Jason Ma’s GOLD MOUNTAIN to be Presented in Utah for 2019 Golden Spike 150th Anniversary

Utah’s commission for the Transcontinental Railroad 150th Celebration has announced that Gold Mountain, the original musical by Jason Ma, will be presented as one of the cultural events commemorating the landmark anniversary. Alan Muraoka will direct three evenings of staged concert presentations, performed by a New York cast of Asian American actors,  including Ali Ewoldt (Phantom of the Opera) as Mei, Jonny Lee Jr. as Lit, Alan Ariano (The King and I) as Ba, Daniel J. Edwards (Anything Goes) as Jiang, Lawrence-Michael Arias as Wong, Steven Eng (CSC’s Pacific Overtures) as Loong, and Eric Bondoc (Pacific Overtures) as Lo.

Music direction will be provided by Kristen Lee Rosenfeld and choreography by Billy Bustamante. Production will be spearheaded by Spike 150 in partnership with the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association.

Jason Ma, Kristen Lee Rosenfeld and Alan Muraoka. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma, Kristen Lee Rosenfeld and Alan Muraoka. Photo by Lia Chang

Performances in Salt Lake City are currently set for the Regent Street Black Box at The Eccles Theater on Wednesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 9, 2019, both at 8:00 p.m. Performances in Ogden will take place at Peery’s Egyptian Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 10 and a matinee on Saturday, May 11, curtain time TBD.

About Gold Mountain:

Gold Mountain is a love story set against the backdrop of a pivotal event in America’s history, the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. The original musical celebrates the striving immigrant spirit, the redemptive power of love and the ultimate nobility of self- sacrifice.

The company of GOLD MOUNTAIN at TheTimesCenter in New York on October 20, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
The company of GOLD MOUNTAIN at TheTimesCenter in New York on October 20, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

Gold Mountain was most recently presented at TheTimesCenter in New York City by the National Asian Artists Project in partnership with Prospect Theater Company as a part of their 2017 IGNITE series. It was also selected for presentation at the 2016 ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles, for development by Apples & Oranges Studios in their 2017 THEatre ACCELERATOR, for a staged reading at San Francisco LaborFest 2016 in The Aurora Theatre, and for a 2017 eStudio grant for a developmental workshop at The Masie Center.

GOLD MOUNTAIN creator Jason Ma and the company in rehearsal at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
GOLD MOUNTAIN creator Jason Ma and the company in rehearsal at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York on October 19, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

About the Writer and Director:
Jason Ma (Writer) is a son of an immigrant family, and a grateful descendant of a long line of those who were able to persist, overcome and succeed on their way to becoming Americans. He wrote book, music and lyrics for Gold Mountain and is the 2017 recipient of the ASCAP Foundation’s Cole Porter Award, given to an emerging composer/lyricist “whose work shows promise.” Along with writing, he is an actor who has been seen on Broadway and Off-Broadway stages, in regional theaters, and internationally. Please visit: www.goldmountainthemusical.com

Alan Muraoka on The New Amsterdam Theatre stage where he recently starred as Iago in Aladdin on October 30, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang
Alan Muraoka on The New Amsterdam Theatre stage where he recently starred as Iago in Aladdin on October 30, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Alan Muraoka (Director) NY directing credits: Avenue Q (Off-Broadway Resident Director), Telly Leung: Telly on a Sunday (Birdland-November 2018), The Report (NY Fringe), Kung Fu (Signature Theatre-AD), Ann Harada: American Songbook (Lincoln Center), Awesomer & Awesomer!!!(Triad Theatre), The King and I (Harbor Lights Theatre), Telly Leung: Playlist and What Makes a Man? (54 Below), Ali Ewoldt: From Phantom to Phantom (54 Below) Grand Hotel (NYU/Cap 21), Falsettoland(NAATCO), John Tartaglia AD-LIBerty (Joe’s Pub) & Christmas Eve With Christmas Eve (BC/EFA Benefits). Regionally: South Pacific & Once On This Island (Olney Theatre),The King and I, Xanadu, Disney’s High School Musical and Disney’s High School Musical 2 (all at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma), Disney’s High School Musical (MUNY, Casa Manana), Urinetown (Trinity University), and Up In The Air (Kennedy Center-AD). Television: “Sesame Street,” Macy’sThanksgiving Day Parade. As an actor, Alan is most recognizable for his role in the Emmy Award winning series, “Sesame Street,” where he plays “Alan,” the proprietor of Hooper’s Store. He has appeared in 7 Broadway shows; Aladdin, Pacific Overtures, Mail, Shogun, the Musical, My Favorite Year, The King and I (with Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy), and most notably Miss Saigon, where he played the lead role of the Engineer. Member SSDC & DGA. Website: www.alanmuraoka.net Follow on Instagram: #alanathoopers

