Kate Baldwin, Bryce Pinkham, Thom Sesma, Julia Abueva and More Set for John Logan and Tom Kitt’s SUPERHERO at Second Stage

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

Continuing its 40th Anniversary Season, Second Stage Theater has announced complete casting for the world premiere musical, Superhero. Directed by Jason Moore, the production features a book by John Logan and music and lyrics by Tom Kitt.

Julia Abueva (Rachel), JAKE LEVY (Dwayne), Salena Qureshi (Vee), Thom Sesma (Vic) and Nathaniel Stampley (Dean Fulton) will join previously announced stars Kate Baldwin (Charlotte), Bryce Pinkham (Jim) and newcomer Kyle McArthur (Simon).

SUPERHERO will begin previews January 31, 2019 at the Tony Kiser Theater (305 West 43rd Street) and will officially open on February 28, 2019. Subscriptions are available now starting at $255 by calling the Second Stage Box Office at 212-246-4422.

Before we can save the world, we have to save each other. From the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer of Next to Normal and the Tony Award-winning writer of Red comes a deeply human new musical about a fractured family, the mysterious stranger in apartment 4-B, and the unexpected hero who just might save the day.

BIOGRAPHIES

Julia Abueva (Rachel) made her New York stage debut in the critically acclaimed production of KPOP at Ars Nova. West End: Miss Saigon (Kim u/s). Other stage credits include: Cinderella (Newport Performing Arts Theater); Singapore premieres of Next to Normal(Natalie) and Spring Awakening (Wendla); Manila premieres of Into the Woods (Little Red Riding Hood) and Aspects of Love (Young Jenny); and Philippine Repertory’s production of The Fantasticks (Luisa). Julia co-starred in the Amazon comedy pilot “Making Friends.” Upcoming film: Stella’s Last Weekend (opp. Nat Wolff).

Kate Baldwin (Charlotte) recently appeared in the Tony Award winning Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! for which she received Tony Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. Other Broadway credits include Finian’s Rainbow (Tony Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Award nominations), Big Fish, Wonderful Town, Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Full Monty. Off-Broadway, she received Drama Desk nominations for her work in The Keen Company’s production of John & Jen and The Public Theatre’s production of Michael John LaChuisa’s Giant. Also off-Broadway: Songbird at 59E59 Street Theaters. Film: Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best. TV: “Law & Order: SVU”. PBS: “First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb” and “Live From Lincoln Center: Stephen Sondheim’s Passion.” Concerts: Chicago Humanities Festival, NSO, PSO and the American Songbook Series. Recording: Let’s See What Happens and She Loves Him: Live at Feinstein’s (PS Classics).

JAKE LEVY (Dwayne) is thrilled to make his Second Stage Theater debut. He earned his BA from the UCLA Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program in 2018. Favorites: Carrie (Tommy Ross), Carousel (Jigger), Pippin (Pippin) and Dogfight (Fector). Regional: 13 The Musical, Rent, Les Misérables and Hairspray. @Jlevy31

Kyle McArthur (Simon) will be making his professional theatrical debut with this production after playing Simon in the O’Neill NMTC reading of Superhero. Other readings include Disney’s Freaky Friday (Adam), Rapture (Andy), Stuck (Rayce), and The America Project (Cam).

Bryce Pinkham (Jim) is most widely known for originating the role of ‘Monty Navarro’ in the Tony Winning Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, for which he was nominated for Tony, Grammy, and Drama Desk awards. He soon after appeared in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles and was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. His other Broadway credits include Holiday Inn, Ghost the Musical, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. He most recently starred in Benny and Joon, a new musical adaptation of the 1993 movie starring Johnny Depp at The Old Globe Theater. His latest onscreen appearances include Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series The Get Down, Robert De Niro’s The Comedian, and as a series regular on PBS’s Civil War drama series Mercy Street. His other TV credits include Blindspot, The Good Wife and Person of Interest.

