William F. Lee and Viet Thanh Nguyen to receive AALDEF 2020 Justice in Action Awards on February 6

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) will hold its Lunar New Year Gala and Justice in Action Awards Ceremony on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers in New York City. The recipients of the 2020 Justice in Action Awards are William F. Lee, partner at WilmerHale, and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.

The co-emcees for the evening are Juju Chang, Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline”, and Sree Sreenivasan, Marshall R. Loeb Visiting Professor of Digital Innovation at Stony Brook University School of Journalism..

The AALDEF Justice in Action Awards recognize exceptional individuals for their outstanding achievements and efforts to advance social justice. Past award recipients include Congressman John Lewis, Yoko Ono, Preet Bharara, George Takei, David Henry Hwang, Neal Katyal, Aasif Mandvi, Mari Matsuda, Jessica Hagedorn, Mira Nair, BD Wong, and Fareed Zakaria, to name just a few.

Over 700 leaders of the civil rights, legal, business, and arts communities across the country are expected to attend AALDEF’s lunar new year gala. The evening begins with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by the Justice in Action Awards ceremony and a banquet dinner. Tables of ten, available at $25,000, $20,000, and $15,000, include a VIP reception. Individual tickets start at $1,500. To reserve tickets, please contact Shirley Ng at 212.966.5932 ext. 208 or sng@aaldef.org.

Since 1974, AALDEF has protected and promoted the civil rights of Asian Americans across the nation through litigation, advocacy, community education, and organizing. All proceeds from the gala support AALDEF’s programs in immigrant rights, economic justice, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and voting rights and democracy.

Theatre Communications Group Will Honor David Henry Hwang and National Black Theatre Festival at 2020 Gala on February 3

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, will hold the 2020 TCG Gala: Our Stories on Monday, February 3, 2020 at The Edison Ballroom (240 W 47th Street). The Gala will honor the National Black Theatre Festival of Winston-Salem and David Henry Hwang and will include festive performances, inspiring speakers, and a celebratory dinner with theatre leaders, celebrities, and enthusiasts. A 6:00pm cocktail reception will be followed by a 7:00pm seated dinner, with entertainment beginning at 7:20pm. Additional programming will be announced soon.

“Every other year, I join tens of thousands of theatre lovers in Winston-Salem, NC for the joyous community and expansive artistry provided by the National Black Theatre Festival,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “We are so excited to bring that joy to New York City, and to honor the impact of the Festival on Black theatre and our broader culture. The Gala is always a great night for theatre, and we look forward to welcoming so many of our friends from the professional not-for-profit and commercial theatre sectors to celebrate our many accomplishments.”

Plays by David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

“TCG Books published David Henry Hwang’s first play FOB in 1980 and we’re still publishing his groundbreaking plays 40 years later,” said Terry Nemeth, publisher, TCG. “So while there are many reasons to honor his work, it’s also a chance to celebrate one of the longest relationships TCG Books has had with a playwright. That relationship speaks to the long-term commitment we make to our authors to publish their body of work and keep their plays in print.”

Jackie Alexander, Artistic Director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company. Photo by Lia Chang

“NC Black Rep founder Larry Leon Hamlin created something unique and magical with the National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF),” said Jackie Alexander, artistic director, North Carolina Black Repertory Company. “Our biennial celebration and reunion of spirit has cemented Winston-Salem as Black Theatre Holy Ground on a global scale. To be recognized by TCG is both an honor and a testament to the importance and vibrancy of Black Theatre, and for that, NC Black Rep is truly grateful.”

Inside the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival Gala with André De Shields

“For almost 40 years, TCG has supported my work, giving me the tools, resources, and encouragement to take greater risks and redefine the American Theatre,” said David Henry Hwang. “I’m touched to be honored by an organization which challenges and inspires us to tell new stories.”

“The mission of the National Black Theatre Festival has been the recognition of the indelible contribution to world culture by personalities and events whose common roots descend from the far-flung African Diaspora,” said André De Shields, Tony Award-winner and inductee into The American Theater Hall of Fame. “This shared history, both ancient and modern, is commemorated at the biennial gathering of the National Black Theatre Festival as an international celebration and reunion of spirit on Black Theatre holy ground. From the particular individuals who have been martyred in the battle of resistance against the disease of hate, to the universal struggle for the ethical and equitable treatment of all humankind, there is no single institution that better illustrates the profound importance of Black Lives Matter than the National Black Theatre Festival.”

