SWEENEY TODD at Barrow Street Becomes Longest Running Production of SWEENEY

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The Tooting Arts Club production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street made history on June 20, 2018 as it became the longest running production of Sweeney Todd on record. The performance marked 558, surpassing the 1979 Original Broadway Production directed by Hal Prince.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The production will play its final performance on August 26, 2018 after a successful run at New York’s Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street). This production was named “Best of the Year!” by Time, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, Variety, Forbes, BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast. It’s the winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival, the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Musical Revival and the Best Off-Broadway Musical, Theater Fans’ Choice Award.

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim 

Sweeney Todd currently stars Thom Sesma (as Sweeney Todd), Sally Ann Triplett (as Mrs. Lovett), Stacie Bono (as Pirelli & Beggar Woman). Michael James Leslie (as Judge Turpin), Zachary Noah Piser (as Tobias), John Rapson (as The Beadle), Billy Harrigan Tighe (as Anthony) and DeLaney Westfall (as Johanna). The cast also includes Daniel Berryman, Laura Darrell, Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Monet Sabel, Drew Seigla and Haley Swindal.

The company of SWEENEY TODD. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
The company of SWEENEY TODD. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Sweeney Todd, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler from an adaptation by Christopher Bond, and directed by Bill Buckhurst, is now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.SweeneyToddNYC.com.

Zachary Noah Piser as Tobias. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Zachary Noah Piser as Tobias. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Sweeney Todd features set and costume designs by Simon Kenny, music supervision and arrangements by Benjamin Cox, music direction by Matt Aument, choreography by Georgina Lamb, lighting design by Amy Mae, sound design by Matt Stine, casting by Telsey + Company / Cesar A. Rocha, CSA and production stage management by Joanna Muhlfelder.

DeLaney Westfall as Johanna and Billy Harrigan Tighe as Anthony. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
DeLaney Westfall as Johanna and Billy Harrigan Tighe as Anthony. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Immersing audiences in a completely new theatrical experience, this production of the classic tale of blood thirsty barber Sweeney Todd and resourceful pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett comes to New York City following sold-out runs in London. Tooting Arts Club first mounted this Sweeney Todd in the winter of 2014 in Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, one of the oldest continuously operating pie shops in London, seating only 35 people at each performance. In 2015, the production made the leap to the West End where Tooting Arts Club recreated Harrington’s in a 69 seat Shaftesbury Avenue venue provided by producer Cameron Mackintosh. The Harrington’s shop environment has once again been brought to life for its US debut in the 130 seat Barrow Street Theatre.

Sweeney Todd began performances on February 14, 2017 prior to a March 1, 2017 opening.

Sweeney Todd is produced by Rachel Edwards, Jenny Gersten, Seaview Productions, Fiona Rudin, Barrow Street Theatre, Jean Doumanian, Rebecca Gold and Nate Koch (Executive Producer).

Based on a Victorian horror story, Sweeney Todd is often considered Sondheim’s greatest masterpiece. It first premiered on Broadway in 1979 at the Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin) and went on to make its West End debut in 1980. The original Broadway production won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. The 2007 Tim Burton film adaptation earned one Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards.

Former White House Executive Pastry Chef William “Bill” Yosses (dubbed “the Crust Master” by President Barack Obama) serves as the production’s official pie maker. In keeping with the original Tooting production and the West End transfer, “pie and mash” is available for purchase by audience members prior to every performance, served communally in the pie shop where the production is set. An authentic slice of Victorian London, the traditional “pie and mash” dish consists of a meat pie, a generous helping of mashed potato and hot parsley sauce – otherwise known as “liquor” – which is an optional extra. Both meat veg pie options are available.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.SweeneyToddNYC.com, at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street at 7th Ave South (Box Office open 1pm daily), or by calling OvationTix at 866-811-4111. Tickets for performances range in price from $55 to $150. Premium seating is available.

When purchasing tickets, patrons can select an option to add the pie and mash meal to their order for an additional $22.50 ($29 for beef wellington). The meal also includes a beer, glass of wine, or non-alcoholic beverage to be enjoyed in the pie-shop starting 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to each performance. Please note that this option can only be purchased in advance with tickets.

A limited number of $39 tickets will be made available to every performance of Sweeney Todd via the TodayTix app. The entry period for all performances will begin each performance day at 12:01am EST and continue until winners are notified via email and push notification 2-4 hours before the selected performance begins. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. A photo ID is required for pickup and lottery tickets and seat locations are subject to availability.

This production of the classic tale of blood thirsty barber Sweeney Todd and resourceful pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett immerses audiences in a completely new theatrical experience. This Sweeney Todd comes to New York City following sold-out runs in London where the show debuted in the 35-seat Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, the oldest continuously operating pie shop in the city, before transferring (by special arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh) to a 69- seat West End venue on Shaftesbury Avenue. The working pie-shop environment has been re-created in the 130-seat Barrow Street Theatre.

SaveSave

Advertisements

SWEENEY TODD, Starring Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett, Ends Successful Barrow Street Theatre Run on August 26

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The Tooting Arts Club production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd, Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett, Stacie Bono as Pirelli & Beggar Woman, Michael James Leslie as Judge Turpin, Zachary Noah Piser as Tobias, John Rapson as The Beadle, Billy Harrigan Tighe as Anthony and DeLaney Westfall as Johanna, with Laura Darrell, Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Danny Rothman, Monet Sabel and Drew Seigla,  will play its final performance on August 26, 2018 after a successful run at New York’s Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street).

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim 

“From our modest beginnings in a six-week run at Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop in Tooting, South London, we could never have imagined the support and love we would go on to receive in New York,” said lead producer Rachel Edwards. “I am so proud of our director Bill Buckhurst, the entire creative team, a wonderful family of actors and a brave team of producers who made the show such a success, especially the incredible Barrow Street Theatre who gave this show a home in New York. Most importantly, I thank Stephen Sondheim for his unerring support and encouragement along the way.”

The last performance of Sweeney Todd will also mark the Barrow Street Theatre’s final production at Greenwich House. Barrow Street Theatre has resided at Greenwich House for 14 years, beginning with the seminal production of Tracy Letts’ Bug in 2004 and has presented a number of iconic productions including Our Town, Tribes, Every Brilliant Thing, and No Child…. Sweeney Todd is only the latest demonstration of Barrow Street Theatre’s distinct history of changing the shape of Off-Broadway Theatre.

Sweeney Todd, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler from an adaptation by Christopher Bond, and directed by Bill Buckhurst, is now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.SweeneyToddNYC.com.

Sweeney Todd features set and costume designs by Simon Kenny, music supervision and arrangements by Benjamin Cox, music direction by Matt Aument, choreography by Georgina Lamb, lighting design by Amy Mae, sound design by Matt Stine, casting by Telsey + Company / Cesar A. Rocha, CSA and production stage management by Joshua Mark Gustafson.

Immersing audiences in a completely new theatrical experience, this production of the classic tale of blood thirsty barber Sweeney Todd and resourceful pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett comes to New York City following sold-out runs in London. Tooting Arts Club first mounted this Sweeney Todd in the winter of 2014 in Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, one of the oldest continuously operating pie shops in London, seating only 35 people at each performance. In 2015, the production made the leap to the West End where Tooting Arts Club recreated Harrington’s in a 69 seat Shaftesbury Avenue venue provided by producer Cameron Mackintosh. The Harrington’s shop environment has once again been brought to life for its US debut in the 130 seat Barrow Street Theatre.

Sweeney Todd began performances on February 14, 2017 prior to a March 1, 2017 opening.

Sweeney Todd is produced by Rachel Edwards, Jenny Gersten, Seaview Productions, Fiona Rudin, Barrow Street Theatre, Jean Doumanian, Rebecca Gold and Nate Koch (Executive Producer).

