Rheaume Crenshaw, Aisha de Haas, Wayne Pretlow and More Set for Micki Grant and Vinnette Carroll’s DON’T BOTHER ME, I CAN’T COPE at New York City Center, July 25 – 28

Rheaume Crenshaw. Photo by Lia Chang
Rheaume Crenshaw. Photo by Lia Chang
Rheaume Crenshaw. Photo by Lia Chang

Rheaume Crenshaw, Dayna Dantzler, Aisha de Haas, James T. Lane, and Wayne Pretlow will star in Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, the third production of the Encores! Off-Center season at New York City Center, July 25 – 28. Tony Award-winner Savion Glover (Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk) directs and choreographs the Off-Center revival, with music direction by Annastasia Victory.

The ensemble includes Alexandria Bradley, Marshall L. Davis Jr., CK Edwards, Jeffry Foote, Shonica Gooden, Nina Hudson, Marla McReynolds, and Amber Barbee Pickens.

Performances are Wednesday & Thursday at 7:30pm, Fri at 8pm, and Sat at 2 & 8pm at New York City Center,  131 W 55th St (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues) in New York.  Click here for tickets.

Micki Grant. Photo by Lia Chang
Micki Grant. Photo by Lia Chang

Micki Grant and Vinnette Carroll’s Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope (1971) is a radical and irreverent protest cycle that laid bare the political issues facing the African American community when it first premiered at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. The show continued to raise voices for change in its Philadelphia and New York productions through a lively mix of song and dance, and a score by Grant that includes gospel, jazz, soul, calypso, and rock. It ran over 1,000 performances on Broadway, earning four Tony Award nominations, and winning an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album.

With five 1972 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical) and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical the same year, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope also won Micki Grant a Grammy Award for best score-the first female to be so honored. Ms. Grant was also one of the stars of the show, which came to Broadway after successful runs in Washington DC, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The show ran for over two years on Broadway. Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope  is the first Broadway musical written entirely by a woman and the first Broadway production to be directed by a female African-American.

Ms. Grant has received many Grammy and Tony nominations for her various musicals, such as Your Arms Too Short To Box With GodIt’s So Nice To Be Civilized, J.E. Franklin’s Prodigal SisterEubie, and Sweet & Hot.  As an actress, Ms. Grant has performed on and Off-Broadway and in regional theatres around the country, having made her Broadway debut as the ingenue in Langston Hughes’ Tambourines To Glory. In the late nineties, a two-year tour of the play Having Our Say took her to more than 68 U.S. cities and to Johannesburg, South Africa, earning her the Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Sadie Delany. The first African ­American contract player on a daytime serial, she played the role of attorney Peggy Nolan on NBC’s “Another World” for seven years, and has had continuing roles on “Edge of Night” and “Guiding Light,” as well as guesting on “All My Children”. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including: Obie Award, NAACP Image, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Audelco’s Outstanding Pioneer, AEA’s Paul Robeson and the Nat’l Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend and Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Awards.

NEW YORK City Center (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO) has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city since 1943. The landmark 75th Anniversary Season (2018 – 2019) pays tribute to this rich history and celebrates the institution’s singular role in the arts today. For 25 years, City Center’s Tony-honored Encores! series has been “an essential New York institution” (The New York Times), and since 2013, the Encores! Off-Center series has featured seminal Off-Broadway musicals filtered through the lens of today’s innovative artists. Dance has also been integral to the theater’s mission from the start and programs like the annual Fall for Dance Festival remain central to City Center’s identity. Home to a roster of renowned national and international companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (City Center’s Principal Dance Company) and Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City Center was Manhattan’s first performing arts center, founded with the mission of making the best in music, theater, and dance accessible to all audiences. That mission continues today through robust education and community engagement programs, which bring the performing arts to over 9,000 New York City students each year, and the expansion of the theatrical experience to include art exhibitions, pre-show talks, and master classes that offer an up-close look at the work of the great theater and dance artists of our time. NYCityCenter.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERSTATE at NYMF Adds Additional Performance on July 15

Additional Performance Added For INTERSTATE At The NYMF

Melissa Li’s and Kit Yan’s new musical Interstate, has been extended due to popular demand and will play an additional performance on Sunday, July 15 at 5:00 pm.