About Production Partners:
Spike 150: One of the most iconic and life-altering events in America’s history – the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad – happened in Utah on May 10, 1869. Spike 150 is an initiative of Utah’s Transcontinental Railroad 150th Celebration Commission, established by the Utah State Legislature and Governor Gary Herbert and organized to partner with all those celebrating the 150-year anniversary of the Golden Spike ceremony in Utah. Through a series of activities and events, the Spike 150 initiative aims to inspire, educate, and reflect on the Transcontinental Railroad legacy as it unifies Utahns to see that great things are possible with vision, hard-work, dedication, and collaboration. There are events planned all across the state so people can celebrate in 150 ways. The festivities will culminate in a celebration at Promontory Summit on May 10, 2019. For a full list of Spike 150 events, visit www.spike150.org.

CRWDA: The Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association is a national, membership based, charitable organization which seeks to preserve, promote and protect the contributions made by Chinese railroad workers to the United States. Through our educational and philanthropic efforts, we support academic research, historic preservation and artistic projects that further the understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices, struggles, hardships and contributions made by generations of Chinese and Chinese Americans. Please visit: www.goldenspike150.org

Jason Ma’s GOLD MOUNTAIN Concert and AfterParty 

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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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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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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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 by Lia Chang
Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang
Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

Award-winning actor Francis Jue returns home to San Francisco to star as DHH 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. A Center Theatre Group co-commission with The Public Theater, Soft Power had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

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 (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.

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

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).

I chatted with Francis the day before he flew to SF for the run of Soft Power at the Curran.

Lia: How would you describe Soft Power?
Francis: Soft Power defies genre.  It’s a comedy, it’s a romantic drama, it’s a political thriller, and it’s a play that gets overtaken by a musical.  It is sometimes satirical, it’s hysterically funny, and then other times it is deadly in earnest.  It’s a love story and it’s also a play of ideas.  It never stops evolving and changing.

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

It forces us onstage and those in the audience to keep re-examining how we choose to look at ourselves and the world.  We keep having to answer the questions, Who are we? What story are we telling? Why are we telling the story this way?  That’s really eternal.  That’s what the country has done since its inception, since the Bill of Rights.  Look at how the country is evolving just in the last couple of years.  What it means to be American seems to keep being redefined in profound ways daily.

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

Francis: I had an amazing time in LA with CTG’s world premiere of Soft Power in the Ahmanson Theater. Audiences were really enthusiastic, and the show gave us back so much.  Also, the collaboration with the creative team has been really inspiring.

Leigh Silverman, cast member Francis Jue, creators Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang, cast members Austin Ku and Maria-Christina Oliveras, choreographer Sam Pinkleton and cast member Geena Quintos backstage after the opening night performance of the world premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori's "Soft Power" at Center Theatre Group. 📷: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
Leigh Silverman, cast member Francis Jue, creators Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang, cast members Austin Ku and Maria-Christina Oliveras, choreographer Sam Pinkleton and cast member Geena Quintos backstage after the opening night performance of the world premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s “Soft Power” at Center Theatre Group. 📷: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Lia: Who do you play?
Francis: When Leigh first asked me if I would consider playing David Henry Hwang in Soft Power, my first question was, “Do I get a wig?”  I think I went to a ridiculous question first because it truly is an intimidating prospect, playing someone that I know, that I’ve met, that I’ve worked with and who I admire so much.  I literally idolize this man, for his intellect, for his generosity, for his compassion, for his ability to articulate feelings and ideas.