Based on a Victorian horror story, Sweeney Todd is often considered Sondheim’s greatest masterpiece. It first premiered on Broadway in 1979 at the Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin) and went on to make its West End debut in 1980. The original Broadway production won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. The 2007 Tim Burton film adaptation earned one Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards.

Former White House Executive Pastry Chef William “Bill” Yosses (dubbed “the Crust Master” by President Barack Obama) serves as the production’s official pie maker. In keeping with the original Tooting production and the West End transfer, “pie and mash” is available for purchase by audience members prior to every performance, served communally in the pie shop where the production is set. An authentic slice of Victorian London, the traditional “pie and mash” dish consists of a meat pie, a generous helping of mashed potato and hot parsley sauce – otherwise known as “liquor” – which is an optional extra. Both meat veg pie options are available.

TICKETING & SCHEDULE

Tickets can be purchased online at www.SweeneyToddNYC.com, at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street at 7th Ave South (Box Office open 1pm daily), or by calling OvationTix at 866-811-4111. Tickets for performances range in price from $55 to $150. Premium seating is available.

When purchasing tickets, patrons can select an option to add the pie and mash meal to their order for an additional $22.50 ($29 for beef wellington). The meal also includes a beer, glass of wine, or non-alcoholic beverage to be enjoyed in the pie-shop starting 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to each performance. Please note that this option can only be purchased in advance with tickets.

A limited number of $39 tickets will be made available to every performance of Sweeney Todd via the TodayTix app. The entry period for all performances will begin each performance day at 12:01am EST and continue until winners are notified via email and push notification 2-4 hours before the selected performance begins. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. A photo ID is required for pickup and lottery tickets and seat locations are subject to availability.

Performance Schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday @ 7:30pm; Friday @ 8:00pm; Saturday @ 2:30pm & 8:00pm; Sunday @2:00pm & 7:30pm

SaveSave

Chatting with Steven Eng – 2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for “Pacific Overtures”

Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Congratulations to Steven Eng on his first Lortel nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for his role as Kayama Yesaemon in the Classic Stage Company’s revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures, directed and designed by Tony Award winner John Doyle.

Orville Mendoza and Steven Eng, center, and the cast of "Pacific Overtures" by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, at Classic Stage Company. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Orville Mendoza and Steven Eng, center, and the cast of “Pacific Overtures” by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, at Classic Stage Company. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The production has garnered other nods including a Lortel nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for Thom Sesma, Outer Critics Circle and The Drama League  Outstanding Revival nods and Drama Desk Award nominations in the categories of Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Outstanding Orchestrations for Jonathan Tunick and Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical for Dan Moses Schreier.

2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim

CSC’s “Pacific Overtures” Nominated for Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Lortel Awards 

PACIFIC OVERTURES - Steven Eng, Orville Mendoza, Thom Sesma, Kimberly Immanuel, Megan Masako Haley, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang
PACIFIC OVERTURES – Steven Eng, Orville Mendoza, Thom Sesma, Kimberly Immanuel, Megan Masako Haley, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang

Mr. Eng is an actor, singer, director, teacher, producer, and co-founder of the National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders and professionals who recognize the need to bridge the work of artists of Asian descent to the many communities the work can serve, from underserved primary school students to seasoned arts patrons. He co-founded the organization with Baayork Lee and Nina Zoie Lam to address what they felt was a significant lack of opportunity for professional Asian-American theater artists to practice their craft and contribute on a broader level to the diversity of the American theater. NAAP seeks to showcase the work of professional theater artists of Asian descent through performance, education and outreach. For more information about NAAP, visit www.NAAProject.org.

Nina Zoie Lam, Baayork Lee and Steven Eng, the founders of NAAP onstage before the performance of Oliver!, at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre 
inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Nina Zoie Lam, Baayork Lee and Steven Eng, the founders of NAAP onstage before the performance of Oliver!, at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre 
inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

I caught up with Steven at the 50th Birthday Bash for Classic Stage Company honoring John Doyle and Lynn Angelson.

Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How did you learn about the nomination and what was your reaction?
Steven: I must have been looking at Playbill.com right when the announcement happened, because I hadn’t heard anything. I saw that the nominations were announced, so I read it to see if there were friends who had been nominated. That’s when I saw my name. It was crazy and surreal to read it and not have heard anything. Sure enough, within a couple of hours, I was notified and receiving congratulations from friends and colleagues.

(L–R) Steven Eng, Megan Masako Haley (background), and Ann Harada in a scene from the Classic Stage Company’s production of “Pacific Overtures.” (Joan Marcus)
(L–R) Steven Eng, Megan Masako Haley (background), and Ann Harada in a scene from the Classic Stage Company’s production of “Pacific Overtures.” (Joan Marcus)

Lia: What is Kayama’s journey?
Steven: Kayama is a minor samurai who is quickly promoted through the ranks of the Japanese ruling class when American warships appear demanding Japan open its doors to international trade. Through unexpected circumstances and luck (bad or good is up to the audience), he evolves from a traditional Japanese samurai into a westernized bureaucrat.

George Takei, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, Steven Eng, Marc Oka, Thom Sesma, Austin Ku, Megan Masako Haley Holmes, Kimberly Immanuel, Orville Mendoza and Marc de la Cruz at the sitzprobe at Carroll Music in New York on March 31, 2017. Photo: Karl Josef Co/Facebook
George Takei, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, Steven Eng, Marc Oka, Thom Sesma, Austin Ku, Megan Masako Haley Holmes, Kimberly Immanuel, Orville Mendoza and Marc de la Cruz at the sitzprobe at Carroll Music in New York on March 31, 2017. Photo: Karl Josef Co/Facebook

Lia: What did it mean to you to work with this cast and creative team?
Steven: Pacific Overtures was a project of a lifetime for me because of both the piece and the people involved. Firstly, Sondheim’s work has always been among the most influential to me in my career, inspiring and driving me to seek work that challenges and teaches me about humanity, and Pacific Overtures has been my favorite of all his works. So to have him watch the show several times and have his input is beyond what I could ever have imagined. Having John Weidman at rehearsals changing his smart and fascinating book was also an unbelievable privilege, and all of us guided by the brilliant director John Doyle was thrilling. And my cast, what can I say except that they were among the most generous and talented actors with whom I’ve ever shared a stage, and I felt the responsibility of bringing the very best I could to match the high level of their work.

Orville Mendoza, Kelvin Moon Loh, John Doyle and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
Orville Mendoza, Kelvin Moon Loh, John Doyle and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: This is a very diverse season for theater and the nominated shows. Have you seen a difference for you in casting over the years in the industry?
Steven: I can’t really say I’ve noticed a substantial difference in casting for me personally. I will say, though, that seasons of diversity are becoming more frequent, and this is certainly one of them. I’m not ready, just yet, to say that diversity is a regular occurrence. The unfortunate but truthful question is, diverse for whom? Even with diverse seasons and casts, there are still underrepresented groups.

Billy Bustamante, Jason Ma, Baayork Lee, Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, Alan Muraoka, Steven Eng and Cara Reichel. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Jason Ma, Baayork Lee, Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, Alan Muraoka, Steven Eng and Cara Reichel onstage after the GOLD MOUNTAIN Concert on October 21, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Last October, NAAP and Prospect Theater Company produced a staged concert of Gold Mountain, a new musical written by Jason Ma, that you were featured in. You were delightful. It was such a celebration of the Asian American actor on stage. What was your experience? 
Steven: Thank you for that generous compliment! I think Jason Ma is so remarkably talented and it’s just a matter of time until someone with the influence and resources will invest in him and his work. Gold Mountain was such a gift, and to play that role was great fun as well as scary. It was so important to me to do justice to this character and the traditions he represented.

