Donna McKechnie Joins André De Shields, Georgia Engel, Lillias White, Lori Tan Chinn and More in HALF TIME at Paper Mill 

The cast of Half Time with director Jerry Mitchell. Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

Paper Mill Playhouse is presenting the East Coast premiere of Half Time, a new musical, with book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Nell Benjamin and additional music by Marvin Hamlisch and Ester Dean.

Cast and Creative Team of Half Time. Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia
Cast and Creative Team of Half Time. Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

The newest addition to this stellar cast is Tony award winner and Broadway legend Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line) who with this all-star cast will tell the uplifting true story of ten New Jersey seniors with extraordinary dreams.

Creative Team at Half Time. Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia
Creative Team at Half Time. Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

Half Time begins performances Thursday, May 31, 2018, for a limited engagement through Sunday, July 1, 2018, at Paper Mill Playhouse. Half Time is produced in association with Dori Berinstein and Bill Damaschke.

The cast of Half Time with director Jerry Mitchell. Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia
The cast of Half Time with director Jerry Mitchell. Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

Half Time will be directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell and co-choreographed by Nick Kenkel with music direction by Charlie Alterman. The cast features previously announced five-time Emmy nominee Georgia Engel (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” The Drowsy Chaperone) and Tony and Emmy Award winner Lillias White (The Life, “Sesame Street”) along with André De Shields (The Wiz, The Full Monty, Ain’t Misbehavin’). Half Time is based on the motion picture “Gotta Dance”, directed, written and produced by Dori Berinstein.

From the director/choreographer of Kinky Boots comes the incredible true story of ten determined dreamers who audition to dance at half time for a major basketball team. They have three things in common: they love to dance, they have something to prove, and they are all over 60. Only after making the cut do they learn they won’t be dancing tap, salsa or swing-instead, they will bring down the house with a style that is entirely new to them: hip-hop. Take the uplifting journey with these dreamers-and the young coaches who inspire them along the way-as they battle self-doubt, stereotypes and even each other for a chance to bust a move at center court in front of 20,000 screaming fans. Together they remind us that in life, when the odds are stacked against you and the challenges seem too great to overcome, it’s not the end of the game-it’s Half Time.

The principal cast features André De Shields as Ron, Georgia Engel as Dorothy/Dottie, Donna McKechnie as Joanne, Lillias White as Bea, who will be joined by Haven Burton as Tara, Lori Tan Chinn as Mae, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Kendra, Nancy Ticotin as Camilla, Madeleine Doherty as Estelle, Tracy Jai Edwards as Alison Prager, Mary Claire King as Jenny, Lenora Nemetz as Fran, and Kay Walbye as Muriel.

Rounding out the cast are Alexander Aguilar, Ken Ard, Sydni Beaudoin, Tami Dahbura, Paula DeLuise, Gabriela Garcia, Talya Groves, Kathryn Kendall, Valton Jackson, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Garrett Turner and Gayle Turner.

The creative team of Half Time reunites Mitchell with his Kinky Boots collaborators, including Tony Award winner David Rockwell (Scenic Design), Tony Award winner Gregg Barnes (Costume Design) and Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner (Lighting Design), along with Nick Kenkel (Co-Choreography), Randy Hansen (Sound Design), Jason Lee Courson (Projection Design), Drama Desk nominee Josh Marquette (Hair and Wig Design), Tony Award winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations),and Telsey + Company (Casting). The Production Stage Manager is Jason Brouillard.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $34. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office or online at www.PaperMill.org. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. Students may order $23 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse box office on the day of the performance.

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The League Of Professional Theatre Women Presents Baayork Lee in Conversation with Robert Viagas on February 12

Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

On Monday, February 12 at 6:00 pm, the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), dedicated to championing women in theatre since its inception and an authority at the forefront of the conversation about gender parity in American theatre for 35 years, is presenting Broadway Performer, Director, and Choreographer, Baayork Lee.

Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

A recipient of the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson TONY Award, Lee was honored for her commitment to future generations of artists through her work with National Asian Artists Project and theatre education programs around the world.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Jonathan Groff and Brian d'Arcy James present Baayork Lee with the Isabelle Stevenson Award award onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 11: Jonathan Groff and Brian d’Arcy James present Baayork Lee with the Isabelle Stevenson Award award onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Multimedia: Baayork Lee Accepts The Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award At The 71st Annual Tony Awards

Lee, who originated the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, will be discussing her extensive life and work in the theatre with theatre writer Robert Viagas, her collaborator and biographer on their book, “On the Line: the Creation of A Chorus Line”.The event will take place in the Bruno Walter Auditorium of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on 65th Street & Amsterdam Avenue. Admission is free, seats are available on a first-come-first-seated basis. Doors open at 5:30PM, and it is recommended that members of the public arrive at the Bruno Walter Auditorium by 5PM to secure a seat.

“I first met Baayork in 1975 when the Library videotaped Michael Bennett’s original A CHORUS LINE at The Public Theatre,” says producer Betty Corwin. “Baayork had become Michael’s closest collaborator and since he died in 1987 she has directed or choreographed 35 International productions of the musical. In addition, Baayork is acknowledged and appreciated for committing herself to the National Asian Artists Project and theatre eduction programs around the world. I am so proud to know her.”

The League has major support from the Edith Meiser Foundation covering interviews with such notables as Billie Allen, Mercedes Ruehl, Tyne Daly, Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, Kia Corthron, Donna Murphy, Frances McDormand, Laura Linney and many others. The ongoing Oral History Project chronicles and documents the contributions of significant theatre women in all fields. The interviews are videotaped and preserved for posterity in the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and with funds from the NYS Council on the Arts, a state agency, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

BIOGRAPHIES

Baayork Lee has performed in a dozen Broadway shows and created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line. As Michael Bennett’s assistant choreographer on A Chorus Line, she has directed and choreographed many national and international companies in Klagenfurt, Austria, Santiago, Chile, Hollywood Bowl and Pace University. Her directing and choreography credits also include: The King and I and Bombay Dreams (National tours), R&H’s Cinderella (NYC Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (Kennedy Center), Porgy and Bess and Jesus Christ Superstar (European tours), Gypsy and A New Brain. She has also choreographed shows including; Miss Saigon (KC Starlight), Mack and Mabel (Shaw Festival), Animal Crackers, South Pacific (Helen Hayes nominations,) Coconuts, Camelot, and Damn Yankees all at Arena Stage in Washington, DC.

Through her nonprofit organization, National Asian Artists Project, Baayork’s vision includes educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of Asian descent through the many programs the company offers. The organization has produced classical musical theatre shows such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, Hello Dolly!, and OLIVER! with all Asian-American casts. NAAP has made audiences more aware that talent goes beyond ethnicity.

Robert Viagas transformed theatre journalism as the architect and founding editor (1994) of the first and still biggest theatre site on the web, Playbill.com. He enjoyed the rare honor of serving on the nominating committee for the Tonys (2012-2014). He hosted the Tony Awards webcasts from 2002 to 2008, and was editor of the special Tony Awards Playbill from 2002 to 2010. The New York Times’ CyberTimes described him as “encyclopedic” in his knowledge of Broadway.

Among his other books, he was chosen by the creators of the original The Fantasticks to tell their story in The Amazing Story of “The Fantasticks” (Citadel). On the Line was translated into Japanese and published in Japan and his 2012 book Scales to Scalpels (with Lisa Wong) was translated into Chinese and published in China.

When it comes to the challenging but fruitful area of collaboration he literally wrote the book on it-The Alchemy of Theatre (Applause Books), in which he worked with the likes of Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, Hal Prince, Chita Rivera and others to codify how one collaborates in the world of theatre. His 2009 book I’m the Greatest Star!

Christian Slater, Lesli Margherita, Lori Tan Chinn, Javier Muñoz, Lilli Cooper and More Set for THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS Reading on February 9

Photo by Lia Chang
Photo by Lia Chang
Photo by Lia Chang

Universal Theatrical Group will hold a private reading of THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS on Friday, February 9th in New York.

