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

Classic Stage Company's three Lortel Awards nominated performers, Quincy Tyler Bernstine for As You Like It, Steven Eng, and Thom Sesma for Pacific Overtures.
Classic Stage Company’s three Lortel Awards nominated performers, Quincy Tyler Bernstine for As You Like It, Steven Eng, and Thom Sesma for Pacific Overtures.

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.

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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,” “Pacific Overtures,”  and “Jesus Hopped the A Train”

The cast of KPOP (© Ben Arons)

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.

The 2018 Lucille Lortel Awards, will posthumously elect composer Michael Friedman onto the Playwrights’ Sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Friedman was a Lucille Lortel Award winner for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Friedman died September 9, 2017, at the age of 41 following complications due to HIV/AIDS. His other works include This Beautiful City, Saved, The Fortress of Solitude, and Pretty Filthy.

The evening will also honor Tony-winning playwright and performer Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and longstanding Off-Broadway company WP Theater for their Outstanding Body of Work.

Ensler recently performed at Manhattan Theatre Club Off-Broadway in an adaptation of her memoir, In the Body of the World. The monologue play, written and performed by Ensler, details her experiences working with women in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo and being diagnosed with uterine cancer.

MaameYaa Boafo and Zainab Jah. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
MaameYaa Boafo and Zainab Jah. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Outstanding Play
Cost of Living
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival
Written by Martyna Majok

Miles for Mary
Produced by Playwrights Horizons
Written by Marc Bovino, Joe Curnutte, Michael Dalto, Lila Neugebauer, and Stephanie Wright Thompson

Karen Pittman (foreground) and Namir Smallwood (background). Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel
Karen Pittman (foreground) and Namir Smallwood (background). Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Pipeline
Produced by Lincoln Center Theater
Written by Dominique Morisseau

Dominique Morisseau’s PIPELINE at Lincoln Center Theater 

School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Produced by MCC Theater
Written by Jocelyn Bioh

MCC’s SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY by Jocelyn Bioh at The Lucille Lortel Theatre

The Treasurer
Produced by Playwrights Horizons
Written by Max Posner

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus
The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

Outstanding Musical
Bella: An American Tall Tale
Produced by Playwrights Horizons
Book, music, and lyrics by Kirsten Childs

Ashley D. Kelley, Paolo Montalban, Kenita R. Miller, Britton Smith, Yurel Echezarreta and More in BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE at Playwright’s Horizons 

Desperate Measures
Produced by The York Theatre Company in association with Cecilia Lin and Hu Guo
Book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg, music by David Friedman

Hundred Days
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
By the Bengsons and Sarah Gancher

Jerry Springer – The Opera
Produced by The New Group
Music and lyrics by Richard Thomas, book and additional lyrics by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas

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

KPOP
Produced by Ars Nova in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company and Woodshed Collective
Conceived by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim, book by Jason Kim, music and lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon, immersive design by Woodshed Collective

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

Outstanding Revival
Fucking A
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

In The Blood
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis

The Government Inspector
Produced by Red Bull Theater
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from Revizor by Nikolai Gogol

Torch Song
Produced by Second Stage Theater in association with Richie Jackson
Written by Harvey Fierstein

Sean Carvajal, Ricardo Chavira and Edi Gathegi. Photo: Joan Marcus
Sean Carvajal, Ricardo Chavira and Edi Gathegi. Photo: Joan Marcus

Outstanding Solo Show
Harry Clarke
Produced by Vineyard Theatre in association with Audible
Written by David Cale, performed by Billy Crudup

Who’s Holiday!
Produced by Whoville Theatrical, Scott and Jenny Beck, Jason Shaw, Ken Fakler, Drew Desky/Dane Levens, Darren Bagert
Written by Matthew Lombardo, performed by Lesli Margherita

Outstanding Director
Lileana Blain-Cruz, Pipeline
Michael Greif, The Low Road
Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
Lila Neugebauer, Miles for Mary
Leigh Silverman, Harry Clarke