David Henry Hwang as D.H.H. and Francis Jue as H.Y.H. in a scene from Yellow Face at WNYC’s The Greene Space in New York on May 7, 2012, courtesy New York Public Radio. © 2012 Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang as D.H.H. and Francis Jue as H.Y.H. in a scene from Yellow Face at WNYC’s The Greene Space in New York on May 7, 2012, courtesy New York Public Radio. © 2012 Lia Chang
Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang
Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

Throughout this process, I’ve wondered if I had the capacity to portray all of those things.  This has been an unusually stressful process for me because I do admire him so much.  No one ever asked me to imitate him, to do anything but play this character as written, just like any other play.  I’m so grateful that I get to play someone who is so complicated, who has such imagination and ego and righteousness, who wakes up to some hard realities.

For a long time, I felt like I was expressing David’s id, his inner child that he doesn’t allow himself to express in everyday life.  That really appealed to me, that I could express those impulsive, often censored thoughts and feelings.  It took me a while to figure out that although the play may start that way, by the end, I am talking about really personal, painful and hopeful things.  I realized that the stuff that David talks about in the play didn’t just happen to him, it happened to his family as well.  It didn’t just happen to his family, it happened to our community – our theater community, our Asian American community.  It didn’t just happened to our community, it happened to America.  It is happening to America.  DHH awakens to this in the play as well.

Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Lia Chang
Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Lia Chang

I can’t tell you how grateful I am and what an awesome responsibility it is to be trusted by David and Jeanine and Leigh and Sam to do what I am doing in this play.  It makes me feel better than I am, and braver.  And I think audiences feel braver by the end of the play as well.  They respond with so much affection, it’s sort of a rallying cry for coming together – what theater is all about, what America is supposed to be about.

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

Lia: How long have you been involved with Soft Power?
Francis: I was asked late in 2016 by director Leigh Silverman if I would attach myself to a project written by David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori. I asked, “What is it?”  And she said she didn’t know – there was nothing written yet!  I said, “Well, I would love to because it’s you guys, but I’ve already agreed to do all these other things.” I gave her my itinerary for the next year, and she said they’d work around it.

I did a number of readings throughout 2017, in between other shows. CTG told me they had 13 different development work sessions over the course of the last two years.  It changed a lot during that time.  David started working on this before the 2016 election, before he was stabbed, before many of the current events that are happening right now.  As these events happened in his life and our country’s life, I think this show began to find its focus, its reason for being. For David to speak this personally is astounding to me and brave.  It scares me every night, and I’m loving it.

Lia: How has the show changed from 1st preview to opening night?
Francis: We got as many as 20-25 new pages every day during previews.  There were new numbers added.  There were internal cuts.  The monologues I do in the show changed ’til the very end, right before opening. This creative team was going to use the time they had to make sure the show really said what they mean.  And this company pulled up their big boy and big girl pants and did what professional actors and stage managers do so well, integrating changes really quickly.  We learned a lot from doing the show and from our audiences in LA.

Austin Ku, Daniel May, Maria Christina-Oliveras, Billy Bustamante, Paul HeeSang Miller, Alyse Alan Louis, Francis Jue and Kendyl Ito. Photo by Lia Chang
Austin Ku, Daniel May, Maria Christina-Oliveras, Billy Bustamante, Paul HeeSang Miller, Alyse Alan Louis, Francis Jue and Kendyl Ito. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How many times have you worked with David and Leigh?
Francis: With David on full productions – M. Butterfly, Kung Fu, Yellow Face, and Soft Power.

Francis Jue as Bruce Lee’s father, Hoi-Chuen in Signature Theatre's production of David Henry Hwang's Kung Fu. Photo by Joan Marcus
Francis Jue as Bruce Lee’s father, Hoi-Chuen in Signature Theatre’s production of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu. Photo by Joan Marcus

With Leigh – Yellow Face, Coraline, Kung Fu, Wild Goose Dreams, Soft Power.