Lawrence Michael C. Arias, Eric Bondoc and Steven Eng in GOLD MOUNTAIN. Photo by Lia Chang
Lawrence Michael C. Arias, Eric Bondoc and Steven Eng in GOLD MOUNTAIN. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What did it feel like to be in the room of Lortel nominees recently, more specifically with all of your fellow Asian American colleagues?
Steven: It was quite special to be there, and among all those fine theater artists. And to see the wonderful Asian faces of not just colleagues, but friends who were also being recognized was so rewarding. While we all have our own paths that lead us there, we do share a common understanding of some similar challenges.

Lia: Where do you teach?
Steven: I teach at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in undergraduate drama in two specific studios: the New Studio on Broadway and the Atlantic Theater Company. I also teach at HB Studios. I teach voice and speech, which means spoken voice (not singing), text, articulation and accents/dialects.

Baayork Lee and Steven Eng.
Baayork Lee and Steven Eng.

Lia: What’s next for you?
Steven: I’m working on a couple of directing projects now that will occupy me for the summer and early fall. One is a brand new musical that’s being written by Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner, based on the old Chinese legend of the Monkey King. I think it’s a great piece that takes a centuries-old story and gives it some fun modern twists, with great music and fun storytelling. And of course I’m finishing my classes as well as auditioning for my next acting gig. That never ends.

I’d also like to mention that National Asian Artists Project (NAAP) is still going strong. While I’m not ready to divulge specific upcoming projects, there are things in the works as we continue to try create opportunities for actors of Asian-descent to practice their craft. In just a year, we’ll be celebrating a decade of operation, and I’m still excited about all the things that are in store.

The company of GOLD MOUNTAIN. Photo by Lia Chang
The company of GOLD MOUNTAIN. Photo by Lia Chang
Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Steven Eng has been acting professionally as a member of Actors Equity since 1995. His work onstage has included New York City and all across the United States in some of the country’s most respected theaters. He was most recently seen Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company in the NYC revival of Pacific Overtures, directed by John Doyle with reworking by original creators John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, with new orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. He’s also performed on London’s West End and in Germany and Cambodia. He has played leading roles from Shakespeare to Sondheim and continually enjoys the challenge of creating roles in new works, most recently Maltby & Shire’s Waterfall. Career highlights have included productions of Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2, Richard II, As You Like It, King John, Miss Saigon, Paint Your Wagon, Honor, and numerous developing works. He’s done some film (released as well as to-be-released), TV (cop shows, soap operas, kid shows), commercials (beer, anyone?), voiceovers, industrials, and is always grateful to be challenged in new mediums. Steven is also a tenor, having sung in both large concert halls as well as intimate cabaret venues. He holds an MFA in Classical Acting from the George Washington University’s Academy for Classical Acting (Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC). He also holds a BFA in Theatre Studies from Southern Methodist University with a minor in music (vocal performance).

2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced including KPOP, “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” “Mary Jane,” “The Lucky Ones,” “Pipeline,” “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” and “Pacific Overtures” 
KPOP’s James Seol, Ashley Park, Jason Tam, Vanessa Kai Among 9 2018 Lucille Lortel Nods, including Outstanding Musical

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

SaveSave

CSC’s “Pacific Overtures” Nominated for Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Lortel Awards

Some of the Drama League nominated cast of Classic Stage Company's PACIFIC OVERTURES - Steven Eng, Orville Mendoza, Thom Sesma, Kimmy Immanuel, Megan Masako Haley, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang

Classic Stage Company’s revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures, directed and designed by Tony Award winner John Doyle, has received 2018 Drama Desk Award nominations in the categories of Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Outstanding Orchestrations for Jonathan Tunick and Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical for Dan Moses Schreier.

Kelvin Moon Loh, Austin Ku, George Takei, Marc Oka, and Thom Sesma in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Kelvin Moon Loh, Austin Ku, George Takei, Marc Oka, and Thom Sesma in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus

The cast of Pacific Overtures features Karl Josef Co, Marc dela Cruz, Steven Eng, Megan Masako Haley, Ann Harada, Kimberly Immanuel, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh, Orville Mendoza, Marc Oka, Thom Sesma, and George Takei.

PACIFIC OVERTURES - Steven Eng, Orville Mendoza, Thom Sesma, Kimberly Immanuel, Megan Masako Haley, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang
PACIFIC OVERTURES – Steven Eng, Orville Mendoza, Thom Sesma, Kimberly Immanuel, Megan Masako Haley, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang

2018 Lucille Lortel nods include Outstanding Lead Actor for Steven Eng and Outstanding Featured Actor for Thom Sesma.

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim

2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

The production has also been nominated for Outstanding Revival by the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama League.

Orville Mendoza and Steven Eng, center, and the cast of "Pacific Overtures" by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, at Classic Stage Company. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Orville Mendoza and Steven Eng, center, and the cast of “Pacific Overtures” by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, at Classic Stage Company. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

In the ground-breaking Pacific Overtures, Commodore Matthew Perry sails to Japan in 1853 on a U.S mission to open up trade relations at any cost. The musical tells the tale of a samurai and a fisherman who are caught up in the Westernization of the East. With Pacific Overtures, which first premiered on Broadway in 1976 (directed by Hal Prince), John Doyle continues his highly-acclaimed and award-winning exploration of Sondheim’s work, having directed the legendary composer’s Sweeney Todd and Company on Broadway, and Passion at CSC.

Steven Eng, Megan Masako Haley, and Ann Harada in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Steven Eng, Megan Masako Haley, and Ann Harada in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Austin Ku, Kimberly Immanuel, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, George Takei, Thom Sesma, Orville Mendoza, Steven Eng and Kelvin Moon Loh. Photo by Lia Chang
Austin Ku, Kimberly Immanuel, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, George Takei, Thom Sesma, Orville Mendoza, Steven Eng and Kelvin Moon Loh. Photo by Lia Chang
CSC's PACIFIC OVERTURES family photo with Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. Photo courtesy of Facebook
CSC’s PACIFIC OVERTURES family photo with Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. Photo courtesy of Facebook

The production received a 2017 Off Broadway Alliance Award nomination for Best Revival.

Arrivals: John Doyle and Lynn Angelson Feted at Classic Stage Company’s 50th Birthday Celebration

Outer Critics Circle Award Nominees Announced; “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Pacific Overtures,” “Mlima’s Tale,” “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” and “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” Among Nominated

2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced including KPOP, “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” “Mary Jane,” “The Lucky Ones,” “Pipeline,” “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” and “Pacific Overtures” 

SKELETON CREW, PACIFIC OVERTURES, TURN ME LOOSE and More Among 2017 Off Broadway Alliance Award Nominees

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.

John Doyle and Lynn Angelson Feted at Classic Stage Company’s 50th Birthday Celebration

Lynn Angelson and John Doyle. Photo by Lia Chang
John Doyle. Photo by Lia Chang
John Doyle. Photo by Lia Chang

Last night, Classic Stage Company marked its 50th birthday with a gala celebration at Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side, recognizing Artistic Director John Doyle and Board Chair Lynn Angelson. The evening featured special guest performances from Doyle’s New York career including Cynthia Erivo, Judy Kuhn, and Donna McKechnie.

