A.C.T. Extends Qui Nguyen’s VIETGONE through April 29

Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is extending Qui Nguyen’s critically acclaimed play, Vietgone, by one week due to popular demand and sold-out houses. Tickets are now on sale through Sunday, April 29, 2018. Hailed as “one of the most rollicking Culture Clash comedies ever” (Bay Area News Group) and a “miraculous fairy tale of love” (San Francisco Chronicle), Vietgone is a contemporary twist on the classic story of boy meets girl.

Photo Flash: A.C.T. Stages VIETGONE
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) and her mother Huong (Cindy Im, right) arrive at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

In this irreverent new comedy, three young Vietnamese immigrants leave their war-torn country for an eye-opening road trip across the bewildering and foreign landscape of 1970s America. A vibrant mash-up of audacious language, pop-culture references, and kick-ass romance, Vietgone is an action-packed road trip that shifts gears instantaneously from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. Performances of Vietgone take place at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater (1127 Market St., San Francisco). Tickets for all remaining performances are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at www.act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

The performance schedule for the added week is as follows: Tuesday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 29 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: “The response to Vietgone from audiences young and old has been incredible. We’re so delighted that this wildly imaginative and bold play has found such a receptive home in the Bay Area and are thrilled it is getting a longer life at The Strand.”

Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Under the direction of Jaime Castañeda (Associate Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse), the Vietgone company features (in alphabetical order) Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, James Seol, Jomar Tagatac, and understudies Steven Ho and Christine Jamlig.

Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

The creative team for Vietgone includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic Designer), Jessie Amoroso (Costume Designer), Wen-Ling Liao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), Chris Lundahl (Projection Designer), Shammy Dee (Original Music), and Natalia Duong (Assistant Director).

Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne.
Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Chatting with VIETGONE Star James Seol 

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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Chatting with VIETGONE Star James Seol

Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
James Seol
James Seol

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) production of Qui Nguyen’s critically acclaimed play, Vietgone, helmed by Jaime Castañeda (Associate Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse) and starring Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, James Seol, and Jomar Tagatac, opens tonight at The Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street, SF, CA. Vietgone began previews on February 21st, and is scheduled to run through Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Photo Flash: A.C.T. Stages VIETGONE
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) and her mother Huong (Cindy Im, right) arrive at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Hailed as a “raucous, immensely moving comedy” by the New York Times, Vietgone is a modern twist on the classic story of boy meets girl. In this irreverent new comedy, three young Vietnamese immigrants leave a war-torn country for an eye-opening road trip across the bewildering and foreign landscape of 1970s America.

Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

A vibrant mash-up of audacious language, pop-culture references, and kick-ass romance, Vietgone is an action-packed road trip that shifts gears instantaneously from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. Following sold-out houses at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club, this sexy, sassy, freewheeling ride, backed by original hip-hop and Motown rhythms, will roll into The Strand in an all-new production this February.

Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Below is my chat with James Seol, who plays Quang.

Lia: You are appearing in one of my favorite shows. How are rehearsals going?
James: We open tonight!! Previews have been ongoing for about two weeks now; my favorite part of the process. I love working on things during the day, getting notes and then seeing if I can fully incorporate those changes into the evening’s performance.

Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

This particular preview period has been pretty eventful. Lots of refining. Lighting adjustments. Quick change practice. Addition of Sex Montage. It’s a super challenging show because of all the moving parts that need to align. All that said, it’s been a THRILL to work on, and every day the goal is to be as rich, textured and playful as the text itself.

Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Working on this play is a huge gift. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea that artists need practical experience to get better. Working and learning in an acting class is one thing. But, to actually learn and improve on the job, where the stakes can sometimes be high, is absolutely vital. How does an actor learn to sustain imaginatively, physically and vocally when there’s an audience, when there are critics, when the President of Broadway is watching, unless she or he is able to do so in the marathon situation of an actual production? Artists need opportunities to run those marathons over and over. Unfortunately, for many actors of color, we don’t get to practice running marathons; we get a 50 yard dash and maybe the occasional 5K. (I could run with this running metaphor for forever.). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Vietgone is a fucking marathon. 5 (plus) meaty, dense, fantastic roles that dare actors to bring EVERYTHING they have to bring the text (spoken and rapped) to life.

Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Lia:  Who do you play?
James: I play Quang. The motorcycle-riding, weed-smoking, ninja-fighting, helicopter-flying, superhero version of the playwright’s dad.

Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

As reference, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own dad. Like Quang, he was in the military (Korean and American). He’s got that Korean, older-generation, stoic exterior AND a soft, warm, loving, gooey, clowny center. Good inspiration for this character.

Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

James: The Four Immigrants was a joy from beginning to end. Our director, Leslie Martinson, and composer/lyricist/book writer/overachiever, Min Kahng, were exceptionally collaborative and inspiring from the start. It’s a really earnest, beautiful piece about a little known chunk of American history, so all the more reason to tell the story.

From left, Phil Wong, James Seol, Hansel Tan and Sean Fenton star in “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga.” Kevin Berne/TheatreWorks Silicone Valley
From left, Phil Wong, James Seol, Hansel Tan and Sean Fenton star in “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga.” Kevin Berne/TheatreWorks Silicone Valley

I had done Kimber Lee’s Tokyo Fish Story at TheatreWorks the season prior. After the closing performance of Immigrants, I told Leslie that both experiences at TheatreWorks cumulatively taught me how to act. And it’s true. Everything I mentioned earlier about getting opportunities to grow in full production settings, I got in Palo Alto. Working on new shows, especially, requires such a specific skill set. Navigating conversations with creative teams, performing while maintaining a dramaturgical eye, trusting gut instincts.

Sushi protege Takashi (James Seol), sushi master (Francis Jue) and newcomers Ama (Nicole Javier) and Nobu (Linden Tailor) in “Tokyo Fish Story.” Photo by Kevin Berne
Sushi protege Takashi (James Seol), sushi master (Francis Jue) and newcomers Ama (Nicole Javier) and Nobu (Linden Tailor) in “Tokyo Fish Story.” Photo by Kevin Berne

KPOP
KPOP was epic. The folks at Ars Nova, Ma-Yi and Woodshed Collective are forces to be reckoned with. They will do EVERYTHING for their art. I was lucky to be a part of it all.

The members of girl group Special K (from left: Katie Lee Hill, Deborah Kim, Sun Hye Park, Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang and Susannah Kim). Photographs by Ben Arons.
The members of girl group Special K (from left: Katie Lee Hill, Deborah Kim, Sun Hye Park, Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang and Susannah Kim). Photographs by Ben Arons.
The rehearsal process, especially the tech portion, was understandably challenging. So many pieces needed to come together in very precise ways. Our final dress was almost four hours long. (Caffeine.) And the first week of previews was riddled with fire alarms going off. (Nerve-wracking.) Through it all, the creatives, cast, and crew hunkered down; the dedication was inspiring. Stage managers slept at Ars Nova to be able to start work early the next day. Our book writer fine-tuned scenes into the early morning. Crew members worked throughout the night to put the finishing touches on the expansive space.

Thankfully, the show attracted a really passionate audience. But it’s a testament to the exquisite abilities of everyone involved that it came together in such a meaningful, powerful way.

Oh, and I got to share a dressing room with James Saito and Dave Shih. The equivalent of being in a room with Al Pacino (Saito) and John C. Reilly (Shih).

Also, Tina Fey came; I held it together as best I could.

ALSO, Lin-Manuel Miranda came. It was like meeting the Queen.

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

Lia: I understand KPOP was a very personal experience. Please elaborate.
James: Around the time I graduated from acting school, there was this one week where I had three appointments (which was an anomaly in the first place; sometimes I went months without an audition.) No joke, all THREE auditions were for “the gay, Asian hairdresser.” Something about the repetition of that specific character stereotype strikes me as symptomatic of the time. If you had asked me then if a musical about KPOP, about Koreans and Korean-Americans getting to be human beings on a stage would succeed in NYC, I would have done a spit take.

This show was in so many ways a response to the years of misrepresentation and under-representation. As in, here was an exciting new musical created by and starring a LOT of Asians/Asian-Americans that followed the lives of Asians/Asian-Americans and offered as complete a portrait as any theater piece can.

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

Lia: What kinds of responses and feedback did you have from your audiences towards the show, the concept and your character?
James: The show developed a following. This is a little silly, but there was fan art. Fan art for an off-Broadway musical! Audiences were, by and large, super enthusiastic. Houses were diverse, responsive and accepting. The music and the immersive nature of the show were huge draws.