Outstanding Choreographer
Camille A. Brown, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Bill Castellino, Desperate Measures
Byron Easley, X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation
Sonya Tayeh, The Lucky Ones
Jennifer Weber, KPOP

Chukwudi Iwuji and Crystal A. Dickinson. © Joan Marcus
Chukwudi Iwuji and Crystal A. Dickinson. © Joan Marcus

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Sean Carvajal, Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train
Peter Friedman, The Treasurer
Chukwudi Iwuji, The Low Road
Namir Smallwood, Pipeline
Michael Urie, Torch Song

Sean Carvajal, Edi Gathegi, Ricardo Chavira, Stephanie DiMaggio, Erick Betancourt End Extended Run in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN 

Quincy Tyler Bernstine. Photo by Lia Chang
Quincy Tyler Bernstine. Photo by Lia Chang

 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
Quincy Tyler Bernstine, The Amateurs
MaameYaa Boafo, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Carrie Coon, Mary Jane
Cristin Milioti, After the Blast
Karen Pittman, Pipeline

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Marc Bovino, Miles for Mary
Edi Gathegi, Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train
Gregg Mozgala, Cost of Living
Paul Sparks, Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo: Homelife and The Zoo Story
John Tufts, Pride and Prejudice

Carrie Coon, Liza Colón-Zayas, Danaya Esperanza, Susan Pourfar, Brenda Wehle Set for Amy Herzog’s MARY JANE at New York Theatre Workshop

From left: Abena Mensah-Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole and Paige Gilbert in 'School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play' Photo: Joan Marcus
From left: Abena Mensah-Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole and Paige Gilbert in ‘School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play’ Photo: Joan Marcus

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Vanessa Aspillaga, Amy and the Orphans
Quincy Tyler Bernstine, As You Like It
Liza Colón-Zayas, Mary Jane
Mirirai Sithole, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Katy Sullivan, Cost of Living

Chatting with VIETGONE Star James Seol 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Abigail Bengson, Hundred Days
Ashley D. Kelley, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Julia Knitel, A Letter to Harvey Milk
Lauren Molina, Desperate Measures
Ashley Park, KPOP

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

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Sean Patrick Doyle, Jerry Springer – The Opera
Brandon Gill, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Paolo Montalban, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Thom Sesma, Pacific Overtures
Jason Tam, KPOP

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)

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Vanessa Kai, KPOP
Tiffany Mann, Jerry Springer – The OperaQuincy Tyler Bernstine
Maryann Plunkett, The Lucky Ones
Myra Lucretia Taylor, The Lucky Ones
Adina Verson, The Lucky Ones

Outstanding Scenic Design
Gabriel Hainer Evansohn, KPOP
Anna Fleischle, Hangmen
Laura Jellinek, Mary Jane
Amy Rubin, Miles for Mary
Louisa Thompson, In The Blood

Outstanding Costume Design
Dede M. Ayite, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Dede M. Ayite, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Tricia Barsamian, KPOP
Tilly Grimes, The Government Inspector
Emily Rebholz, The Low Road

Outstanding Lighting Design
Alan C. Edwards, Harry Clarke
Bradley King, The Treasurer
Ben Stanton, The Low Road
Japhy Weideman, Mary Jane
Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, KPOP

Outstanding Sound Design
Mikhail Fiksel, The Treasurer
Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
Bray Poor, The Last Match
Bray Poor, Office Hour
Brandon Wolcott, After the Blast

Outstanding Projection Design
Lucy Mackinnon, After the Blast
Alexander V. Nichols, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me
Brad Peterson, The Stone Witch
Hannah Wasileski, Pipeline
Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, Relevance

Productions with multiple nominations
KPOP (9)
Bella: An American Tall Tale (6)
Mary Jane (6)
The Lucky Ones (5)
Pipeline (5)
Jerry Springer – The Opera (4)
The Low Road (4)
Miles for Mary (4)
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play (4)
The Treasurer (4)
After the Blast (3)
Cost of Living (3)
Desperate Measures (3)
Harry Clarke (3)
Jesus Hopped The “A” Train (3)
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (2)
The Government Inspector (2)
Hundred Days (2)
In the Blood (2)
Pacific Overtures (2)
Torch Song (2)