Lynn Angelson and John Doyle. Photo by Lia Chang
Lynn Angelson and John Doyle. Photo by Lia Chang

A handpicked company of artists who have worked with John Doyle on past productions, the Doylies, including 2018 Lortel nominees Thom Sesma and Steven Eng (Pacific Overtures), Quincy Tyler Bernstine (As You Like It), along with George Abud, Keith Buterbaugh, Karl Josef Co, Matthew Deming, Ben Diskant, David Michael Garry, Megan Masako Haley, Lee Harrington, Amy Justman, Emily Mechler, Orville Mendoza, Kelvin Moon Loh, Megan Loomis, Jane Pfitsch, Leenya Rideout, Fred Rose, Bruce Sabath, Antoine L. Smith, Rema Webb, Elisa Winter, Jessica Tyler Wright, and Katrina Yaukey, also performed.

2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Cynthia Erivo and Patti LuPone served as honorary co-chairs; with Barbara H. Marks as the event chair. The evening also featured a live auction hosted by actor Will Roland.

Fred Rose, Orville Mendoza, George Abud, Katrina Yaukey, Jane Pfitsch, Thom Sesma, Karl Josef Co, Emily Mechler, Bruce Sabath. 2nd row: Lee Harrington, Leenya Rideout, Phoenix Best, Benjamin Diskant, Rema Webb, Keith Buterbaugh, Amy Justman, Megan Loomis, Matthew Deming, Megan Masako Haley, Kimberly Immanuel, Jessica Tyler Wright, David Michael Garry, Elisa Winter. Photo by Lia Chang
1st row: Fred Rose, Orville Mendoza, George Abud, Katrina Yaukey, Jane Pfitsch, Thom Sesma, Karl Josef Co, Emily Mechler, Bruce Sabath. 2nd row: Lee Harrington, Leenya Rideout, Phoenix Best, Benjamin Diskant, Rema Webb, Keith Buterbaugh, Amy Justman, Megan Loomis, Matthew Deming, Megan Masako Haley, Kimberly Immanuel, Jessica Tyler Wright, David Michael Garry, Elisa Winter. Photo by Lia Chang
Some of the Drama League nominated cast of Classic Stage Company's PACIFIC OVERTURES - Steven Eng, Orville Mendoza, Thom Sesma, Kimberly Immanuel, Megan Masako Haley, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang
Some of the Drama League nominated cast of Classic Stage Company’s PACIFIC OVERTURES – Steven Eng, Orville Mendoza, Thom Sesma, Kimberly Immanuel, Megan Masako Haley, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang
Genevieve Angelson and Lynn Angelson. Photo by Lia Chang
Genevieve Angelson and Lynn Angelson. Photo by Lia Chang
Amy Justman, John Doyle, Barbara Walsh and Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang
Amy Justman, John Doyle, Barbara Walsh and Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang
Orville Mendoza, Kelvin Moon Loh, John Doyle and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
Orville Mendoza, Kelvin Moon Loh, John Doyle and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
George Abud and Quincy Tyler Bernstine. Photo by Lia Chang
George Abud and Quincy Tyler Bernstine. Photo by Lia Chang
David Michael Garry, Thom Sesma, Orville Mendoza. Photo by Lia Chang
Three Sweeneys – David Michael Garry, Thom Sesma, Orville Mendoza. Photo by Lia Chang
Akron Watson, Rema Webb and Phoenix Best. Photo by Lia Chang
Akron Watson, Rema Webb and Phoenix Best. Photo by Lia Chang

Since 1967, Classic Stage Company, CSC, has been committed to re-imagining classic stories for contemporary audiences. the company has been a home for New York’s finest established and emerging artists to grapple with the great works of the world’s repertory that speak directly to the issues of today. CSC serves an average of 35,000 audience members annually, including more than 4,000 students through its nationally recognized education programs. Productions have been cited repeatedly by all the major Off-Broadway theater awards including the Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work.

Kimberly Immanuel and Megan Masako Haley. Photo by Lia Chang
Kimberly Immanuel and Megan Masako Haley. Photo by Lia Chang
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

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts

Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang

Broadway vet Thom Sesma has been nominated for his first Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for his work in Classic Stage Company’s revival of Pacific Overtures. 

Thom Sesma, Megan Masako Haley, George Takei, and Marc Oka. Photo by  Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma, Megan Masako Haley, George Takei, and Marc Oka. Photo by  Joan Marcus

Over the past year, Sesma has commuted to the Village from his Upper West Side home for three gigs. Last Spring, he appeared in Pacific Overtures at Classic Stage Company. In the Fall, he played Leo Tolstoy in Primary Stages’ New York premiere of The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord by Scott Carter at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

Thom Sesma, Michael Laurence, and Duane Boutté star in Scott Carter's The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord, directed by Kimberly Senior, for Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre. (© Jeremy Daniel)
Thom Sesma, Michael Laurence, and Duane Boutté star in Scott Carter’s The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord, directed by Kimberly Senior, for Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre.
(© Jeremy Daniel)

In February, Sesma joined the cast of Tooting Arts Club’s terrific immersive production of Sweeney Todd at the Barrow Street Theatre, to star as Sweeney Todd opposite Sally Ann Triplett’s Mrs. Lovett. The production celebrated its one year anniversary last month, continuing its streak as the longest running musical to play New York’s Barrow Street Theatre, and has been extended through August 26, 2018.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

I sat down with Thom in Father Demo Square, a few days after he was nominated to talk about the diversity of this year’s nominees, Asian American Representation on Stage and on Screen, and all things Sondheim.

Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang
Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Congratulations on your Lortel Nomination in a season of many Asian American nominees and probably the most diverse class of nominees. What do you think this says about Asian American Representation on the New York Stage?
Thom: We are here. We’re not going anywhere. We’re here to stay. Get used to it. I feel such a great mixture of pride and humility, being in the same landscape of great actors, writers, designers, directors, visionaries, really, many of whom I’m just so lucky to call my friends. Maybe it’s a sign of the times, maybe I can be lulled into a sense of security that things are changing, that there’s a shift in consciousness in the institution. It’s a credit to the Off-Broadway Producer and Theatre’s League to have recognized this. They’ve always been more ahead of the game than their counterparts on Broadway, but this year feels… special…It’s exciting and extraordinary and should be celebrated as such.

2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced including KPOP, “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” “Mary Jane,” “The Lucky Ones,” “Pipeline,” “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” and “Pacific Overtures” 

KPOP’s James Seol, Ashley Park, Jason Tam, Vanessa Kai Among 9 2018 Lucille Lortel Nods, including Outstanding Musical

2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang
2018 Lucille Lortel nominees Thom Sesma, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How did you find out about the nomination?
Thom: I was coming home from noon mass at Notre Dame Parish in Morningside Heights and my wife, Penny, sent a text saying “You’re nominated for Pacific Overtures!” I thought she meant the show was nominated for best revival, because I never thought I’d be singled out, because I was just one part of this amazing ensemble. The way we worked together, as a company, really as a family, we were all sort of inseparable from each other, it was a very singular thing. In my mind, this nomination has everyone’s name all over it. I couldn’t have done a single thing onstage without the contributions of everyone else – and I’m not sure I would have wanted to.

Lia: Was this your first time working with John Doyle?
Thom: Oh yeah. And he’s ruined me – the standards of everyone I’ve worked with since then or will work with again are held up against John. And luckily, everyone I’ve worked with since is pretty much right up there. I hope it’s not the last time we work together. John really changed my personal aesthetic in a lot of ways, the approach you take to working, to allowing yourself to immerse yourself in not knowing what the next beat is about, being present, discovering that singular moment, embracing the value of failing at rehearsal every day. We give lip service to things like that all the time, but I don’t think I ever really experienced it in day-to-day practice.