Directed by Gordon Greenberg, the book is by Gordon Greenberg & Steve Rosen, with music and lyrics by Michael Mahler & Alan Schmuckler, and music direction by Wendy Bobbitt Cavett.

The cast for the reading includes: Christian Slater, Lesli Margherita, Chris Dwan, Lilli Cooper, Emily Skinner, Javier Muñoz, Lori Tan Chinn, David Rossmer, Priscilla Lopez, Levi Buksbazen, Courtney Balan, Josh Breckenridge, Kayla Davion, Alyse Alan Louis, Joey Taranto and Noah Weisberg.

Based on the Universal Pictures film, story by AJ Carothers.

Universal Theatrical Group is the live-theatre division of Universal Pictures, currently represented by the record-breaking phenomenon Wicked, which is in its 15th hit year on Broadway. Additional credits include Billy Elliot, winner of 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical; Bring It On: The Musical; and the Broadway premiere of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn with Roundabout Theatre Company. UTG most recently acquired rights to develop a stage musical based on the life story and music of The Bee Gees with Barry Gibb as executive producer, and is developing a new stage adaptation of the film Death Becomes Her, starring Emmy and Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth.

Lori Tan Chinn Visits David Henry Hwang’s M. BUTTERFLY 

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Multimedia: Baayork Lee Accepts The Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award At The 71st Annual Tony Awards

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Jonathan Groff and Brian d'Arcy James present Baayork Lee with the Isabelle Stevenson Award award onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Congratulations to director, actress and choreographer Baayork Lee who received the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her outstanding dedication to social service in the global theatre landscape at the American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 11, 2017.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Jonathan Groff and Brian d'Arcy James present Baayork Lee with the Isabelle Stevenson Award award onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 11: Jonathan Groff and Brian d’Arcy James present Baayork Lee with the Isabelle Stevenson Award award onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

The award was presented to Ms. Lee by Jonathan Groff and Brian d’Arcy James.

Baayork Lee accepts the Isabelle Stevenson Award award onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. Photo: NAAP/Facebook
Baayork Lee accepts the Isabelle Stevenson Award award onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. Photo: NAAP/Facebook

Baayork Lee’s speech:
“Thank you everyone. Thank you American Theatre Wing and Broadway League. This is the journey of a five-year-old in the middle of the St. James Theatre and saying to her mother, ‘This is it. This is where I want to be.’ But you can’t do it without mentors or role models and a pupil, I had so many special ones. Ms. Syvilla Fort, my first mentor, Yuriko and Maria Tallchief, my role models. Eleven Broadway shows later, Michael Bennett and Bob Avian, Tommy Tune, Graciela Daniele and Roman Terleckyj. In Japan, Mori Shibuya, in South Africa, Professor Jimmie Earl Perry and Juan Datoy.

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

With their guidance and example, I along with Steven Eng and Nina Zoie Lam started our nonprofit National Asian Artists Project because we saw the need to put the spotlight on the Asian American Artists. NAAP, as we call it, showcases their work through performance, educational programming and community outreach. Our programs include productions of classic musicals, the NAAP Broadway Community Chorus and Senior Sing-a-longs. Thanks to Freddie Gershon- mentor and Alice Hum – role model and principal of P.S. 124 Yung Wing Elementary School, we started an award-winning after school theater club.

The NAAP Broadway Community Chorus presented an evening of Jerry Herman with special guests Cindy Cheung and John D. Haggerty at the Gibney Dance Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center on May 23, 2017. Photo courtesy of Brian Jose/Facebook
The NAAP Broadway Community Chorus presented an evening of Jerry Herman with special guests Cindy Cheung and John D. Haggerty at the Gibney Dance Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center on May 23, 2017. Photo courtesy of Brian Jose/Facebook

National Asian Artists Project will continue our mission to make a difference and I hope you all will join me. Your loving pupil, Princess Ying Yaowalak.”