Francis Jue, Jayne Houdyshell, Elliot Villar and William Youmans in Coraline. (© Joan Marcus)
Francis Jue, Jayne Houdyshell, Elliot Villar and William Youmans in Coraline. (© Joan Marcus)

I’m just so grateful to be working with them.  I really feel like we’ve developed a trust and a short hand and a collaboration that uses all of me.  I adore them and I think they are brilliant.

What was it like to play David Henry Hwang’s father in Yellow Face?
Francis: I didn’t feel the same kind of pressure playing David’s father, because I’d never met him.  What he wrote was so crystal clear to me.  I identified with it immediately.  The only note I remember David giving me about his father was that he stood tall.  I had been exploring ways to signify age, stooping my shoulders a bit.  David’s one note told me everything that character was about – his gregariousness, his pride, his enthusiasm, his optimism, his faith.  David is so brilliant, that with that one note I could extrapolate the essence of the character, and the reason he was in the play at all.

 Hoon Lee and Francis Jue in Yellow Face at the Public Theatre. Photo by Michal Daniel
Hoon Lee and Francis Jue in Yellow Face at the Public Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

The one note he had for my playing him in Soft Power was that he wanted me to use the same pen that he uses when he writes.  It’s a really nice pen!  It feels really good in my hand, and writes smoothly, making it easy to glide across the page.  It tells me a lot about his sense of style, how he presents himself to the world – and about how he creates from his sub-conscious, allowing his characters to speak to him.

Lia: What shows have you done in San Francisco?
Francis: I did Philip Gotanda’s After the War at ACT’s Geary Theater, David Rabe’s A Question of Mercy at the Magic Theatre, and Philip Gotanda’s Song for a Nisei Fisherman with the Asian American Theatre Company.  I’ve done lots of shows at TheatreWorks as well.  I grew up in San Francisco.  I went to Star of the Sea and Saint Ignatius.  Most of my family still lives in the Bay Area.  I am so looking forward to doing this particular show in San Francisco, and saying what we get to say in this show.  I am so looking forward to representing.

Lia: What is it like to be working in this company comprised of predominantly Asian American actors?
Francis: There is something really special about working with other Asian Americans in this business.  Partly it is because we have fewer opportunities to work at all.  In my experience any primarily Asian American company has really bonded.  We spend a lot of time together, not just at work, but also at play.

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

This show in particular has really inspired this particular company to speak from our hearts.  We used to circle up during rehearsals and talk about what the show means and what it means to us in particular.  We don’t just get to talk about being Asian – we get to talk about being American.

There is something about working with your peers, and working on a story where everyone has something in common.  What kills me is that I look at this company of younger Asian American performers who are so much more skilled and so much more qualified than I was at their age, who have had wonderful opportunities, but not nearly the opportunities that they deserve.

Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang
Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang
From left, cast member Francis Jue and creator David Henry Hwang backstage after the opening night performance of the world premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s “Soft Power” at Center Theatre Group. 📷: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
From left, cast member Francis Jue and creator David Henry Hwang backstage after the opening night performance of the world premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s “Soft Power” at Center Theatre Group. 📷: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Lia: What are the 3 most challenging aspects about doing this show for you?
Francis: First – It had been a long time since I had done a musical.  Somewhere along the way, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t sing.  It’s been very challenging to be in a room where people are writing new music and asking me to try stuff on.  I feel extremely vulnerable.

Second – For a long time I have wanted just to be a human being on stage, not a symbol or a representative of some exotic other.  Even though Soft Power is giving me this opportunity, this has been really hard for me.  Actually taking the stage and not talking about somebody else’s feeling, but my own, has been challenging.

Third – I turned down a lot of things to attach myself to this long-term project.  I usually say yes to almost anything, because I never believe I will ever work again.  So turning down other work to remain available for this was really difficult.  I hate saying no, I hate disappointing people.

But I have been given back so much more than I ever could have imagined.  Premiering this new show, and getting to work with my idols, has been a dream come true.

I dreamed about doing something like this when I was a little kid, but I never thought it would happen.  To have David Henry Hwang write something from his own heart that is so vulnerable and funny and challenging, and ask me to continue to work on it, has been the gift of a lifetime.