George Takei, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, Steven Eng, Marc Oka, Thom Sesma, Austin Ku, Megan Masako Haley Holmes, Kimberly Immanuel, Orville Mendoza and Marc de la Cruz at the sitzprobe at Carroll Music in New York on March 31, 2017. Photo: Karl Josef Co/Facebook
George Takei, Kelvin Moon Loh, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, Steven Eng, Marc Oka, Thom Sesma, Austin Ku, Megan Masako Haley Holmes, Kimberly Immanuel, Orville Mendoza and Marc de la Cruz at the sitzprobe at Carroll Music in New York on March 31, 2017. Photo: Karl Josef Co/Facebook

Lia: Had you done Pacific Overtures before?
Thom: Yes, way back in the 90s. I did a regional stock production, really a re-creation of the original production at what was then San Jose Civic Light Opera. It was a beautiful show, all made of plywood and canvas flats, but it was gorgeous. Mako recreated his role as the Reciter in it, Diana Schuster directed it. I played Manjiro, the sailor – in my younger days. I was very proud to be a part of it, but honestly I’d forgotten it. When I auditioned for the production at CSC, John asked if I’d ever done the show before and I said in complete honesty, “no,” became I’d quite forgotten it. It was only when I was walking out of the room that I remembered and turned around to correct myself. Embarrassing. The brain… it goes.

And here you are a year later, you’re doing another Sondheim classic, Sweeney Todd at the Barrow Street Theatre. Are you becoming an expert interpreter of the master’s work?

Let’s just say, I’m really lucky.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Lia: He’s one of your favorites?
Thom: I think he’s one of everyone’s favorites, without question. The closest we have to Shakespeare, maybe, at least in the musical theatre? He’s the Apex. You know, the original production of Pacific Overtures changed my life. I saw it at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion when it was on tour, when was it, 1977? 1978? I was finishing up college, getting ready to head to graduate school, studying modern European history, no intentions of becoming an actor. Then this show began and I was floored, from the get-go. I saw a universe I’d never seen before, a landscape filled with people who looked like me, and a story – well, in many respects a story I was familiar with, at least the telling of it: a story of Asian history told through a distinctly American lens, yet couched in the appearance, the physical images of an Asian culture. Yeah, it was in a way, my story. It was so audacious and courageous in its telling, and it never let me go. It still hasn’t. Anyway, from the moment I left the theatre and made the long drive home from downtown LA, I knew the graduate school would only be a detour from the journey that has brought me here. But I gotta say – I never in a million years dreamt that I’d end up doing the show here in New York.

Ann Harada, George Takei, Thom Sesma and Don Buchwald. Photo by Lia Chang
Ann Harada, George Takei, Thom Sesma and Don Buchwald. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Had you worked with George Takei before?
Thom: No. I loved working with George, and hope it’s not the last time. He’s so lovely, one of the kindest, most humble and generous people I’ve ever met. I love him to death.

Austin Ku, Kimberly Immanuel, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, George Takei, Thom Sesma, Orville Mendoza, Steven Eng and Kelvin Moon Loh. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What characters did you play in Pacific Overtures?
Thom: I played several characters, including a wannabe geisha, I guess. But my main role was Lord Abe, the de facto Shogun. He’s officious, cynical, not without a sense of humor – he knows the world is changing and has to dancing between holding up the appearance of tradition and easing those changes into the culture – all to maintain Japan’s idea of itself, adapting without changing, as it were. Abe does a very delicate dance between the past and the future. Whether he does so successfully is the great question mark at the end of Pacific Overtures.

Kelvin Moon Loh, Austin Ku, George Takei, Marc Oka, and Thom Sesma in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Kelvin Moon Loh, Austin Ku, George Takei, Marc Oka, and Thom Sesma in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus

Lia: Can you talk a little about the differences between doing Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd?
Thom: Well, the one thing that makes them similar, at least in these productions, is the reduced scale of both from their original iterations. The original PO was huge, epic, it attempted to tell two stories, an intimate, personal tale of a doomed friendship against the backdrop of a clash between two very real civilization, and to tell it in an epic theatrical style – kabuki. The original production Sweeney Todd was also pretty gigantic in scope, and was as much a metaphor about society as it was a deeply personal story of one man’s personal loss and his quest for revenge, right? And in both productions, we now have brilliant visionary directors who’ve ripped away the size and the texture of the originals to dig deeper into the personal narratives. I guess you could describe both as immersive. Sweeney Todd is much more site-specific, I mean the tale unfolds in a pie shop, for God’s sake, and it’s immersive in the sense that the audience is plunged into the activity of the play itself, sometimes as witnesses to Sweeney’s and Mrs. Lovett’s deeds, sometimes as victims! Is that a spoiler?

Orville Mendoza and Steven Eng, center, and the cast of "Pacific Overtures" by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Orville Mendoza and Steven Eng, center, and the cast of “Pacific Overtures” by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim, at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus

Anyway, our production of Pacific Overtures was immersive insofar as part of John’s concept was inviting the audience in less as an audience then as witnesses to how the changing world affected the two central characters Manjiro and Kayama, how it created and ultimately destroyed their friendship – which is really the only thing we wanted to care about in the story the play tells. This was done by John’s very intimate design concept which put the audience on both sides of the stage – we were really playing in an alley between the audiences who were watching not only us, but each other. That’s something that’s shared in the pie shop. The configuration of the seating actually makes the audience participants in the production as much as the action does. People in row B will be watching people in Row E, not realizing that they’re being watched by people in row G, etcetera, etcetera. And their reactions to our actions become part of the action itself. It’s very, very cool, and given the intimacy of the room, we actors are able to watch this happening, which has an affect on how we play out our parts.

Lia: What were your favorite moments in Pacific Overtures? And What are your favorite moments in Sweeney Todd?
Thom: Oh, wow – If it hadn’t been for the pressure of having Stephen Sondheim watch me singing what he’s described as the favorite of all the songs he’s written, I’d say singing the Old Man in Someone In A Tree was the definite high point. Of course, I’m partly kidding. Singing that trio with Austin Ku and Kelvin Moon Loh in this production, for himself or not is definitely something I will never, ever, ever forget. What a privilege, what a blessing. For an actor who sings – it’s the perfect song, about character, about remembering, about forgetting, about what truly matters in the great tides of our lives. You can’t help but make new discoveries about the song, about the show and about yourself every time you do it.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd and Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

And again, in Sweeney, the pressure of singing for the man himself is undeniable, but when he came to see the new cast, we’d only been performing for a week and change, and we were still finding our feet as it were, which kind of took the pressure off. Believe me, it’s much easier on the ego to be thinking about, “let’s see, do I hold the razor in my left hand and the towel in my right, or is it the other way,” than to think, oh shoot, I feel him watching me he’s shaking his head he hates me. That aside, though, I have so many favorite moments in what is probably one of the only perfectly constructed musical ever written. It changes and I can’t single one out. My Friends is extraordinary, terribly satisfying to get to sing. It keeps me engaged, too because it demands an emotional truthfulness in expression that it keeps me from losing myself in the joy of singing something so beautiful.

Other than that, all of my favorite moments have nothing to do with me – it’s all things that Sally Ann Triplett is doing as Mrs. Lovett. She’s an actor’s dream, a brilliant comedienne and brilliant tragedian, and an absolute love of a person. God broke the mold after he made her. I swear there are some moments during the show when I wish I could just check out and watch Mrs. Lovett at work. She constantly teaches me so many things. Who’s lucky? I’m lucky, that’s who.

Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang
Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: You have been in the performing arts for many years and have had the opportunity to be cast non-traditionally in lead roles. How has this changed over the course of your career?
Thom: It’s changed a lot with my age – I actually think I’m working more now as an older character – I’m not going to say “mature” because that would imply that I know better now… But I also suppose it has something to do with a body of work that I’ve established. I’m always surprised that people have seen my work or have heard of me, or that I’m supposed to have this reputation as a guy who’s working all the time. Most of the time, whoever I’m working, there’s a little voice inside my tiny little brain telling me I’m never going to work again. But more to the point – when I was younger, there were fewer casting directors, or directors who were actively, and by that I mean self-consciously, trying to cast non-traditionally. But those few who were, did so with a passion, like it was a mission to create an onstage landscape that looked like America. A lot of time it was just in stock or in the regions, but certainly not as much was being done here in New York. People like Jack O’Brien at the Old Globe in San Diego, Steve Woolf at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Ed Stern at Cincinnati Playhouse, Wayne Bryan at Music Theatre of Wichita and others. And I was fortunate enough to work in those places, with those people, and others of like mind. There was an effort here in New York, in commercial theatre, but it was a little limited – there would be, like, one African American woman in say 42nd Street, or one Asian American (that would be me) in the original production of La Cage Aux Folles. But never much more than that, unless a show was actively and purposefully depicting characters of many backgrounds – A Chorus Line, a perfect example. But there was no regular place for, say, a Condola Rashad to play Saint Joan, or Phillipa Soo to play Rebecca in The Parisian Woman. I don’t know what or how things changed – maybe it was Audra that opened traditional people’s eyes that actors of color could be not only qualified but unsurpassable. Or maybe it was something like the literal hundreds and hundreds of incredibly talented people coming out of Miss Saigon – numbers can create results. Slowly, sure, sometimes painfully, but it works. For myself though, to reduce it to basics, it might’ve been classical theatre that opened a lot of doors for me, maybe? I don’t know if it’s still the case, but classical theatre at the time I was young, had a serious cache to it – somehow you were more of an “actor”, or more on an “ah-ctor” if you could pull of a difficult, lesser well-known Shakespearean monologue. And I do know there were a number of casting people in the 80s who wouldn’t take you at all seriously if you didn’t have any classical training – go figure. But I had a couple of lovely credits – which I guess you could call “non-traditional” early on which led to other plays, contemporary pieces, and musicals, and all of a sudden I was being seen for more than Asian or Asian-American roles. I have to say, this is not something I set out to do, it’s just something that happened, with the support of my agents, who were far-sighted and probably had more confidence in my non-traditional potential that perhaps I had. I guess that’s one of the requirements, too, it’s having people on your side who are going to do more than just sympathize, people who are actually going to go out on a limb for you. Anyway, I was certainly pleased, I’m pretty sure I was awfully full of myself, too, but for the most part, this was something I wasn’t in control of. And I was still playing – or just being seen for – the most offensive stereotypes imaginable. Some of these were well-meaning, I guess: I did a deservedly short-lived musical on Broadway called Chu-Chem, also billed as the first Chinese-Jewish musical, which was slightly less authentic than a can of Chun-King Chow Mein, and even less appealing. The opening number was titled “Orient Yourself,” and the show was so indifferently directed, designed and produced that I’m guessing audiences were slightly offended before the overture even began. We played at the Walter Kerr Theatre, then called The Ritz, for something like six weeks, played to tiny, tiny houses, and twenty minutes into the show, we could see people seated in the orchestra climbing over each other to get out.

Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. (1992). Production still, including Griffin Dunne, Keith Szarabajka, Thom Sesma Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-fb5e-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. (1992). Production still, including Griffin Dunne, Keith Szarabajka, Thom Sesma Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-fb5e-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

But then a couple years later I also got to play a guy named Martin Mirkheim – a universe away from Prince Whatever My Name Was in Chu Chem – in a profoundly beautiful and dark play called Search and Destroy by Howard Korder, also on Broadway, which also ran for only six weeks. But oh, what a satisfying six weeks!

Lia: Have you experienced many of the new younger Asian American voices -new works by new playwrights?
Thom: Yep – not as many as I’d like, but mostly I’ve been involved in developmental readings of plays and musicals but a new and younger generation of Asian American writers and composers, which is very exciting. But it’s not just young voices, I mean, kids coming out of conservatories. These voices have been around for awhile, and we’re just getting noticed. But we’re all over the place. We’re everywhere. And this year, a play by an Asian American playwright will for the first time open on Broadway (Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men). Isn’t that something?

(l-r) Peter Kim portrays Isaac Lee, Andrew Cristi is Jimmy Lee and Thom Sesma is Boo-Seng Lee in the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
(l-r) Peter Kim portrays Isaac Lee, Andrew Cristi is Jimmy Lee and Thom Sesma is Boo-Seng Lee in Julia Cho’s Durango at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, September, 2008. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Lia: Have you noticed a change in casting of Asian Americans on TV or in film?
Thom: Oh my God, yes – network TV, we’re everywhere. It makes me so proud, so excited. Asian Americans, mostly younger, are playing, guess what, contemporary Asian Americans, but also are NOT playing hookers, dragon ladies, opium dealers, kung fu masters, math nerds. Okay, some of us are, stock stereotypes will always be there, right? But Sandra Oh, Daniel Day Kim, Daniel Isaacs, Constance Wu, Li Jun Li, BD, BD, BD freaking Wong – who can play anything, he’s so brilliant. Am I saying, “Is the playing field level?” No, by no means. But God, oh God, it feels like we can take a rest, even if it’s a short one, from fighting the same battles we fought for decades, just to be taken seriously as real, breathing, feeling, multi-dimensional people!

Lia: What roles or directors are on your wish list?
Thom: Well, all the ones who influenced me in my youth, most aren’t as active as they were in their heyday, – Hal Prince, Tommy Tune, Gregory Mosher, John Tillinger, is Michael Blakemore still directing? Or they’ve passed on – Mike Nichols, Peter Hall, or course, Michael Bennett. And I’m never going to complain, I’ve gotten to work – even briefly – with James Lapine, Michael Greif, Chris Ashley, Jerry Zaks, Bart Sher, blah blah blah… Now it sounds like I’m bragging. I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve been very, very lucky.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Lia: How often do you strive to be part of projects where the cast really reflects what the world looks like?
Thom: Well, ideally, that’s something I strive for all the time. I’m just in a position to ensure that something like that is happening. The only thing in my power – in any journeyman actor’s power, I suppose, is the ability and the willingness to say “no” to something that offends my makes me question my sensibilities about how I may think the world is supposed to look.

The real question should be, how is my work supporting or encouraging how the traditional world can change or evolve so that it more easily can begin to reflect what the real world actually looks like. Am I doing everything I can to serve the play, the production and, I guess, the industry, so that I’m not just a qualified Hapa Asian American actor, but that I’m qualified enough to level the playing field. So, here I am, playing the title role in Sweeney Todd – part of what has to go through my process is not that I’m a Hapa Asian American playing Sweeney Todd but that I may be the only Sweeney Todd a person may ever see. That means I’d better up my game and be as complete a Sweeney as I can be. And being Hapa Asian American in appearance and consciousness is only a small part, a very small part  of that, and ultimately one I have no control over.

Michael James Leslie as Judge Turpin and Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Michael James Leslie as Judge Turpin and Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Lia: What are the three projects over the course of your career that you would say are your favorites?
Thom: Wow. Honestly, I can’t say… I’m not trying to be glib or politic, but I’ve been blessed time and time again with extraordinary experiences, in production, or in workshops, sometimes just readings. I’ve never taken a, you know, a “survey” amongst friends or associates, but I hope everyone feels this way. To tell the truth, it would be easier for me to pick out a small number of things that were NOT my favorites than the ones that are. But – I gotta say, being able to do Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd, both in New York and both in a 12 month period — that’s a lot of icing on a really delicious cake.

