Jon Jon Briones Talks about “American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace,” MISS SAIGON and Receiving the 2018 East West Players Visionary Award

Jon Jon Briones. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Jon Briones. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Jon Briones. Photo by Lia Chang

Congrats to Jon Jon Briones who will be receiving the 2018 East West Players Visionary Award at the East West Players (EWP) Annual Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction at the Hilton Universal City tonight.

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producing organization of Asian Pacific American artistic work is celebrating THE COMPANY WE KEEP, its 52nd Anniversary season with the Annual Visionary Awards Gala Benefit.

Lily Mariye, Suzy Nakamura and Wendy Chang/Dwight Stuart Youth Fund will also be honored. Recognizing the achievements of individuals who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft, proceeds from the gala fundraiser  will benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs.

Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada. Photo by Lia Chang

Actor Jon Jon Briones was born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines. At 9 years old he was sent to live at Santo Domingo convent as a boy soprano in the “Tiples of Santo Domingo” choir. This was to be his first formal training. In 1989, he joined the original London cast of Miss Saigon. Recently, he played the Engineer in the London 2014 revival (Olivier Award nominee, What’s One Stage Award winner) and its Broadway transfer (Drama Desk Award nominee, Theater Award winner). He has appeared in several other productions of Miss Saigon, among numerous additional stage credits. He has had the privilege of working with East West players in La Cage Aux Folles (Ovation Award nominee) and A Little Night Music. He was proudly involved in the pre-Broadway development of Allegiance at The Old Globe. Last month, Briones received raves for his chilling and brilliant portrayal as Modesto Cunanan on the television drama American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace.

Lia: Congratulations on your 2018 East West Players Visionary Award.What does receiving this award mean to you?
Jon Jon: It’s always nice when you get compliments for your work but to be honored is totally different and very humbling. It really means a lot. It’s the highest form of “You’re alright”.

Original cast of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. Photo courtesy of Michael Lamont.
Original cast of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. Photo courtesy of Michael Lamont.

Lia: What shows have you performed in at East West Players?
Jon Jon: My first show was A Little Night Music in 2012 and I played Fredrik Egerman. And then I did La Cage Aux Folles for them in 2016 and I played Georges.

Gedde Watanabe, left, and Jon Jon Briones in "With You on My Arm" during East West Players' production of "La Cage aux Folles." (Michael Lamont)
Gedde Watanabe, left, and Jon Jon Briones in “With You on My Arm” during East West Players’ production of “La Cage aux Folles.” (Michael Lamont)

Lia: How were you cast as Modesto Cunanan in “American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace.”
Jon Jon: Darren Criss told me that when they started filming at the beginning of 2017, he and head writer Tom Rob Smith were talking about the role of Modesto Cunanan and they thought that I might be right for the part(they both saw me in Miss Saigon in London). They then started talking about me to the producers of the show. My agent contacted me about an audition that I have to tape because the audition was in LA and I was in NYC doing Miss Saigon. I taped my audition, sent it and as they say the rest is history.

THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY "Creator/Destroyer" Episode 8 (Airs Wednesday, March 14, 10:00 p.m. e/p) -- Pictured: (l-r) Jon Jon Briones as Modesto Cunanan, Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX
THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY “Creator/Destroyer” Episode 8 (Airs Wednesday, March 14, 10:00 p.m. e/p) — Pictured: (l-r) Jon Jon Briones as Modesto Cunanan, Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX

Lia: How did you develop the character?
Jon Jon: Research about Modesto on line did not yield a lot but reading Maureen Orth’s book and talking to her, discussing the character with writer Tom Rob Smith really helped me understand Modesto better. The two of them were a wealth of information.

Lia: How has your life or career changed since appearing on the show?
Jon Jon: It’s a little better, I have to admit. Hopefully this will lead to better and complex roles not just for me but for other actors of Asian descent.

Jon Jon Briones, Nicholas Christopher, Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, Laurence Connor, Devin Ilaw. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Jon Briones, Nicholas Christopher, Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, Laurence Connor, Devin Ilaw. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: You were in the ensemble in the original production of Miss Saigon. What did it mean for you to lead the show on Broadway after all these years?
Jon Jon: It meant so much to me. A couple of years ago I’ve accepted the fact that making my Broadway debut will not come into fruition because of my age and the lack of roles in shows for people like me. And I can’t seem to get cast in other Asian shows like The King and I. They probably think I’m not regal enough. I can’t blame them. I’m as blue collar looking as anyone out there. But when Cameron asked me if I wanted to do The Engineer on Broadway, I couldn’t believe it. The dream was not dead. And I made my Broadway debut at the age of 52.

Jon Jon Briones and the company of MISS SAIGON. photo by Matthew Murphy
Jon Jon Briones and the company of MISS SAIGON. photo by Matthew Murphy

Lia: Did you enjoy working in New York even though you are LA based?
Jon Jon: We used to live in New York a few years ago and I just love the city! And everyday when I walk down the street on my way to the theatre, I get this overwhelming feeling of gratitude for living in the city and playing the lead in a Broadway show. Life was good!

The cast of MISS SAIGON at the closing night party at the Dream Hotel in New York on January 14, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang
The cast of MISS SAIGON at the closing night party at the Dream Hotel in New York on January 14, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How did you balance the stage and TV shooting schedule?
Jon Jon: That was interesting and pretty cool. A few times I had to take the red eye after an evening performance in NYC, arrived in LA early morning, took a short nap and then get picked up for an early morning shoot. I filmed for a few days and then took a red eye back to New York after a late night shoot, arrived in my New York apartment to sleep for a few hours and then do 2 shows. And then repeat. I credit my agent for making it work.

Isa Camille Briones won the 2018 Ovation Award for Featured Actress in a Musical.
Isa Camille Briones won the 2018 Ovation Award for Featured Actress in a Musical.

Lia: Your entire family is in the business. Was “American Crime Story” the first time that you worked with your daughter, Isa Briones, on screen?
Jon Jon: That was the first time I worked with my daughter and it was pretty cool.

Lia: You must be so proud of her LA Ovation Award for Featured Actress in a Musical for East West Players’ production of Next to Normal, which garnered the top awards. How was she cast in Hamilton?
Jon Jon: We’re very proud of her! They really loved her even the first time she auditioned that they kept calling her back to work with her. Maybe it was a combination of her being a little young (18 at that time) or know where to put her but she finally booked the show after 7 months.

Lia: What’s next for you?
Jon Jon: I’m hoping to announce something good soon. We’ll see.

Reggie Lee, Jon Jon Briones and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang
Reggie Lee, Jon Jon Briones and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang

Also joining the evening’s festivities are Reggie Lee, Deedee Magno Hall, Cliffton Hall, Justin W. Yu, and company members from David Henry Hwang’s Soft Power (produced by Center Theatre Group in association with East West Players) and East West Players’ upcoming production of Nathan Ramos’ As We Babble On.