President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization Ted Chapin, Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award Honoree Baayork Lee, and Chair of the American Theatre Wing David Henry Hwang at the Tony Nominee Luncheon, held at the Rainbow Room in NYC on May 23, 2017 Credit: Shevett Studios
President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization Ted Chapin, Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award Honoree Baayork Lee, and Chair of the American Theatre Wing David Henry Hwang at the Tony Nominee Luncheon, held at the Rainbow Room in NYC on May 23, 2017
Credit: Shevett Studios
Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

The Isabelle Stevenson Award is presented annually to a member of the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations. Ms. Lee  received the Award for her commitment to future generations of artists through her work with the National Asian Artists Project and theatre education programs around the world.

“Baayork works tirelessly to break down cultural walls that often build up around what theatre goers consider ‘traditional’ musicals, and her dedication to fostering the next generation of performers and theatre professionals to do the same is exemplary. We are thrilled to honor her this year,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, said.

Baayork was dressed by designer Malan Breton throughout the Tony Awards season. Below are photos from Baayork’s whirlwind Tony journey from the 1st press junket on May 3rd at the Sofitel Hotel and the Designed To Celebrate: A Toast To The 2017 Tony Awards Creative Arts Nominees at The Lamb’s Club at the Chatwal NY on June 1st.

71st Annual Tony Awards rehearsalat Radio City Musical Hall on June 11th.

71st Annual Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Musical Hall on June 11th.

Baayork Lee is the co-founder of National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), which is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders, and professionals who work to showcase the work of Asian-American theater artists through performance, educational programming and community outreach.

Karl Josef Co, Jaygee Macapugay, Raul Aranas, Christine Toy Johnson and the company of NAAP's Hello Dolly! at The Pershing Square Signature Center on April 30, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang
Karl Josef Co, Jaygee Macapugay, Raul Aranas, Christine Toy Johnson and the company of NAAP’s Hello Dolly! at The Pershing Square Signature Center on April 30, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Through NAAP, Lee orchestrates her vision of educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of Asian descent. The organization has produced productions of musical theatre staples like Oklahoma!, Carousel, Hello Dolly!, Oliver! and Honor with all Asian-American casts. By turning a spot light onto the high-caliber talent of theatre artists of Asian descent, NAAP asserts, given the opportunity, the theater and its audiences will embrace diverse American voices who strive to claim both new and classic American works as their own.

Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Raul Aranas, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Scott Watanabe, Cindy Cheung, Virginia Wing and John Haggerty at the curtain call of NAAP’s Oliver! at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Raul Aranas, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Scott Watanabe, Cindy Cheung, Virginia Wing and John Haggerty at the curtain call of NAAP’s Oliver! at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Lee has made it a large part of her mission to educate aspiring artists in musical theatre. She created musical theater schools in Seoul, Korea; Tokyo, Japan; and the Theater Club at the Yung Wing Elementary School (PS124) in Chinatown, NY.

Baayork Lee (playing Miss Wong in this clip from the 1969 Tony Awards) created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, and in fact has made a career of recreating Bennett's choreography. Photo credit: Martha Swope on Armchair Actorvist
Baayork Lee (playing Miss Wong in this clip from the 1969 Tony Awards) created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, and in fact has made a career of recreating Bennett’s choreography. Photo credit: Martha Swope on Armchair Actorvist

Lee, an Asian American actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, director and author, was born in New York City’s Chinatown to an Indian mother and Chinese father, made her Broadway debut at the age of five as “Princess Ying Yaowalak” in the 1951 original production of The King and I. Her dream was to become a ballerina and she appeared in George Balanchine’s production of The Nutcracker, but this dream was dashed when she achieved her full height of just four feet, ten inches. In 1958, she returned to Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. Other Broadway appearances were in Bravo Giovanni; Mr. PresidentHere’s LoveGolden BoyA Joyful NoiseHenry, Sweet HenryPromises, PromisesSeesaw and Michael Bennett’s 1976 Tony Award-winning Best Musical A Chorus Line, in which she originated the role of “Connie,” and served as his assistant choreographer.

Lee worked with Bennett in several productions and over the years went from being his dance partner, to being his assistant. She would later supervise all major productions of A Chorus Line, choreographing many national and international companies, most recently in Klagenfurt, Austria; Santiago, Chile; the Hollywood Bowl; and Pace University in New York City. She is the co-author of the book, On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line, published in 1990.