Salena Qureshi (Vee). Second Stage debut! Film: Draupadi Unleashed, My Cousin Sister’s Wedding, All These Small Moments (Tribeca FF), Friends and Romans. TV: Recurring on “Madam Secretary” (CBS). Also seen on “The Brave” (NBC), “The Path” (Hulu), “Girls” (HBO). Theater: Evita (Mistress, Maine State).

Thom Sesma (Vic) recently appeared as Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in the off-Broadway revival at Barrow Street Theatre. He was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for his portrayal of roles in John Doyle’s acclaimed 2017 revival of another Sondheim classic, Pacific Overtures. Broadway credits include The Times They Are A-Changin’, Man of La Mancha, Search and Destroy, Chu Chem, and national tours of The Lion King, Miss Saigon and Titanic. Other appearances off-Broadway: Discord (Primary Stages), Awake and Sing! (NAATCO/Public Theatre), Othello (Public Theatre), Cymbeline (NYSF). Regional credits include the McCarter, Yale Rep, Arena Stage, Old Globe, Cincinnati Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Centre Stage, Music Theatre Wichita and more. Television guest appearances include “Instinct,” “Madam Secretary,” “The Good Wife,” “Gotham,” “Jessica Jones,” “Person of Interest” and others. Previous credits at Second Stage: Eric Overmyer’s In a Pig’s Valise and Baba Goya by Steve Tesich, both in 1989. Instagram @thsesma; Twitter @ThomSesmaNYC.

Nathaniel Stampley (Dean Fulton). Broadway: Cats, The Color Purple (original and revival), The Lion King, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Off-Broadway: Big Love, Signature Theatre; Fiorello! and Lost in the Stars, NY City Center’s Encores!; The First Noel, Classical Theatre of Harlem. Regional: Lempicka, Williamstown Theatre Festival; Man of La Mancha (Jeff Award), The Bridges of Madison County (Jeff nomination), Ragtime, Marriott Theatre; Hatuey: Memory of Fire, Music-Theatre Group. Concerts: Candide(Carnegie Hall); West Side Story, Bernstein’s MASS (Philadelphia Orchestra). Ten Chimneys Fellow, UW-Madison alum.nathanielstampley.com

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

The cast of KPOP (© Ben Arons)

KPOP presented by Ars Nova, in association with Ma-Yi Theater and Woodshed Collective, has scored 9 nominations for 2018 Lucille Lortel Awards.

The cast of KPOP (© Ben Arons)
The cast of KPOP (© Ben Arons)

KPOP, an immersive musical set in a Korean pop music factory where stars are made—or broken, recently received the 2018 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, a Studio Production Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters.

John Yi, Joomin Hwang, Jason Tam, Jiho Kang, Jinwoo Jung. Photo: Ben Arons.
John Yi, Joomin Hwang, Jason Tam, Jiho Kang, Jinwoo Jung. Photo: Ben Arons.

Nominated for Outstanding Musical, KPOP was conceived by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim (The Model American, HBO’s “Girls”), features a book by Kim, music & lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon, immersive design by Woodshed Collective, direction by Teddy Bergman, and choreograph by Jennifer Weber, who was also nominated.

Ashley Park in KPOP. Photo: Ben Arons.
Ashley Park in KPOP. Photo: Ben Arons.

KPOP tells the story of solo legend MwE, epic boy band F8, glamorous girl group SpecialK, and the label behind the pop madness, JTM Entertainment.

James Seol plays JTM’s brand manager for its American transition. Photo: Ben Arons/Ars Nova
James Seol plays JTM’s brand manager for its American transition. Photo: Ben Arons/Ars Nova

KPOP received 4 acting nominations including James Seol (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical), Ashley Park (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical),  Jason Tam (Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical), and Vanessa Kai (Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical).

Chatting with VIETGONE Star James Seol 

Jason Tam as Epic, the leader of the boy band F8, in KPOP. (© Ben Arons)
Jason Tam as Epic, the leader of the boy band F8, in KPOP. (© Ben Arons)
Vanessa Kai in KPOP. Photo: Ben Arons.
Vanessa Kai in KPOP. Photo: Ben Arons.