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SWEENEY TODD, Starring Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett, Extends at The Barrow Street Theatre through August 26

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

Due to continued popular demand, off-Broadway’s Sweeney Todd will extend through August 26, 2018. The production celebrated its one year anniversary this week, continuing its streak as the longest running musical to play New York’s Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street). Click here for tickets.

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

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 Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Danny Rothman and Monet Sabel.

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

In addition to the chicken and vegetable pie options available prior to each performance, a beef wellington pie is now available from chef William “Bill” Yosses. The new pie features a Filet of Angus Beef, Aged Sherry, Wheat Flour, Butter, Herbs, Salt, Pepper, Eggs, and a medley of fresh vegetables that may include Chanterelle Mushrooms, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Vidalia Onions, and Black Truffle Zest.

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

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).

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

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

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

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.

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

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).

Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett Take Over the Pie Shop in SWEENEY TODD at Barrow Street Theatre Tonight 

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Production Photos: Thom Sesma, Sally Ann Triplett and More in SWEENEY TODD’s Barber Shop

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

Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett are currently starring as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett in the Tooting Arts Club production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, now playing at the Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street, NYC). Tickets are on sale through May 27, 2018. Click here for tickets.

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 cast 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). The cast also includes Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Danny Rothman and Monet Sabel.

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

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.

Billy Harrigan Tighe as Anthony. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Billy Harrigan Tighe as Anthony. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
DeLaney Westfall as Johanna. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
DeLaney Westfall as Johanna. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
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
Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Sally Ann Triplett as Mrs. Lovett. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
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
Zachary Noah Piser as Tobias. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Zachary Noah Piser as Tobias. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
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

Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett Take Over the Pie Shop in SWEENEY TODD at Barrow Street Theatre Tonight 

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Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett Take Over the Pie Shop in SWEENEY TODD at Barrow Street Theatre Tonight

Thom Sesma Photo: Lia Chang
Thom Sesma Photo: Lia Chang
Thom Sesma
Photo: Lia Chang

Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett will lead Tooting Arts Club’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Barrow Street Theatre as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, beginning Tuesday, February 27, 2018.

They’ll be joined by Zachary Noah Piser as Tobias, Billy Harrigan Tighe as Anthony and DeLaney Westfall as Johanna.

Current cast members Michael James Leslie Judge Turpin, John Rapson and Stacie Bono, Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Danny Rothman and Monet Sabel will continue with the show.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd in Arden Theatre Company's production of Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2009. (Photo: Mark Garvin)
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd in Arden Theatre Company’s production of Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2005. (Photo: Mark Garvin)

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 recently appeared as Count Leo Tolstoy in Discord – The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy (Primary Stages); Pacific Overtures (Classic Stage Company). He 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.

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.

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

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 John Randolph Ferry.

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 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 and 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. 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.

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Celebrating International Women’s Voices Day: Dramatists Guild Foundation Presents Reading of Christine Toy Johnson’s THE NEW DEAL on January 20

Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson
Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson
Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Bruce Alan Johnson

Dramatists Guild Foundation is celebrating women playwrights, composers, lyricists, and bookwriters as part of International Women’s Voices Day, in partnership with the National New Play Network and New Play Exchange.

On Saturday, January 20th, DGF will stream presentations by DGF Music Hall patrons  Christine Toy Johnson, Lisa DeSpain and Ariana Johns.

The reading of Christine Toy Johnson’s first play, The New Deal, will feature Delphi Borich, Thom Sesma, James Chen, Stephen Gordon, Ron Domingo, Cat Brindisi, Rin Allen and the playwright.

