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.

Broadway Legends Ben Vereen and André De Shields Visit Backstage at HADESTOWN

Ben Vereen and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran Ben Vereen recently stopped by HADESTOWN at the Walter Kerr and visited with Tony Award winner André De Shields, who missed him when Mr. Vereen attended opening night.  Following the performance, Mr. Vereen met other cast members backstage and posed for photos.

Ben Vereen and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

HADESTOWN is the most honored show of the 2018-2019 Broadway season. In addition to the show’s eight Tony Awards, it has been honored with four Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical.

Afra Hines, Khaila Wilcoxon, Jewelle Blackman, Ben Vereen, Debbie Siraj, André De Shields, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Kay Trinidad, John Krause, Damani Van Rensalier. Photo by Lia Chang

The acclaimed new musical is by celebrated singer-songwriter and Tony Award winner Anaïs Mitchell and developed with innovative director and Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin. HADESTOWN marks the first time in over a decade that a woman has been the solo author of a musical: writing the music, lyrics, and book, and is the fourth time in Broadway history a woman has accomplished this creative feat.

Ben Vereen and Patrick Page. Photo by Lia Chang

HADESTOWN is already the highest-grossing musical in the history of the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway (219 West 48th Street, New York) and continues to sell out nightly with a cast led by Outer Critics Circle Award nominee Reeve Carney, Tony Award winner André De Shields, Tony Award nominee Amber Gray, two-time Tony Award nominee Eva Noblezada, Tony Award nominee Patrick Page, along with Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, and Kay Trinidad as the Fates. The chorus of Workers is played by Afra Hines, Timothy Hughes, John Krause, Kimberly Marable, and Ahmad Simmons. The full company also includes swings Malcolm Armwood, T. Oliver Reid, Jessie Shelton, Damani Van Rensalier and Khaila Wilcoxon.

Reeve Carney, Ben Vereen, Debbie Siraj, André De Shields and Lia Chang. Photo by Cherie B. Tay

The show originated as Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, HADESTOWN has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.

Ben Vereen, Debbie Siraj, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Following two intertwining love stories – that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone -Hadestown invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love.

Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Ben Vereen, André De Shields, Kay Trinidad. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team for features Tony Award winner Rachel Hauck (set design); four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Krass (costume design); two-time Tony Award winner Bradley King (lighting design); Tony Award winners Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz (sound design); Chita Rivera Award® winner and three-time Bessie Award® winner David Neumann (choreography); Liam Robinson (music direction and vocal arrangements); Tony Award winners Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose (arrangements and orchestrations); Ken Cerniglia (dramaturgy); and Stewart/Whitley (casting).

Ben Vereen, Afra Hines, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

A National Tour of HADESTOWN will launch beginning in the Fall of 2020. In its first year, the tour will visit more than 30 cities coast to coast, including (alphabetically) Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Tempe; and Washington, DC; with more to be announced shortly.

Reeve Carney, Eva Noblezada, Ben Vereen, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ben Vereen, Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang
Spencer Stevens, Ben Vereen, André De Shields and Summerisa Bell Stevens. Photo by Lia Chang
Ben Vereen, Cherie B. Tay and André De Shields. 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 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

Tzi Ma, Li Jun Li, Celia Au, Taimak and More Celebrate “Wu Assassins” Trailer Sneak Peek

Tzi Ma and pals. Photo by Lia Chang

The Asian American arts community turned out for Wu Assassins stars Tzi Ma, Li Jun Li and Celia Au who were celebrating the release of the trailer for their new Netflix action series at The Concept, located in the cellar of Hotel 50 Bowery in New York’s Chinatown on Tuesday, July 23rd.

Tzi Ma, Li Jun Li and Celia Au. Photo by Lia Chang

Assassins’ themed Papo J’s vodka cocktails and miniature cupcakes, created by Roger Yeh of YehCakes Custom Cakes, were served.

Peilin Kuo, Joey Orlando, Shuhei Kinoshita, Adam Lim, Geoff Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

Custom made Assassins and Netflix themed cupcakes by Roger Yeh of YehCakes. Photo by Lia Chang

Created by John Wirth and Tony Krantz​​​​​​​, Wu Assassins follows Kai Jin, a young Chinatown chef in present day San Francisco, as he becomes entangled with the Chinese Triad’s pursuit of deadly ancient powers known as the “Wu Xing.” After an encounter with a mystical spirit, Kai reluctantly becomes the Wu Assassin, using his enhanced martial arts skills to recover supernatural powers from five modern day criminals threatening to use them to destroy the world.

Celia Au and Tzi Ma. Photo by Lia Chang

Wu Assassins stars Iko Uwais (The Raid, Mile 22, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Kai Jin, Byron Mann as Uncle Six (The Expanse, Arrow, Altered Carbon, Hell on Wheels), Li Jun Li (Quantico, The Exorcist) as Jenny Wah, Celia Au (Lodge 49, Revenge of the Green Dragon) as Ying Ying, Lewis Tan (Into the Badlands, Deadpool 2, Iron Fist) as Lu Xin Lee, Lawrence Kao (The Walking Dead, The Originals, Sleepy Hollow) as Tommy Wah, Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy) as Alec McCullough, Katheryn Winnick (Vikings) as Christine Gavin, Tzi Ma (The Farewell, Arrival, Meditation Park, Milan, The Man in the High Castle, Hell on Wheels, Veep) as Mr. Young, JuJu Chan as Zan, Summer Glau as Miss Jones, Robin McLeavy as Maggie McCullough, and Travis Caldwell as Gideon.