“My experience attending the NBTF for the very first time was beyond anything I could have anticipated and imagined,” said Stephen Byrd, Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated producer. “The networking, attendees, and the awesome number of quality plays and musicals was impressive and extraordinary.”

To learn more about the 2020 TCG Gala, and the programming it supports, visit TCG.org/Events/Gala or email Gala@tcg.org. To purchase tickets, go to www.TCGgala.org.

David Henry Hwang’s stage works includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival), and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards. He co-wrote the Gold Record Solo with the late pop icon Prince and worked for four seasons as a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair”. Hwang serves on the Board of the Lark Play Development Center, as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts, and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing. M. Butterfly recently returned to Broadway in a revival directed by Julie Taymor, which marked his eighth Broadway production. East West Players has named its mainstage the David Henry Hwang Theatre and recent honors include his 2018 induction into the Theater Hall of Fame. Hwang was a Residency One playwright from 2012-14 at New York’s Signature Theatre. His newest work, Soft Power, a collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori, premiered in May 2018 at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles where it won six Ovation Awards, including Best New Production, and enjoyed a successful run in Fall 2019 at The Public Theater.

The National Black Theatre Festival® (NBTF) is a program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NC Black Rep). Presented every odd numbered year, the festival hosts upwards of 120 performances, attracts upwards of 65,000 visitors to Winston-Salem, and has contributed over $230 million dollars to the Winston-Salem economy since its inception in 1989. Founded in 1979 by Larry Leon Hamlin, NC Black Rep was the first professional Black theatre company in North Carolina. NC Black Rep’s mission is to engage, enrich, and entertain with innovative programming that resonates across the community and challenges social perceptions. The Company is universally recognized for its artistic and administrative achievements and its international outreach program, the NBTF.

TCG’s annual Our Stories Gala supports vital programs and services for the theatre community. The 2019 Gala honored arts philanthropist and Chairman Emerita, Ingram Industries Inc.’s Martha R. Ingram; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner; and Broadway press agent and President of DKC/O&M Rick Miramontez. The evening’s programming, directed by Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer, included special performances from Eva Maria Noblezada and Patrick Page (Hadestown), Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!), Beth Malone and Nico Muhly. Past honorees at the TCG annual gala-now in its eighth year- include actor Brian Dennehy, director Kenny Leon, playwright Lynn Nottage, actress and playwright Danai Gurira, theatrical producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey, set designer Ming Cho Lee, lighting designer Jules Fisher, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Vilcek Foundation, producers Ruth and Stephen Hendel, Judith O. Rubin, and the creators of War Paint (Scott Frankel, Michael Greif, Michael Korie, and Doug Wright).

Theatre Communications Group (TCG) exists to strengthen, nurture, and promote professional theatre in the U.S. and globally. Since its founding in 1961, TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 Member Theatres and affiliate organizations and nearly 10,000 Individual Members. Through its Core Values of Activism, Artistry, Diversity, and Global Citizenship, TCG advances a better world for theatre and a better world because of theatre. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through research, communications, and events, including the annual TCG National Conference, one of the largest nationwide gatherings of theatre people; awards grants and scholarships, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and through the Global Theater Initiative, TCG’s partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute. TCG is North America’s largest independent trade publisher of dramatic literature, with 17 Pulitzer Prizes for Drama on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its Member Theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre.www.tcg.org.

Lucas Steele, George Abud, Laura Schein, Ann Harada, Felicia Boswell, Natalie Weiss, Lesli Margherita, Josh Lamon, Max Crumm, Jacob Dickey and More Set for EMOJILAND, January 9 – March 8

Ann Harada. Photo by Lia Chang

Arborhouse Productions & Visceral Entertainment (Michael Chase Gosselin and Tim Sulka) are presenting the Off-Broadway run of Emojiland from Thursday, January 9, 2020 through Sunday, March 8, 2020 at The Duke on 42nd Street in New 42nd Street Studios (229 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues). The production garnered 12 nominations and 5 wins at the 2018 NYMF Awards and was a 2018 Richard Rodgers Award Finalist.