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
SOFT POWER cast and creative team – 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

East West Players’ 52nd Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 30, 2018 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. VIP Reception for Premium Table Circle sponsors, silent auction, and no-host cocktails starts at 5:30pm. The dinner and awards show begins at 7pm.

Individual tickets are $200- $1,500. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information please contact East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or galaguests@eastwestplayers.org.

For more information about East West Players, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.

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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Lily Mariye Talks about Women at the Helm, Her DGA Nomination and Receiving the 2018 East West Players Visionary Award

Lily Mariye
Lily Mariye
Lily Mariye

Congrats to Lily Mariye who will be receiving the 2018 East West Players Visionary Award at the East West Players (EWP) Annual Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction at the Hilton Universal City on Monday, April 30th.

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producing organization of Asian Pacific American artistic work is celebrating THE COMPANY WE KEEP, its 52nd Anniversary season with the Annual Visionary Awards Gala Benefit.

Suzy Nakamura, Jon Jon Briones and Wendy Chang/Dwight Stuart Youth Fund will also be honored. Recognizing the achievements of individuals who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft, proceeds from the gala fundraiser  will benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs.

Lily Mariye, an award winning actor and director, is a 2018 Outstanding Directorial Achievement nominee for the 70th Annual DGA Awards for her episode of Amazon’s “Just Add Magic.” She is a television and film director, best known for CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” NBC’s “Chicago PD,” Freeform’s “The Fosters,” and CMT’s “Nashville.” Model Minority (modelminoritymovie.com) is Mariye’s feature writing and directorial debut and has won 11 Film Festival Awards around the world, including Best Film, Best Director, Best New Actress and Best Cinematography. As an actor, Mariye is best known for her role as nurse Lily Jarvik on the award-winning TV series “ER” for 15 seasons, for which she won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series four times.

Lily Mariye and her husband, Concord recording artist, saxophonist Boney James, at the DGA Awards Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 3, 2018.
Lily Mariye and her husband, Concord recording artist, saxophonist Boney James, at the DGA Awards Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 3, 2018.

I caught up with Lily via email to talk about Women at the Helm, Her DGA Nomination and Receiving the 2018 East West Players Visionary Award.

Lia: This Spring you received your first Directors Guild of America award nomination in the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs category this year. Where were you when you heard about the nomination and what was your reaction?
Lily: I was editing my episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles” the day the nominations were announced and hadn’t looked at my phone since lunchtime. I wasn’t watching for the nomination announcements because, well, frankly, I didn’t think I had a chance! I packed up my stuff and as I got in the elevator to go home, I pulled out my phone. It had blown up with texts and emails and I thought, “What the Heck?” I opened my emails and the first one I saw was from my directing mentor and friend, Lesli Linka Glatter. The subject line was BRAVO!!!!!!!!! and all it said was, “So so so so so thrilled for you…..HUGE CONGRATULATIONS Lily !!!!” with a million emojis. I still had no idea what was happening, so I opened a few more and saw that I had been nominated for a DGA Award! By the time I got down to the first floor, I was almost hyperventilating. I signed out of the building, then had to sit down in the lobby to get my bearings. I was shocked, honored and thrilled! And I still am…

Lia: What shows have you directed since “Nashville”?
Lily: I feel fortunate that I got to direct three episodes of “Nashville” before it ended. “Nashville” was the first episode of television I directed and the cast and crew will always hold a special place in my heart. Since then I’ve directed “The Fosters,” “Just Add Magic,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Criminal Minds.”

On the set of “Nashville” (from left): Mark Collie, who plays Frankie Gray and is a country hitmaker in real life; Taylor Hamra, writer and co-executive producer; Charles Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne; and director Lily Mariye. (Photo courtesy Lily Mariye)
On the set of “Nashville” (from left): Mark Collie, who plays Frankie Gray and is a country hitmaker in real life; Taylor Hamra, writer and co-executive producer; Charles Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne; and director Lily Mariye. (Photo courtesy Lily Mariye)

Lia: Have you felt a change within the industry with more women at the helm?
Lily: The shift I feel is that women seem more empowered to speak up. I’m encouraged and inspired by the female gaze in film and television, especially in genres that have always been male dominated, such as action. What I find most encouraging about watching women direct action is that the end product is just as powerful as when men direct. Women are strong and tough, and for the women who get to positions of power, they’ve had to be even stronger and tougher.

Lia: What is your favorite set that you have worked on lately?
Lily: I can’t pick! They’ve all been fun and fulfilling for different reasons: I loved working with Daniel Henney on “Criminal Minds.” He’s a really talented actor and a sweetheart to work with. I worked hard to make him look like an Action Star, which he IS! I got to work with L.L. Cool J on “NCIS: Los Angeles.” He is one of the most supportive men I’ve ever met: kind, smart and willing. And I got to blow up a house! “Chicago P.D.” was a fun set and I got to work with my old “ER” friend, Eriq La Salle, who is the director/producer on the show.

Daniel Henney, Christopher Barbour, Lily Mariye and Kelly Frye on the set of "Criminal Minds."
Daniel Henney, Christopher Barbour, Lily Mariye and Kelly Frye on the set of “Criminal Minds.”

Lia: You are receiving the Visionary Award from East West Players. Have you worked with them as an artist? If so, what were the shows and the years that they were produced?
Lily: When I started doing professional theatre, I did a lot of staged readings at the Mark Taper Forum and East West Players in the 80’s. In 1993, I played the Witch in Tim Dang’s production of Into The Woods. I directed God of Carnage as a benefit for the theatre last year. It starred Parminder Nagra (“ER”), Sherri Saum (“The Fosters”), Marc Anthony Samuel (“General Hospital,” MODEL MINORITY) and Rizwan Manji (“The Magicians,” THE WOLF OF WALL STREET).

Lia: What does receiving the East West Players Visionary Award mean to you?
Lily: It’s incredible, not only to be honored by your peers, but by the Asian American community! I had very few Asian American female actors as role models growing up. And I saw no Asian American female directors to try to emulate. The importance of our mere existence hasn’t eluded me, and in this moment, I couldn’t be prouder to be an Asian American female actor and director.

Lia: What’s next for you?
Lily: Next season, so far, I’ll be directing “Chicago P.D.,” “Criminal Minds,”” MacGyver” and two more episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles.” I’m hoping as more shows get picked up, I’ll get to direct a few more! I’m also attached to direct a feature, LOST AND FOUND, by Oscar Nominee, Iris Yamashita. LOST AND FOUND is a wonderful script about children who remember past lives. It’s a thrilling yet touching story, and I’m honored to be working with her and producer Jimmy Tsai.