Christine Toy Johnson’s inspiration for The New Deal was her mother’s family restaurant. Originally developed in 2006 at the Roundabout as the inaugural project of Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Different Voices” initiative, The New Deal has been reworked for a fresh audience.

You can attend in person at the DGF, 356 W. 40 Street, 2nd floor from 5 -7 pm, or tune in to Facebook Live. Click here on Saturday to join the stream.
Can’t make the entire stream? Here is a breakdown of each performance:

3pm ET – Selections form “That Hell Bound Train” and “Like, I Care” by Lisa DeSpain
5pm ET – “The New Deal” by Christine Toy Johnson
7pm ET – Selections from “BUZZ, Son of a Bee” and “Stroll w/ Troll” by Ariana Johns (music by Darryl Curry)

Dramatists Guild’s “Friday Night Footlights” series: Johnson And Cronin’s New Musical TILL SOON, ANNE, Featuring Jaygee Macapugay, Devin Ilaw, Wade McCollum, Cat Brindisi and David Darrow on January 5 

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.

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Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett Set to Lead SWEENEY TODD at Barrow Street Theatre

Thom Sesma Photo: Lia Chang
Thom Sesma Photo: Lia Chang
Thom Sesma
Photo: Lia Chang

Thom Sesma and Sally Ann Triplett will lead Tooting Arts Club’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Barrow Street Theatre as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, beginning Tuesday, February 27, 2018.

They’ll be joined by Zachary Noah Piser as Tobias, Billy Harrigan Tighe as Anthony and DeLaney Westfall as Johanna.

Hugh Panaro, Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello, Jake Boyd, Eryn LeCroy and John-Michael Lyles will play their final performance on Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Current cast members Michael James Leslie Judge Turpin, John Rapson and Stacie Bono, Matt Leisy, Liz Pearce, Danny Rothman and Monet Sabel will continue with the show.

Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd in Arden Theatre Company's production of Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2009. (Photo: Mark Garvin)
Thom Sesma as Sweeney Todd in Arden Theatre Company’s production of Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2005. (Photo: Mark Garvin)

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 recently appeared as Count Leo Tolstoy in Discord – The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy (Primary Stages); Pacific Overtures (Classic Stage Company). He 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.

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.

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

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 John Randolph Ferry.

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 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 and 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. 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.

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Lewis Black Set for Post-Show Talkback of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS, AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD with Playwright Scott Carter on October 12

Lewis Black performed the stand-up comedy written by Project member Coleman Williams, age 11 at at The 52nd Street Project’s Gala, LAUGHING MATTERS, Kids’ Stand-up, Adults Deliver, held at the elegant retro Edison Ballroom on May 2, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

 

Lewis Black performed the stand-up comedy written by Project member Coleman Williams, age 11 at at The 52nd Street Project’s Gala, LAUGHING MATTERS, Kids’ Stand-up, Adults Deliver, held at the elegant retro Edison Ballroom on May 2, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang
Lewis Black performed the stand-up comedy written by Project member Coleman Williams, age 11 at at The 52nd Street Project’s Gala, LAUGHING MATTERS, Kids’ Stand-up, Adults Deliver, held at the elegant retro Edison Ballroom on May 2, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Comedian, Author & Playwright Lewis Black is the featured guest at the post-show talkback of Primary Stages’ New York Premiere of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS, AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD, written by Scott Carter, on Thursday, October 12th at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce St, New York, NY, 10014).

Helmed by Kimberly Senior, DISCORD, starring Duane Boutté (Parade, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin) as “Charles Dickens,” Michael Laurence (Appropriate, Talk Radio) as “Thomas Jefferson,” and Thom Sesma (Pacific Overtures, Man of La Mancha), as “Leo Tolstoy,” – has performances at the Cherry Lane Theatre through October 22, 2017.