Lucas Steele

The cast includes Lucas Steele (The Great Comet) as Skull, George Abud (The Band’s Visit) as Nerd Face, Emojiland Co-Writer Laura Schein as Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes (aka “Smize”), Emmy Winner & Grammy Nominee Felicia Boswell (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE, Shuffle Along, Motown) as Police Officer, Natalie Weiss (Everyday Rapture, YouTube’s “Breaking Down the Riffs”) as Construction Worker, Ann Harada (Avenue Q, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella) as Pile of Poo, Lesli Margherita (Matilda, Dames at Sea) as Princess and Josh Lamon (The Prom, Groundhog Day) as Prince, Max Crumm (Grease, Disaster) will take on the role of the Man In Business Suit Levitating emoji, along with Jacob Dickey (Aladdin Broadway as Aladdin) as Smiling Face with Sunglasses, (aka “Sunny”), Dwelvan David (Finding Neverland & The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess Tours) as Guardsman, Heather Makalani (Aladdin) as Kissy Face, Tanisha Moore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tour) as Woman Dancing and Jordan Fife Hunt (A Chorus Line First Revival Tour) as Man Dancing.

Kenny Ingram
Kenny Ingram

Emojiland‘s book, music and lyrics are written by Keith Harrison & Laura Schein. The musical will be directed by Thomas Caruso (Southern Comfort, Matilda, Groundhog Day), with choreography by Kenny Ingram (The Lion King) and musical direction by Lena Gabrielle (Endangered!). Scenic design is by David Goldstein, costume & make-up design is by Vanessa Leuck, lighting design is by Jamie Roderick, sound design is by Ken Goodwin, and projection design is by Lisa Renkel & Possible Productions. The production is cast by Binder Casting (Chad Murnane, CSA), is Executive Produced & General Managed by Visceral Entertainment (Michael Chase Gosselin / Tim Sulka), and is Production Managed by Tinc Productions. Social Media & Influencer Marketing is by YesBroadway (Sam Maher). Bell Arts Entertainment (Jacquelyn Bell) associate produces.

Originally presented by the New York Musical Festival, Dan Markley, Executive Director & Producer, Emojiland was a Grand Jury Selection of the 2018 New York Musical Festival.

Not to be confused with, and very much unlike The Emoji Movie, Emojiland is an electric ensemble piece about a diverse community of archetypes who take one another at face value: a smiling face dealing with depression; a princess who doesn’t want a prince; a skull dying for deletion; a nerd face too smart for his own good; a face with sunglasses who can’t see past his own reflection; and a police officer and construction worker who just want to work together. When a software update threatens to destroy life as they know it, Emojiland faces the most fundamental questions a society – and a heart – can face: Who are we? And who matters?

Max Crumm’s Broadway credits include: DISASTER! (The Nederlander), Grease (Brooks Atkinson). Off-Broadway: The Evolution Of Mann, Hot Mess, The Fantasticks, Disaster!, Brooklyn Crush {formerly: F#%KING UP EVERYTHING}. Festival/Regional: Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey Vs. The Devil (NYMF 2017), The Situation, Jersey Shoresical (NY Fringe Festival). Walter Paisley, Beatsville (Asolo Rep.), Andy, Legendale (Human Race Theatre). Film/TV: Emergence, Ray Donovan, Easy A, Killing Diaz & Echoboom.

Heather Makalani is making her Off-Broadway debut in Emojiland! She made her Broadway debut in Aladdin the Musical understudying Princess Jasmine. She also appeared at the Finger Lakes Music Theatre Festival this summer as Sandy Dumbrowski at the Merry Go Round Playhouse’s production of Grease where she was nominated for best leading actress in a musical by the SALT Awards (Syracuse Area Live Theatre). Australian credits include Aladdin the Musical (original Australian cast), Heathers the Musical, and RENT.

Jordan Fife Hunt (Man Dancing, Ensemble) tour: A Chorus Line (1st national revival). City Center Encores!: Fiorello!, Where’s Charley? International: Sousatzka (Mirvish Theatre, Toronto, world premiere). Regional: Claude in Hair(Waterfront Playhouse), Loch Ness (The Rev), The Wiz (Broadway Sacramento), West Side Story (Guthrie Theater), Evita (ACT), Prime Time (The Studios of Key West), Paul in A Chorus Line (Theatre Under The Stars, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Riverside Theatre), Disney’s Aladdin (The Muny). TV: “The Wendy Williams Show,” “New Year’s Eve: From Lincoln Center” on PBS, “The A-List” on LOGO, “Todrick” on MTV. Dance: Dance Key West, Veracity Dance Theatre, Gig- The Show, MET Dance, Benjamin Briones Ballet. Training: BFA in Musical Theatre (The Boston Conservatory).