Baayork Lee, Virginia Wing and Nancy Kwan at the New York Historical Society in New York on October 15, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee, Virginia Wing and Nancy Kwan at the New York Historical Society in New York on October 15, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Christine Toy Johnson presented Baayork Lee with the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation in the council room of the Actors Equity Association on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Christine Toy Johnson presented Baayork Lee with the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation in the council room of the Actors Equity Association on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Her directing and choreography credits also include: The King and I (national tour), Bombay Dreams (national tour), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (New York City Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Porgy and Bess (European tour), Jesus Christ Superstar (European tour), Gypsy and A New Brain. She has also choreographed Miss Saigon (Kansas City Starlight), Mack and Mabel (Shaw Festival), Animal Crackers, South Pacific, Coconuts, Camelot, and Damn Yankees, all at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including the 2014 Paul Robeson Award from Actors Equity Association, the Asian Woman Warrior Award for Lifetime Achievement from Columbia College, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association Achievement in Arts Award, and the Dynamic Achiever Award from OCA Westchester.

Baayork Lee, Bob Avian and Christopher Vo at the opening night party at Tavern on the Green for “Miss Saigon” on March 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee, Bob Avian and Christopher Vo at the opening night party at Tavern on the Green for “Miss Saigon” on March 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

David Henry Hwang, Baayork Lee, Eva Noblezada, Linda Cho, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, John Douglas Thompson, Richard Thomas, Laura Linney and More at Tony Honors Special Honorees of 2017 Cocktail Party Baayork Lee to Receive the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award 

NAAP Broadway Community Chorus -An Evening of Jerry Herman with Special Guests Cindy Cheung and John D. Haggerty

Robert Fairchild, Mara Davi, Jason Tam, J. Elaine Marcos, Sabrina Bryan & More Set for Baayork Lee Helmed A CHORUS LINE at The Hollywood Bowl

Baayork Lee to Helm ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’ Musical at Madison Theatre at Molloy College

Photos: Tommy Tune, Bob Avian, Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson, Orville Mendoza, Lori Tan Chinn, Raul Aranas, Virginia Wing and More Celebrate 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Recipient Baayork Lee

National Asian Artists Project To Present All-Asian Production of OLIVER! Featuring Raul Aranas, Anthea Neri, Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Cindy Cheung, Scott Watanabe, Virginia Wing, David Shih and More 

Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72

Christine Toy Johnson and Raul Aranas Lead the Cast of the National Asian Artists Project’s (NAAP) Benefit Presentation of Hello Dolly!, at The Pershing Square Signature Center

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

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

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

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Baayork Lee to Receive the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Baayork Lee and Lori Tan Chinn
Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

Congratulations to director, actress and choreographer Baayork Lee who will receive the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her outstanding dedication to social service in the global theatre landscape at the American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, at Radio City Music Hall  on Sunday, June 11, 2017.

The Isabelle Stevenson Award is presented annually to a member of the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations. Ms. Lee will be presented the Award for her commitment to future generations of artists through her work with the National Asian Artists Project and theatre education programs around the world.

Baayork Lee and Lori Tan Chinn
Baayork Lee and Lori Tan Chinn

“Baayork works tirelessly to break down cultural walls that often build up around what theatre goers consider ‘traditional’ musicals, and her dedication to fostering the next generation of performers and theatre professionals to do the same is exemplary. We are thrilled to honor her this year,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, said.

The NAAP Broadway Community Chorus presented an evening of Jerry Herman with special guests Cindy Cheung and John D. Haggerty at the Gibney Dance Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center on May 23, 2017. Photo courtesy of Brian Jose/Facebook
The NAAP Broadway Community Chorus presented an evening of Jerry Herman with special guests Cindy Cheung and John D. Haggerty at the Gibney Dance Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center on May 23, 2017. Photo courtesy of Brian Jose/Facebook

Baayork Lee is the Founder of National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), which is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders, and professionals who work to showcase the work of Asian-American theater artists through performance, educational programming and community outreach.