Interstate is one of 12 productions to take part in the 2018 New York Musical Festival Next Link Project. The workshop production features a diverse mix of talent and showcases the journey of Asian LGBTQ artists. Interstate is directed by Jessi D. Hill, choreographed by Jessica Chen, with music direction by Karen Dryer.

Interstate is an Asian-American pop-rock poetry musical that follows Dash, a transgender spoken word performer who becomes internet-famous along with his best friend Adrian, a lesbian singer-songwriter. Fueled by the allure of fame and a desire to connect with their community, the band embarks on a road trip across America for their first national tour. Their fiercely political and deeply personal music touches Henry, a transgender teenage boy living in small-town middle America, and he finds solace in their art as he struggles with his own identity and family. After blogging about the band and documenting his own gender journey, he decides to set out on a quest to meet his heroes in person, hoping to find answers to his own struggles. Interstate is a touching story about how two transgender people at different stages of their journey navigate love, family, masculinity, and finding a community in the era of social media.

The eclectic cast of Interstate stars Jon Viktor Corpuz (The King and I/Broadway), Sushma Saha (Cabaret/Ithaca College), Angel Lin (Once/National Tour), and an ensemble including, Kiet Tai Cao (Allegiance (Reading w/ George Takei),  Esco Jouley (Runaways/Public Theater), Allison Linker (Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Papermill Playhouse), Michelle Noh(“Grey’s Anatomy”), and Andreas Wyder (Titanic: The Musical/National Tour).

The band features Karen Dryer (Musical Direction, 1st Keyboard,) Allison Kelly(Guitar/Bassist), Tidtaya Sinutoke (2nd Keyboard), and Ashley Baier (Drummer).

Interstates features Music, Book & Lyrics by Melissa Li, Book & Lyrics by Kit Yan, and Interstate is led by acclaimed director Jessi D. Hill. The creative team also features the talent of Jessica Chen (Choreography), Edward Morris (Scenic Design), Deepsikha Chatterjee (Costume Design), Jennifer J. Fok (Lighting Design), Fan Zhang (Sound Design), Janelle Lawrence (Properties Design), Natasha Sinha (Dramaturg), Macy Schmidt (Orchestrations & Arrangement), Nic Cory (Assistant Director), Anton Volovsek (Co-Scenic Design), and Joyce Lim (Costume Assistant). General Management, Dailey-Monda Management. Produced by Nicole Kwan, Mark Gagliardi, and Theresa Perkins in association with The Musical Theatre Factory.

Performances take place at Theatre Row’s Acorn Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street, (between 9th and 10th Avenues). Tickets are $31.75 and can be purchased at www.NYMF.org. The show’s running time is 120 minutes with intermission.

Remaining Performance dates:
Saturday, July 14 @ 9:00 pm
Sunday, July 15 @ 1:00 pm
Sunday, July 15 @ 5:00 pm (Added performance)

For more info: www.interstatemusical.com – www.nymf.org/interstate.

Kit Yan (Book, Music, Lyrics) is an award-winning Yellow American New York based artist, born in Enping, China, and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kit’s work has been produced by the American Repertory Theater, the Smithsonian, and Dixon Place among many others. They have been a Civilians resident, WP/Public theater Trans Lab fellow, and resident with Musical Theatre Factory and the Village Theatre. www.kityanpoet.com

Melissa Li (Book, Music, Lyrics) is a composer, performer, and writer. She is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award and a Queer|Art|Mentorship fellow. Musicals include Surviving the Nian (The Theater Offensive, IRNE Award for Best New Play 2007), 99% Stone (The Theater Offensive), and Interstate (New York Musical Festival). Her works have received support from the National Performance Network, New England Foundation for the Arts, Dixon Place, terraNOVA Collective, and Musical Theater Factory, among others. www.melissali.com