The nods in the design categories include Gabriel Hainer Evansohn (Outstanding Scenic Design), Tricia Barsamian (Outstanding Costume Design), and Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew Outstanding Lighting Design).

Katie Lee Hill, Deborah Kim, Sun Hye Park, Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang, Susannah Kim in KPOP. Photo: Ben Arons.
Katie Lee Hill, Deborah Kim, Sun Hye Park, Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang, Susannah Kim in KPOP. Photo: Ben Arons.
KPOP company. Photo: Ben Arons.
KPOP company. Photo: Ben Arons.

The predominantly Asian and Asian American cast of 18 includes Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang, Katie Lee Hill (Nerds), Joomin Hwang, Jinwoo Jung,Vanessa Kai, Jiho Kang, Deborah Kim, Susannah Kim, Amanda Morton, Ashley Park (Sunday in the Park with GeorgeThe King and I), Sun Hye Park ,James Saito, James Seol (A Naked Girl on the Appian WaySmall Mouth Sounds), David Shih, Jason Tam (If/ThenLysistrata Jones), John Yi and Ebony Williams (Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour). Marina Kondo joined the KPOP cast as Mwe during the extension.

KPOP cast members Jinwoo Jung, Deborah Kim, Ashley Park, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
KPOP cast members Jinwoo Jung, Deborah Kim, Ashley Park, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Ma-Yi Theater's Executive Director Jorge Ortoll, Deborah Kim, Jinwoo Jung, Susannah Kim, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Ma-Yi Theater’s Executive Director Jorge Ortoll, Deborah Kim, Jinwoo Jung, Susannah Kim, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Laura Benanti and Jason Jones, who appear together on TBS’s The Detour, will host the 33rd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards on Sunday, May 6, at the NYU Skirball Center.

Click here for all the nominees.

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 by Jason Kim, Helen Park, Max Vernon, and Woodshed Collective and GUN & POWDER by Ross Baum and Angelica Chéri Receive 2018 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater

Photos: KPOP Performance Benefits Ma-Yi Theater Company

James Saito is flanked by Ma-Yi's Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña and Executive Director Jorge Ortoll. Photo by Lia Chang
James Saito is flanked by Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña and Executive Director Jorge Ortoll. Photo by Lia Chang

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

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Photos: KPOP Performance Benefits Ma-Yi Theater Company; Extends to October 21

KPOP cast members Jinwoo Jung, Deborah Kim, Ashley Park, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

In response to overwhelming demand and critical acclaim, Ars Nova “one of NYC’s most adventurous Off Broadway companies” (New York Times), in association with “the foremost incubator of new Asian American theater in the country” (Obie awardMa-Yi Theater and Woodshed Collective, “the exceptional theater company” that turns “spaces into intimate vortexes of wonder” (Gothamist) extends the world premiere of KPOP until October 21.

James Saito is flanked by Ma-Yi's Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña and Executive Director Jorge Ortoll. Photo by Lia Chang
KPOP cast member James Saito is flanked by Ma-Yi’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña and Executive Director Jorge Ortoll. Photo by Lia Chang

On October 3rd, I attended a special performance of KPOP to benefit Ma-Yi Theater. Check out who came out to support Ma-Yi Theater’s Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña,  Executive Director Jorge Ortoll and the Obie Award winning theater company.

KPOP cast members Jinwoo Jung, Deborah Kim, Ashley Park, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
KPOP cast members Jinwoo Jung, Deborah Kim, Ashley Park, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang and James Seol. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang and KPOP cast member James Seol. Photo by Garth Kravits

KPOP is a high-octane immersive event that gives audiences a backstage pass to a K-pop music factory. A limited number of $25 rush tickets will be available to audiences under 30 years of age (valid ID required). The production, which opened on September 22, must end on October 21.