The company of SWEENEY TODD. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
The company of SWEENEY TODD. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Lia: What do we have to look forward to from Thom Sesma?
Thom: I’m in Sweeney Todd until August. I hope you’ll come by and visit the pie shop of Fleet Street. I’m perfectly content upstairs by the barber chair.

The cast of Sweeney Todd also features Stacie Bono (as Pirelli & Beggar Woman), Michael James Leslie (as Judge Turpin), Zachary Noah Piser (as Tobias), John Rapson (as The Beadle), Billy Harrigan Tighe (as Anthony) and DeLaney Westfall (as Johanna), and Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Danny Rothman and Monet Sabel. Click here for tickets.

Thom Sesma is no stranger to the role of Sweeney Todd, having starred in productions at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park in 1997, and the Arden Theatre Company in 2005.

Sesma has starred on Broadway in The Times They Are A-Changin’, Man of La Mancha, La Cage Aux Folles, Search and Destroy. National Tours: The Lion King, Miss Saigon, Titanic. Other Off-Broadway credits include Awake and Sing! (NAATCO/Public Theatre), Othello (Public Theatre), Cymbeline (NYSF), A Hard Heart (Epic Theatre). Regional appearances include McCarter Theatre, Yale Rep, Arena Stage, Old Globe, Cincinnati Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Centre Stage, Music Theatre Wichita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Pasadena Playhouse. TV includes “Madam Secretary,” “Gotham,” “Jessica Jones,” “The Good Wife,” “Person of Interest,” Over/Under, “Single Ladies” and more. Instagram @thsesma; Twitter @ThomSesmaNYC.

2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced including KPOP, “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” “Mary Jane,” “The Lucky Ones,” “Pipeline,” “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” and “Pacific Overtures” 
Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett Take Over the Pie Shop in SWEENEY TODD at Barrow Street Theatre Tonight 
Photos: BD Wong, Cindy Cheung, Brooke Ishibashi, Thom Sesma, Manna Nichols, Steven Eng, Ariel Estrada, Lori Tan Chinn at Leviathan Lab’s Ghost Stories 
Photos: Backstage Q & A with Thom Sesma and the cast of Signature’s Miss Saigon
A Summer in Bangkok for Thom Sesma, Star of Signature’s Miss Saigon 
Production Photos: Music Theatre of Wichita’s The King and I Starring Thom Sesma, Kim Huber, Alan Ariano, Karl Josef Co, Kay Trinidad, Tami Swartz at Century II Performing Arts Center through July 14, 2013 
Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin de Jesus and John Tartaglia set for MUNY’s Aladdin
Thom Sesma is the keynote speaker for the Library of Congress celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) at the Mary Pickford Theater
Photos & Video Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas-In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma 
Spotlight on Shanghai Moon’s Thom Sesma
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (3pm) with Andre Bishop, Mary Beth Hurt, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Philip Kan Gotanda, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders, and more 
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (8pm) with Oskar Eustis, Patti LuPone, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, John Weidman and more 
Extended through 8/23- “In Rehearsal” Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at Library of Congress Featuring Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East Starring BD Wong, Thom Sesma as Scar in The Lion King Las Vegas
Backstage at The Lion King Las Vegas with Thom Sesma
Thom Sesma, Peter Kim and Andrew Cristi star in Durango
Thom Sesma Stars in Jeanne Sakata’s Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi
Thom Sesma in The Epic Theatre Ensemble’s A HARD HEART
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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.

Save

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Paco Tolson, Tina Chilip, Noah Brody, Jessie Austrian, Ben Steinfeld and More in Fiasco’s TWELFTH NIGHT at CSC through January 6

Paco Tolson and Tina Chilip. Photo by Lia Chang

Classic Stage Company is presenting Fiasco Theater’s Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, for a limited engagement through Saturday, January 6  at CSC (136 East 13th Street). Twelfth Night began performances on November 29th and opened on December 14th. Click here for tickets.

TWELFTH NIGHT castmembers Ben Steinfeld, Paco Tolson, Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Tina Chilip, Paul L. Coffey, Emily Young. Not pictured: Andy Grotelueschen, David Samuel, Javier Ignacio
TWELFTH NIGHT castmembers Ben Steinfeld, Paco Tolson, Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Tina Chilip, Paul L. Coffey, Emily Young. Not pictured: Andy Grotelueschen, David Samuel, Javier Ignacio

Directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, the cast of Twelfth Night features Jessie Austrian (Olivia), Noah Brody (Orsino), Tina Chilip (Maria), Paul L. Coffey(Malvolio), Andy Grotelueschen (Sir Toby Belch), Javier Ignacio (Sebastian), David Samuel (Antonio), Ben Steinfeld (Feste), Paco Tolson (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) and Emily Young (Viola). The play featured scenic design by John Doyle, costume design by Emily Rebholz and lighting design by Ben Stanton.

Paco Tolson and Tina Chilip. Photo by Lia Chang
Paco Tolson and Tina Chilip. Photo by Lia Chang

Shipwrecked on the island of Illyria, Viola and her twin brother Sebastian are separated, each fearing the other lost to the sea. Viola disguises herself as a boy and wades into a complex romantic triangle with Duke Orsino and the Countess Olivia.

The cast of Fiasco Theater's Twelfth Night, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)
The cast of Fiasco Theater’s Twelfth Night, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)

What the critics are saying: 

“Full of the troupe’s signature traits…spirited musical interludes and a winningly prosaic way of delivering thickly poetic dialogue.” –The New York Times
“This is excellent gateway-drug Shakespeare, and I mean that as sincere praise.”
New York Magazine/Vulture.com
David Samuel, Tina Chilip, Andy Grotelueschen, and Paco Tolson appear in Twelfth Night at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)
David Samuel, Tina Chilip, Andy Grotelueschen, and Paco Tolson appear in Twelfth Night at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)
“Joy, fun and exuberant flair mark this new Twelfth Night.”-Huffington Post
Jessie Austrian plays Olivia, and Emily Young plays Viola in Fiasco Theater's Twelfth Night.(© Joan Marcus)
Jessie Austrian plays Olivia, and Emily Young plays Viola in Fiasco Theater’s Twelfth Night.(© Joan Marcus)
“Visually appealing and brimming with musicality.” -TheaterMania
“Fiasco’s Twelfth Night is a skillful and joyous take on an old favorite.” –CurtainUp
David Samuel and Paco Tolson. Photo by Joan Marcus
David Samuel and Paco Tolson. Photo by Joan Marcus

FIASCO THEATER is an ensemble theater company created by graduates of the Brown University/Trinity Rep M.F.A. acting program. Past shows include Cymbeline(TFANA/Barrow Street), Into the Woods (Roundabout, Old Globe, McCarter, Menier Chocolate Factory, National Tour), Measure for Measure (New Victory/Long Wharf), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Folger/TFANA) and The Imaginary Invalid (Old Globe). Cymbeline was presented Off-Broadway twice, for nearly 200 performances, and was honored with the 2012 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for best revival. Into the Woods garnered the 2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Revival. Every year, Fiasco offers the Free Training Initiative-a three-week, conservatory-level classical acting intensive for professional actors, completely free of charge to students. Fiasco has been in residence with Duke University, Marquette University, LSU, and NYU-Gallatin. Their work has been developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Orchard Project, SPACE at Ryder Farm (upcoming) and the Shakespeare Society, and Fiasco has led master classes at Brown University and NYU.

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

Lia Chang, Paco Tolson, Tina Chilip. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Paco Tolson, Tina Chilip. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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

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

Paco Tolson, Tina Chilip, Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Emily Young, David Samuel and More in Fiasco’s TWELFTH NIGHT at Classic Stage Company through January 6

David Samuel, Tina Chilip, Andy Grotelueschen, and Paco Tolson appear in Twelfth Night at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)

Classic Stage Company, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Doyle and Executive Producer Jeff Griffin, is presenting Fiasco Theater’s Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare at CSC (136 East 13th Street) through Saturday, January 6. Click here for tickets.