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
SOFT POWER cast and creative team – 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

Also joining the evening’s festivities are Reggie Lee, Deedee Magno Hall, Cliffton Hall, Justin W. Yu, and company members from David Henry Hwang’s Soft Power (produced by Center Theatre Group in association with East West Players) and East West Players’ upcoming production of Nathan Ramos’ As We Babble On.

East West Players’ 52nd Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 30, 2018 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. VIP Reception for Premium Table Circle sponsors, silent auction, and no-host cocktails starts at 5:30pm. The dinner and awards show begins at 7pm.

Individual tickets are $200- $1,500. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information please contact East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or galaguests@eastwestplayers.org.

For more information about East West Players, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.

Lily Mariye Talks Directing “Nashville,” the Disney-ABC Creative Talent Development Program and What’s Next 

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

Jon Jon Briones, Suzy Nakamura, Lily Mariye and Wendy Chang/Dwight Stuart Youth Fund Among Honorees at East West Players’ 52nd Visionary Awards on April 30

Jon Jon Briones. Photo by Lia Chang

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producing organization of Asian Pacific American artistic work, celebrates THE COMPANY WE KEEP, its 52nd Anniversary season with the Annual Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction. Recognizing the achievements of individuals who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft, the gala fundraiser takes place on Monday, April 30, 2018 at the Hilton Universal City. Proceeds benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs.

In addition to previously announced honorees Lily Mariye and Wendy Chang/Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, EWP will also honor Suzy Nakamura and Jon Jon Briones.

Jon Jon Briones. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Jon Briones. Photo by Lia Chang

Jon Jon Briones, actor, was born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines. At 9 years old he was sent to live at Santo Domingo convent as a boy soprano in the “Tiples of Santo Domingo” choir. This was to be his first formal training. In 1989, he joined the original London cast of Miss Saigon. Recently, he played the Engineer in the London 2014 revival (Olivier Award nominee, What’s One Stage Award winner) and its Broadway transfer (Drama Desk Award nominee, Theater Award winner). He has appeared in several other productions of Miss Saigon, among numerous additional stage credits. He has had the privilege of working with East West players in La Cage Aux Folles (Ovation Award nominee) and A Little Night Music. He was proudly involved in the pre-Broadway development of Allegiance at The Old Globe. Last month, Briones received raves for his chilling and brilliant portrayal as Modesto Cunanan on the television drama American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace.

THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY "Creator/Destroyer" Episode 8 (Airs Wednesday, March 14, 10:00 p.m. e/p) -- Pictured: (l-r) Jon Jon Briones as Modesto Cunanan, Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX
THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY “Creator/Destroyer” Episode 8 (Airs Wednesday, March 14, 10:00 p.m. e/p) — Pictured: (l-r) Jon Jon Briones as Modesto Cunanan, Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FX
Suzy Nakamura
Suzy Nakamura

Suzy Nakamura, actor. Born and raised in Chicago, Suzy began her career in the touring company of The Second City, and then opened the first two revues at The Second City Detroit. After moving to Los Angeles, she began guest starring on television, landing recurring roles on “The West Wing” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Series regular roles include the ABC comedy “Dr. Ken,” opposite Ken Jeong, and NBC’s “Go On,” opposite Matthew Perry. Recent guest starring credits include “Station 19,” “Elementary,” and “Veep,” and recurring roles on “Blackish,” “The Goldbergs,” and “Modern Family.” Her film credits include Hollywood hits, but she is most proud of smaller independents like Afternoon Delight, Strawberry FieldsTreasure Island, and Timecode.

Lily Mariye
Lily Mariye

Lily Mariye, actor and director, is a 2018 Outstanding Directorial Achievement nominee for the 70th Annual DGA Awards for her episode of Amazon’s “Just Add Magic.” She is a television and film director, best known for CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” NBC’s “Chicago PD,” Freeform’s “The Fosters,” and CMT’s “Nashville.” Model Minority (modelminoritymovie.com) is Mariye’s feature writing and directorial debut and has won 11 Film Festival Awards around the world, including Best Film, Best Director, Best New Actress and Best Cinematography. As an actor, Mariye is best known for her role as nurse Lily Jarvik on the award-winning TV series “ER” for 15 seasons, for which she won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series four times.

Dwight Stuart Youth Fund. Originally established as an independent foundation in 2001, the Dwight Stuart Youth Fund (DSYF) was endowed by Dwight L. Stuart, Sr. (1924-1998) to benefit and serve the needs of children and youth in Los Angeles County. Since 2010, DSYF has been a grantmaking arm of the San Francisco-based Stuart Foundation. The Foundation is a programmatic funder of public and private institutions and organizations, whose goal is the improvement of life outcomes for young people in the K-12 education systems in California and Washington State. Mr. Stuart was raised in the Pacific Northwest and lived for many years in Los Angeles. He was president of the Carnation Company from 1973-1983 and was the grandson of its founder, E.A. Stuart. A life-long supporter of youth mentoring and sports programs, he was also a board member of the Stuart Foundation.

“I could not be more proud to announce our four outstanding honorees this year,” says Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “Suzy, Jon Jon, Lily, and Wendy all have a strong and deep connection with East West Players as artists who have performed on our stage, as students in our classes, and as fierce supporters and advocates of our organization. We can’t wait to honor these individuals, who have such a close relationship to us and are affecting great change through their work.”

Also joining the evening’s festivities are Reggie Lee, Deedee Magno Hall, Cliffton Hall, Justin W. Yu, and company members from David Henry Hwang’s Soft Power (produced by Center Theatre Group in association with East West Players) and East West Players’ upcoming production of Nathan Ramos’ As We Babble On.

EWP will honor previously announced honoree Tzi Ma at a future Visionary Awards gala.

Current major sponsors (as of April 9, 2018) of the gala include: TITANIUM: ABC/Disney and Dwight Stuart Youth Fund. PLATINUM: CBS Television Network and NBC Universal. GOLD: Aratani Foundation. BRONZE: Los Angeles LGBT Center, Carmen J. Smith, Randall & Mari Tamura, Lynn Waggoner, and Wells Fargo. COPPER CIRCLE: Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theatre; Snehal Desai, Pia Palomo & Jerry A. Gonzales II; Peter Shimamoto; Nielsen; Union Bank; and Jeff Yang. Additional information will be released shortly.

Gala Committee Members include: Co-Chair Daniel Mayeda, Co-Chair Peter Shimamoto, Albert E. Aubin, Jason M. Blackwell, Kin W. Cheng, Snehal Desai, Nora DeVeau-Rosen, Ken Katsumoto, Jay Kim, David & Carrie Lee, Reggie Lee, Carolina San Juan, Judy Sasaki, Sally Pai Unruh, and Jeff Yang.