Jessi D. Hill (Director) credits include: new work at New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater/Joe’s Pub, The Playwrights’ Center, Primary Stages, Labyrinth, The Women’s Project, 59E59, P73, The New Group, Rattlestick, Ensemble Studio Theatre, HERE Arts Center, terraNOVA Collective, Culture Project, Musical Theatre Factory, The Barrow Group, PS122, New Dramatists, The Lark, The Playwrights Realm, New Georges, The Wild Project, and others. She has been a director and teacher in professional training programs at Yale School of Drama, Juilliard, The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center/NTI, The Atlantic School, Playwrights Horizons and others. Her work has been seen internationally in Edinburgh, London, New Zealand, Berlin and Hamburg. MFA: Yale. Member SDC. www.jessidhill.com

For more information on Interstate and their journey to NYMF, or how to get involved, you can visit the show’s Kickstarter page.

The New York Musical Festival nurtures the creation, production, and public presentation of stylistically, thematically, and culturally diverse new musicals to ensure the future vitality of musical theater.

Now in its fifteenth year, the Festival is the premier musical theater event in the world. The preeminent site for launching new musicals and discovering new talent, the Festival provides an affordable platform for artists to mount professional productions that reach their peers, industry leaders, and musical theater fans. More than 90 Festival shows have gone on to productions on and Off-Broadway, in regional theaters in all 50 states, and in more than 24 countries worldwide. Festival alumni have received a wide array of awards including the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2013, NYMF received a special Drama Desk Award in recognition of its work “creating and nurturing new musical theater, ensuring the future of this essential art form.”

NYMF is the flagship program of National Music Theater Network, Inc., a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization. 2018 NYMF is sponsored by The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, PRG, TheaterMania, Clear Channel Outdoor, Tinc Productions and Fox Stage Productions and is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The 2018 New York Musical Festival will take place July 9th – August 5th. For more information, please visit: www.nymf.org.

Hailey Kilgore, Kenita R. Miller, Merle Dandridge, Quentin Earl Darrington, Darlesia Cearcy and More are set for ONCE ON THIS ISLAND Sings Ahrens and Flaherty at Feinstein’s/54 Below on July 18

Kenita R. Miller and Hailey Kilgore. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast of the 2018 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival, Once On This Island, will appear at Feinstein’s/54 Below to perform songs from lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty.

Kenita R. Miller and Hailey Kilgore. Photo by Lia Chang
Kenita R. Miller and Hailey Kilgore. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony nominee Hailey Kilgore will host the evening.

Featuring a wide range of Ahrens and Flaherty’s iconic tunes, this evening will celebrate 35 sensational years of collaboration, brought to life by the extraordinary cast of Broadway’s Once On This Island.

The cast will include Courtnee Carter, Darlesia Cearcy, Merle Dandridge, Cicily Daniels, Quentin Earl Darrington, Emerson Davis, Tyler Hardwick, Cassondra James, David Jennings, Kenita Miller, T. Oliver Reid, Ximone Rose, Aurelia Williams and Mia Williamson.

The evening is Produced by Yael Silver, Directed by Haley Bennett, with Music Direction by Alvin Hough Jr.

The concert takes place on July 18th, 2018 at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. There is a $35-$50 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.

Now in their 35th year of collaboration, Tony Award winners Ahrens and Flaherty have created such Broadway and off-Broadway classics as Ragtime, Seussical, Lucky Stiff, My Favorite Year, A Man of No Importance, and the upcoming Little Dancer, which will have its West Coast premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre this coming season. Members of the American Theatre Hall of Fame, Ahrens and Flaherty have received, theatre, film, and music’s highest honors, and they are currently represented on Broadway by both Once On This Island and the long-running hit, Anastasia.