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)

From Scott Carter, Executive Producer of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens AND COUNT Leo Tolstoy: DISCORD finds three of history’s most famous men, all of whom wrote their own version of the gospels, debating everything from religion to literature to marriage in this “hugely entertaining, rapid-fire” (Chicago Sun-Times) new play. Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence), Charles Dickens (the man who brought us A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist) and Count Leo Tolstoy (the epic Russian novelist of War & Peace fame) are trapped in a limbo where each believes their path to salvation depends on convincing the other two that they are wrong. Kimberly Senior, the acclaimed director of Disgraced and Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide, is at the helm of this profound and exciting battle of truly biblical proportions.

The production features set design by Wilson Chin (Cost of Living); costume design by David Hyman (D Deb Debbie Deborah); lighting design by Jen Schriever (Eclipsed); sound design by Lindsay Jones (Bronx Bombers); projection design by Caite Hevner (In Transit); casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting.

The performance schedule for DISCORD from October 3- October 22 is as follows: Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. Exceptions: There will be additional performances on Saturday, October 7 at 2pm & Wednesday, October 18 at 2pm. There will be no performance on Sunday, October 8.

Single tickets for DISCORD are priced at $70 and $80, respectively, with additional premium seating options offered. All tickets are available at PrimaryStages.org or by calling OvationTix at 212-352-3101. Group tickets are available for $45 per ticket ($35 for student groups) by contacting 212-840-9705. Subscriptions for the Primary Stages 2017/18 Season are on sale now for $180 and include tickets to all four mainstage productions. All subscription packages can also be purchased by visiting PrimaryStages.org or by calling OvationTix at 212-352-3101.

Talkback Performances for Discord

Special talkbacks with the cast and creative team will be held on October 4 and October 11.

Scott Carter Talkbacks for Discord

Scott Carter (Executive Producer of “Real Time with Bill Maher”) will lead the talkbacks with a number of special guests. The lineup is currently as follows, but is subject to change.

Thursday, October 12 at 8pm – Comedian, Author & Playwright Lewis Black

Friday, October 13 at 8pm – Thrive Global Founder & CEO Arianna Huffington

Saturday, October 14 at 8pm – New Yorker Contributing Writer & Author Maria Konnikova

Sunday, October 15 at 3pm – Ex-U.S. Representative Rick Lazio (R-NY)

Sunday, October 21 at 8pm – Progressive Radio Talk Show Host & Author Thom Hartmann

Sunday, October 22 at 3pm – “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Star & Comedian Susie Essman

ABOUT Primary Stages
Primary Stages is an Off-Broadway not-for-profit theater company dedicated to inspiring, supporting, and sharing the art of playwriting. We operate on the strongly held belief that the future of American theater relies on nurturing playwrights and giving them the artistic support needed to create new work. Since our founding in 1984, we have produced more than 130 new plays, including In Transit by James-Allen-Ford, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth (on Broadway last season); Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home, The Day Emily Married, Harrison, TX, and Dividing the Estate (two Tony nominations); Donald Margulies’ The Model Apartment (1995 premiere and 2013 revival); David Ives’ Lives of the Saints and All in the Timing (original 1993 production and 2013 revival); Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live; Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Informed Consent; Charles Busch’s The Tribute Artist and Olive and the Bitter Herbs; Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy; Tanya Saracho’s Fade; Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband, A.R. Gurney’s Black Tie; Theresa Rebeck’s Poor Behavior; Tanya Barfield’s The Call, Terrence McNally’s Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams and The Stendhal Syndrome; Dan O’Brien’s The Body of an American; Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter’s In the Continuum (which went on to tour the U.S., Africa, and Scotland); and Conor McPherson’s St. Nicholas (which marked the playwright’s U.S. debut). Our productions and artists have received critical acclaim, including Tony, Obie, Lortel, AUDELCO, Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama League, and Drama Desk awards and nominations. Primary Stages supports playwrights and develops new works through commissions, workshops, readings, and our education and training programs: The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group, the Marvin and Anne Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA), the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting, and the newly launched Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project. Through these programs, Primary Stages advocates for our artists, helping them make important-and often transformative- connections within the theater community.

For more information, visit www.primarystages.org.