East West Players’ 52nd Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 30, 2018 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. VIP Reception for Premium Table Circle sponsors, silent auction, and no-host cocktails starts at 5:30pm. The dinner and awards show begins at 7pm.

Individual tickets are $200- $1,500. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information please contact East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or galaguests@eastwestplayers.org.

For more information about East West Players, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.

Production Photos: George Takei, Elena Wang, Greg Watanabe, Ethan Le Phong, Scott Watanabe, Janelle Dote and More in LA Premiere of ALLEGIANCE

Ethan Le Phong, George Takei, and Elena Wang. Photo by Michael Lamont

East West Players (EWP) and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) present stage, television, and film star George Takei in the Los Angeles premiere of the Broadway musical Allegiance.

The Cast of ALLEGIANCE. Photo by Michael Lamont
The Cast of ALLEGIANCE. Photo by Michael Lamont

Co-produced by EWP and JACCC by special arrangement with Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA, with performances at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles from February 21-April 1, 2018. Previews run from February 21-25, with the Opening Night performance and reception on February 28.

George Takei. Photo by Michael Lamont
George Takei. Photo by Michael Lamont

Broadway cast members joining Takei include Elena Wang as Kei Kimura, Greg Watanabe as Mike Masaoka, Scott Watanabe as Tatsuo Kimura, and Janelle Dote as Hanako.

Elena Wang. Photo by Michael Lamont
Elena Wang. Photo by Michael Lamont

The cast also features Ethan Le Phong as Sammy Kimura, Eymard Cabling as Frankie Suzuki, and Natalie Holt MacDonald as Hannah Campbell. The ensemble includes Cesar Cipriano, Jordan Goodsell, Sharline Liu, Miyuki Miyagi, Glenn Shiroma, Chad Takeda, and Grace Yoo.

With music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione, Allegiance tells the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor. Sam Kimura seeks to prove his patriotism by fighting for his country in the war, but his sister, Kei, fiercely protests the government’s treatment of her people. An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves. Allegiance had its 2012 world premiere in a record-breaking engagement at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and played on Broadway from 2015-16 at The Shubert Organization’s Longacre Theatre.

Elena Wang and Ethan Le Phong. Photo by Michael Lamont
Elena Wang and Ethan Le Phong. Photo by Michael Lamont

“It is such an honor to be able to bring Allegiance to my hometown of Los Angeles and specifically to Little Tokyo. I’m thrilled by this opportunity to reprise the roles of Sam Kimura and Ojii-Chan, which heralded my Broadway debut,” says George Takei. “During World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to imprison persons of Japanese ancestry in American concentration camps simply because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. I spent my childhood in two of these camps, and this experience of courage, resilience, and survival against injustice is what inspired the story of Allegiance. We live in a time when the echoes of the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans rings once again, and Allegiance is a clarion call for us to not forget this chapter in American history. I am so proud to bring Allegiance to L.A. with East West Players and the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. There’s never been a more important time for the stories of Allegiance to be told.”

Ethan Le Phong, George Takei, and Elena Wang. Photo by Michael Lamont
Ethan Le Phong, George Takei, and Elena Wang. Photo by Michael Lamont

With a career spanning six decades, George Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series “Star Trek,” in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. But Takei’s story goes where few stories have gone before. From a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II to becoming one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights, and marriage equality-Takei remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture. Takei made his Broadway debut in the musical Allegiance, which ran in New York in 2015 and 2016. The musical is inspired by Takei’s true-life experience as a Japanese American who-from age 5 to 9-was unjustly imprisoned in two US internment camps during World War II. In 2017, Takei returned to the New York stage, starring in a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures, directed by John Doyle at Classic Stage Company. Mashable.com named Takei the #1 most-influential person on Facebook, currently with nearly 10.3 million likes and 2.3 million followers on Twitter. Takei lives in Los Angeles with his husband Brad Takei.

Scott Watanabe, George Takei, Jordan Goodsell, Elena Wang, and Ethan Le Phong. Photo by Michael Lamont
Scott Watanabe, George Takei, Jordan Goodsell, Elena Wang, and Ethan Le Phong. Photo by Michael Lamont

EWP Artistic Director Snehal Desai says, “We are so honored that George Takei, EWP’s Council of Governors Co-chair, will be returning to reprise the incredible roles that he debuted on Broadway for Allegiance. George is a light. He is a blazing beacon of humanity, grace, and generosity. He has made it a part of his life’s work to speak out against injustice, and it is a privilege to be able to tell this story, at this time, with him.”

The Los Angeles premiere of ALLEGIANCE at the Aratani Theatre. Photo by Michael Lamont
The Los Angeles premiere of ALLEGIANCE at the Aratani Theatre. Photo by Michael Lamont

JACCC President & CEO Leslie A. Ito says, “George Takei is the most influential and talented Asian American storyteller of our time, and as such, JACCC is thrilled to have him return to our stage, this time to recount this important chapter in our history so that as a country, we do not repeat these injustices.”

Eymard Cabling, Elena Wang, and George Takei. Photo by Michael Lamont
Eymard Cabling, Elena Wang, and George Takei. Photo by Michael Lamont

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, was founded in 1965, at a time when Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) faced limited or no opportunities to see their experiences reflected outside of stereotypical and demeaning caricatures in the American landscape. EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in the economy.

Founded in 1971, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. A hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place for the diverse voices it inspires-JACCC connects traditional and contemporary; community participants and creative professionals; Southern California and the world beyond. JACCC also provides office space in its five-story complex to a wide variety of nonprofit cultural, educational, and community-based organizations in Los Angeles.

The original Broadway production of Allegiance opened on November 8, 2015 at the Longacre Theater in New York City and was produced by Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA with Mark Mugiishi/Hawaii HUI, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport, Elliott Masie, Sandi Moran, Mabuhay Productions, Barbara Freitag; Marsi Gardiner, Valiant Ventures, Wendy Gillespie, David Hiatt Kraft, Diane Blumenthal, M. Bradley Calobrace, Karen Tanz, Gregory Rae, Mike Karns, in association with Jas Grewal, Peter Landin, and Ron Polson.

For more information, visit allegiancemusical.com/LA

Greg Watanabe. Photo by Michael Lamont
Greg Watanabe. Photo by Michael Lamont
The Cast of ALLEGIANCE. Photo by Michael Lamont
The Cast of ALLEGIANCE. Photo by Michael Lamont
Natalie Holt MacDonald and Ethan Le Phong. Photo by Michael Lamont
Natalie Holt MacDonald and Ethan Le Phong. Photo by Michael Lamont

George Takei, Elena Wang, Greg Watanabe, Ethan Le Phong, Scott Watanabe, Janelle Dote and More Begin Previews in LA Premiere of ALLEGIANCE Tonight

East West Players (EWP) and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) are presenting the Los Angeles premiere of the Broadway musical Allegiance, stage and screen star George Takei will be joined by Broadway cast members Elena Wang as Kei Kimura, Greg Watanabe as Mike Masaoka, Scott Watanabe as Tatsuo Kimura, and Janelle Dote as Hanako.