James Monroe Iglehart, Garth Kravits and Jessie Mueller Visit ONCE ON THIS ISLAND 

Lea Salonga, Kenita R. Miller, Merle Dandridge, Andy Mientus, Garth Kravits and More Celebrate ONCE ON THIS ISLAND Tony Award for Best Revival of A Musical 

David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at San Francisco’s Curran Ends Limited Run

Daniel May, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Austin Ku, Kristen Faith Oei, Lia Chang, Emily Stillings, Kara Guy, Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee and Billy Bustamante.
Daniel May, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Austin Ku, Kristen Faith Oei, Lia Chang, Emily Stillings, Kara Guy, Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee and Billy Bustamante.
Daniel May, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Austin Ku, Kristen Faith Oei, Lia Chang, Emily Stillings, Kara Guy, Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee and Billy Bustamante.

David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori’s genre defying play with a musical, which ends its Bay Area premiere at San Francisco’s Curran (445 Geary Street) tonight, is must see theater. SOFT POWER is a Center Theatre Group co-commission with The Public Theater and had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Tickets for SOFT POWER range in price from $29-$175 and are available by calling 415-358-1220 or visiting SFCURRAN.com/soft-power.

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

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

Kara Guy, Raymond J. Lee, Emily Stillings, Kendyl Ito, Billy Bustamante, Geena Quinto, Daniel May, Kristen Faith Oei, Jaygee Macapugay and Austin Ku. Photo by Lia Chang
Kara Guy, Raymond J. Lee, Emily Stillings, Kendyl Ito, Billy Bustamante, Geena Quinto, Daniel May, Kristen Faith Oei, Jaygee Macapugay and Austin Ku. Photo by Lia Chang

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

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

I flew to San Francisco to catch SOFT POWER and visited with some of the cast post-show. Also in the house that night – Joel de la Fuente and director Lisa Rothe – who are currently in rehearsal for Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths at Theaterworks SV.

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

I am proud of the Asian American representation and overwhelmed by the level of humanity portrayed onstage. Thank you to the cast for your brave, brilliant and vulnerable performances and to the creative team for their powerful storytelling.

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 creative team includes scenic design by Tony Award winner David Zinn, costume design by Drama Desk Award winner Anita Yavich, lighting design by Mark Barton, sound design by Tony Award nominee Kai Harada, orchestrations by Drama Desk Award winner and Tony Award nominee 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, CSAand Kate Murray, CSA. The dramaturg is Oskar Eustis. The production stage manager is David Lurie-Perret.

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

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.

Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Hwang is a playwright, screenwriter, television writer, and librettist, whose 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. He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards, and he co-wrote the Gold Record “Solo” with the late pop star Prince. Hwang is currently a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair,” and his screenplays include Possession, M. Butterfly, and Golden Gate. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hwang is a Tony Award winner (M. Butterfly) and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Recent honors include the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Master American Dramatist, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He is Chair of the American Theatre Wing and sits on the boards of Young Playwrights Inc. and the Lark Play Development Center. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre and currently serves as head of playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 1998, East West Players named its new mainstage the David Henry Hwang Theater.

Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee (obscured), Austin Ku, Daniel May, Geena Quintos, Jon Hoche, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Billy Bustamante (obscured), Maria-Christina Oliveras and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee (obscured), Austin Ku, Daniel May, Geena Quintos, Jon Hoche, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Billy Bustamante (obscured), Maria-Christina Oliveras and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Tesori returns to Curran, where in January 2017, Fun Home was the first performance following the theater’s extensive renovation. Broadway credits include Fun Home (2015 Tony Award winner), Violet, Caroline, or Change, Shrek The Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Twelfth Night (Lincoln Center Theater) and John Guare’s A Free Man of Color. Tesori also collaborated with Tony Kushner on Mother Courage starring Meryl Streep at the Delacorte. Her opera credits include A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and The Lion, the Unicorn and Me (libretto, J. D. McClatchy; Washington National Opera). Her songs are featured in the Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls.” She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

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

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

Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

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

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

Billy Bustamante, 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 Set for World Premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER 

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2018 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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Final Week to see 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 in David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at San Francisco’s Curran through July 8

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

SOFT POWER, the play featuring a musical by David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music and additional lyrics), has performances at San Francisco’s Curran (445 Geary Street) through July 8, 2018. SOFT POWER is a Center Theatre Group co-commission with The Public Theater and had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Tickets for SOFT POWER range in price from $29-$175 and are available by calling 415-358-1220 or visiting SFCURRAN.com/soft-power.