New York‘s Sara Holdren calls KPOP “A delicious spectacle,” and “expansive, catchy, and cunning,” while Time Out New York’s Adam Feldman “defies you not to enjoy KPOP!” and declares “tiny bubble of pleasure keep floating up and bursting all around us. Pop! Pop! Pop! We’re sold.”

Ma-Yi Theater's Executive Director Jorge Ortoll, Deborah Kim, Jinwoo Jung, Susannah Kim, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang
Ma-Yi Theater’s Executive Director Jorge Ortoll, Deborah Kim, Jinwoo Jung, Susannah Kim, Jiho Kang and Joomin Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Ben Brantley in The New York Times highlights “the eye-popping visuals throughout (right down to the ads on the walls). And Ms. Park and Mr. Vernon’s pastiche fusion musical numbers, choreographed with slashing wit by Jennifer Weber, are as synthetically sweet and perversely addictive as the real thing.”

The predominantly Asian and Asian American cast of 18 includes Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang, Katie Lee Hill (Nerds), Joomin Hwang, Jinwoo Jung,Vanessa Kai, Jiho Kang, Deborah Kim, Susannah Kim, Amanda Morton, Ashley Park (Sunday in the Park with GeorgeThe King and I), Sun Hye Park ,James Saito, James Seol (A Naked Girl on the Appian WaySmall Mouth Sounds), David Shih, Jason Tam (If/ThenLysistrata Jones), John Yi and Ebony Williams (Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour). Marina Kondo joins the KPOP cast as Mwe during the extension.

KPOP was conceived by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim (The Model American, HBO’s “Girls”) and features a book by Kim, music & lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon (The View UpStairs), an immersive design by Woodshed Collective, choreography by Bessie-nominee Jennifer Weber (The Hip Hop Nutcracker, TruTV’s “Face Off”) and is directed by Teddy Bergman (Empire Travel Agency).

Cindy Cheung, KPOP cast member David Shih and Ed Lin. Photo by Lia Chang
Cindy Cheung, KPOP cast member David Shih and Ed Lin. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team includes Gabriel Hainer Evansohn (Production Design), Tricia Barsamian (Costume Design), Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Lighting Design),Will Pickens (Sound Design), Phillip Gulley (Projection and Video Design), Sujin Kim-Ramsey (Music Director), Helen Park & Max Vernon (Orchestration, Vocal Arrangements, Music Production) and Lizzy Lee (Production Stage Manager).

Ma-Yi's Executive Director Jorge Ortoll with Ching Valdes-Aran and guests. Photo by Lia Chang
Ma-Yi’s Executive Director Jorge Ortoll with Ching Valdes-Aran and guests. Photo by Lia Chang

Performances of KPOP will now play through October 21 at the A.R.T./New York Theatres, located at 502 West 53rd Street in Manhattan. Monday–Wednesday at 7pm; Thursday–Saturday at 8pm; Friday and Saturday at 3pm.

Ma-Yi's Executive Director Jorge Ortoll and guests. Photo by Lia Chang
Ma-Yi’s Executive Director Jorge Ortoll and guests. Photo by Lia Chang

Tickets are $75 general/$125 premium and  during the October 9–21 extension period and can be purchased by visiting arsnovanyc.com or by calling 212-352-3101. A limited number of $25 rush tickets will also be available to audiences under 30 years of age (valid ID required) at the box office 30 minutes prior to curtain for each performance, no advance sales.

About Ars Nova
Ars Nova is committed to developing and producing theater, comedy and music artists in the early stages of their professional careers. Our unique development programs are designed to support cross-pollination and outside-the-box thinking to encourage innovative work. Dubbed by The New York Times as a “fertile incubator of offbeat theater,” Ars Nova blurs genres and subverts the status quo. With our feverish bounty of programming, we are the stomping ground and launching pad for visionary, adventurous artists of all stripes. By providing a safe environment where risk-taking and collaboration are paramount, Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work.