They will be joined by Ethan Le Phong as Sammy Kimura, Eymard Cabling as Frankie Suzuki, and Natalie Holt MacDonald as Hannah Campbell. The ensemble includes Cesar Cipriano, Jordan Goodsell, Sharline Liu, Miyuki Miyagi, Glenn Shiroma, Chad Takeda, and Grace Yoo.

Allegiance will be performed at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles from February 21 to April 1, 2018. Opening Night is February 28. This new production will be directed by East West Players’ Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. Marc Macalintal is the Music Director, and Rumi Oyama is the Choreographer.

Allegiance in Los Angeles will be co-produced by EWP and JACCC by special arrangement with Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA.

Takei, known for his founding role as Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television series “Star Trek” and as an influential social media icon, will be performing the roles of Sam Kimura and Ojii-Chan that he originated on Broadway. Allegiance is inspired by Takei’s childhood experiences.

George Takei, Lorenzo Thione, Jay Kuo and Marc Acito celebrate the release of the ALLEGIANCE Original Cast recording at the Barnes and Noble CD Signing event in New York on Feb. 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang
George Takei, Lorenzo Thione, Jay Kuo and Marc Acito celebrate the release of the ALLEGIANCE Original Cast recording at the Barnes and Noble CD Signing event in New York on Feb. 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

With music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione, Allegiance tells the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor. Sam Kimura seeks to prove his patriotism by fighting for his country in the war, but his sister, Kei, fiercely protests the government’s treatment of her people. An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves.

Allegiance (Los Angeles) Director Snehal Desai says, “It’s an incredible honor to be able to direct the first production of Allegiance since its Broadway debut. There could not be a more vital and important time to be bringing Allegiance home to Los Angeles and Little Tokyo, where so many still remember the day when the government forced their families to leave their communities and homes. This powerful and moving musical sheds light on this dark chapter of US history with grace and humor. I am humbled to be leading this supremely talented company.”

JACCC Director of Performing Arts & Community Engagement and Executive Producer of Allegiance (Los Angeles) Alison De La Cruz says, “We are thrilled to have Snehal and this award-winning design team helm this landmark production. We are pleased to have the opportunity to showcase such amazing Asian American talent on our stage and to welcome new audiences to our community’s premier venue and to the Little Tokyo neighborhood.”

The creative team includes Se Hyun Oh (Scenic Design), Karyn Lawrence (Lighting Design), Halei Parker (Costume Design), Cricket Myers (Sound Design), Adam Flemming (Projection Design), and Glenn Michael Baker (Property Design), Cesar Cipriano (Fight Choreographer), and Janelle Dote (Assistant Choreographer).

All performances of Allegiance will be staged at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre at 244 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Previews are Wednesday, February 21 through Sunday, February 25, 2018, with 8pm shows from Wednesday to Saturday, and a 2pm matinee show on Sunday. Regular performances run from Wednesday to Sunday, with 8pm shows from Wednesday to Saturday, and 2pm matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday. Opening night is Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8pm. The production runs until April 1, 2018.

For tickets and information, please visit AllegianceMusical.com.

About East West Players
East West Players (EWP) is the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work. Over its remarkable 52-year history, EWP has produced over 230 plays and musicals. EWP’s 2017-18 season, The Company We Keep, features notable artistic partnerships and co-productions that reflect on and refract a wide range of Asian Pacific Islander (API) experiences as seen through the lens of gender, race, and sexuality. EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in the economy.

About Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
Founded in 1971, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. A hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place for the diverse voices it inspires—JACCC connects traditional and contemporary; community participants and creative professionals; Southern California and the world beyond. JACCC also provides office space in its five-story complex to a wide variety of nonprofit cultural, educational, and community-based organizations in Los Angeles.

About Allegiance
The original Broadway production of Allegiance opened on November 8, 2015 at the Longacre Theater in New York City and was produced by Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA with Mark Mugiishi/Hawaii HUI, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport, Elliott Masie, Sandi Moran, Mabuhay Productions, Barbara Freitag/Eric & Marsi Gardiner, Valiant Ventures, Wendy Gillespie, David Hiatt Kraft, Norm & Diane Blumenthal, M. Bradley Calobrace, Karen Tanz, Gregory Rae/Mike Karns, in association with Jas Grewal, Peter Landin, and Ron Polson.

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East West Players Honors Tzi Ma, Lily Mariye and Dwight Stuart Youth Fund At 52nd Anniversary Visionary Awards on April 30

Lily Mariye and Tzi Ma

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producing organization of Asian Pacific American artistic work, celebrates THE COMPANY WE KEEP, its 52nd Anniversary season with the Annual Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction. Recognizing the achievements of individuals who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their craft, the gala fundraiser takes place on Monday, April 30, 2018 at the Hilton Universal City. Proceeds benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs.

The three honorees are:

Tzi Ma
Tzi Ma

Tzi Ma, actor and director. Having started his acting career in theatre in New York City in 1973, Ma has an impressive number of theatre credits and has worked with some of America’s most gifted playwrights. He has had numerous works written specifically for him, such as The Dance and the Railroad by David Henry Hwang, for which Ma won a CINE Golden Eagle Award, a Dramalogue Award for Best Director, and a Dramalogue Award for Best Choreographer (at EWP); and In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe by Eric Overmyer. Ma also collaborated with Mr. Hwang on FOB, Flower Drum Song (Garland Award nomination for Best Actor and Los Angeles City Council Citation), Yellow Face, and the film Golden Gate. His most recent films include Arrival, Sky Scraper, Mediation Park (Best Actor nomination from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television), and Pali Road (Jury Award on outstanding contribution to diversity in film).

Lily Mariye
Lily Mariye

Lily Mariye, actor and director, is a 2018 Outstanding Directorial Achievement nominee for the 70th Annual DGA Awards for her episode of Amazon’s “Just Add Magic.” She is a television and film director, best known for CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” NBC’s “Chicago PD,” Freeform’s “The Fosters,” and CMT’s “Nashville.” Model Minority (modelminoritymovie.com) is Mariye’s feature writing and directorial debut and has won 11 Film Festival Awards around the world, including Best Film, Best Director, Best New Actress and Best Cinematography. As an actor, Mariye is best known for her role as nurse Lily Jarvik on the award-winning TV series “ER” for 15 seasons, for which she won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series four times.