David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Flower Drum Song) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home). Directed by Leigh Silverman (Violet) and choreographed by Sam Pinkleton (Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812), SOFT POWER rewinds our recent political history and plays it back, a century later, through the Chinese lens of a future, beloved East-meets-West musical. In the musical, a Chinese executive who is visiting America finds himself falling in love with a good-hearted U.S. leader as the power balance between their two countries shifts following the 2016 election.

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

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

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

The creative team includes scenic design by Tony Award winner David Zinn, costume design by Drama Desk Award winner Anita Yavich, lighting design by Mark Barton, sound design by Tony Award nominee Kai Harada, orchestrations by Drama Desk Award winner and Tony Award nominee 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, CSAand Kate Murray, CSA. The dramaturg is Oskar Eustis. The production stage manager is David Lurie-Perret.

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

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

Hwang is a playwright, screenwriter, television writer, and librettist, whose 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. He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards, and he co-wrote the Gold Record “Solo” with the late pop star Prince. Hwang is currently a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair,” and his screenplays include Possession, M. Butterfly, and Golden Gate. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hwang is a Tony Award winner (M. Butterfly) and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Recent honors include the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Master American Dramatist, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He is Chair of the American Theatre Wing and sits on the boards of Young Playwrights Inc. and the Lark Play Development Center. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre and currently serves as head of playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 1998, East West Players named its new mainstage the David Henry Hwang Theater.

Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee (obscured), Austin Ku, Daniel May, Geena Quintos, Jon Hoche, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Billy Bustamante (obscured), Maria-Christina Oliveras and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee (obscured), Austin Ku, Daniel May, Geena Quintos, Jon Hoche, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Billy Bustamante (obscured), Maria-Christina Oliveras and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Tesori returns to Curran, where in January 2017, Fun Home was the first performance following the theater’s extensive renovation. Broadway credits include Fun Home (2015 Tony Award winner), Violet, Caroline, or Change, Shrek The Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Twelfth Night (Lincoln Center Theater) and John Guare’s A Free Man of Color. Tesori also collaborated with Tony Kushner on Mother Courage starring Meryl Streep at the Delacorte. Her opera credits include A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and The Lion, the Unicorn and Me (libretto, J. D. McClatchy; Washington National Opera). Her songs are featured in the Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls.” She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

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

Chatting with Raymond J. Lee about SOFT POWER, GROUNDHOG DAY and his Feinstein’s/54 Below Show with Sharone Sayegh on July 26 Conrad Ricamora. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Conrad Ricamora. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Francis Jue. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

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

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

Billy Bustamante, 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 Set for World Premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER 

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2018 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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James Monroe Iglehart, Garth Kravits and Jessie Mueller Visit ONCE ON THIS ISLAND

Merle Dandridge, Jessie Mueller, Kenita R. MIller, Alex Newell and Lea Salonga. Photo by Lia Chang
Alex Newell, Lea Salonga, Merle Dandridge and Quentin Earl Darrington. Photo by Lia Chang
Alex Newell, Lea Salonga, Merle Dandridge and Quentin Earl Darrington. Photo by Lia Chang

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at the evening performance of the Tony Award-winning Revival of a Musical Once On This Island, as Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga, played her final performance as Erzulie on June 24, before heading out to the Hollywood Bowl to star as Grace Farrell in the Michael Arden helmed production of Annie, July 27 – 29.

Merle Dandridge, Jessie Mueller, Kenita R. MIller, Alex Newell and Lea Salonga. Photo by Lia Chang
Merle Dandridge, Jessie Mueller, Kenita R. MIller, Alex Newell and Lea Salonga. Photo by Lia Chang

“Greenleaf” star Merle Dandridge, who originated the role of Papa Ge in the current revival, has returned for a limited run through August 19.

Garth Kravits, Kenita R. Miller and Jessie Mueller. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits, Kenita R. Miller and Jessie Mueller. Photo by Lia Chang

 Carousel‘s Jessie Mueller, Hamiton‘s James Monroe Iglehart and Gettin’ The Band Back Together‘s Garth Kravits visited with cast after the show.