Li Jun Li, Producers Chad Oaks and Mike Frislev, Celia Au and Tzi Ma. Photo by Lia Chang

Wirth serves as executive producer alongside Stephen Fung, Michael Frislev, Chad Oakes and Tony Krantz. Uwais co-executive produces with Cameron Litvack, David Simkins, Jonathan Lloyd Walker and Katheryn Winnick. Directors of the series include Krantz, Stephen Fung, Roel Reiné, Toa Fraser, Katheryn Winnick and Michael Nankin. The series is written by Wirth, Cameron Litvack, David Simkins, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Yalun Tu and Jessica Chou.

“Wu Assassins” launches globally on Netflix August 8, 2019.

Tzi Ma, THE LAST DRAGON’s Lia Chang, Taimak. Photo by Garth Kravits

The club was packed to the rafters. It was a nice surprise to reconnect with my The Last Dragon castmate Taimak.

Tzi Ma. Photo by Lia Chang

Tzi Ma can currently be seen in movie theaters in Lulu Wang’s summer hit The Farewell and in trailers for Mulan. He is in New York shooting Tigertail, Alan Yang’s multi- generational family drama for Netflix.

Tzi Ma. Photo by Lia Chang
Celia Au. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang, Liesl Hara and Eric Elizaga. Photo by Garth Kravits
Geoff Lee and Henry Chang. Photo by Lia Chang
Shing Ka, Lia Chang, Patrick Chen, Taimak and a guest. Photo by Lia Chang
Melissa Slaughter, Tzi Ma and Alex Chester. Photo by Lia Chang
Asian Cinevision Executive Director John Woo and Asian American International Film Festival Director Kayla Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
My Bev’s Girl Films producing partner Garth Kravits and Tzi Ma. Photo by Lia Chang
THE LAST DRAGON’s Lia Chang and Taimak. Photo by Garth Kravits
Tzi Ma. Photo by Lia Chang
Roger Yeh, Yan Xi and Grant Chang. Photo by Lia Chang
Tzi Ma, Alex Chester, Producers Chad Oaks and Mike Frislev. Photo by Lia Chang
Patrick Chen, Melissa Ng,  press officer of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Judy Lei and Henry Chang. Photo by Lia Chang
Grant Chang and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Tzi Ma and Taimak. Photo by Lia Chang
The Concept. Photo by Lia Chang
Producer Chad Oaks and Li Jun Li. Photo by Lia Chang
Geoff Lee and Henry Chang. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang and Telly Wong. Photo by Garth Kravits

Tzi Ma and pals. 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.

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

 

JELLY’S LAST JAM Opens The 2019 National Black Theatre Festival Starring Stanley Wayne Mathis, DeWitt Fleming, Jr. and Idella Johnson on July 29

The North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NC Black Rep) is presenting George C. Wolfe’s Tony Award Winning musical, Jelly’s Last Jam, and the show will be the opening night performance at the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF). The performance will take place at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem on Monday, July 29 at 9pm following the Opening Night Celebrity Gala celebrating the 30th anniversary of the NBTF. Additional performances will run Tuesday July 30 through Saturday August 3 (no performances on Wednesday, July 31).

DeWitt Fleming, Jr.

Jelly’s Last Jam tells the story of Ferdinand Joseph La Mothe, a.k.a “Jelly Roll Morton,” the self-proclaimed “inventor of jazz.” Featuring explosive dance and an original score inspired by the best musical traditions of New Orleans, Jelly’s Last Jam explores the complexities of African-American life, while celebrating its creative genius.

Stanley Wayne Mathis

Stanley Wayne Mathis, who originated the role of “Jack the Bear” on Broadway, returns as “Chimney Man” in this production. Mathis shared, “First time in my career returning to a show where I originated a role. To explore the show through yet another character is magical. What a joy to revisit this story with a new family and to take once again this epic journey.”

Acclaimed tap dancer DeWitt Fleming, Jr. will star as Jelly Roll Morton. Fleming is thrilled to take on the iconic role stating, “To be able to play the same role as one of my biggest influences, Gregory Hines, is like a dream come true. Jelly’s Last Jam is one of those rare shows where as a performer and audience member you are completely fulfilled. The music is brilliant, the script is brilliant, and the message is timeless.”

Idella Johnson

New Orleans native, Idella Johnson, tackles the role of Anita for the second time in two years, having won a Best Actress award for her performance in Le Petit Theatre’s 2017 production of the musical. Johnson commented, “What an absolute honor it is to ‘Jam with Jelly’ again! I fell in love with Jelly Roll Morton and his story and playing Sweet Anita was a dream role of mine. I am so stoked to do it again!”

The Opening Night performance will also serve as a reunion of sorts for the Broadway production, with original cast members Keith David (Chimney Man), Tonya Pinkins (Anita), Savion Glover (Young Jelly), and Stanley Wayne Mathis (Jack the Bear), all scheduled to be in attendance.