Ars Nova has been honored with an OBIE Award and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle for sustained quality and commitment to the development and production of new work. Notable past productions include: “Best New American Theatre Work” OBIE Award-winner & New York Times’ “Best of 2016” Underground Railroad Game by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard with Lightning Rod Special (now on international tour); Outstanding Musical Lortel Award-winner Futurity, by César Alvarez with The Lisps; the New York Times’ and New York Post’s “Best of 2015” Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl (now touring the US after a return engagement Off Broadway); Time Out New York’s “Best of 2014,” JACUZZI by The Debate Society; the Tony award-winning smash-hit Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 by Dave Malloy (now on Broadway); Jollyship the Whiz-Bang by Nick Jones and Raja Azar; the world premiere of the 2009 season’s most-produced play boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and directed by Alex Timbers; audience favorite Dixie’s Tupperware Partyby Kris Andersson; the show that put Bridget Everett on the map, At Least It’s Pink, by Everett and Kenny Mellman; and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s and Thomas Kail’s first New York production, Freestyle Love Supreme, by Anthony Veneziale and Miranda.

About Ma-Yi Theater Company
Ma-Yi Theater Company recently enjoyed great critical and popular success with Hansol Jung’s Among the Dead, Nandita Shenoy’s Washer/Dryer and A. Rey Pamatmat’s House Rules. The company won the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for its critically-acclaimed production of The Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO!, which recently made its international premiere at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila. Founded in 1989 and now celebrating its 28th season, MA-YI is a Drama Desk and OBIE Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers.

Since its founding, Ma-Yi has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today. Its numerous acclaimed productions include Mike Lew’s Bike America, Qui Nguyen’s The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G andSoul Samurai (with Vampire Cowboys), Mike Lew’s Microcrisis and the revival of Ralph B. Peña’s Flipzoids. Other productions include: Rescue Me by Michi Barall, Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap and The Children of Vonderly and The Romance of Magno Rubio. Through successful programs such as the Writers Lab, Ma-Yi emboldens a new generation of Asian American artists to voice their experiences, while developing a steady stream of quality new works by Asian American playwrights for its own performing repertory. New works developed at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions around the country, at such theaters as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few. Ma-Yi Theater Company productions have earned 10 OBIE Awards, numerous Henry Hewes Award nominations, a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play and the Special Drama Desk Award for “more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater.”

Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña.

About Woodshed Collective
Woodshed Collective is one of the country’s premier immersive theater companies. Since 2008, the company has presented large scale theatrical events including: Twelve Ophelias performed in McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, The Confidence Man adapted from Melville’s novel and performed on a decommissioned steamship in the Hudson River and The Tenant adapted from the novel and film and performed in a five story 19th Century Parish House on the Upper West Side.

Most recently, the company presented the critically acclaimed Empire Travel Agency, a grail quest crisscrossing Lower Manhattan, where groups of four audience members at a time hunted for the secret to the essential vibrancy of New York. Driven by the belief in the combined power of stories and architecture to break down the barriers of everyday life, Woodshed’s shows aim to create genuine awe.

About A.R.T./New York
The A.R.T./New York Theatres are a project of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York), which provide state-of-the-art, accessible venues at subsidized rental rates, plus free access to top-line technical equipment, so that the city’s small and emerging theater companies can continue to experiment, grow and produce new works. Founded in 1972, A.R.T./New York is the leading service and advocacy organization for New York City’s 375+ nonprofit theaters, with a mission to assist member theaters in managing their companies effectively so that they may realize their rich artistic visions and serve their diverse audiences well. We accomplish this through a comprehensive roster of real estate, financial, educational and community-building programs, as well as research, advocacy and field-wide initiatives that seek to improve the long-term health and sustainability of the industry. Over the years, A.R.T./New York has received numerous honors, including an Obie Award, an Innovative Theatre Award, a New York City Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre. For more information, please visit art-newyork.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 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

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