Phillip Boykin, Emerson Davis, James M. Iglehart. Photo by Lia Chang
Phillip Boykin, Emerson Davis, James M. Iglehart. Photo by Lia Chang

The production opened to rave reviews on December 3 at The Circle in the Square Theatre and received eight Tony Award® nominations including Best Musical Revival, seven Drama Desk Award nominations, six Outer Critics Circle nominations and three Chita Rivera Award nominations. In addition to Best Musical Revival, the other Tony nominations included Best Leading Actress in a Musical – Hailey Kilgore, Best Scenic Design of a Musical – Dane Laffrey, Best Costume Design of a Musical – Clint Ramos, Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, Best Sound Design of a Musical – Peter Hylenski, Best Direction of a Musical – Michael Arden, and Best Orchestrations – AnnMarie Milazzo & Michael Starobin.

Deonté Lamont, James Monroe Iglehart, Lea Salonga, Juwan Alan Crawley and Anthony Murphy. Photo by Lia Chang
Deonté Lamont, James Monroe Iglehart, Lea Salonga, Juwan Alan Crawley and Anthony Murphy. Photo by Lia Chang

The current cast stars Darlesia Cearcy as Erzulie, Merle Dandridge as Papa Ge, Quentin Earl Darrington as Agwe, Alex Newell as Asaka and Tony Award nominee Hailey Kilgore as Ti Moune. The cast also features Kenita R. Miller (Mama Euralie) Phillip Boykin (Tonton Julian), Courtnee Carter (Storyteller), Rodrick Covington (Storyteller), Cicily Daniels (Storyteller), Emerson Davis (Little Girl) Alysha Deslorieux (Andrea), Tyler Hardwick (Storyteller), Cassondra James (Storyteller), David Jennings (Armand), Grasan Kingsberry (Storyteller), Isaac Powell (Daniel), T. Oliver Reid (Storyteller), Anna Uzele (Storyteller), Ximone Rose (Storyteller), Anthony Wayne (Storyteller, Aurelia Williams (Storyteller), Mia Williamson (Little Girl) and Daniel Yearwood (Storyteller).

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Kenita R. Miller and Merle Dandridge. Photo by Lia Chang
Kenita R. Miller and Merle Dandridge. Photo by Lia Chang

The new production is directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden, and choreographed by the critically-acclaimed Camille A. Brown.

Quentin Earl Darrington and Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Quentin Earl Darrington and Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Once On This Island is written by the Tony Award-winning team Lynn Ahrens (Book and Lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (Music), and based on the novel “My Love, My Love” by Rosa Guy. This production features new orchestrations by original orchestrator Michael Starobin who is joined by AnnMarie Milazzo.

Alex Newell, Lea Salonga, Merle Dandridge and Quentin Earl Darrington. Photo by Lia Chang
Alex Newell, Lea Salonga, Merle Dandridge and Quentin Earl Darrington. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team also includes Dane Laffrey (Scenic Design), Clint Ramos (Costume Design), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (Lighting Designers), Peter Hylenski (Sound Designer), John Bertles/Bash The Trash (Unusual Instruments), Cookie Jordan (Hair/Wig & Makeup Designer), Chris Fenwick (Music Supervisor), Alvin Hough, Jr. (Music Director), David Perlow (Associate Director), Nikki M. James (Assistant Director), Rickey Tripp (Associate Choreographer) and Telsey + Co / Craig Burns, CSA (Casting Agent).

Alex Newell, Garth Kravits, Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Alex Newell, Garth Kravits, Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Once On This Island is the tale of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island. When their divided cultures keep them apart, Ti Moune is guided by the powerful island gods, Erzulie, Asaka, Papa Ge, and Agwe, on a remarkable quest to reunite with the man who has captured her heart.

Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Bursting with Caribbean colors, rhythms and dance, the story comes to vibrant life in a striking production by Tony Award®-nominated director Michael Arden (Spring Awakening revival) and acclaimed choreographer Camille A. Brown. This production transforms the reality of a tropical village devastated by a storm into a fantastical world alive with hope.