Dwight Stuart Youth Fund. Originally established as an independent foundation in 2001, the Dwight Stuart Youth Fund (DSYF) was endowed by Dwight L. Stuart, Sr. (1924-1998) to benefit and serve the needs of children and youth in Los Angeles County. Since 2010, DSYF has been a grantmaking arm of the San Francisco-based Stuart Foundation. The Foundation is a programmatic funder of public and private institutions and organizations, whose goal is the improvement of life outcomes for young people in the K-12 education systems in California and Washington State. Mr. Stuart was raised in the Pacific Northwest and lived for many years in Los Angeles. He was president of the Carnation Company from 1973-1983 and was the grandson of its founder, E.A. Stuart. A life-long supporter of youth mentoring and sports programs, he was also a board member of the Stuart Foundation.

“East West Players is thrilled to recognize the incredible work of Tzi, Lily, and the Dwight Stuart Youth Fund,” says EWP Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “The accomplishments of Tzi and Lily as actors and directors have been pivotal in raising the visibility of Asian Americans on stage-including the EWP stage-as well as in television and film. They are both fearless and outspoken advocates for Asian Americans in Hollywood. The Dwight Stuart Youth Fund isa groundbreaking supporter of underserved children and youth, whose work has left an indelible mark in our community and whose support has enabled EWP’s Theater For Youth program to empower our youth through storytelling. We are honored to be recognizing them and their efforts. ?”

Current major sponsors (as of February 12, 2018) of the gala include: TITANIUM: Dwight Stuart Youth Fund. GOLD: Aratani Foundation. BRONZE: Randall & Mari Tamura, Lynn Waggoner. COPPER CIRCLE: Snehal Desai, Pia Palomo & Jerry A. Gonzales II; Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theatre. More honorees and additional information will be released shortly.

Gala Committee Members include: Co-Chair Daniel Mayeda, Co-Chair Peter Shimamoto, Ed Lew, Jay Kim, Judy Sasaki, David Lee and Carrie, Ken Katsumoto, Al Aubin, Sally Pai Unruh, Reggie Lee, Jason M. Blackwell, Jeff Yang, Kin Cheng, Nora DeVeau-Rosen, Snehal Desai, and Carolina San Juan.

East West Players’ 52nd Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 30, 2018 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. VIP Reception for Premium Table Circle sponsors, silent auction, and no-host cocktails starts at 5:30pm. The dinner and awards show begins at 7pm.

Individual tickets are $200- $1,500. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information please contact East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or galaguests@eastwestplayers.org. For more information about East West Players, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.

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George Takei, Elena Wang, Greg Watanabe, Ethan Le Phong, Scott Watanabe, Janelle Dote and more set for LA Premiere of ALLEGIANCE, February 21 – April 1

East West Players (EWP) and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) are presenting the Los Angeles premiere of the Broadway musical Allegiance, stage and screen star George Takei will be joined by Broadway cast members Elena Wang as Kei Kimura, Greg Watanabe as Mike Masaoka, Scott Watanabe as Tatsuo Kimura, and Janelle Dote as Hanako.

They will be joined by Ethan Le Phong as Sammy Kimura, Eymard Cabling as Frankie Suzuki, and Natalie Holt MacDonald as Hannah Campbell. The ensemble includes Cesar Cipriano, Jordan Goodsell, Sharline Liu, Miyuki Miyagi, Glenn Shiroma, Chad Takeda, and Grace Yoo.

Allegiance will be performed at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles from February 21 to April 1, 2018. Opening Night is February 28. This new production will be directed by East West Players’ Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. Marc Macalintal is the Music Director, and Rumi Oyama is the Choreographer.

Allegiance in Los Angeles will be co-produced by EWP and JACCC by special arrangement with Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA.

Takei, known for his founding role as Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television series “Star Trek” and as an influential social media icon, will be performing the roles of Sam Kimura and Ojii-Chan that he originated on Broadway. Allegiance is inspired by Takei’s childhood experiences.

With music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione, Allegiance tells the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor. Sam Kimura seeks to prove his patriotism by fighting for his country in the war, but his sister, Kei, fiercely protests the government’s treatment of her people. An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves.

Allegiance (Los Angeles) Director Snehal Desai says, “It’s an incredible honor to be able to direct the first production of Allegiance since its Broadway debut. There could not be a more vital and important time to be bringing Allegiance home to Los Angeles and Little Tokyo, where so many still remember the day when the government forced their families to leave their communities and homes. This powerful and moving musical sheds light on this dark chapter of US history with grace and humor. I am humbled to be leading this supremely talented company.”

JACCC Director of Performing Arts & Community Engagement and Executive Producer of Allegiance (Los Angeles) Alison De La Cruz says, “We are thrilled to have Snehal and this award-winning design team helm this landmark production. We are pleased to have the opportunity to showcase such amazing Asian American talent on our stage and to welcome new audiences to our community’s premier venue and to the Little Tokyo neighborhood.”

The creative team includes Se Hyun Oh (Scenic Design), Karyn Lawrence (Lighting Design), Halei Parker (Costume Design), Cricket Myers (Sound Design), Adam Flemming (Projection Design), and Glenn Michael Baker (Property Design), Cesar Cipriano (Fight Choreographer), and Janelle Dote (Assistant Choreographer).

All performances of Allegiance will be staged at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre at 244 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Previews are Wednesday, February 21 through Sunday, February 25, 2018, with 8pm shows from Wednesday to Saturday, and a 2pm matinee show on Sunday. Regular performances run from Wednesday to Sunday, with 8pm shows from Wednesday to Saturday, and 2pm matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday. Opening night is Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8pm. The production runs until April 1, 2018.

For tickets and information, please visit AllegianceMusical.com.

About East West Players
East West Players (EWP) is the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work. Over its remarkable 52-year history, EWP has produced over 230 plays and musicals. EWP’s 2017-18 season, The Company We Keep, features notable artistic partnerships and co-productions that reflect on and refract a wide range of Asian Pacific Islander (API) experiences as seen through the lens of gender, race, and sexuality. EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in the economy.

About Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
Founded in 1971, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. A hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place for the diverse voices it inspires—JACCC connects traditional and contemporary; community participants and creative professionals; Southern California and the world beyond. JACCC also provides office space in its five-story complex to a wide variety of nonprofit cultural, educational, and community-based organizations in Los Angeles.

About Allegiance
The original Broadway production of Allegiance opened on November 8, 2015 at the Longacre Theater in New York City and was produced by Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA with Mark Mugiishi/Hawaii HUI, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport, Elliott Masie, Sandi Moran, Mabuhay Productions, Barbara Freitag/Eric & Marsi Gardiner, Valiant Ventures, Wendy Gillespie, David Hiatt Kraft, Norm & Diane Blumenthal, M. Bradley Calobrace, Karen Tanz, Gregory Rae/Mike Karns, in association with Jas Grewal, Peter Landin, and Ron Polson.