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

Through NAAP, Lee orchestrates her vision of educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of Asian descent. The organization has produced productions of musical theatre staples like Oklahoma!, Carousel, Hello Dolly!, Oliver! and Honor with all Asian-American casts. By turning a spot light onto the high-caliber talent of theatre artists of Asian descent, NAAP asserts, given the opportunity, the theater and its audiences will embrace diverse American voices who strive to claim both new and classic American works as their own.

Karl Josef Co, Jaygee Macapugay, Raul Aranas, Christine Toy Johnson and the company of NAAP's Hello Dolly! at The Pershing Square Signature Center on April 30, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang
Karl Josef Co, Jaygee Macapugay, Raul Aranas, Christine Toy Johnson and the company of NAAP’s Hello Dolly! at The Pershing Square Signature Center on April 30, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Lee has made it a large part of her mission to educate aspiring artists in musical theatre. She created musical theater schools in Seoul, Korea; Tokyo, Japan; and the Theater Club at the Yung Wing Elementary School (PS124) in Chinatown, NY.

Baayork Lee (playing Miss Wong in this clip from the 1969 Tony Awards) created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, and in fact has made a career of recreating Bennett's choreography. Photo credit: Martha Swope on Armchair Actorvist
Baayork Lee (playing Miss Wong in this clip from the 1969 Tony Awards) created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, and in fact has made a career of recreating Bennett’s choreography. Photo credit: Martha Swope on Armchair Actorvist

Lee, an Asian American actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, director and author, was born in New York City’s Chinatown to an Indian mother and Chinese father, made her Broadway debut at the age of five as “Princess Ying Yaowalak” in the 1951 original production of The King and I. Her dream was to become a ballerina and she appeared in George Balanchine’s production of The Nutcracker, but this dream was dashed when she achieved her full height of just four feet, ten inches. In 1958, she returned to Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. Other Broadway appearances were in Bravo Giovanni; Mr. PresidentHere’s LoveGolden BoyA Joyful NoiseHenry, Sweet HenryPromises, PromisesSeesaw and Michael Bennett’s 1976 Tony Award-winning Best Musical A Chorus Line, in which she originated the role of “Connie,” and served as his assistant choreographer.

Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Raul Aranas, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Scott Watanabe, Cindy Cheung, Virginia Wing and John Haggerty at the curtain call of NAAP’s Oliver! at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Raul Aranas, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Scott Watanabe, Cindy Cheung, Virginia Wing and John Haggerty at the curtain call of NAAP’s Oliver! at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

 

Lee worked with Bennett in several productions and over the years went from being his dance partner, to being his assistant. She would later supervise all major productions of A Chorus Line, choreographing many national and international companies, most recently in Klagenfurt, Austria; Santiago, Chile; the Hollywood Bowl; and Pace University in New York City. She is the co-author of the book, On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line, published in 1990.

Baayork Lee, Virginia Wing and Nancy Kwan at the New York Historical Society in New York on October 15, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee, Virginia Wing and Nancy Kwan at the New York Historical Society in New York on October 15, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Christine Toy Johnson presented Baayork Lee with the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation in the council room of the Actors Equity Association on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Christine Toy Johnson presented Baayork Lee with the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation in the council room of the Actors Equity Association on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Her directing and choreography credits also include: The King and I (national tour), Bombay Dreams (national tour), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (New York City Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Porgy and Bess (European tour), Jesus Christ Superstar (European tour), Gypsy and A New Brain. She has also choreographed Miss Saigon (Kansas City Starlight), Mack and Mabel (Shaw Festival), Animal Crackers, South Pacific, Coconuts, Camelot, and Damn Yankees, all at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including the 2014 Paul Robeson Award from Actors Equity Association, the Asian Woman Warrior Award for Lifetime Achievement from Columbia College, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association Achievement in Arts Award, and the Dynamic Achiever Award from OCA Westchester.