My character, Jerry, was… complicated. He dealt with a lot personal challenges related to assimilation and identity. As a result, his perspectives and treatment of some of the other characters could be uncomfortable to witness. Because we were all acting, basically, right up in audience members’ faces, the lines of reality/artifice could sometimes get blurred. Audience reactions were instinctive, unguarded, and, therefore, blunt. Some nights, I could feel an entire room of people turning on me. The looks of shock and disgust were hard to ignore (but, of course, I had to pretend not to notice.) I suppose it’s a good thing that people would come up to me after the show and exclaim what an asshole I was. I dunno if I ever got used to that.

Lia:  What you do find most challenging about being an actor?
James: I get in my own way a lot. Self-doubt is a consistent challenge. I’m pretty effusive when it comes to the work of my friends; I love witnessing their success. It can be super inspiring and motivating. But offering myself that level of support isn’t always so forthcoming. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to manage and counterbalance the negative thoughts. Having a solid support network of fellow actors helps. My family has also been really great about providing encouragement.

Also, money. I want more money.

Lia: Are there any other projects that you are involved with this year?
James: Once Vietgone ends, I’ll be heading back to NYC. Day-jobbery and auditioning.

About a month ago, the entire original cast and creative team recorded the Four Immigrants. The show was very well-received, and as a result, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley managed to raise the funds for us to assemble and record in Oakland. It was a hectic 48 hours, but I just heard a few of the tracks. They sound great!! I think the release date is sometime in June.

Lia:  Any directors, writers or plays that are on your wish list?
James: I should be more practical and keep an ongoing wish list of names and titles. I do keep a mental tally of work that inspires me. John Doyle’s recent Pacific Overtures, at Classic Stage. Ivo Van Hove’s The Crucible. Leigh Silverman’s staging of Violet.

Hmmm, I recently reread The Glass Menagerie; definitely on my bucket list.

Two hippies (Cindy Im, left, and Jomar Tagatac) smoke a joint. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Two hippies (Cindy Im, left, and Jomar Tagatac) smoke a joint. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Single tickets (ranging from $25-$90) are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

The creative team for Vietgone includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic Designer), Jessie Amoroso (Costume Designer), Wen-Ling Liao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), Chris Lundahl (Projection Designer), Shammy Dee (Original Music), and Natalia Duong (Assistant Director).

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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James Seol, Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, and Jomar Tagatac Set for Qui Nguyen’s Irreverent Road-trip Comedy, VIETGONE at A.C.T.’s The Strand, February 21 – April 22

James Seol
James Seol
James Seol

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) continues its 2017-18 season with Qui Nguyen’s critically acclaimed play, Vietgone, Wednesday, February 21 – Sunday, April 22, 2018, at The Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street, SF, CA.

Hailed as a “raucous, immensely moving comedy” by the New York Times, Vietgone is a modern twist on the classic story of boy meets girl. In this irreverent new comedy, three young Vietnamese immigrants leave a war-torn country for an eye-opening road trip across the bewildering and foreign landscape of 1970s America.

A vibrant mash-up of audacious language, pop-culture references, and kick-ass romance, Vietgone is an action-packed road trip that shifts gears instantaneously from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. Following sold-out houses at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club, this sexy, sassy, freewheeling ride, backed by original hip-hop and Motown rhythms, will roll into The Strand in an all-new production this February.

Single tickets (ranging from $25-$90) are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Vietgone is a humorous and heartwarming play that reexamines the Vietnam War and tracks the refugee experience in an entirely new way through a mash-up of uniquely unconventional styles-from hip-hop and comedy to martial arts and video,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. “We are delighted to introduce San Francisco Bay Area audiences to playwright Qui Nguyen and director Jaime Castañeda and look forward to partnering with the Vietnamese community on a number of cultural events throughout the engagement.”

Under the direction of Jaime Castañeda (Associate Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse), Vietgone features (in alphabetical order) Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, James Seol, and Jomar Tagatac.

The creative team for Vietgone includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic Designer), Jessie Amoroso (Costume Designer), Wen-Ling Liao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), Chris Lundahl (Projection Designer), Shammy Dee (Original Music), and Natalia Duong (Assistant Director).

In connection with Vietgone, A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events-many of which are presented free of charge-that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while having an entire night out at the theater. Visit act-sf.org/interact to learn more about subscribing to these events throughout the season.