Jelly’s Last Jam will be directed by NC Black Rep Artistic Director, Jackie Alexander, whose 2017 production of the play at Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans was awarded the city’s Big Easy Award for Best Musical of the Year. Morgan Hawkins will choreograph the show, with DeWitt Fleming, Jr. handling tap choreography. The Musical Director for the show is jazz pianist and New Orleans native Tyrone Jackson. The set design is by Patrice Davidson, with costumes by Frenchie La’Vern, and lighting by Arthur Reese.

The 2019 National Black Theatre Festival will be held July 29-August 3, 2019. For more information, please visit: www.ncblackrep.org.

Andrea Abello, Purva Bedi, Yair Ben-Dor, Lizan Mitchell, K.K. Moggie, Howard W. Overshown, Linda Powell, and David Ryan Smith Set for Soho Rep’s NY Premiere of Christopher Chen’s PASSAGE, April 23 – May 26

Soho Rep. presents the New York Premiere of Obie Award-winning playwright Christopher Chen’s Passage (April 23-May 26), a fantasia on colonialism past and present that asks the question: if Country Y occupies Country X, can someone from Country X and someone from Country Y ever form a mutual relationship? Directed by Saheem Ali, Passage is a playful and gripping experiment that isolates power as the sole differentiator between people challenging the arbitrary binaries that define how we live.

Saheem Ali, the rising star director behind Donja R. Love’s Fireflies and The Sugar in Our Wounds, and the upcoming performance of Christopher Urch’s The Rolling Stone at Lincoln Center Theater, directs a cast including Andrea Abello, Purva Bedi, Yair Ben-Dor, Lizan Mitchell, K.K. Moggie, Howard W. Overshown, Linda Powell, and David Ryan Smith. The creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic), Toni-Leslie James (Costumes), Amith Chandrashaker (Lighting), Mikaal Sulaiman (Sound), Ryan Courtney (Props), and Nicole Marconi (PSM).

Saheem Ali, who grew up in Kenya amidst the legacy of British colonial rule, describes the play’s themes as intensely, personally relevant. Ali is drawn to the structural and theatrical challenge Chen’s script poses: to stage a representation of power without the typical signifiers. One way of addressing this challenge, for Ali, was to cast all actors of color eschewing the overt social connotations of casting white people as the oppressors and people of color as the oppressed. Ali explains, The process has been a real stripping away Chris’ script starts by stripping away identity in all its forms (characters in the play are named for letters in the alphabet), and even as we’ve been exploring possibilities of the play’s physical landscape in rehearsal, it’s continued to be, ‘take away, take away, take away.’ We’re in the process of getting to the core of the theatrical event.

Chen’s distinctive and exhilarating storytelling (The Brooklyn Rail) was last on display in New York in 2016, in his intricately constructed, unrelentingly destabilizing puzzle of a play (The New York Times, in a Critics’ Pick review), Caught. He refers to Passage as his most instinctive, impulsive play, saying, I am a mixed race person, and I almost feel my cultural inheritance is defined by the duality at play here; I’ve simultaneously sort of but not fully fit in anywhere, and understood and not understood both sides fully. I wanted to put this struggle to understand and connect my own vulnerabilities on the table with this one. Openness is a big part of the play, I wanted to make this play an open vessel, allowing POC movements past and present across a century of time, across different continents to course through the work.

Soho Rep. Artistic Director Sarah Benson says, I could not be more thrilled to be producing Chris Chen’s brilliant and highly inventive play. This is writing for the theater at its very best Chris pries open an imaginative space that is exhilarating and unsettling. Saheem Ali has championed Chris’ writing (and this play in particular) and I simply cannot wait to see the production they make together. I have followed the productions Saheem has created for several years and have been blown away by his irreverence and wit his practice melds true theater experimentation with bold populism.

Performance Schedule and Ticketing
Performances of Passage will take place April 23 – May 26 (see schedule of times above) at Soho Rep., located at 46 Walker Street in Manhattan. Critics are welcome beginning May 1 at 7:30PM for an official opening May 5. Admission tickets are $35 general/$65 premium through May 26, and can be purchased by visiting sohorep.org or calling 212.352.3101. $30 general rush and $20 student rush (with a valid school ID) tickets are available at the box office 30 minutes prior to curtain for each performance. $0.99 Sunday tickets will be offered on May 5, 12, and 19 at 7:30pm and are available first come, first served at the box office only. There are no advance sales for Rush or $0.99 Sunday tickets.

Passage was developed with support from The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley CA. It was originally produced by the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia (Blanka Zizka, Artistic Director), and was presented as part of the Contemporary American Voices Festival at Long Wharf Theatre, 2017.

About the Artists
Christopher Chen (Playwright) is an Obie Award-winning playwright whose work has been produced across the United States and abroad. His plays include Caught (Obie Award for Playwriting, Barrymore Award, Drama League Nomination), The Hundred Flowers Project (Glickman Award, Rella Lossy Award, James Tait Black Award shortlist), Into The Numbers (Belarus Free Theater International Contest of Modern Drama- 2nd Place), The Late Wedding, Mutt and You Mean To Do Me Harm. Chris is the recipient of the Lanford Wilson Award, The Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, and he is the inaugural recipient of the Ollie Award. Current commissions include The Aurora, LCT3, Manhattan Theatre Club, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Playwrights Horizons and the Royal Shakespeare Company. A San Francisco native, Chris is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, and holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from S.F. State.