Once On This Island premiered at Playwrights Horizons in May of 1990. The Broadway production opened in October of that year and ran for 469 performances garnering eight Tony nominations including Best Featured Actress (LaChanze), Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Musical. The 1994 West End production won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

Tickets for Once On This Island are on sale through Telecharge.

Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award Winner Lea Salonga to Star as Grace Farrell in ANNIE at the Hollywood Bowl, July 27 – 29 

Casts of “The Band’s Visit,” “Carousel,” “Frozen,” “Mean Girls,” “My Fair Lady,” “Once on This Island,” “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical,” “SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical,” and “Dear Evan Hansen” to Perform on 2018 Tony Awards 

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Kenita R. Miller and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Kenita R. Miller and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2018 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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In Rehearsal: Barrington Stage Company and Ma-Yi Theater Company’s World Premiere of Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY with Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo

Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang

Barrington Stage Company (BSC), the award-winning theatre in the Berkshires (Pittsfield, MA) under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, is presenting the World Premiere of The Chinese Lady starring Shannon Tyo (BSC’s Broadway Bounty Hunter) as “Afong Moy” and Daniel K. Isaac (“Billions”) as “Atung.”

Daniel K. Isaac, Ralph Peña and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac, Ralph Peña and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang

Written by Lloyd Suh (Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery), directed by Ralph Peña (Microcrisis, Ma-Yi Theater Company), and presented in a co-production with the Ma-Yi Theater Company, The Chinese Lady begins previews Friday, July 20 on the St. Germain Stage, Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Opening night is Wednesday, July 25, and performances will run through Saturday, August 11.

Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang

In 1834, Afong Moy is brought to the United States from Beijing and put on display for the American public as the “Chinese Lady.” Over the next 45 years, she performs in a side show that both defines and challenges her own view of herself. Inspired by the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant, playwright Lloyd Suh spins a tale of dark poetic whimsy in this piercing  portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese woman.

Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel K. Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

Daniel K. Isaac (Atung) is an actor and writer born and raised in Southern California, currently based in New York City. You can currently see him on the small screen as ‘Ben Kim’ in Showtime’s “Billions.”

Isaac co-wrote and stars in the short film/pilot presentation, “According To My Mother.” The project was selected for IFP Film Week and the inaugural Sundance New Voices Lab and was an Official Selection at ITVFest, Newfest, Outfest Fusion, Outfest, CAAMfest, SeriesFest (where it was awarded Best Actress), and New York Television Festival (Best Drama and Best Actor). “According To My Mother” is currently in development to become a digital series on First Look Media’s new platform, TOPIC. Isaac is a member of Page 73’s 2018 Interstate 73 Writers Group, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood, and a Lambda Literary Playwriting Fellow. Training: UCSD, BADA. www.AccordingToMyMother.com

He recently appeared as William Inge in the Off-Broadway production of Philip Dawkin’s The Gentleman Caller, produced by Abingdon Theatre at The Cherry Lane.  Select NYC: Sagittarius Ponderosa (NAATCO), Underland (59E59), La Divina Caricatura (La MaMa, Under the Radar & St. Ann’s Warehouse), Anna Nicole the Opera (BAM). Select Regional: The Ballad of Little Jo (Two River Theater), Miss Electricity (La Jolla Playhouse). Film/TV: MONEY MONSTER (dir. Jodie Foster), “The Jim Gaffigan Show” (TV LAND), “Search Party” (TBS), “Crashing” (HBO), “The Following” (FOX), “Person of Interest” (CBS), “Believe” (NBC, pilot), TOO BIG TO FAIL (HBO).  www.DanielKIsaac.com

Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang
Shannon Tyo. Photo by Lia Chang

Shannon Tyo (Afong Moy) Off-Broadway credits include Kentucky, Bikeman: A 9/11 Play, Dear Edwina. Favorite regional credits include The White Snake at the Old Globe, San Diego; Miss Saigon at the Pioneer Theatre Co, Music Theatre of Wichita and Cape Fear Regional; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Northern Stage, Tuacahn PAC and Pioneer Theatre Co.; and Broadway Bounty Hunter at Barrington Stage. BFA Syracuse University.