• Bike to the Theater Night:
Wednesday, February 21, 6:30 p.m.
Providing a greener alternative to theater transportation, A.C.T. and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offer free valet bike parking, as well as a special discount on tickets, for these select performances.

• Tech Night:
Thursday, February 22, 5:30 p.m.
Join us at a neighborhood bar for a happy hour with hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and mingling with industry contacts and theatergoers before walking over to A.C.T.’s Geary Theater for the 8 p.m. performance.

• Prologue:
Tuesday, March 6, 5:30 p.m.
Before the curtain goes up, get a sneak peek at the artistic process at this fascinating preshow discussion with the director and artistic staff.

• Audience Exchanges:
Tuesday, March 13, 7 p.m. | Wednesday, March 28, 2 p.m. | Sunday, April 1, 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.

• OUT with A.C.T.:
Wednesday, March 14, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular after-party.

• Theater on the Couch:
Friday, March 16, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
This exciting postshow discussion series addresses audience questions and explores the minds, motives, and behavior of the characters.

• Community Day:
Saturday, March 17, 4 p.m.
Join us for a celebration of Vietnamese food, music, and culture.

• Wente Vineyards Wine Series:
Tuesday, March 27, 6:30 p.m.
Before the show, raise a glass at this wine-tasting event featuring the Bay Area’s hottest local winery.

• PlayTime:
Saturday, April 14, 12:45 p.m.
Before this matinee performance, get hands-on with the artists who make it happen at this interactive theater workshop. A.C.T.’s production of Vietgone is made possible by executive producers Jerome L. and Thao N. Dodson and Nola Yee; producers Carlotta and Robert Dathe and Anne and Michelle Shonk; and associate producers Dr. and Mrs. Richard E. Geist, Helen M. Marcus, and Rick and Anne Riley.

A.C.T. would also like to acknowledge its 2017-18 season presenters Frannie Fleishhacker; Priscilla and Keith Geeslin; Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; Burt and Deedee McMurtry; Arthur Rock and Toni Rembe; Mary and Steven L. Swig; Jeffrey W. and Laurie Ubben; season partner PG&E; lead education partner Wells Fargo; Season Airline Sponsor United Airlines; and Official Hotel Sponsor Hotel G.

 

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VIETGONE’S Raymond Lee, MISS SAIGON’S Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada Among 2017 Theatre World Award Winners

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

The 2017 Theatre World Award honorees for Outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway Debut Performance include Miss Saigon stars Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada and Raymond Lee, who appeared in MTC’s production of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone. 

Raymond Lee and Jon Hoche in VIETGONE. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Raymond Lee and Jon Hoche in VIETGONE. Photo: Carol Rosegg

Other winners include Denée Benton, Amber Gray and Josh Groban (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812),  Carlo Albán (Sweat), Christy Altomare (Anastasia), Barrett Doss (Groundhog Day), Lucas Hedges (Yen), Jeremy Secomb (Sweeney Todd), and Cobie Smulders (Present Laughter).

Barrett Doss and Cast. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Barrett Doss and Cast. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk in THE BAND's VISIT (Photo: Ahron R. Foster)
Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk in THE BAND’s VISIT (Photo: Ahron R. Foster)

Katrina Lenk (Indecent, The Band’s Visit) will receive the 9th Annual Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater.

Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard) will receive the 5th Annual John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

Josh Groban and Denée Benton in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 Photo by: Chad Botka
Josh Groban and Denée Benton in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 Photo by: Chad Botka

Dave Molloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) will be honored with a Special Theatre World Award in recognition for his Broadway debut as composer, writer, lyricist, orchestrator, and actor.

The 73rd Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday evening, June 5, 2017 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at The Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street), current home of The Great Comet, recipient of 12 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. Hosted annually by well-known theater journalist, Peter Filichia, the 73rd Annual Theatre World Awards ceremony is produced by Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors.

Previous winners who have won the prestigious Theatre World Award most at the beginning of their careers include Meryl Streep, RoseMary Harris, Marlon Brando, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Liza Minnelli, Alan Alda, Zoe Caldwell, Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Al Pacino, Grace Kelly, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, and so many more.

www.theatreworldawards.org

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

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

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

Qui Nguyen’s VIETGONE Receives 3 Lucille Lortel Nods including Outstanding Play; Full List of Nominations

The Off-Broadway League today announced nominations in 19 categories for the 32nd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway.