Saheem Ali (Director) is a proud immigrant from Kenya. Recent credits include Fireflies (Atlantic Theater Company), Dangerous House (Williamstown Theater Festival), Sugar in Our Wounds (MTC), Tartuffe (Playmakers Rep), Where Storms Are Born (Williamstown), Henry V (NYU Tisch), Twelfth Night (Public Theater), Kill Move Paradise (National Black Theater), Diaspora (Gym at Judson), Nollywood Dreams (Cherry Lane), The Booty Call (Inner Voices) and Dot (Detroit Public Theater). He has workshopped new plays at Playwrights Horizons, Playwrights Realm, MCC, New York Stage & Film, Page 73 and The Lark. He is a Usual Suspect and former Directing Fellow at New York Theater Workshop, Sir John Gielgud SDCF Fellow and a Shubert Fellow.

Cast
Andrea Abello is a Colombian-American actor, poet, and teaching artist. She is stoked to be making her Off-Broadway debut at Soho Rep! Regional: Emmy in A Doll’s House, Part II (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), World Premiere of Dave Malloy and Anne Washburn’s Little Bunny Foo Foo (Actors Theatre of Louisville). NYC workshops: How to Defend Yourself (Humana Festival workshop), The Place Women Go (WP Theatre and Colt Coeur) and more at The Lark, INTAR, The Drama League, Repertorio Espa ol. Professional Training Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville. BFA from NYU Tisch. A gigantic thanks to the folks over at HCKR Agency, TBD Casting, Saheem, my parents, Nathi, Abuelito, and Cal for all of their support. andreaabello.com

Purva Bedi Soho Rep Debut. Off-Broadway: India Pale Ale (Manhattan Theatre Club), Dance Nation (Playwrights Horizons), An Ordinary Muslim (NYTW), Uncommon Sense (Tectonic), IDIOT! (HERE), Veil’d (WP), Rise of Dorothy Hale (St. Luke’s). with Target Margin as Associate Artist: Reread Another, Tempest, Second Language, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, Old Comedy, 5 Hysterical Girls Theorem. Regional: Rice Boy (Mark Taper), My Wandering Boy (South Coast Rep). Film: Sully, Equity, Kumare, Cosmopolitan, Green Card Fever, American Desi. TV: “High Maintenance,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Person of Interest,” “Madame Secretary”, “Nurse Jackie.” Member The Actor’s Center Workshop Company, Founding member Disha Theatre. Teacher Anthony Meindl Actors Workshop. She Co-Created Assembled Identity (HERE) last spring. Purva studied at Williams College, BADA and Public Theatre Shakespeare Lab. Purva is represented by Artists & Representatives and managed by Sirensong Entertainment.

Yair Ben-Dor Everything Yair has done in the 8 years since moving from Israel – every play, every film, every subway improv and method acting class, has led him here and he is thrilled to have made it this far. He studied at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theatre Institute and has been all around the US working ever since. He acts, he writes (both for fun and professionally), He performs stand up, he produces, he directs… Hell, he’ll sing for you if the lighting is right and he’d be happy to tell you all about it. You can find out some at www.yairbendor.com but you can find out more by tapping him on the shoulder and saying “Hey, good show! By the way ”

Lizan Mitchell Broadway credits include Electra, Having Our Say and So Long on Lonely Street. Off-Broadway credits include The First Noel, Brownsville Song, Cell, The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Festival, Rosmersholm, For Colored Girls, Gum, Salt and Ma Rose. Regional credits include Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre), Dead and Breathing (London, Liverpool, National Black Theater and CATF), Skeleton Crew (Trinity Rep), A Raisin in the Sun (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award), My Lord What a Night (Premiere Stages), The Good Peaches (Cleveland Play House), The House That Will Not Stand (Yale Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Victory Gardens), An Issue of Blood (Victory Gardens), Dead and Breathing (CATF), The Last Fall (Crossroads Theater), Having Our Say (McCarter), Fabulation (Center Stage) and Woolly Mammoth, Pittsburgh Public Theater, TheaterWorks, Goodman, Proposition Theatre, San Jose Repertory, Crossroads Theatre and the Humana Festival. Film/TV credits include Of Monsters and Men, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Detroit, Brooklynification, Deadbeat, We’ll Never Have Paris, Golden Boy, “John Adams’ (HBO), “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order,” The Human Stain, The Preacher’s Wife, “Sesame Street” and “The Wire”.

K.K. Moggie Off Broadway Includes: The Gravediggers Lullaby (The Actor’s Company) Daphne’s Dive (Signature Theater Company) Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO), Bareknuckle (Vertigo Theater Company), One Night (Cherry Lane) The Golden Dragon (The Play Company), Bottom of the World (Atlantic Theater Company), The Bereaved (Partial Comfort), Grace (MCC), Richard III (CSC), Regional: Mary Stuart (Title role, Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Film: After Party (Best Feature Comedy 2017 Madrid International Film Industry), Home (Dances With Films 2013 Industry Choice Award), Anna and the King, The Sleeping Dictionary. Short Film: You Beautiful Blind Crazy Cripple (lead), The Audition (directed by Martin Scorsese), Memory Box. TV Includes: “The Good Wife” (CBS), “Gossip Girl” (CW), “Mercy” (NBC), “White Collar” (USA) Love to Kevin and Wiley.