Tanisha Moore is making her Off-Broadway debut with Emojiland! She has toured the country with Flashdance the Musical and Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Regional credits include; the role of June in Gypsy, Smokey Joe’s Café, The Wiz, and the world premiere of Disney’s Freaky Friday.

Jacob Dickey is making his Off-Broadway debut. Other credits include Aladdin (Broadway and Nat’l Tour as Aladdin), Stephen Schwartz’ Prince of Egypt (as Moses), and Next to Normal (as Gabe).

Dwelvan David’s theatrical credits include the first national tour of Finding Neverland; The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. NYC: Standby (NYMF 2013) Regional: Sweeney Todd (Denver Center); Sister Act (Tuacahn); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (STAGES/Riverside); Show Boat (Lyric Opera Chicago); The Wiz (TATC); Caroline, or Change (Human Race); Ragtime (Drury Lane); TV: “Bull,” “Gotham,” “Law&Order SVU,””Happy!” BFA Millikin University. AEA

Ann Harada (Pile of Poo) played Christmas Eve in the Broadway and West End productions of Avenue Q and stepsister Charlotte in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Other Bway credits include Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables (revival), 9 To 5, Seussical, and M. Butterfly. Recent Off Bway: Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson. Film: SISTERS, TROUBLE, YOUTH IN OREGON, ADMISSION, HOPE SPRINGS, FEEL, HAPPINESS. TV includes: SMASH (as Linda, the Stage Manager), THE GOOD WIFE, HOUSE OF CARDS, MASTER OF NONE, THE Jim Gaffigan SHOW, SEARCH PARTY, YOUNGER, GOTHAM, NEW AMSTERDAM.

Felicia Boswell (Police Officer): EMMY Winner & GRAMMY Nominee (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE), 2x Helen Hayes AWARD Winner (Outstanding Lead Actress), Broadway World Winner (Best Lead Actress), Jeff Award (Best Supporting Actress nom). Broadway: Shuffle Along (Josephine Baker); Motown (Diana Ross); Memphis (Felicia Farrell). Nat’l Tour: Memphis (Felicia Farrell); Dreamgirls (Deena, Lorell). Highlights: The Color Purple (Celie) Portland Center Stage; Jelly’s Last Jam (Anita) Signature Theatre; MEDEA (Medea) Bay Street; Too Heavy For Your Pocket (Evelyn) GSPlayhouse; Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene) Paramount; AIDA (Aida); Man of LaMancha (Aldonza) Barrington Stage; RENT (Mimi); Caroline or Change, Guthrie Theatre; SOUL: Stax Musical (Carla Thomas); Little Rock (Minniejean Brown); MANDELA (Zindzi) ASCAP; Midwives (Charlotte); Quiet World (Marianne) Lincoln Center. TV: “POWER” (Melissa) STARZ; “The Good Fight” (Lace) CBS; NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live, Macy’s Day Parade (Diana Ross) Motown, “Last Week w/John Oliver.” “Mama Knows Best” single available, all music platforms.

George Abud (Nerd Face) is an Arab-American actor. Broadway: The Band’s Visit starring Katrina Lenk & Tony Shalhoub (Daytime Emmy Award, OBC Recording); The Visit starring Chita Rivera & Roger Rees (OBC Recording). Off-Broadway: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui opposite Raúl Esparza, Nathan The Wise opposite F. Murray Abraham, Peer Gynt opposite Gabriel Ebert, and Allegro directed by John Doyle (Classic Stage Company); The Band’s Visit directed by David Cromer (Atlantic Theater Company); Lolita, My Love opposite Robert Sella (York Theatre Company). Regional: August Rush (Lewis Chapman, Paramount Theatre); Annie Get Your Gun directed by Sarna Lapine (Charlie Davenport, Bay Street Theater); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck, Geva Theatre Center); 1776 (The Muny); Fiddler on the Roof (Human Race Theatre); Man of La Mancha, Oliver Twist (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ). International: The New Prince with Barbara Walsh, Marc Kudisch, and Paulo Szot at the Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam.