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George Takei, Elena Wang, Greg Watanabe, Scott Watanabe, Janelle Dote and more set for LA Premiere of ALLEGIANCE, February 21 to April 1, 2018

ALLEGIANCE

East West Players (EWP) and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) is presenting the Los Angeles premiere of the Broadway musical Allegiance, stage and screen star George Takei will be joined by Broadway cast members Elena Wang as Kei Kimura, Greg Watanabe as Mike Masaoka, Scott Watanabe as Tatsuo Kimura, and Janelle Dote as Hanako.

They will be joined by Ethan Le Phong as Sammy Kimura, Eymard Cabling as Frankie Suzuki, and Natalie Holt MacDonald as Hannah Campbell. The ensemble includes Cesar Cipriano, Jordan Goodsell, Sharline Liu, Miyuki Miyagi, Glenn Shiroma, Chad Takeda, and Grace Yoo.

Allegiance will be performed at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre in Los Angeles from February 21 to April 1, 2018. Opening Night is February 28. This new production will be directed by East West Players’ Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. Marc Macalintal is the Music Director, and Rumi Oyama is the Choreographer.

Allegiance in Los Angeles will be co-produced by EWP and JACCC by special arrangement with Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA.

Takei, known for his founding role as Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television series “Star Trek” and as an influential social media icon, will be performing the roles of Sam Kimura and Ojii-Chan that he originated on Broadway. Allegiance is inspired by Takei’s childhood experiences.

With music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione, Allegiance tells the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor. Sam Kimura seeks to prove his patriotism by fighting for his country in the war, but his sister, Kei, fiercely protests the government’s treatment of her people. An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves.

Allegiance (Los Angeles) Director Snehal Desai says, “It’s an incredible honor to be able to direct the first production of Allegiance since its Broadway debut. There could not be a more vital and important time to be bringing Allegiance home to Los Angeles and Little Tokyo, where so many still remember the day when the government forced their families to leave their communities and homes. This powerful and moving musical sheds light on this dark chapter of US history with grace and humor. I am humbled to be leading this supremely talented company.”

JACCC Director of Performing Arts & Community Engagement and Executive Producer of Allegiance (Los Angeles) Alison De La Cruz says, “We are thrilled to have Snehal and this award-winning design team helm this landmark production. We are pleased to have the opportunity to showcase such amazing Asian American talent on our stage and to welcome new audiences to our community’s premier venue and to the Little Tokyo neighborhood.”

The creative team includes Se Hyun Oh (Scenic Design), Karyn Lawrence (Lighting Design), Halei Parker (Costume Design), Cricket Myers (Sound Design), Adam Flemming (Projection Design), and Glenn Michael Baker (Property Design), Cesar Cipriano (Fight Choreographer), and Janelle Dote (Assistant Choreographer).

All performances of Allegiance will be staged at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre at 244 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Previews are Wednesday, February 21 through Sunday, February 25, 2018, with 8pm shows from Wednesday to Saturday, and a 2pm matinee show on Sunday. Regular performances run from Wednesday to Sunday, with 8pm shows from Wednesday to Saturday, and 2pm matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday. Opening night is Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8pm. The production runs until April 1, 2018.

For tickets and information, please visit AllegianceMusical.com.

About East West Players
East West Players (EWP) is the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work. Over its remarkable 52-year history, EWP has produced over 230 plays and musicals. EWP’s 2017-18 season, The Company We Keep, features notable artistic partnerships and co-productions that reflect on and refract a wide range of Asian Pacific Islander (API) experiences as seen through the lens of gender, race, and sexuality. EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in the economy.

About Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
Founded in 1971, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. A hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place for the diverse voices it inspires—JACCC connects traditional and contemporary; community participants and creative professionals; Southern California and the world beyond. JACCC also provides office space in its five-story complex to a wide variety of nonprofit cultural, educational, and community-based organizations in Los Angeles.

About Allegiance
The original Broadway production of Allegiance opened on November 8, 2015 at the Longacre Theater in New York City and was produced by Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA with Mark Mugiishi/Hawaii HUI, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport, Elliott Masie, Sandi Moran, Mabuhay Productions, Barbara Freitag/Eric & Marsi Gardiner, Valiant Ventures, Wendy Gillespie, David Hiatt Kraft, Norm & Diane Blumenthal, M. Bradley Calobrace, Karen Tanz, Gregory Rae/Mike Karns, in association with Jas Grewal, Peter Landin, and Ron Polson.

 

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Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS Starring Ryun Yu, Ends Run at Pasadena Playhouse

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

Pasadena Playhouse’s critically-acclaimed revival of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS starring Ryun Yu and directed by Jessica Kubzansky, ends run tonight. The play began preview performances on May 30 and opened on June 4. HOLD THESE TRUTHS, produced in association with East West Players, is a cautionary tale of the injustices perpetrated when nationalism, fear and hysteria collide. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.

Tickets for the 2:00PM and 7:00PM shows are available online at PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529 or at The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office (39 South El Molino Avenue).

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

75 years ago, Executive Order 9066 called for American citizens to be ripped from their homes and forced into internment camps, detained solely based on their heritage and ancestry. Amid the chaos, one young student stands up for what he passionately believes is right in the face of a country deeply divided between national security and freedom for all. Based on a true story which follows the life of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, HOLD THESE TRUTHS is a shockingly relevant cautionary tale of the injustices perpetrated when nationalism, fear and hysteria collide.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi (1918-2012) was an American sociologist best known for his resistance to the Japanese-American internment during World War II. He was one of the only three to openly defy it. After being convicted for curfew violation he was sentenced to 90 days in prison. The verdict was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Hirabayashi v. United States (1943). They unanimously ruled against him. He later spent a year in federal prison for refusing induction into the armed forces after they had sent out a racially discriminatory survey to Japanese-Americans demanding renunciation of allegiance to the emperor of Japan. In 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit overturned his conviction from 1943. In 2012, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Hirabayashi for his principled stand against Japanese-American internment.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

“I had the privilege of meeting this play of Jeanne Sakata’s in a very early stage of development, and was blessed to get to develop and direct it from then forward to its world premiere production and beyond. It has been an extraordinary gift, said Director Jessica Kubzansky. She added, “Not only because playwright Jeanne Sakata is herself an extraordinary light and spirit, and Ryun Yu, the actor who created the role, a beautiful man and a hugely gifted actor with enormous passion and integrity, but because, as I worked on this play, which is in some ways a love story between a man and his Constitution, I began to realize that for the first time in my life I was encountering a hero. A true hero. An American hero.”

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

HOLD THESE TRUTHS premiered at East West Players in 2007 under the title Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi.