Howard W. Overshown Broadway: Saint Joan, Julius Caesar w/ Denzel Washington, A Free Man of Color, Richard III dir. by Sam Mendes. Off-Broadway: YellowMan, Never the Sinner, Beauty On The Vine, Cost of Living. Most Recent: King John (Folger Theatre), Evanston Salt Costs Climbing (White Heron Theatre), View From the Bridge (CTG-Kennedy Center), King Lear (The Guthrie). Film: Never Here, Pride and Glory, Body Of Lies, Lost Cat Corona, Grand Street. TV: “Bull,” “The Affair,” “Elementary,” “White Collar,” “Law & Order/Criminal Intent/SVU,” “Brain Dead,” “Kings”. 2018 Lunt Fontanne Fellow.

Linda Powell’s recent credits include Jen Silverman’s The Roommate at Long Wharf Theater, Waterwell Theater’s The Courtroom and Portia in Compangnia Colombari’s Merchant of Venice. Her Broadway credits include The Trip to Bountiful, On Golden Pond and Wilder, Wilder, Wilder. Off Broadway she has been seen in The Moors, The Christians, A Doll’s House, The Overwhelming, Jar the Floor, Jitney, and Angela’s Mixtape among others. Linda works frequently in regional theaters around the country and her numerous TV and film credits include the current season of “House of Cards” and the upcoming film The Report with Adam Driver and Annette Benning.

David Ryan Smith: Broadway: One Man, Two Guvnors; Passing Strange. Off Broadway: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Pericles (The Public Theater), Gone Missing (City Center/Encores! Off Center), Mankind (Playwrights Horizons), The Death of the Last Black Man (Signature Theater), The Glory of the World (BAM), #9 (59E59); Marat/Sade (Classical Theater of Harlem). Regional: Shakespeare Theater Company, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, Barrington Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Triad Stage, Crossroads Theater Company, California Shakespeare Theater, etc. Film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Medal of Victory, Bee Season. Education: MFA, American Conservatory Theater.

Lia Chang
Lia Chang

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

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Book Launch Party for Helen Zia’s New Book, LAST BOAT OUT OF SHANGHAI, at Chinese Culture Center Auditorium on January 24

CCC, Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, 1990 Institute, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, East Wind Books and other community partners are co-presenting the Book Launch Party for Helen Zia’s new nonfiction book, Last Boat out of Shanghai, at Chinese Culture Center Auditorium, 750 Kearny St, 3rd Fl., SF, CA, on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 5:45pm.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS
Zia is a local writer, reporter and activist whose writings focus on LGBTQ, Women’s and Human Rights. Last Boat out of Shanghai is based on the “dramatic, real-life stories of a generation caught up in the mass rush out of Shanghai in the wake of China’s 1949 Communist Revolution” that parallel the struggles faced by emigrants today. Zia weaves together the stories of four young Shanghai residents who wrestled with the decision to abandon everything for an uncertain life as refugees in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S.

The release party features a talk with Helen Zia, followed by a Q&A, book signing, and opportunity to purchase your copy of Last Boat out of Shanghai. The first kickoff event for CCC’s theme of the year, Present Tense 2019: Task of Remembrance will bring together projects that reflect on the complexities, gravity, and responsibility of remembering.

Schedule
4:30-5:30pm Pre-reception with author Helen Zia for Reader tickets
5:30pm Doors Open
5:45pm Program begins, followed by Q&A and book signing

Tickets
There are two tickets available: Reader tickets ($60) and General Public tickets ($5 or Pay What You Can).

Reader tickets include a pre-event reception that begins at 4:30, reserved seating and a signed copy of Last Boat out of Shanghai.

General Public tickets are $5 or Pay What You Can with an optional donation choice.

In community partnership with Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Historical Society of America, Center for Asian American Media, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, 1990 Institute, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and East Wind Books (partial list).

Final Chance to See Orlando Pabotoy’s Tour De Force Performance in Self- Penned SESAR

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

Ma-Yi Theater Company’s World Premiere of SESAR, written by and performed by Orlando Pabotoy in his playwrighting debut, ends limited run tonight.

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Richard Feldman, SESAR began previews on October 20, opened October 24  and ends limited run tonight on Theatre Row at The Beckett (410 W 42nd St). Tickets to “SESAR,” are available through TODAYTIX. Check every morning at 10am.Or go to Telechargeoffers.com and use CODE TRMOCAPRE for 20% off during previews. Or TRMOCAREG for 20% off during the regular run.

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

ABOUT “SESAR”
Born to a Filipino father and American mother, Pabotoy grew up in Bohol, a province that is part of the cluster of islands in the Philippines known as the Visayas Region. When he was 15, while watching television, Orlando caught a show with Christopher Plummer delivering a speech from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” In SESAR, the teenager locks himself in the only family bathroom to dive head-first into the world of ancient Rome, determined to make sense of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. The boy’s father, a former town mayor now exiled because of his democratic beliefs, joins his son in the bathroom, and using his own experiences, teaches him real-life lessons about power, love, and loss.