Natalie Weiss (Construction Worker) has gained an international following from her performance & coaching videos and popular YouTube web series, “Breaking Down The Riffs”. She made her Broadway debut in 2010 understudying the Menonettes in Everyday Rapture, starring Sherie Rene Scott, was a swing in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Miserables, and performed in the ensemble / understudied Elphaba in the 2nd National Tour of Wicked. Other regional credits include Molly in Ghost, Florence in Chess, and Candy in Saturday Night Fever. Natalie’s voice can be heard on the acclaimed soundtrack for “The Greatest Showman”, on the Original Broadway Cast recording of Dear Evan Hansen as one of the Virtual Community Voices, and on the jingles for The Incredibles 2. She was also an American Idol season 4 semi-finalist. Natalie received her BFA in musical theatre from Penn State University.

Laura Schein (Co-Writer / Smize) has been in the biz of show since age 10. 1st Nat’l Tour: Ragtime. Regional: Holiday Inn (Goodspeed), Mary Zimmerman’s Pericles (Goodman), Carousel (Long Wharf), 2019 LA Writers Workshop (CTG), Coney Island Christmas (Geffen), Oblivion (CTG), NOFX’s Home Street Home (Davenport Theatricals). TV/Film: “Kidding”, “Masters of Sex,” “Weeds” (Showtime), Sing It! (YouTube Originals), Crystal’s Balls (Funny or Die), and the animated feature UglyDolls (STX), for which she co-wrote the Kelly Clarkson-Janelle Monae duet “Unbreakable.” Currently writing on an upcoming musical series starring Zosia Mamet.

Lesli Margherita (Princess) won the Olivier Award for her West End debut as Inez in Zorro The Musical. Broadway: Matilda the Musical;Dames at Sea. Off-Broadway: Who’s Holiday (Drama Desk, Lortel, & Off-Broadway Alliance noms. – Best Solo Performance); A Scythe of Time (NYMF; Outstanding Performance Award). Television (recurring) “Transparent,” “Most Likely to” (ABC pilot), “Homeland,” “Instinct,” “Elementary,” “Seven Seconds.” Film: The Many Saints of Newark (upcoming), Opening Night (opp. Taye Diggs & Topher Grace). Regional (select credits): Guys & Dolls (Bucks County), Hunchback of Notre Dame (Sacramento Music Circus), Kiss Me Kate (Reprise; Ovation Award – Best Actress), The Gronholm Method (The Falcon; Ovation nom. – Best Ensemble), Man of La Mancha (MTW; Ovation nom. & LADCC nom – Best Actress), Showboat (Goodspeed), Little Shop Of Horrors (La Mirada); Spamalot (Sacramento Music Circus). Lesli’s debut album Rule Your Kingdom now available in stores/online.

Josh Lamon (Prince) TV/FILM: Here Today (Dir. Billy Crystal), “Katy Keene,” “The Blacklist,” “The Good Fight,” “30 Rock,” “Deadbeat,” “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Steve Phoenix: The Untold Story.” Broadway: The Prom, Groundhog Day, Finding Neverland, Elf and Hair. Off-Broadway: A New Brain (Encores!), Into The Woods (Shakespeare in the Park), Little Miss Sunshine (2nd Stage), Little Me (Encores!) and February House (The Public). You can hear his podcast ‘Josh Swallows Broadway’ on the Broadway Podcast Network. Composition: co-book writer, conceiver and additional musical and lyrics for the musical Bloody Bloody Jessica Fletcher.

Keith Harrison (Co-Writer) is a musical wizard whose credits include work on The Prom (Netflix, upcoming), Cinderella (Sony, upcoming), The Politician (Netflix), “American Idol” (FOX, ABC), “American Horror Story” (FX), “Grace & Frankie” (Netflix), “Westside” (Netflix), Kidding (Showtime), “The Daytime Emmy Awards” (POPTV), “Claws” (TNT), “Ugly Dolls” (STX), 911 (FOX), and the original Chicago production of Million Dollar Quartet. Notable collaborators have included: Ariana Grande, Meryl Streep, Ben Vereen, Ana Gasteyer, Shoshana Bean, Andrew Lippa, Larry O’Keefe, Babyface, Emmylou Harris, Jason Alexander and many more.