For more information visit www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

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 Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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Ryun Yu Stars in Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS at Pasadena Playhouse through June 25

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

HOLD THESE TRUTHS by Jeanne Sakata (Off Broadway’s Hold These Truths), directed by Jessica Kubzansky (The Pasadena Playhouse’s Pygmalion and Co-Artistic Director of Boston Court), and starring Ryun Yu (Geffen Playhouse’s Take Me Out), opens tonight and runs through June 25, 2017. The play began preview performances on May 30. HOLD THESE TRUTHS, produced in association with East West Players, is a cautionary tale of the injustices perpetrated when nationalism, fear and hysteria collide. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

75 years ago, Executive Order 9066 called for American citizens to be ripped from their homes and forced into internment camps, detained solely based on their heritage and ancestry. Amid the chaos, one young student stands up for what he passionately believes is right in the face of a country deeply divided between national security and freedom for all. Based on a true story which follows the life of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, HOLD THESE TRUTHS is a shockingly relevant cautionary tale of the injustices perpetrated when nationalism, fear and hysteria collide.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi (1918-2012) was an American sociologist best known for his resistance to the Japanese-American internment during World War II. He was one of the only three to openly defy it. After being convicted for curfew violation he was sentenced to 90 days in prison. The verdict was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Hirabayashi v. United States (1943). They unanimously ruled against him. He later spent a year in federal prison for refusing induction into the armed forces after they had sent out a racially discriminatory survey to Japanese-Americans demanding renunciation of allegiance to the emperor of Japan. In 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit overturned his conviction from 1943. In 2012, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Hirabayashi for his principled stand against Japanese-American internment.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

“I had the privilege of meeting this play of Jeanne Sakata’s in a very early stage of development, and was blessed to get to develop and direct it from then forward to its world premiere production and beyond. It has been an extraordinary gift, said Director Jessica Kubzansky. She added, “Not only because playwright Jeanne Sakata is herself an extraordinary light and spirit, and Ryun Yu, the actor who created the role, a beautiful man and a hugely gifted actor with enormous passion and integrity, but because, as I worked on this play, which is in some ways a love story between a man and his Constitution, I began to realize that for the first time in my life I was encountering a hero. A true hero. An American hero.”

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

HOLD THESE TRUTHS premiered at East West Players in 2007 under the title Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi.

Tickets for HOLD THESE TRUTHS range from $25 – $80 with premiere seats at $115. Tickets are available online at PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529 or at The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office (39 South El Molino Avenue).

The Pasadena Playhouse will present post-show engagement activities for every performance in order to help facilitate conversation around these timely topics. The free post-show events are in cooperation with community organizations throughout Los Angeles. The post-show engagement activity line-up will be released at a later date.

Ryun Yu
Ryun Yu

PERFORMER Ryun Yu
Ryun Yu’s credits include: Mark in the film adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s Bondage; the fictional David Henry Hwang in Yellow Face in the first adaptation of a major theatrical play for YouTube; Takeshi in the world premiere of Tokyo Fish Story at South Coast Repertory; the West Coast premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out at Geffen Playhouse; Philip Kan Gotanda’s Sisters Matsumoto at Seattle Repertory Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company; the world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre; Art and the Los Angeles premiere of Julia Cho’s The Language Archive at East West Players; and Sea Change at the Gay and Lesbian Center. Film appearances include Only the Brave, The Brothers Solomon and The Mikado Project. TV appearances include “Fuller House,” “Bones,” “Good Luck Charlie” and “Castle”. Yu co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in the feature film The Last Tour that debuted at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival earlier this year. Yu was the first Korean-American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has the first theater degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths was recently produced at Perseverance Theatre,  Portland Center Stage and the Guthrie Theater and included by audience demand in Seattle’s ACT Theatre 2015 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season following four sold-out performances in the ACT Lab.  Premiering at LA’s East West Players in 2007, Hold These Truths had its off-Broadway debut with the Epic Theatre Ensemble in 2012 (Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance, actor Joel de la Fuente; Joe A. Callaway Award Finalist, Outstanding Direction, director Lisa Rothe) and has since been performed at PlayMakers Repertory, People’s Light & Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (co-produced with Daniel Dae Kim), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising/Millennium Park, and Coachella Valley Rep. Jeanne is also an acclaimed actor who has performed with the Public Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, Kennedy Center, the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, the Intiman, Portland Center Stage, ACT Seattle, ACT San Francisco, Berkeley Rep, and People’s Light & Theatre.  Screen credits include the internationally acclaimed indie film Advantageous (US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, 2015 Sundance Film Festival) and guest appearances on BRAVO’S True Fiction, Dr. Ken, NCIS Los Angeles, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives, Presidio Med, ER, Threat Matrix, Line of Fire, American Family, John Ridley’s I Got You, and Sex and Marriage, a Justin Lin YOMYOMF YouTube webseries.  Special honors: LA Ovation Award, Outstanding Lead Actress, Red at EWP;  2016 Lee Melville Award, Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, LA Asian Pacific American Friends of Theatre; establishment of the Jeanne Sakata Collection, Library of Congress Playwrights Archive, Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.  www.jeannesakata.com,  www.holdthesetruths.info  www.facebook.com/holdthesetruths

Jessica Kubzansky
Jessica Kubzansky

Jessica Kubzansky (Director) last directed Pygmalion and the West Coast Premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s Mauritius at The Pasadena Playhouse. She has been the Co-Artistic Director of The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena since its inception. Her most recent productions there were the world premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch, and RII, her own three-person adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II.  Her recent credits include the New York premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch for Rattlestick at The Cherry Lane and Stupid Fucking Bird at ACT Theatre in Seattle. She is also an award-winning director working nationally in a wide variety of venues such as Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, the Cherry Lane, South Coast Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, The Geffen Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Silk Road, The Aurora, The Publick, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, The Laguna Playhouse, Antaeus, ICT, The Colony, East/West Players, A Noise Within, Theater 150, 24th Street, EST-LA, Playwrights’ Arena, and more. She has also directed numerous productions, which have toured both nationally and internationally. Kubzansky does a great deal of new work development, and has had the privilege of developing work by an amazing group of playwrights, including Luis Alfaro, Bill Cain, Sheila Callaghan, Julia Cho, Jordan Harrison, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Zayd Dohrn, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, David Wiener, Ken Urban, Christina Anderson, Carlos Murillo, Laura Schellhardt, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Diana Son, Nick Salamone, and many other wonderful writers in many new play development settings, including Ojai Playwrights Conference, Portland Center Stage JAW Festival, South Coast Rep’s Pacific Playwrights Festival and NewSCRipts, the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis, the Taper Labs, and many others. Kubzansky has received numerous awards and honors, among them the Los Angeles’ Drama Critics’ Circle’s Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre. Proud member of SDC.

Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director, Danny Feldman, The Pasadena Playhouse’s mission is to enhance the lives of our community through theatrical productions, community programs and education. This year, The Pasadena Playhouse State Theater of California celebrates its Centennial Anniversary.

For more information visit www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.

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 Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com