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

With Set and Costume Design by Junghyun Georgia Lee, Lighting Design by Oliver Wason, Sound Design by Fabian Obispo, Projection Design by Dan Scully and Rachael Gass as Production Stage Manager.

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

Check out what the critics have to say:

“…a moving solo show of personal memoir smartly written and performed with élan by Orlando Pabotoy. As a young Filipino boy seduced by Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, this play is the sweet and profound story of how that text bonded a son and father together during a time of political strife in Asia.” —Stage Left

“Director Richard Feldman and his production team build the atmosphere around him via vivid screen projections on the stark white walls of designer @jhgeorgialee Junghyun Georgia Lee’s set, quick blackouts that speed up time, then an extended blackout where it is easy to believe there are two actors on stage conversing. And yes, having staged a show entirely in a bathroom, Feldman could not resist an homage to the shower scene in Psycho.” –frontrowcenter.com

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

“Portraying both father and son, as well as a variety of other Shakespearean and contemporary characters, Pabotoy displays impressive linguistic and physical skills. He rails in pantomime against the winds of a hurricane, magically shrinks to boy-size then grows to manhood and back again. He speaks, or hypnotically whispers or sings, not only in modern and Shakespearean English, but also in Fijian and Visayan.”_Theatre Guide

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

“Musical interludes, crashing thunder and battle noises are adeptly depicted by sound designer Fabian Obispo. Oliver Wason’s striking lighting design veers from realism to fantasy with its fluctuations. Stylized footage of the Philippines, hurricanes, and news broadcasts are the chief features of Dan Scully’s mesmerizing projection design.

Filled with sentiment, Sesar is an uplifting and engaging experience.” THEATERSCENE

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

Orlando Pabotoy “ is sunshine after the rain. He ignites the stage –you can see this is his home and he radiates the inner glow of an artist born to tell stories that shake worlds and heal wounds and mend hearts. He is completely brilliant.” _Stage Biz

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Orlando Pabotoy debuts as a Playwright with Ma-Yi Theater Company. His recent work as playwright includes That Beautiful Laugh and an adaptation of Goldoni’s The World In the Moon. His recent work in devising and creation of new works were in collaborations with projects such as The Object Lesson (NYTW, BAM, various International Festivals) Home (BAM, various International Festivals) by Geoff Soebelle and Holoscenes – a site specific art piece that deals with the Trauma of flooding by Lars Jan. Orlando Pabotoy was recently a movement director for NAATCO’s Henry the VI by Shakespeare. His professional works in performance, direction and choreography has been seen in (selected venues): NAATCO, Ma-Yi Theater, The Public, NYTW, Yale Rep, Met Opera, Kirk Douglas, The Guthrie. American Airlines Theater, TFANA, The Lake Lucille Project. Salzburg Festival (Austria). Orlando Pabotoy is a faculty member at NYU Tisch School of The Arts, ITW (Amsterdam) and The Juilliard School. Awards: Obie Award (Magno Rubio with Ma-Yi), TCG Fox Fellowship Foundation.

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Richard Feldman, Director, SESAR – Juilliard School of Drama – Specialty: Scene Study, Associate Director, Project Director
Richard Feldman was born in New York City and has directed productions including Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya, Rosmersholm, Fifth of July, Taming of the Shrew, Antony and Cleopatra, and Infinity’s House. He was formerly a teacher at H.B. Studio, is a founding member of the Vermont Ensemble Theater, and co-founder of the Dinosaur Theater. He attended Horace Mann School, holds a BA from Yale University, and did graduate studies at the American Conservatory Theater. Feldman joined the Drama Division faculty at Juilliard in 1987, became associate director in 2007, and has been acting director since 2016.

Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang
Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Lia Chang

The Drama Desk, Obie Award and Lucille Lortel Award-winning Ma-Yi Theater Company’s 2018 – 2019 Season features all-new American plays by Asian American Playwrights. After a breakout season with the award-winning success of the musical KPOP, and with the closing of Mike Lew’s highly praised Teenage Dick – Ma-Yi is presenting the productions of Sesar & The Chinese Lady in repertory at Theatre Row. Click here for more information.

Ma-Yi Theater Company has the distinction of being a primary incubator of new Asian American theater and the largest collective of Asian-American playwrights in the world.

Broadwayworld.com Photo Flash: Ma-Yi Presents World Premiere Of Orlando Pabotoy’s SESAR

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

Final Weekend to See David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at the Ahmanson Theatre, Followed by Run at San Francisco’s Curran, June 20 – July 8

Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

This is your final weekend to catch the world premiere of “Soft Power” by David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music and additional lyrics) at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

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

This play with a musical, produced by Center Theatre Group, directed by Leigh Silverman and choreographed by Sam Pinkleton, will end on June 10th, followed by a run at San Francisco’s Curran from June 20 through July 8, 2018.