One of my favorite plays, MTC’s New York premiere of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, helmed by May Adrales and starring Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson, Samantha Quan, Jon Hoche and Jennifer Ikeda,  received three nods including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for Paco Tolson and Outstanding Projection Design for Jared Mezzochi.

Jon Hoche, Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson, Jennifer Ikeda and Samantha Quan. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Jon Hoche, Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson, Jennifer Ikeda and Samantha Quan. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Qui Nguyen
Qui Nguyen

Innovative, fresh and visually appealing, Nguyen’s singular voice and vision is on display with Vietgone, a modern twist on the All-American love story, borrowing elements from the world of up-to-the-minute popular culture to recreate the playwright’s own parents’ meeting, ranging from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. It’s the classic story of boy meets girl – except this boy and girl are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp inside Middle America.

wsj.com: Creating the Chaos of War With Light, Sound and Projection

Hangin’ with VIETGONE Stars Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson, Samantha Quan, Jon Hoche and Jennifer Ikeda 

Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2015 

The Lortel Awards will be presented on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at NYU Skirball Center beginning at 7:00 PM EST. This year’s event will be hosted by actor and comedian, Taran Killam, and will once again serve as a benefit for The Actors Fund.

Leading the nominations this year with 7 each are the new musical, Hadestown – a folk opera produced by New York Theatre Workshop – and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, currently at the Barrow Street Theatre, which has been converted into a pie shop for the intimate staging.

Lynn Nottage. Photo by Lia Chang
Lynn Nottage. Photo by Lia Chang

As previously announced, celebrated costume designer William Ivey Long will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage will be inducted onto the famed Playwrights’ Sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Former Managing Director of the Roundabout Theatre Company, Harold Wolpert, will be presented with the Edith Oliver Service to Off-Broadway Award.

A breakfast reception honoring the nominees will take place from 10 AM – 12 PM on Wednesday, April 26, at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42nd Street, New York).

2017 LUCILLE LORTEL AWARDS NOMINATIONS:

Anthony Azizi, Dariush Kashani, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Aronov and Daniel Oreskes in OSLO. Photo by T. Charles Erickson
Anthony Azizi, Dariush Kashani, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Aronov and Daniel Oreskes in OSLO. Photo by T. Charles Erickson
Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk in THE BAND's VISIT (Photo: Ahron R. Foster)
Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk in THE BAND’s VISIT (Photo: Ahron R. Foster)

Outstanding Play
Indecent
Produced by Vineyard Theatre in association with La Jolla Playhouse and Yale Repertory Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel, Created by Paula Vogel & Rebecca Taichman
Oslo
Produced by Lincoln Center Theater
Written by J.T. Rogers
Underground Railroad Game
Produced by Ars Nova
Written by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard
Vietgone
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club in association with South Coast Repertory
Written by Qui Nguyen
The Wolves
Produced by The Playwrights Realm in association with New York Stage and Film and Vassar’s Powerhouse Theatre Season
Written by Sarah DeLappe

Outstanding Musical
The Band’s Visit
Produced by Atlantic Theater Company
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek, Book by Itamar Moses, Based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin
Dear Evan Hansen
Produced by Second Stage Theatre in association with Stacey Mindich Productions
Book by Steven Levenson, Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Hadestown
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
Written by Anaïs Mitchell
Ride the Cyclone
Produced by MCC Theater
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond
The Total Bent
Produced by The Public Theater
Text by Stew, Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald

(top) Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith and Nike Kadri; (middle) Roslyn Ruff, Mirirai Sithole and Jamar Williams; (bottom) Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus
(top) Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith and Nike Kadri; (middle) Roslyn Ruff, Mirirai Sithole and Jamar Williams; (bottom) Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

Outstanding Revival
The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks
Othello
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
Written by William Shakespeare

Crystal Dickinson in FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO. Photo: Monique Carboni
Crystal Dickinson in FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO. Photo: Monique Carboni

Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Edward Albee, María Irene Fornés, and Adrienne Kennedy
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Produced by Rachel Edwards, Jenny Gersten, Seaview Productions, Nate Koch, Fiona Rudin, Barrow Street Theatre, Jean Doumanian, Rebecca Gold, and Tooting Arts Club
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler, Adaptation by Christopher Bond
Sweet Charity
Produced by The New Group in association with Kevin McCollum
Book by Neil Simon, Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields

Photos: SIGNATURE PLAYS featuring Frank Wood, Alison Fraser, Crystal Dickinson, January LaVoy, Ryan-James Hatanaka and More at Signature Theatre

Photos: Sutton Foster, Joel Perez, Emily Padgett, Shuler Hensley, Nikka Graff Lanzarone in The New Group’s SWEET CHARITY

Outstanding Solo Show
Chris Gethard: Career Suicide
Produced by Judd Apatow, Mike Berkowitz, Brian Stern, Mike Lavoie, and Carlee Briglia
Written and Performed by Chris Gethard
Latin History for Morons
Produced by The Public Theater in a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Written and Performed by John Leguizamo
Notes From The Field
Produced by Second Stage Theatre and American Repertory Theater
Created, Written, and Performed by Anna Deavere Smith
The Outer Space
Produced by The Public Theater
Book and Lyrics by Ethan Lipton, Music by Ethan Lipton, Vito Dieterle, Eben Levy, and Ian M. Riggs
Performed by Ethan Lipton
Sell/Buy/Date
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club
Written and Performed by Sarah Jones

Outstanding Director
Will Davis, Men On Boats
Anne Kauffman, A Life
Lila Neugebauer, The Wolves
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

The cast of INDECENT. Photo by Carol Rosegg
The cast of INDECENT. Photo by Carol Rosegg

Outstanding Choreographer
Joshua Bergasse, Sweet Charity
David Dorfman, Indecent
Georgina Lamb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
David Neumann, Hadestown
David Neumann, The Total Bent

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, Man From Nebraska
Michael Emerson, Wakey, Wakey
Lucas Hedges, YEN
Joe Morton, Turn Me Loose
David Hyde Pierce, A Life

Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kecia Lewis in George Brant's Marie and Rosetta. (© Ahron R. Foster)
Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kecia Lewis in George Brant’s Marie and Rosetta. (© Ahron R. Foster)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
Johanna Day, Sweat
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Jennifer Kidwell, Underground Railroad Game
Kecia Lewis, Marie and Rosetta
Maryann Plunkett, Women of a Certain Age

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Michael Aronov, Oslo
Charlie Cox, Incognito
Matthew Maher, Othello
Justice Smith, YEN
Paco Tolson, Vietgone

Max Gordon Moore and Nana Mensah in MAN FROM NEBRASKA (Photo: Joan Marcus)
Max Gordon Moore and Nana Mensah in MAN FROM NEBRASKA (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Jocelyn Bioh, Everybody
Hannah Cabell, The Moors
Randy Graff, The Babylon Line
Ari Graynor, YEN
Nana Mensah, Man From Nebraska

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical
Ato Blankson-Wood, The Total Bent
Shuler Hensley, Sweet Charity
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Emily Padgett, Donald Jones, Jr., Sutton Foster, Joel Perez, Cody Williams. Photo Credit: Monique Carboni
Emily Padgett, Donald Jones, Jr., Sutton Foster, Joel Perez, Cody Williams. Photo Credit: Monique Carboni

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Sweet Charity
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Jo Lampert, Joan of Arc: Into the Fire
Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit
Siobhan McCarthy, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Nathan Lee Graham, The View UpStairs
Gus Halper, Ride the Cyclone
Joel Perez, Sweet Charity
Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit
Chris Sullivan, Hadestown

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Asmeret Ghebremichael, Sweet Charity
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Betsy Morgan, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Emily Rohm, Ride the Cyclone
Karen Ziemba, Kid Victory

Outstanding Scenic Design
Scott Davis, Ride the Cyclone
Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, A Life
Mimi Lien, Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Jason Sherwood, The View UpStairs

Outstanding Costume Design
Montana Blanco, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead
Tilly Grimes, Underground Railroad Game
Susan Hilferty, Love, Love, Love
Sarah Laux, The Band’s Visit
Emily Rebholz, Indecent

Outstanding Lighting Design
Mark Barton, Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Jane Cox, Othello
Greg Hofmann, Ride the Cyclone
Amy Mae, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ben Stanton, YEN

Outstanding Sound Design
Mikhail Fiksel, A Life
Robert Kaplowitz, Hadestown
Stowe Nelson, Small Mouth Sounds
Nevin Steinberg, Wakey, Wakey
Matt Stine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Outstanding Projection Design
Elaine McCarthy, Notes From The Field
Duncan McLean, Privacy
Jared Mezzochi, Vietgone
Peter Nigrini, Dear Evan Hansen
Peter Nigrini, Wakey, Wakey

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.