Lia: You have portrayed Minister Chen on “Madam Secretary” on CBS for several seasons now. 
Francis: “Madam Secretary” is such a great gig!  It’s smart and intelligent and funny.  There’s a lot of wish fulfillment – we wish we had people like Tea Leoni working in our government right now.  And I love playing Foreign Minister Chen because I don’t often get to play guys who actually have that much authority.  I’m so grateful that they’ve given me the opportunity to develop this character over multiple episodes over the last four seasons.  Stay tuned – Minister Chen may come back for season five!

In 2017, you appeared in the world premiere of Hansol Jung’s Wild Goose Dreams at La Jolla Playhouse. The play was nominated for three 2017 Craig Noel Awards including Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play for you, Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Sound Design.
Francis: 
When Leigh Silverman sent me the script of Wild Goose Dreams, I literally did not understand the words on the page.  It wasn’t until the first day of rehearsal at La Jolla Playhouse where I heard it aloud, that I began to understand this beautiful piece of work.  It’s a play that a lot of people identified with because it is about alienation, even though the internet connects us to just about anything and everything.

The cast of WILD GOOSE DREAMS. Photo by Jim Carmody
The cast of WILD GOOSE DREAMS. Photo by Jim Carmody

I have to give total credit to playwright Hansol Jung.  She was able to make all these disparate voices on the internet – pop-ups, spam, e-mail, instant messages – sound like a unified chorus, while telling this really beautiful story about a woman alienated from her father, from her country, from her own identity, as she tries to figure out her existence in South Korea.

Yunjin Kim and Francis Jue in La Jolla Playhouse's production of WILD GOOSE DREAMS by Hansol Jung. Photo by Jim Carmody
Yunjin Kim and Francis Jue in La Jolla Playhouse’s production of WILD GOOSE DREAMS by Hansol Jung. Photo by Jim Carmody

Hansol Jung’s WILD GOOSE DREAMS Nominated for Three 2017 Craig Noel Awards including Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play for Francis Jue, Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Sound Design 

Jennifer Lim, Joe Ngo, Daniel K. Isaac, Francis Jue, Lauren Yee, Tobias C. Wong, Jeena Yi and Ned Eisenberg. Photo by Lia Chang
Jennifer Lim, Joe Ngo, Daniel K. Isaac, Francis Jue, Lauren Yee, Tobias C. Wong, Jeena Yi and Ned Eisenberg. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: You played Larry Yee in Lauren Yee’s King of the Yees in Chicago and L.A. and were nominated for a a 2017 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Featured Performance in Play. Can you tell me how the play spoke to you?
Francis: In King of the Yees, Lauren Yee has written a hilarious and touching play, inspired by her relationship with her father and his relationship with Chinatown and Chinese Family Associations.  I felt like I was spending time with my own family while working on that play.  I love it so much.  And non-Asians identified with it so much, saying how it reminded them of their own father, or their relationship with their own daughter.  It would make audience members want to call their folks.  I can’t say enough about Lauren Yee and Josh Brody, who directed it with such a deft, sensitive hand.

Daniel Smith (Actor 1), Stephenie Soohyun Park (Lauren) and Francis Jue (Larry) in Lauren Yee’s KING OF THE YEES. Photo by Liz Lauren
Daniel Smith (Actor 1), Stephenie Soohyun Park (Lauren) and Francis Jue (Larry) in Lauren Yee’s KING OF THE YEES at The Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
Randy Adams and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang
Randy Adams and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Happy Pride Month. Congrats on your recent nuptials.  Why did you decide to wait 30 years?
Francis: Randy Adams and I have been together for 30 years.  We didn’t get engaged until marriage was legal all across the country.  For me personally, I didn’t want to get married and have it taken away.  I didn’t want to be married in one state and go to work in another state where I wasn’t married.  So we waited.  Once we were engaged, we couldn’t figure out how our should work.  We have so many friends in New York, his family is in Ohio, and my family is in California.  Trying to figure it out prevented us from getting married for a long time.  Finally, we got to the point where we decided in our heart of hearts that it would be okay to go to City Hall.  We didn’t tell anybody except the few friends who witnessed and took pictures.  We wanted to do it on our 30th anniversary, but that was the day of my first rehearsal for Soft Power AND the day that Randy was called for jury duty.  So we got married on the Friday before.