Thomas Caruso (Director) Southern Comfort (The Public Theatre; NY Times Critics Pick, Lucille Lortel Award & Outer Critics Circle Award nominations: Best New Musical), Dynamo: Seeing Is Believing (West End, U.K. & Australian Tours). B’way National Tours: Matilda, Ghost, Master Class. Broadway Associate Director credits include: A Christmas Carol, Groundhog Day, Matilda, Ghost, Mamma Mia!, Bombay Dreams, Follies, Master Class. Other directing credits include: David Blaine: Real or Magic (Asia tour); Earth To Bucky (Bay Street Theatre), the premiere of Terrence McNally and Israel Horovitz’s Off Season (Gloucester Stage).

Performances of Emojiland will be Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays & Sundays at 2pm, and Sundays at 7pm.

Tickets for Emojiland are available for purchase online at Dukeon42.org; by phone at 646-223-3010; or in person at The Duke on 42nd Street at 229 West 42nd Street (Tuesdays-Fridays 4-7 and Saturdays 12-6).

The running time is approximately 2 hours, including intermission.

Visit Emojiland.com for more info and updates.

National Philharmonic Gets Festive With HOLIDAY SINGIN’ POPS Featuring Ali Ewoldt, Hilary Morrow, Kevin Rose, Addalie Burns and More on December 6

Ali Ewoldt. Photo by Justin Patterson
Ali Ewoldt. Photo by Justin Patterson
Ali Ewoldt. Photo by Justin Patterson

The holiday season is in full swing at The National Philharmonic with “Holiday Singin’ Pops” on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore. Guest conductor and local Washington talent Luke Frazier will lead The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale, as well as Broadway stars and international talents Ali Ewoldt (Phantom of the Opera); Hilary Morrow (Birdland Jazz Club); Kevin Rose, international vocalist; and Addalie Burns, an eight-year-old tap dancer, in an evening of holiday hits.

Frazier is the founder of the American Pops Orchestra (APO), comprised of excellent players in the Washington, DC, area, and serving the Washington community with community concerts that are free for veterans and their families, at-risk children, underserved families, and more. Popular songs that will be performed during the concert include Rudolph, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Christmas Song, O Holy Night, Mele Kelikimaka, Grown Up Christmas Wish, and a holiday singalong finale. This festive performance features a new take on traditional holiday songs. Families can see Santa, meet representatives from Veterans Moving Forward and their service dogs, hear young carolers and bring new, unwrapped toys or books for the Philharmonics Toys for Tots drive. Ticket prices are $29-$69, and young people 7-17 are free. There is a new 25% discount for military and veterans. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301.581.5100.

Frazier, who founded APO in 2015, is a conductor, pianist, and a visionary for presenting popular music with an energetic and unique twist. Washingtonian Magazine named him one of their “Top 40 Under 40,” and most recently named him one of five of Washington’s “Men on the Move” by Modern Luxury. The late Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and musical theatre legend Marvin Hamlisch called Frazier “so talented, and sensitive to every nuance.” Frazier has conducted at internationally acclaimed venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the White House, Kravis Center, and the Kennedy Center. He recently joined the board of the New York Festival of Song and is an Artistic Advisor for the Capitol Conversation and Performing Arts Series in Washington. Frazier has worked with famous performers, including Harry Connick Jr., Patti LaBelle, Renée Fleming, Vanessa Williams, Wynton Marsalis, and Liza Minnelli.

Ewoldt recently completed more than two years as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Her other credits include Cosette in Les Miserables (Broadway); The King and I (Broadway); Maria in West Side Story; Luisa in The Fantasticks (off-Broadway); and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Concert and symphony works include Feinstein’s/54 Below, Alice Tully Hall, the Town Hall, Canyon Ranch, New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, American Pops Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and Boston Pops. Ewoldt’s television and film credits include The Michael J. Fox Show, Yield, and the short film Mia.