The cast of Fiasco Theater's Twelfth Night, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)
The cast of Fiasco Theater’s Twelfth Night, directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)

Directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, the cast of Twelfth Night features Jessie Austrian (Olivia), Noah Brody (Orsino), Tina Chilip (Maria), Paul L. Coffey (Malvolio), Andy Grotelueschen (Sir Toby Belch), Javier Ignacio (Sebastian), David Samuel (Antonio), Ben Steinfeld (Feste), Paco Tolson (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) and Emily Young (Viola). Scenic design is by John Doyle, costume design by Emily Rebholz and lighting design by Ben Stanton.

David Samuel, Tina Chilip, Andy Grotelueschen, and Paco Tolson appear in Twelfth Night at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)
David Samuel, Tina Chilip, Andy Grotelueschen, and Paco Tolson appear in Twelfth Night at Classic Stage Company. (© Joan Marcus)

Shipwrecked on the island of Illyria, Viola and her twin brother Sebastian are separated, each fearing the other lost to the sea. Viola disguises herself as a boy and wades into a complex romantic triangle with Duke Orsino and the Countess Olivia. New York’s innovative Fiasco Theater brings their hallmark style and expansive imagination to one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies.

Jessie Austrian plays Olivia, and Emily Young plays Viola in Fiasco Theater's Twelfth Night.(© Joan Marcus)
Jessie Austrian plays Olivia, and Emily Young plays Viola in Fiasco Theater’s Twelfth Night.(© Joan Marcus)
David Samuel and Paco Tolson. Photo by Joan Marcus
David Samuel and Paco Tolson. Photo by Joan Marcus

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

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

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

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

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Paco Tolson, Tina Chilip, Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Emily Young, David Samuel and More Set for Fiasco’s TWELFTH NIGHT at Classic Stage Company, November 29-January 6

Paco Tolson

Classic Stage Company, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Doyle and Executive Producer Jeff Griffin, will present Fiasco Theater’s Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, beginning performances Wednesday, November 29 at CSC (136 East 13th Street) for a limited engagement through Saturday, January 6. The official press opening is Thursday, December 14.

Paco Tolson
Paco Tolson

Directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, the cast of Twelfth Night features Jessie Austrian (Olivia), Noah Brody (Orsino), Tina Chilip (Maria), Paul L. Coffey (Malvolio), Andy Grotelueschen (Sir Toby Belch), Javier Ignacio (Sebastian), David Samuel (Antonio), Ben Steinfeld (Feste), Paco Tolson (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) and Emily Young (Viola). Scenic design is by John Doyle, costume design by Emily Rebholz and lighting design by Ben Stanton.

Shipwrecked on the island of Illyria, Viola and her twin brother Sebastian are separated, each fearing the other lost to the sea. Viola disguises herself as a boy and wades into a complex romantic triangle with Duke Orsino and the Countess Olivia. New York’s innovative Fiasco Theater brings their hallmark style and expansive imagination to one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies.

Classic Stage Company (CSC). CSC is committed to re-imagining classic stories for contemporary audiences. The company has been a home for New York’s finest established and emerging artists to grapple with the great works of the world’s repertory that speak directly to the issues of today. CSC serves an average of 35,000 audience members annually, including more than 4,000 students through its nationally recognized education programs. Productions have been cited repeatedly by all the major Off-Broadway theater awards including the Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work. Classic Stage Company is celebrating its 50th Anniversary season.

FIASCO THEATER is an ensemble theater company created by graduates of the Brown University/Trinity Rep M.F.A. acting program. Past shows include Cymbeline(TFANA/Barrow Street), Into the Woods (Roundabout, Old Globe, McCarter,Menier Chocolate Factory, National Tour), Measure for Measure (New Victory/Long Wharf), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Folger/TFANA) and The Imaginary Invalid (Old Globe). Cymbeline was presented Off-Broadway twice, for nearly 200 performances, and was honored with the 2012 Off-Broadway Alliance Award for best revival. Into the Woods garnered the 2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Revival. Every year, Fiasco offers the Free Training Initiative-a three-week, conservatory-level classical acting intensive for professional actors, completely free of charge to students. Fiasco has been in residence with Duke University, Marquette University, LSU, and NYU-Gallatin. Their work has been developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Orchard Project, SPACE at Ryder Farm (upcoming) and the Shakespeare Society, and Fiasco has led master classes at Brown University and NYU.

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

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

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

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

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

André De Shields, Ellen Burstyn, Hannah Cabell, Kyle Scatliffe, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and More Celebrate AS YOU LIKE IT Opening Night at CSC

Lori Tan Chinn, Garth Kravits, André De Shields and Lia Chang. Photo by Dan Marshall

Classic Stage Company’s production of As You Like It  by William Shakespeare, helmed by Tony Award winner John Doyle and featuring music by Stephen Schwartz, opened at CSC (136 E. 13th St.) on September 28, 2017.  The cast and creative team celebrated their opening night at The Penny Farthing. Check out the festivities below.

André De Shields, Ellen Burstyn, Jefferson Roberts and his wife. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields, Ellen Burstyn, Jefferson Roberts and his wife. Photo by Lia Chang

The production stars two- time Tony nominee and Emmy Award nominee André De Shields as Touchstone, Hannah Cabell as Rosalind, and Academy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award winner Ellen Burstyn as Jacques, and features Quincy Tyler Bernstine as Celia, Kyle Scatliffe as Orlando, Noah Brody as Oliver/Corin, Leenya Rideout as Phoebe, Tony Award nominee Bob Stillman as Duke Frederick/ Duke Sr., Cass Morgan as Old Adam/Audrey and David Samuel as Silvius.

Kyle Scatliffe, Hannah Cabell, Bob Stillman, André De Shields and Cass Morgan. Photo by Lia Chang
Kyle Scatliffe, Hannah Cabell, Bob Stillman, André De Shields and Cass Morgan. Photo by Lia Chang

As You Like It features scenic design by John Doyle, costume design by Ann Hould-Ward and lighting design by Mike Baldassari. David Arsenault is Associate Scenic Designer and Amy Sutton is Associate Costume Designer.

Kat West, André De Shields, Leenya Rideout and Hannah Cabell. Photo by Lia Chang
Kat West, André De Shields, Leenya Rideout and Hannah Cabell. Photo by Lia Chang
Lori Tan Chinn, Garth Kravits, André De Shields and Lia Chang. Photo by Dan Marshall
Lori Tan Chinn, Garth Kravits, André De Shields and Lia Chang. Photo by Dan Marshall
Jon Hill, Dan Marshall, Vincent Gregory, André De Shields, Vincent Parham and Robert Michael Johnson. Photo by Lia Chang
Jon Hill, Dan Marshall, Vincent Gregory, André De Shields, Vincent Parham and Robert Michael Johnson. Photo by Lia Chang

Performances continue through October 22nd. Click here for tickets.

André De Shields, Ellen Burstyn, Hannah Cabell, Kyle Scatliffe, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and More Set for AS YOU LIKE IT at CSC 

André De Shields as Touchstone in the John Doyle Helmed AS YOU LIKE IT at Bay Street Theater through September 3 

André De Shields, Ellen Burstyn, Hannah Cabell, Quincy Tyler Bernstine and More Celebrate AS YOU LIKE IT Opening Night at Bay Street Theater

André De Shields, Ellen Burstyn and More Set for Stephen Schwartz’s Jazz Era AS YOU LIKE IT at CSC

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 award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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