Set and Costumes designed by Junghyun Georgia Lee. Lighting design by Oliver Wason. Sound design by Fabian Obispo. Production Stage Manager is Geoff Boronda.

Playwright Lloyd Suh is the author of Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery, American Hwangap, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Jesus in India, Great Wall Story, and others, produced with Ma-Yi, Magic Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Play Company, La Mama, Denver Center Theatre Company, ArtsEmerson, The Guthrie Theatre with Mu Performing Arts, East West Players, and internationally at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila, and with PCPA in Seoul, Korea. He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, the Andrew W. Mellon Launching New Plays Into the Repertoire initiative via the Lark, NYFA, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, TCG, and Dramatists Guild, and has been a recipient of the Roe Green Award from Cleveland Playhouse, the Lilah Kan Red Socks Award, and the Helen Merrill Award. His plays have been published by Samuel French, Playscripts, Smith & Kraus, Duke University Press and American Theater magazine. He is an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and from 2005-2010 served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He currently serves on the Dramatists Guild Council and has since 2011 served as Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark.

Playwright Lloyd Suh and Director Ralph Pena
Playwright Lloyd Suh and Director Ralph Peña

Director Ralph B. Peña is the current Artistic Director of Ma-Yi Theater Company. Recent directing credits include Among the DeadHouse Rules (Ma-Yi) The Orphan of Zhao (Fordham Theatre), Macho Dancer: A Musical (Cultural Center of the Philippines), Livin’ La Vida Imelda (Ma-Yi), Lloyd Suh’s The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO! (Cultural Center of the Philippines, Children’s Theater Co. and Ma-Yi, Off Broadway Alliance Award), Julia Specht’s Down Cleghorn, Joshua Conkel’s Curmudgeons in Love (EST Marathon), Mike Lew’s microcrisis(Youngblood, Ma-Yi), and House/Boy (Dublin and Singapore Theater Festivals). His theater work has been seen at The NYSF/Public Theater, Long Wharf Theater, Laguna Playhouse, NAATCO, Second Generation, Victory Gardens, and LaMama ETC, among others. He received an Obie Award for his work on The Romance of Magno Rubio. Ralph is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theater. This is for Damien, always and forever.

Performance schedules for all productions are available by visiting www.barringtonstageco.org.

Both single tickets and 2018 season passes are now on sale and available at www.barringtonstageco.org or by calling 413-236-8888 or visiting the Mainstage box office (30 Union Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201). Tickets range from $25 to $69.

THE CHINESE LADY set. Photo by Lia Chang
THE CHINESE LADY set. Photo by Lia Chang

Barrington Stage and Ma-Yi Present Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo in World Premiere of Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY at Barrington Stage, July 20 – August 11

Inside THE GENTLEMAN CALLER’S Opening Night Party with Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa 

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

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

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2018 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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Barrington Stage and Ma-Yi Present Daniel K. Isaac and Shannon Tyo in World Premiere of Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY at Barrington Stage, July 20 – August 11

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

Barrington Stage Company (BSC), the award-winning theatre in the Berkshires (Pittsfield, MA) under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, is presenting the World Premiere of The Chinese Lady starring Shannon Tyo (BSC’s Broadway Bounty Hunter) as “Afong Moy” and Daniel K. Isaac (“Billions”) as “Atung.” Written by Lloyd Suh (Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery), directed by Ralph Peña (Microcrisis, Ma-Yi Theater Company), and presented in a co-production with the Ma-Yi Theater Company. The Chinese Lady begins previews July 20, with an opening set forJuly 25, and will run through August 11.

Performance schedules for all productions are available by visiting www.barringtonstageco.org.

Both single tickets and 2018 season passes are now on sale and available at www.barringtonstageco.org or by calling 413-236-8888 or visiting the Mainstage box office (30 Union Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201). Tickets range from $25 to $69.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

raymondjlee.com 

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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

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