Morrow is an acclaimed musical theatre performer and soloist. She regularly sings at famed jazz club, Birdland, in New York City, including a recently sold-out performance in the new Birdland Theatre. Morrow has performed alongside such luminaries as Renee Fleming, Tommy Tune, Laura Osnes, Liz Callaway, Jeremy Jordan, Lindsey Mendez, and many more. She is the only singer to have appeared in every season with the American Pops Orchestra, with recent credits including the Old Lady in An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Bianca in the tour of A Very Silly Vaudeville, and Detective Fix in Around the World in 80 Days. Recent credits include Love, Factually with The Second City at The John F. Kennedy Center; King Cymbeline/Queen in Imogen in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline Reimagined with the Pointless Theatre Company; and Mother in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Adventure Theatre.

Washington-based vocalist Rose most recently toured in 2018 with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in more than 20 countries with his show Feelin’ Good. In 2017, Rose performed in the United States tour of Dido and Aeneas with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and was also invited to bring his cabaret series If Not Now, When? to the historic Metropolitan Room. He has performed throughout New York City in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Town Hall, Laurie Beechman Theatre, Dimenna Center for Classical Music, Merkin Concert Hall, and 92nd St. Y. Favorite regional credits include the pre-Broadway production of Frank Wildhorn’s Bonnie and Clyde, The Life of Galileo, Joseph and the Amazing…, Forever Plaid, and Songs for a New World. Rose can be seen headlining the DC Transit Band, a successful entertainment band that plays all over the Washington area.

Young Burns studies dance at Hawkins School of Performing Arts in Folsom, Calif. She has danced for four years, and started tap at just five years old. Burns is a fan of American icon Shirley Temple, and her dream is to tap dance on Broadway. Someday, Burns would like to open her own dance studio with an animal shelter in the lobby.

Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski is one of a select group of American conductors equally at home in nearly all musical genres. He is the music director and conductor of The National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore as well as a sought-after guest conductor. He was a student and disciple of the late Leonard Bernstein, and is described by The Washington Post as an “immensely talented and insightful conductor, whose standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable.” With one foot in the United States and the other in Europe as former Principal Guest Conductor of the Silesian Philharmonic (Katowice, Poland) and frequent guest at other orchestras, the jet-set maestro’s seemingly limitless repertoire, most conducted without a score, amazes critics and audiences alike.

The National Philharmonic under Gajewski is known for performances that are “powerful,” “impeccable” and “thrilling” (The Washington Post). In July 2003, the National Chamber Orchestra and Masterworks Chorus merged to create The National Philharmonic, an ensemble with more than 50 years of combined history, bringing high-caliber musical performances to the Washington area. The National Philharmonic took up residence at the state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore upon its opening in February 2005. Now, more than 250 performances later, and with far-reaching educational programming, The National Philharmonic is the largest and most active professional orchestra based in Montgomery County. It is also the only classical music organization in the Washington-Metro area that offers free tickets for children ages 7-17. The National Philharmonic recognizes this young audience as the classical music lovers of the future, and hopes to encourage future generations of concertgoers through this free-ticket program.

A February 24, 2019, review in The Washington Post by Patrick Rucker notes The National Philharmonic’s “distinctive personality,” adding, “The vibe in the audience is that everybody onstage is happy, and maybe a little proud to be there, and the music sounds that way.” In fact, National Philharmonic’s “distinctive personality” is part and parcel of the world-class acoustics of the Music Center at Strathmore. The concert hall, orchestra and chorale together create this world-class sound. The National Philharmonic’s Strathmore Concert Hall home is an integral component of its artistic success. In fact, it is because of this success that the Philharmonic was recently recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts.

As the Music Center at Strathmore’s orchestra-in-residence, The National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski, and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

National Philharmonic recently announced its “Thank You for Serving Program” for all active duty military, reservists and veterans and their families. Military personnel may buy tickets for any National Philharmonic performance for themselves and their family and receive 25% off using promo code THX25. Tickets must be picked up at the box office with Military ID. Other restrictions apply.

“This discount combined with “Kids 7-17 Free” underscores National Philharmonic’s appreciation and commitment to bringing music to those who serve our country,” said Jim Kelly, National Philharmonic’s President. “Over the years, we have partnered with Walter Reed Hospital and Veterans Moving Forward. This new initiative is a natural extension of our Armed Forces philanthropy,” Kelly concluded.

To purchase tickets for the performances and for information about the Philharmonic’s upcoming season, please visit nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at 301.581.5100.