Francis Jue in SOFT POWER. Photo by Craig Schwartz
Francis Jue in SOFT POWER. Photo by Craig Schwartz

The Soft Power 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.

The San Francisco native made his New York stage debut in Steven Sondheim and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures in 1984, appeared on Broadway in Hwang’s M. Butterfly in 1988 and originated the role of Bun Foo in Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002). No stranger to accolades, he received San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Awards for his star turns in the TheatreWorks productions of Cabaret and RED; for his acting and choreography on Into the Woods and Pacific Overtures, and a DramaLogue Award playing Molina in Kiss of the Spiderwoman. He’s played the title roles in Amadeus and The King and I opposite Debby Boone, and has worked at the Public Theater in The Tragedy of Richard II, Chay Yew’s A Language of Their Own, King Lear, Timons of Athens, Pericles, Hamlet and The Winter’s TaleYellow Face (Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards, plus Drama Desk and Drama League nominations), In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) (ariZoni Award), Miss Saigon (Elliot Norton Award), Kiss of the Spider Woman (Drama-Logue Award), Cabaret (Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award), Falsettoland, Kung Fu, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Wild Goose Dreams, and Paper Dolls. He has appeared in the film Joyful Noise, and has had recurring roles on “Madam Secretary,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “The Good Wife.”

Tickets for SOFT POWER range in price from $29-$175 and are available by calling 415-358-1220 or visiting SFCURRAN.com/soft-power.

Francis Jue, At Home on the Stage
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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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 Set for David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at San Francisco’s Curran, June 20-July 8

Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. 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), will make its Bay Area premiere at San Francisco’s Curran (445 Geary Street) June 20 – July 8, 2018. SOFT POWER is a Center Theatre Group co-commission with The Public Theater and will perform at the Curran following 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).
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.

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

Season subscriptions- including tickets to all four #CURRAN2018 productions, as well as tickets to one complimentary SHOW & TELL event of the buyer’s choosing-range in price from $116-$744 and are available now by visiting SFCURRAN.com/soft-power or calling 415-358-1220. As this is the first time the new Curran is offering a season subscription, buyers will have the rare opportunity to select their exact seat locations. Buyers will also get preferred access to all additional special programming, fee-free exchanges on subscription tickets, and a free membership to the Curran Club with additional perks including invitations to member-only events, special offers, and exclusive discounts.

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

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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
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.

Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. 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 Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
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
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.

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

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

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David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER, Starring Conrad Ricamora, Francis Jue and More, Opens at Ahmanson Tonight

Conrad Ricamora, Austin Ku, Francis Jue, Geena Quintos, Billy Bustamante and Raymond J. Lee. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

The world premiere of “Soft Power” by David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music and additional lyrics) will open at the Ahmanson Theatre on Wednesday, May 16.

Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Lia Chang
Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Lia Chang

This play with a musical, produced by Center Theatre Group, directed by Leigh Silverman and choreographed by Sam Pinkleton, is currently in previews and continues through June 10, 2018. Following its run at the Ahmanson, “Soft Power” will play San Francisco’s Curran from June 20 through July 8, 2018.

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 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.

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

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

Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. 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.

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

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

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CTG’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s “Soft Power,” Opens May 16

The world premiere of “Soft Power” by David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music and additional lyrics) will open at the Ahmanson Theatre on Wednesday, May 16.

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, is currently in previews and continues through June 10, 2018. Following its run at the Ahmanson, “Soft Power” will play 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
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.

Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Conrad Ricamora and Kendyl Ito. 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 Kendyl Ito. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
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
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.

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

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

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

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

I got a sneak peek of the world premiere of David Henry Hwang (play and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori’s (music and additional lyrics) “Soft Power” at the New 42 Street Studios in New York today, where the cast performed a selection of songs from the new piece.

Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Lia Chang
Sam Pinkleton, Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman. Photo by Lia Chang

Check out video excerpts and photos below from the press preview.