Maria-Christina Oliveras (obscured), Geena Quintos, Billy Bustamante, Conrad Ricamora, Jaygee Macapugay, Jon Hoche and Daniel May. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Maria-Christina Oliveras (obscured), Geena Quintos, Billy Bustamante, Conrad Ricamora, Jaygee Macapugay, Jon Hoche and Daniel May. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

The cast includes, in alphabetical order, Billy Bustamante, Kara Guy, Jon Hoche, Kendyl Ito, Francis Jue, Austin Ku, Raymond J. Lee, Alyse Alan Louis, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Paul HeeSang Miller, Kristen Faith Oei, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Geena Quintos, Conrad Ricamora, Trevor Salter and Emily Stillings.

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

The creative team includes scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Anita Yavich, lighting design by Mark Barton, sound design by Kai Harada, orchestrations by Danny Troob, dance arrangements by John Clancy, music supervision by Chris Fenwick, music direction by David O, hair and wig design by Tom Watson, make-up design by Angelina Avallone and casting by Heidi Griffiths, CSA and Kate Murray, CSA. The dramaturg is Oskar Eustis. The production stage manager is David Lurie-Perret.

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

A contemporary comedy explodes into a musical fantasia in the first collaboration between two of America’s great theatre artists: Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly”) and Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home”). “Soft Power” rewinds our recent political history and plays it back, a century later, through the Chinese lens of a future, beloved East-meets-West musical. In the musical, a Chinese executive who is visiting America finds himself falling in love with a good-hearted U.S. leader – Hillary Clinton – as the power balance between their two countries shifts following the 2016 election.

As original as it is topical, “Soft Power” overflows with the romance, laughter and cultural confusions of the golden age of Broadway. “Soft Power” is inspired by the legacy of classic American musicals such as “The King and I” as well as China’s current quest for international cultural influence, also known as “Soft Power.”


Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

“Soft Power” is a Center Theatre Group co-commission with The Public Theater. “Soft Power” is produced in association with East West Players.

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

Tickets for “Soft Power” are available through Center Theatre Group or East West Players. To purchase Center Theatre Group tickets: call (213) 972-4400, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, or go to the Center Theatre Group Box Office located at the Ahmanson Theatre. To purchase tickets through East West Players: call (213) 625-7000 or visit www.eastwestplayers.org. Tickets range from $30 – $130 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Ahmanson Theatre is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

Sneak Peek of CTG’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER

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Executive Director Andrea Louie to Step Down From Asian American Arts Alliance 

Andrea Louie
Andrea Louie
Andrea Louie

Andrea Louie, executive director of the Asian American Arts Alliance, has announced she will step down from her leadership role from the organization after more than seven years of service. Louie’s last day will be March 9, 2018. A pioneer in the field, the Alliance has established itself as a leader in providing services to Asian American artists and organizations through professional development workshops, regrants, networking opportunities, and advocacy.

“It’s been such a joy and privilege to work with the Alliance and this incredible community of cultural workers,” Louie said. “It’s been an honor to serve with so many passionate and dedicated board and staff members, and I have learned a great deal from each one. I will continue to work in the arts and culture sector here in New York City and look forward to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the field. There has never been a greater need for this work.”

Louie joined the Alliance on August 10, 2010. During her tenure, she helped raise the profile of the Alliance across the city and expanded the organization’s reach into immigrant communities in Queens and Brooklyn through such initiatives as the Locating the Sacred Festival. With a strong team of colleagues, she increased public programs and fellowships to support individual artists across disciplines; positioned the Alliance as a steadfast advocacy partner in the field, seeking increased public funding for arts and culture and more equitable arts policies; and expanded support for the Alliance through increased government relations and partnerships with Asian American and arts organizations throughout the five boroughs. Anjali Goyal, who has served as Development Manager at the Alliance, will serve as Acting Executive Director.

“We thank Andrea for her years of service and thoughtful leadership in guiding the Alliance as a creative force and in its social impact. Many in the field have recognized Andrea’s unwavering commitment to civic engagement. The community has benefited from her many contributions,” said Athena Robles, president of the board. The Alliance board is conducting an executive director search, and the job description may be found here.

The Alliance board invites the community to celebrate Louie’s tenure with the Alliance at the next Town Hall, which will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 22, at 384 Broadway community art space. You may RSVP to attend here.

Asian American Arts Alliance is dedicated to strengthening Asian American arts and cultural groups through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. Since 1983, the Alliance has sought to unify, promote and represent the artistic and cultural producers of one of New York City’s fastest-growing ethnic populations. The organization is a diverse alliance of artists, organizations, and arts supporters who believe that working together as a pan­ethnic, multidisciplinary community is essential to nurturing the development of artists and arts organizations and to providing meaningful and innovative ways for civic engagement in society. www.aaartsalliance.org.

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Billy Porter-Helmed TOPDOG/UNDERDOG Starring Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson at Huntington through April 9

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

The Huntington Theatre Company is presenting the explosive Pulitzer Prize winner Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Tony, Grammy, and Drama Desk Award winner Billy Porter (The Colored Museum at the Huntington and Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway). The two-handed starring Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson has performances through April 9, 2017 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue in Boston, MA.

Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Topdog/Underdog is a darkly comic, deeply theatrical fable about family wounds and healing bonds. Lincoln and Booth are brothers: best friends and bitter rivals. Lincoln, a former 3-card monte hustler, works as a Lincoln impersonator in a shooting gallery; Booth is an aspiring grifter. He tempts his brother to get back in the game, but the consequences could be deadly.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Select Evenings: Tues. – Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. – Sat. at 8pm; select Sun. at 7pm. Matinees: Select Wed., Sat., and Sun. at 2pm

TICKETS
Single tickets starting at $25 and FlexPasses are on sale: online at huntingtontheatre.org; by phone at 617 266 0800; or in person at the BU Theatre Box Office, 264 Huntington Ave. and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA Box Office, 527 Tremont St. in Boston’s South End.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Matthew J. Harris (Booth) recently appeared in Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar at the Huntington. He has regional credits that include In the Heights (Walnut Street Theatre), A Comedy of Errors (Theater at Monmouth), and Twelfth Night (Shakesperience Productions, Inc.). Some of his New York credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Classical Theatre of Harlem), Macbeth (Pulse Ensemble Theatre), She Calls Me Firefly (New Perspectives Theatre), and Trouble (New York Musical Theatre Festival). His television credits include “Blindspot” and “Person of Interest.” He can also be heard and seen in commercials for Coke Zero, Verizon, Zaxby’s, Footlocker, Bounty, and more. Mr. Harris is also a hip-hop dancer, teacher, and choreographer at Man in Motion. maninmotionnyc.com. matthewjharris.net.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Lincoln) previously appeared in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Huntington. He has also appeared in Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk on Broadway. His Off-Broadway credits include Rancho Viejo (Playwrights Horizons), The America PlayTwo Noble Kinsmen, and The Tempest (The Public Theater/NYSF), The Piano Lesson (Signature Theatre), and The Public Sings (New York City Center). His regional credits include Aubergine and Intelligent Homosexuals Guide… (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), WAR, The Winter’s Tale, and The Piano Lesson (Yale Repertory Theatre), Jitney (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Radio Golf (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Romeo & Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Theatre Company), and Angels in America (Alliance Theatre and Dallas Theatre Center). His television credits include “Elementary,” “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Unforgettable,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Following,” “Suits,” and “Law and Order.” He is the recipient of the Dallas Theater Critics Award (Leon Rabin) for Featured Actor in Angels in America. Mr. Henderson is the founder of Quick Silver Theater Company. QuickSilverTheater.com. TyroneMitchellHenderson.com.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Suzan-Lori Parks (Playwright) is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, was awarded the prestigious Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts, and was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next Wave.” Her project 365 Days/365 Plays (where she wrote a play a day for an entire year) was produced in over 700 theatres worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theatre history. Her other plays include Topdog/Underdog (2002 Pulitzer Prize winner), The Book of Grace, Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical, In the Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Venus (1996 Obie Award), The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 Obie Award, Best New American Play), The America Play, and Fucking A. Her adaptation of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Her newest plays, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) – set during the Civil War – was awarded the Horton Foote Prize, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, and was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Ms. Parks has written numerous screenplays including Girl 6 for Spike Lee, and she adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God for ABC Television’s “Oprah Winfrey Presents.” She is currently developing an original series for Amazon. Her first novel, Getting Mother’s Body (Random House, 2003), also contains songs and is set in the West Texas of her youth. Ms. Parks recently performed Watch Me Work, a free, weekly, live-streamed, writing workshop, open to artists of all disciplines. Her plays are published by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Samuel French, and Dramatists Play Service. She is also at work on a stage-musical adaptation of the film The Harder They Come, and a new musical project in collaboration with Timbaland and Harmony Samuels. She is the Residency One playwright at Signature Theatre for their 2016-2017 season and her band Sula & The Noise is also in residence. Ms. Parks teaches at New York University, and serves at The Public Theater as its Master Writer Chair. She is an alumna of New Dramatists and of Mount Holyoke College. 

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Billy Porter (Director) returns to the Huntington having previously directed The Colored Museum. He is the 2013 Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award winner for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Lola in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots. He was recently seen on Broadway in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Mr. Porter’s one-man show Ghetto Superstar (2005 GLAAD Media Award nomination, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Performer of the Year 2003–2004) debuted at The Public Theater in conjunction with City Theatre of Pittsburgh. His other directing credits include CompanyHAM: A Musical Memoir with Sam Harris; The WizBeing Alive: The Soul of SondheimTwilight in ManchegoOnce on This Island (NAACP Theatre Award winner for Best Direction); The Soul of Richard RodgersFive Guys Named MoeAltar BoyzRent (Associate Director, Off Broadway revival); Patina Miller Live at The Delfonte Room (London); and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder (starring Chaka Khan). His Broadway album, Billy’s Back on Broadway (Concord Records) was released in 2014. His single Edelweiss: #blessourhomeland was released on Inauguration day and the full album, Billy Porter Presents the Soul of Richard Rodgers will be released in April of 2017. Some of his film and television work includes The Broken Hearts ClubThe HumblingBilly Porter: Broadway & Soul (PBS), “Law & Order,” and “The Get Down.” As a playwright, Mr. Porter was represented Off Broadway in 2014 with the premiere of While I Yet Live starring S. Epatha Merkerson (Primary Stages). A Pittsburgh native, he received his BFA in drama from Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a graduate of UCLA’s professional program in screenwriting.

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY
Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. The Huntington runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert our current theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

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