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

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

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

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

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Thom Sesma, Michael Laurence and Duane Boutté in Primary Stages’ NY Premiere of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS, AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD though October 22

Thom Sesma as "Leo Tolstoy," Michael Laurence as "Thomas Jefferson," and Duane Boutté as "Charles Dickens." Photo courtesy of Thom Sesma

Primary Stages (Andrew Leynse, Artistic Director; Shane D. Hudson, Executive Director; Casey Childs, Founder) is presenting the New York Premiere of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS, AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD written by Scott Carter and directed by Kimberly Senior.

The cast of DISCORD – Duane Boutté (Parade, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin) as “Charles Dickens,” Michael Laurence (Appropriate, Talk Radio) as “Thomas Jefferson,” and Thom Sesma (Pacific Overtures, Man of La Mancha) as “Leo Tolstoy” -open tonight at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce St, New York, NY, 10014). Performances will continue through October 22, 2017.

Thom Sesma as "Leo Tolstoy," Michael Laurence as "Thomas Jefferson," and Duane Boutté as "Charles Dickens." Photo courtesy of Thom Sesma
Thom Sesma as “Leo Tolstoy,” Michael Laurence as “Thomas Jefferson,” and Duane Boutté as “Charles Dickens.” Photo courtesy of Thom Sesma

From Scott Carter, Executive Producer of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens AND COUNT Leo Tolstoy: DISCORD finds three of history’s most famous men, all of whom wrote their own version of the gospels, debating everything from religion to literature to marriage in this “hugely entertaining, rapid-fire” (Chicago Sun-Times) new play. Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence), Charles Dickens (the man who brought us A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist) and Count Leo Tolstoy (the epic Russian novelist of War & Peace fame) are trapped in a limbo where each believes their path to salvation depends on convincing the other two that they are wrong. Kimberly Senior, the acclaimed director of Disgraced and Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide, is at the helm of this profound and exciting battle of truly biblical proportions.

The production features set design by Wilson Chin (Cost of Living); costume design by David Hyman (D Deb Debbie Deborah); lighting design by Jen Schriever (Eclipsed); sound design by Lindsay Jones (Bronx Bombers); projection design by Caite Hevner (In Transit); casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting.

The performance schedule for DISCORD through September 30 is as follows: Tuesday-Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. Exceptions: There will be no 8pm performance on Saturday, September 30.

The performance schedule for DISCORD from October 3- October 22 is as follows: Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. Exceptions: There will be additional performances on Saturday, October 7 at 2pm & Wednesday, October 18 at 2pm. There will be no performance on Sunday, October 8.

Single tickets for DISCORD are priced at $70 and $80, respectively, with additional premium seating options offered. All tickets are available at PrimaryStages.org or by calling OvationTix at 212-352-3101. Group tickets are available for $45 per ticket ($35 for student groups) by contacting 212-840-9705. Subscriptions for the Primary Stages 2017/18 Season are on sale now for $180 and include tickets to all four mainstage productions. All subscription packages can also be purchased by visiting PrimaryStages.org or by calling OvationTix at 212-352-3101.

Talkback Performances for Discord

Special talkbacks with the cast and creative team will be held on October 4 and October 11.

Scott Carter Talkbacks for Discord

Scott Carter (Executive Producer of “Real Time with Bill Maher”) will lead the talkbacks with a number of special guests. The lineup is currently as follows, but is subject to change.