This play with a musical will be produced by Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre in association with East West Players from May 3 through June 10, 2018. Directed by Leigh Silverman and choreographed by Sam Pinkleton, the opening of “Soft Power” is set for May 16. Following its run at the Ahmanson, “Soft Power” will play San Francisco’s Curran from June 20 through July 8, 2018.

Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang
Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast of SOFT POWER features Billy Bustamante (Miss Saigon), 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 (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Trevor Salter (Here Lies Love) and Emily Stillings (The King and I).

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

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.

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
Conrad Ricamora and Alyse Alan Louis. Photo by Lia Chang
Conrad Ricamora and Alyse Alan Louis. Photo by Lia Chang

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 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.”

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

Hwang returns to Center Theatre Group where he premiered Pulitzer Prize finalist “Yellow Face” and his Tony-nominated revival of “Flower Drum Song.” Hwang’s other work includes the plays “M. Butterfly,” “Chinglish,” “Kung Fu,” “Golden Child,” “The Dance and the Railroad” and “FOB,” and the Broadway musicals “Aida” (co-author, Ahmanson 2001-2002 season) and Disney’s “Tarzan.” He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist and a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series “The Affair.” 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.

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

Tesori’s Broadway credits include “Fun Home” (2015 Tony Award winner which played at the Ahmanson in 2017), “Violet,” “Caroline, or Change” (also at the Ahmanson), “Shrek The Musical,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (also at the Ahmanson), “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.

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel May, Kristen Faith Oei, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Jon Hoche, Conrad Ricamora. Photo by Lia Chang
Daniel May, Kristen Faith Oei, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Jon Hoche, Conrad Ricamora. Photo by Lia Chang
Francis Jue, Paul HeeSang Miller, Billy Bustamante, Conrad Ricamora, Paul HeeSang Miller, Kristen Faith Oei. Photo by Lia Chang
Francis Jue, Paul HeeSang Miller, Billy Bustamante, Conrad Ricamora, Paul HeeSang Miller, Kristen Faith Oei. Photo by Lia Chang
Kendyl Ito, Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos. Photo by Lia Chang
Kendyl Ito, Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos. Photo by Lia Chang
Kendyl Ito, Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos. Photo by Lia Chang
Kendyl Ito, Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Daniel May and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Daniel May and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Hoche, Daniel May and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Hoche, Daniel May and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Hoche, Kendyl Ito, Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Daniel May, Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Hoche, Kendyl Ito, Kristen Faith Oei, Raymond J. Lee, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Jaygee Macapugay, Geena Quintos, Daniel May, Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Kristen Faith Oei, Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May and Geena Quintos. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Kristen Faith Oei, Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May and Geena Quintos. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Kendyl Ito and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Jon Hoche, Raymond J. Lee, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Kendyl Ito and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Jaygee Macapugay, Kendyl Ito, Raymond J. Lee, Geena Quintos, Kristen Faith Oei, Daniel May and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Jaygee Macapugay, Kendyl Ito, Raymond J. Lee, Geena Quintos, Kristen Faith Oei, Daniel May and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang
Kendyl Ito, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Kristen Faith Oei. Photo by Lia Chang
Kendyl Ito, Paul HeeSang Miller, Jaygee Macapugay, Daniel May, Kristen Faith Oei. Photo by Lia Chang

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang, Leigh Silverman, Michael Ritchie and Sam Pinkleton. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanine Tesori, David Henry Hwang, Leigh Silverman, Michael Ritchie and Sam Pinkleton. Photo by Lia Chang

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.

SOFT POWER costume designs by Anita Yavich.
SOFT POWER costume designs by Anita Yavich.
Kristen Faith Oei, Conrad Ricamora, Jon Hoche, Jaygee Macapugay, Billy Bustamante, Geena Quinto, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May, Lia Chang. Photo by Lia Chang
Kristen Faith Oei, Conrad Ricamora, Jon Hoche, Jaygee Macapugay, Billy Bustamante, Geena Quinto, Kendyl Ito, Daniel May, Lia Chang. Photo by Lia Chang

Single Tickets Now Available for the Bay Area Premiere of David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s SOFT POWER at the Curran 

Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn
Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn

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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