Baayork Lee, Bob Avian and Christopher Vo at the opening night party at Tavern on the Green for “Miss Saigon” on March 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee, Bob Avian and Christopher Vo at the opening night party at Tavern on the Green for “Miss Saigon” on March 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, will air live from Radio City Music Hall on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, June 11, 2017 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT). Or stream the Tony Awards live across platforms with the CBS All Access subscription service. (Live stream is available in select markets. Visit CBS.com/allaccess for details.) The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

For more information on the Tony Awards, visit TonyAwards.com and Facebook.com/TheTonyAwards and follow @TheTonyAwards on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Robert Fairchild, Mara Davi, Jason Tam, J. Elaine Marcos, Sabrina Bryan & More Set for Baayork Lee Helmed A CHORUS LINE at The Hollywood Bowl

Baayork Lee to Helm ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’ Musical at Madison Theatre at Molloy College

Photos: Tommy Tune, Bob Avian, Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson, Orville Mendoza, Lori Tan Chinn, Raul Aranas, Virginia Wing and More Celebrate 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Recipient Baayork Lee

National Asian Artists Project To Present All-Asian Production of OLIVER! Featuring Raul Aranas, Anthea Neri, Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Cindy Cheung, Scott Watanabe, Virginia Wing, David Shih and More 
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72
Christine Toy Johnson and Raul Aranas Lead the Cast of the National Asian Artists Project’s (NAAP) Benefit Presentation of Hello Dolly!, at The Pershing Square Signature Center

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

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

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

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Baayork Lee to be Honored with 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Baayork Lee, Bob Avian and Christopher Vo at the opening night party at Tavern on the Green for “Miss Saigon” on March 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

Congratulations to director, actress and choreographer Baayork Lee who will receive the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her outstanding dedication to social service in the global theatre landscape.

The Isabelle Stevenson Award is presented annually to a member of the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations. Ms. Lee will be presented the Award for her commitment to future generations of artists through her work with the National Asian Artists Project and theatre education programs around the world.

Baayork Lee, Bob Avian and Christopher Vo at the opening night party at Tavern on the Green for “Miss Saigon” on March 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee, Bob Avian and Christopher Vo at the opening night party at Tavern on the Green for “Miss Saigon” on March 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

“Baayork works tirelessly to break down cultural walls that often build up around what theatre goers consider ‘traditional’ musicals, and her dedication to fostering the next generation of performers and theatre professionals to do the same is exemplary. We are thrilled to honor her this year,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, said.

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

Baayork Lee is the Founder of National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), which is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders, and professionals who work to showcase the work of Asian-American theater artists through performance, educational programming and community outreach.

Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Raul Aranas, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Scott Watanabe, Cindy Cheung, Virginia Wing and John Haggerty at the curtain call of NAAP’s Oliver! at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Raul Aranas, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Scott Watanabe, Cindy Cheung, Virginia Wing and John Haggerty at the curtain call of NAAP’s Oliver! at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre inside The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on June 7, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Through NAAP, Lee orchestrates her vision of educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of Asian descent. The organization has produced productions of musical theatre staples like Oklahoma!, Carousel, Hello Dolly!, Oliver! and Honor with all Asian-American casts. By turning a spot light onto the high-caliber talent of theatre artists of Asian descent, NAAP asserts, given the opportunity, the theater and its audiences will embrace diverse American voices who strive to claim both new and classic American works as their own.

Karl Josef Co, Jaygee Macapugay, Raul Aranas, Christine Toy Johnson and the company of NAAP's Hello Dolly! at The Pershing Square Signature Center on April 30, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang
Karl Josef Co, Jaygee Macapugay, Raul Aranas, Christine Toy Johnson and the company of NAAP’s Hello Dolly! at The Pershing Square Signature Center on April 30, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Lee has made it a large part of her mission to educate aspiring artists in musical theatre. She created musical theater schools in Seoul, Korea; Tokyo, Japan; and the Theater Club at the Yung Wing Elementary School (PS124) in Chinatown, NY.