Saturday, October 7 at 2pm – New York Times Columnist & CNBC “Squawk Box” Host Andrew Ross Sorkin

Saturday, October 7 at 8pm – Ex-New York Times Ethicist & “Person, Place Thing” Host Randy Cohen

Thursday, October 12 at 8pm – Comedian, Author & Playwright Lewis Black

Friday, October 13 at 8pm – Thrive Global Founder & CEO Arianna Huffington

Saturday, October 14 at 8pm – New Yorker Contributing Writer & Author Maria Konnikova

Sunday, October 15 at 3pm – Ex-U.S. Representative Rick Lazio (R-NY)

Sunday, October 21 at 8pm – Progressive Radio Talk Show Host & Author Thom Hartmann

Sunday, October 22 at 3pm – “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Star & Comedian Susie Essman

ABOUT Primary Stages
Primary Stages is an Off-Broadway not-for-profit theater company dedicated to inspiring, supporting, and sharing the art of playwriting. We operate on the strongly held belief that the future of American theater relies on nurturing playwrights and giving them the artistic support needed to create new work. Since our founding in 1984, we have produced more than 130 new plays, including In Transit by James-Allen-Ford, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth (on Broadway last season); Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home, The Day Emily Married, Harrison, TX, and Dividing the Estate (two Tony nominations); Donald Margulies’ The Model Apartment (1995 premiere and 2013 revival); David Ives’ Lives of the Saints and All in the Timing (original 1993 production and 2013 revival); Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live; Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Informed Consent; Charles Busch’s The Tribute Artist and Olive and the Bitter Herbs; Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy; Tanya Saracho’s Fade; Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband, A.R. Gurney’s Black Tie; Theresa Rebeck’s Poor Behavior; Tanya Barfield’s The Call, Terrence McNally’s Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams and The Stendhal Syndrome; Dan O’Brien’s The Body of an American; Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter’s In the Continuum (which went on to tour the U.S., Africa, and Scotland); and Conor McPherson’s St. Nicholas (which marked the playwright’s U.S. debut). Our productions and artists have received critical acclaim, including Tony, Obie, Lortel, AUDELCO, Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama League, and Drama Desk awards and nominations. Primary Stages supports playwrights and develops new works through commissions, workshops, readings, and our education and training programs: The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group, the Marvin and Anne Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA), the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting, and the newly launched Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project. Through these programs, Primary Stages advocates for our artists, helping them make important-and often transformative- connections within the theater community.

For more information, visit www.primarystages.org.

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

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

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

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

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Check Out the Exciting Lineup for Talkback Performances of DISCORD at Primary Stages

Thom Sesma as "Leo Tolstoy," Michael Laurence as "Thomas Jefferson," and Duane Boutté as "Charles Dickens." Photo courtesy of Thom Sesma

Primary Stages (Andrew Leynse, Artistic Director; Shane D. Hudson, Executive Director; Casey Childs, Founder) is presenting the New York Premiere of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS, AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY: DISCORD written by Scott Carter and directed by Kimberly Senior.

The cast of DISCORD – Duane Boutté (Parade, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin) as “Charles Dickens,” Michael Laurence (Appropriate, Talk Radio) as “Thomas Jefferson,” and Thom Sesma (Pacific Overtures, Man of La Mancha) as “Leo Tolstoy” – are currently in previews, with an opening night set for October 1st at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce St, New York, NY, 10014). Performances will continue through October 22, 2017.

Thom Sesma as "Leo Tolstoy," Michael Laurence as "Thomas Jefferson," and Duane Boutté as "Charles Dickens." Photo courtesy of Thom Sesma
Thom Sesma as “Leo Tolstoy,” Michael Laurence as “Thomas Jefferson,” and Duane Boutté as “Charles Dickens.” Photo courtesy of Thom Sesma

From Scott Carter, Executive Producer of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens AND COUNT Leo Tolstoy: DISCORD finds three of history’s most famous men, all of whom wrote their own version of the gospels, debating everything from religion to literature to marriage in this “hugely entertaining, rapid-fire” (Chicago Sun-Times) new play. Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence), Charles Dickens (the man who brought us A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist) and Count Leo Tolstoy (the epic Russian novelist of War & Peace fame) are trapped in a limbo where each believes their path to salvation depends on convincing the other two that they are wrong. Kimberly Senior, the acclaimed director of Disgraced and Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide, is at the helm of this profound and exciting battle of truly biblical proportions.