Qui Nguyen’s VIETGONE and Lynn Nottage’s SWEAT Among Finalists for 2017 Edward M. Kennedy Prize

Raymond Lee, Jon Hoche and Maureen Sebastian, in South Coast Repertory's 2015 world premiere of Vietgone by Qui Nguyen. Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR.

Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, produced by South Coast Repertory, and Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, produced by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, are among five finalists recently announced by Columbia University Libraries for the 2017 Edward M. Kennedy Prize.

Raymond Lee, Jon Hoche and Maureen Sebastian, in South Coast Repertory's 2015 world premiere of Vietgone by Qui Nguyen. Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR.
Raymond Lee, Jon Hoche and Maureen Sebastian, in South Coast Repertory’s 2015 world premiere of Vietgone by Qui Nguyen. Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR.

Innovative, fresh and visually appealing, Nguyen’s singular voice and vision is on display with Vietgone, a modern twist on the All-American love story, borrowing elements from the world of up-to-the-minute popular culture to recreate the playwright’s own parents’ meeting, ranging from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. It’s the classic story of boy meets girl – except this boy and girl are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp inside Middle America. Manhattan Theatre Club recently presented the  New York premiere of Vietgone.

Hangin’ with VIETGONE Stars Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson, Samantha Quan, Jon Hoche and Jennifer Ikeda

Vietgone is a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award and the winner of the 2015 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award recognizing playwrights for scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2014.

Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2015 

Stephen Michael Spencer, Jack Willis, Tramell Tillman, and Carlo Albán as Jason, Stan, Chris, and Oscar in the 2015 OSF production of Sweat.
Stephen Michael Spencer, Jack Willis, Tramell Tillman, and Carlo Albán as Jason, Stan, Chris, and Oscar in the 2015 OSF production of Sweat.

With warm humor and tremendous heart, Lynn Nottage’s Sweat tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets and laughs while working together on the line of a factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in the hard fight to stay afloat.

Helmed by Kate Whoriskey, Sweat, recently enjoyed a sold out, critically acclaimed engagement at New York’s Public Theater, and will transfer to Broadway’s Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street). Broadway performances of Sweat, produced by Stuart Thompson and Louise Gund, will begin March 4 for a March 26, 2017 opening.

Tony Award Nominees John Earl Jelks and Johanna Day, Carlo Albán, James Colby, Khris Davis, Will Pullen, Lance Coadie Williams and Michelle Wilson Return for the Broadway Debut of Lynn Nottage’s SWEAT

Roe by Lisa Loomer, produced by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, and Arena Stage; 24 Hour History of Popular Music by Taylor Mac, produced by Pomegranate Arts and Natures Darlings; and Indecent by Paula Vogel, produced by Yale Repertory Theatre, are in contention.

The Edward M. Kennedy Prize is given annually through Columbia University to a new play or musical that, in the words of the Prize’s mission statement, “…enlists theater’s power to explore the past of the United States, to participate meaningfully in the great issues of our day through the public conversation, grounded in historical understanding, that is essential to the functioning of a democracy.”

2017 marks the fifth anniversary of the Prize. Previous winners include: Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda (2016); Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2, & 3 by Suzan-Lori Parks (2015), Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau (2014), All the Way by Robert Schenkkan and The Body of an American by Dan O’Brien (2013). The size of the award places the Kennedy Prize among the most generous given for dramatic writing, and indeed for writing in America, while the commitment to developing publicly accessible educational content makes the prize unique among dramatic and literary awards.

Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 is the 2015 Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History

The Prize Board of Governors includes Mandy Hackett, Associate Director, The Public Theater, New York, NY; Jean Howard, George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities and Chair, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; Alice Kessler-Harris, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History in Honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Columbia University; Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright; Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient; Amanda Smith, author.

Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith created the prize to honor the life and legacy of her late brother, Senator Ted Kennedy. Finalists were selected through nominations from a group of 20 theater professionals around the country. The jury will meet at Columbia in February 2017. The Prize will be announced on or after February 22, 2017, the anniversary of Senator Kennedy’s birth. The winning play will receive an award of $100,000, and will be honored in a ceremony at Columbia later this spring.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

Click here for the Lia Chang archives and here for the Lia Chang Photography archives.