Baayork Lee (playing Miss Wong in this clip from the 1969 Tony Awards) created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, and in fact has made a career of recreating Bennett's choreography. Photo credit: Martha Swope on Armchair Actorvist
Baayork Lee (playing Miss Wong in this clip from the 1969 Tony Awards) created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, and in fact has made a career of recreating Bennett’s choreography. Photo credit: Martha Swope on Armchair Actorvist

Lee, an Asian American actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, director and author, was born in New York City’s Chinatown to an Indian mother and Chinese father, made her Broadway debut at the age of five as “Princess Ying Yaowalak” in the 1951 original production of The King and I. Her dream was to become a ballerina and she appeared in George Balanchine’s production of The Nutcracker, but this dream was dashed when she achieved her full height of just four feet, ten inches. In 1958, she returned to Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. Other Broadway appearances were in Bravo Giovanni; Mr. PresidentHere’s LoveGolden BoyA Joyful NoiseHenry, Sweet HenryPromises, PromisesSeesaw and Michael Bennett’s 1976 Tony Award-winning Best Musical A Chorus Line, in which she originated the role of “Connie,” and served as his assistant choreographer.

Lee worked with Bennett in several productions and over the years went from being his dance partner, to being his assistant. She would later supervise all major productions of A Chorus Line, choreographing many national and international companies, most recently in Klagenfurt, Austria; Santiago, Chile; the Hollywood Bowl; and Pace University in New York City. She is the co-author of the book, On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line, published in 1990.

Baayork Lee, Virginia Wing and Nancy Kwan at the New York Historical Society in New York on October 15, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Baayork Lee, Virginia Wing and Nancy Kwan at the New York Historical Society in New York on October 15, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Christine Toy Johnson presented Baayork Lee with the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation in the council room of the Actors Equity Association on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Christine Toy Johnson presented Baayork Lee with the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation in the council room of the Actors Equity Association on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Her directing and choreography credits also include: The King and I (national tour), Bombay Dreams (national tour), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (New York City Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Porgy and Bess (European tour), Jesus Christ Superstar (European tour), Gypsy and A New Brain. She has also choreographed Miss Saigon (Kansas City Starlight), Mack and Mabel (Shaw Festival), Animal Crackers, South Pacific, Coconuts, Camelot, and Damn Yankees, all at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including the 2014 Paul Robeson Award from Actors Equity Association, the Asian Woman Warrior Award for Lifetime Achievement from Columbia College, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association Achievement in Arts Award, and the Dynamic Achiever Award from OCA Westchester.

Lori Tan Chinn, Orville Mendoza and 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award recipient Baayork Lee at the Actors Equity Association in New York on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Lori Tan Chinn, Orville Mendoza and 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award recipient Baayork Lee at the Actors Equity Association in New York on October 10, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
The American Theatre Wing’s 71st Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, will air live from Radio City Music Hall on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, June 11, 2017 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT). Or stream the Tony Awards live across platforms with the CBS All Access subscription service. (Live stream is available in select markets. Visit CBS.com/allaccess for details.) The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
The Nominations for the 2017 Tony Awards will be announced live, by Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski and 2016 Tony Nominee Christopher Jackson, on May 2, 2017, from The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, in a webcast on TonyAwards.com.
For more information on the Tony Awards, visit TonyAwards.com and Facebook.com/TheTonyAwards and follow @TheTonyAwards on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Robert Fairchild, Mara Davi, Jason Tam, J. Elaine Marcos, Sabrina Bryan & More Set for Baayork Lee Helmed A CHORUS LINE at The Hollywood Bowl

Baayork Lee to Helm ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’ Musical at Madison Theatre at Molloy College

Photos: Tommy Tune, Bob Avian, Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson, Orville Mendoza, Lori Tan Chinn, Raul Aranas, Virginia Wing and More Celebrate 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Recipient Baayork Lee

National Asian Artists Project To Present All-Asian Production of OLIVER! Featuring Raul Aranas, Anthea Neri, Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Cindy Cheung, Scott Watanabe, Virginia Wing, David Shih and More 
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72
Christine Toy Johnson and Raul Aranas Lead the Cast of the National Asian Artists Project’s (NAAP) Benefit Presentation of Hello Dolly!, at The Pershing Square Signature Center

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

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

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