The production features set design by Wilson Chin (Cost of Living); costume design by David Hyman (D Deb Debbie Deborah); lighting design by Jen Schriever (Eclipsed); sound design by Lindsay Jones (Bronx Bombers); projection design by Caite Hevner (In Transit); casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting.

The performance schedule for DISCORD through September 30 is as follows: Tuesday-Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. Exceptions: There will be no 8pm performance on Saturday, September 30.

The performance schedule for DISCORD from October 3- October 22 is as follows: Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. Exceptions: There will be additional performances on Saturday, October 7 at 2pm & Wednesday, October 18 at 2pm. There will be no performance on Sunday, October 8.

Single tickets for DISCORD are priced at $70 and $80, respectively, with additional premium seating options offered. All tickets are available at PrimaryStages.org or by calling OvationTix at 212-352-3101. Group tickets are available for $45 per ticket ($35 for student groups) by contacting 212-840-9705. Subscriptions for the Primary Stages 2017/18 Season are on sale now for $180 and include tickets to all four mainstage productions. All subscription packages can also be purchased by visiting PrimaryStages.org or by calling OvationTix at 212-352-3101.

Talkback Performances for Discord

Special talkbacks with the cast and creative team will be held on October 4 and October 11.

Scott Carter Talkbacks for Discord

Scott Carter (Executive Producer of “Real Time with Bill Maher”) will lead the talkbacks with a number of special guests. The lineup is currently as follows, but is subject to change.

Saturday, September 30 at 2pm – Iconic Performance Artist & Author Karen Finley

Saturday, October 7 at 2pm – New York Times Columnist & CNBC “Squawk Box” Host Andrew Ross Sorkin

Saturday, October 7 at 8pm – Ex-New York Times Ethicist & “Person, Place Thing” Host Randy Cohen

Thursday, October 12 at 8pm – Comedian, Author & Playwright Lewis Black

Friday, October 13 at 8pm – Thrive Global Founder & CEO Arianna Huffington

Saturday, October 14 at 8pm – New Yorker Contributing Writer & Author Maria Konnikova

Sunday, October 15 at 3pm – Ex-U.S. Representative Rick Lazio (R-NY)

Sunday, October 21 at 8pm – Progressive Radio Talk Show Host & Author Thom Hartmann

Sunday, October 22 at 3pm – “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Star & Comedian Susie Essman

ABOUT Primary Stages
Primary Stages is an Off-Broadway not-for-profit theater company dedicated to inspiring, supporting, and sharing the art of playwriting. We operate on the strongly held belief that the future of American theater relies on nurturing playwrights and giving them the artistic support needed to create new work. Since our founding in 1984, we have produced more than 130 new plays, including In Transit by James-Allen-Ford, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth (on Broadway last season); Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home, The Day Emily Married, Harrison, TX, and Dividing the Estate (two Tony nominations); Donald Margulies’ The Model Apartment (1995 premiere and 2013 revival); David Ives’ Lives of the Saints and All in the Timing (original 1993 production and 2013 revival); Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live; Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Informed Consent; Charles Busch’s The Tribute Artist and Olive and the Bitter Herbs; Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy; Tanya Saracho’s Fade; Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband, A.R. Gurney’s Black Tie; Theresa Rebeck’s Poor Behavior; Tanya Barfield’s The Call, Terrence McNally’s Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams and The Stendhal Syndrome; Dan O’Brien’s The Body of an American; Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter’s In the Continuum (which went on to tour the U.S., Africa, and Scotland); and Conor McPherson’s St. Nicholas (which marked the playwright’s U.S. debut). Our productions and artists have received critical acclaim, including Tony, Obie, Lortel, AUDELCO, Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama League, and Drama Desk awards and nominations. Primary Stages supports playwrights and develops new works through commissions, workshops, readings, and our education and training programs: The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group, the Marvin and Anne Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA), the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting, and the newly launched Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project. Through these programs, Primary Stages advocates for our artists, helping them make important-and often transformative- connections within the theater community.

For more information, visit www.primarystages.org.