Meng, Jayapal, García and Torres Call on Trump Administration to Abandon Fee Hikes for Immigrants Applying for Citizenship

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), and Norma Torres (D-CA), along with 80 other Members of Congress, sent a letter to the heads of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) demanding that they abandon plans to hike up USCIS application fees.

Last Thursday, the Trump administration proposed exorbitant increases in application costs that may lead to scenarios in which individuals may not be able to maintain or obtain legal status or apply for naturalization. The proposal includes:
  • Raising the naturalization application fee from $640 to $1,170.
  • Raising fees associated with lawful permanent residency from $1,220 to $2,195.
  • Raising the fee for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals from $495 to $765.
  • Creating a $50 fee for individuals to apply for asylum and requiring them to pay $490 for employment authorization while their asylum case is pending.
  • Eliminating fee waivers for naturalization, lawful permanent residence, employment authorization, and other applications.
  • Increasing fee rates to recover the cost of using Immigration Examinations Fee Account funds to support Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations.
The letter sent by Meng, Jayapal, García, and Torres also protests the shortened public comment period for the fee hikes, which allots only 32 days for comments as opposed to the usual 60 days.
“These massive increases are outrageous and are yet another case of the Trump administration attacking our immigrant communities,” said Rep. Meng. “Hiking and implementing additional fees will only create more barriers for immigrants, and make it harder for them to achieve the American dream. But this is what the President wants, and why he continues his crusade against those who seek to become Americans. Immigrants make our nation great, and we will not allow this administration to kick them to the curb. We will do all we can to stop these increases from going into effect.”
Last month, Meng, Jayapal, and García introduced the New Deal for New Americans Act, which among other things, would limit USCIS’s ability to raise fees without Congressional approval.
“These appalling fee hikes are a continuation of the Trump Administration’s betrayal of our nation’s values, and another attempt to restrict legal immigration,” said Rep. Jayapal. “This administration continues to throw billions of tax payer dollars into mass deportations, inhumane, for-profit private prisons and building Donald Trump’s vanity wall – and now they are attempting to create an invisible barrier with fees that make it nearly impossible for immigrants to apply for and maintain legal status or become citizens. The Trump Administration must rescind its plans to implement these egregious fees. As a proud naturalized citizen, I will fight these fees from going into effect as part of my larger fight for a more humane and inclusive immigration policy that restores our reputation as a nation that welcomes immigrants.”
“These unfair fee increases will make it much harder for immigrants to become legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens,” said Rep. García. “This proposal would make citizenship unaffordable and it is another example of the Trump administration’s plans to reduce immigration. But we shouldn’t be surprised, since the main architect of Trump’s immigration policies, Stephen Miller, has consistently promoted white nationalist policies—from the Muslim ban, to family separation, to changing the asylum rules.”
“As a first-generation immigrant, I know the Trump Administration’s attempt to raise USCIS fees on immigrants amounts to something much worse than an out-of-pocket expense,” said Rep. Torres. “It’s an attempt to place naturalization out of reach of aspiring Americans, plain and simple. Nobody ever spoke about admission costs to this shining city on a hill, because no previous president was low enough to use fees as a barrier to lawful immigration. This Administration’s agenda – from caging children and splintering families, to building a wall and hiking fees – is clearly at odds with the nation of immigrants that the American people are proud to be.”
“With this proposal, the administration is trying to engineer the racial and economic makeup of the United States and it must be withdrawn,” said Susan Collins, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). “The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and our members across the country will fight with Congresswoman Meng and the other Members of Congress who signed this letter to stop the draft rule in its tracks and ensure fair and equal access to U.S. citizenship and our immigration system.”
“The proposed fee increase on DACA renewal applications would place a financial burden on thousands of teachers across the country, including the nearly 300 DACAmented educators in the Teach For America network,” said Jose Gonzalez Camarena, Senior Managing Director, Teach For America DACA Initiative. “For teachers early in their careers who are also enrolled in certification and graduate programs as part of their commitment to providing an excellent education to their students, a fee increase of this magnitude jeopardizes their ability to submit renewal applications in a timely manner. The proposed fee increase can therefore lead to gaps in employment eligibility which have the potential to disrupt and have significant adverse implications for the education of thousands of students.”
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.