Sweeney Todd is often considered Sondheim’s greatest masterpiece. It first premiered on Broadway in 1979 at the Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin) and went on to make its West End debut in 1980. The original Broadway production won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. The 2007 Tim Burton film adaptation earned one Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards.

Former White House Executive Pastry Chef William “Bill” Yosses (dubbed “the Crust Master” by President Barack Obama) serves as the production’s official pie maker. In keeping with the original Tooting production and the West End transfer, “pie and mash” is available for purchase by audience members prior to every performance, served communally in the pie shop where the production is set. An authentic slice of Victorian London, the traditional “pie and mash” dish consists of a meat pie, a generous helping of mashed potato and hot parsley sauce – otherwise known as “liquor” – which is an optional extra. Both meat veg pie options are available.

TICKETING & SCHEDULE

Tickets can be purchased online at www.SweeneyToddNYC.com, at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street at 7th Ave South (Box Office open 1pm daily), or by calling OvationTix at 866-811-4111. Tickets for performances range in price from $55 to $150. Premium seating is available.

When purchasing tickets, patrons can select an option to add the pie and mash meal to their order for an additional $22.50 ($29 for beef wellington). The meal also includes a beer, glass of wine, or non-alcoholic beverage to be enjoyed in the pie-shop starting 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to each performance. Please note that this option can only be purchased in advance with tickets.

A limited number of $39 tickets will be made available to every performance of Sweeney Todd via the TodayTix app. The entry period for all performances will begin each performance day at 12:01am EST and continue until winners are notified via email and push notification 2-4 hours before the selected performance begins. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. A photo ID is required for pickup and lottery tickets and seat locations are subject to availability.

Performance Schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday @ 7:30pm; Friday @ 8:00pm; Saturday @ 2:30pm & 8:00pm; Sunday @2:00pm & 7:30pm

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim 

North Carolina Black Repertory Company Announces Commissioned Work On The Life Of Dr. Maya Angelou By Nambi E. Kelley

Nambi E. Kelley
Nambi E. Kelley
Nambi E. Kelley

The North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NC Black Rep) has commissioned a new play on the life of Dr. Maya Angelou by Nambi E. Kelley for its 2019-2020 Season. The play will be directed by NC Black Rep’s Artistic Director Jackie Alexander.

Dr. Maya Angelou was one of literature’s most treasured voices and a key figure in the creation of NC Black Rep’s world renowned National Black Theatre Festival. Dr. Angelou was a long-time resident of Winston-Salem, home of NC Black Rep, and Artistic Director Jackie Alexander considers the company commissioning a play on her life both a labor of love and an immense responsibility, stating: “Dr. Angelou was one of NC Black Rep’s most ardent supporters and a beloved member of the community. I cannot imagine this play being birthed anywhere other than Winston-Salem, a place internationally recognized as Black Theatre Holy Ground. The biggest challenge is how to dramatize a life so grand in scope, and that’s why I’m thrilled to have Nambi Kelley on board as the writer. I believe she is the perfect choice.”

Nambi E. Kelley is a celebrated playwright who has penned plays for Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, and Court Theatre/American Blues Theater in Chicago; Lincoln Center and the National Black Theatre in New York; and internationally with LATT Children’s Theatre/Unibooks Publishing Company (South Korea) Teatri Sbagliati (Italy), and The Finger Players (Singapore). Her adaptations of Richard Wright’s Native Son and Toni Morrison’s Jazz have received critical acclaim nationally, with productions at theatres including The Court Theatre in Chicago, Center Stage in Baltimore, and Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven. A lifelong admirer and a writer who draw’s inspiration from Dr. Angelou’s work, Kelley shared: “Dr. Angelou’s example of her brilliance, her eloquence, her fearlessness in the constant reinvention of who she was is the epitome of what it means to be free. I am deeply awed by her, and eternally grateful for the great honor that has been bestowed upon me to create a piece of art that is reflective of her freedom.”

Dr. Angelou’s longtime assistant, friend, and confidant Lydia Stuckey joins the team as Creative Advisor. A leader in the mission to preserve and share Dr. Angelou’s legacy, Ms. Stuckey considers Maya to be an essential theatrical project, commenting: “Dr. Angelou’s words touched and inspired people the world over; we must do everything in our power to ensure her legacy is never forgotten.”

Maya will have a First Look Celebrity Staged Reading at the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival, July 29-August 3, 2019. The world premiere production of Maya will take place in May 2020 as part of NC Black Rep’s 2019-2020 Mainstage Season.

For more information on NC Black Rep, please visit www.ncblackrep.org.