Community Theatre Cancels Confederacy Musical Revue...It's 2018 By the Way

Community Theatre Cancels Confederacy Musical Revue...It's 2018 By the Way

A local theatre group in Southern Maine found themselves in a bit of hotel water with local residents after promoting an upcoming musical revue show titled "Oh Susanna" which would be a celebration of the Confederacy.

The show would have featured performances of songs including “Old Black Joe,” “Dixie,” “Ol’ Man River” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot".
Obviously, there were many in the community who found both the theme of the show and advertisements offensive and voiced their concerns with the Nasson Community Center where the show would have been performed. After discussions regarding the response to the show, the theatre decided to cancel the production. 

Some in the area were thrilled with the decision, others were not.

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Performing "Mulan Jr." Needs to be about Education, Rather than Yellowface

Performing "Mulan Jr." Needs to be about Education, Rather than Yellowface

Over the weekend I was alerted to a youth production of Disney's Mulan Jr. at a community theatre in Australia. Looking at pictures of the show, it looked like the cast consisted mostly of teenagers. However what stood out to me the most was the fact that there didn't appear to be a single Asian person in the cast. Instead, characters such as Mulan, Fa Zhou and Shan-Yu were all played by white teenagers. 

While their make up wasn't as egregious as I've seen it with other productions, the actors will had on eye makeup in order to look "Chinese" and many of the men had drawn on fu manchu.

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A List of Latina Sopranos that could have cast as Maria before Sierra Boggess

A List of Latina Sopranos that could have cast as Maria before Sierra Boggess

By now I am sure you’ve heard of the BBC’s disastrous decision to cast Sierra Boggess (a white woman)  as Maria (a Puerto Rican) in their upcoming WEST SIDE STORY staged concert performance. While real life Puerto Rico is in blackout right now and nowhere near recovered from the Hurricane months ago (and has yet to receive appropriate aid), someone decided this was a good idea do this. No mames, güey.

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Sierra Boggess is Playing Maria in "West Side Story" Because of course She is

Sierra Boggess is Playing Maria in "West Side Story" Because of course She is

Yesterday, it was announced that Sierra Boggess will be playing the role of Maria in a concert version of "West Side Story" as part of the Proms series at London’s Royal Albert Hall in August. 

Boggess (The Little Mermaid, The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, School of Rock) will be joined by Ross Lekites as Tony and students from ArtsEd and Mountainview theatre schools.

When news of the casting announcement hit social media, let's just say the reaction hasn't been positive. Many are stating that this is yet again, another example of whitewashing in the theatre industry. While I would agree with that, to me, it's also a very confusing decision on the part of Proms to offer the role to Ms. Boggess and for her to accept it. 

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Abuse and a Survival Guide to Healing

Abuse and a Survival Guide to Healing

Over the next few months, and even over the next year, the abuse victims of Broadway and beyond are finally going to have their day. More and more victims are going to be coming forward.

I am very serious about protecting myself, and helping you protecting yourselves, from and after abuse. You should never feel bad about having to take precautions that are for your mental and emotional health.

Here are some strategies and reminders I can offer you to start protecting yourself:

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Little Person Role in "Moulin Rouge" Isn't Being Portrayed by a Little Person

Little Person Role in "Moulin Rouge" Isn't Being Portrayed by a Little Person

It's rare to see roles for little people on our stages and screens. While there are some exceptions, such as Peter Dinklage on Game of Thrones, we don't see roles of such magnitude come along often. More than not, actors with forms of dwarfism, are relegated to playing mystical creatures or are the butt of a joke involving their size (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz and the recent The Wolf of Wall Street come to mind). 

This is why when genuine, substantial roles do become available for little people, it's so important that they are, in fact, portrayed by little people. But the problem is, they aren't.

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Does Height Really Matter on Our Stages?

Does Height Really Matter on Our Stages?

I believe we are at the beginning of a tipping point where long held audition standards are going to be challenged. From actors of color to accessibility, the marginalizing factors that used to close so many opportunities for various people, are soon going to be wide open. At least one can hope. 

However, for the time being, there are more factors that disqualify a performer being cast aside from their talent. These are factors they have little to no control over such as their height. 

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Broadway is Trying to Sweep #metoo Under the Rug

Broadway is Trying to Sweep #metoo Under the Rug

No, you're not taking crazy pills. Take off the tin foil hats. You can come out of the basement. What you thought was true, is true. Broadway is doing everything it can to sweep incidents of sexual misconduct within its ranks under the proverbial rug. They've been doing it for decades. By doing so, it's allowed perpetrators' careers to flourish which has only led to further abuses. 

And the worst part is, we've allowed it to happen. We need to stop allowing it to happen. 

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"Opening Doors" with Animal Handler, Schuyler Beeman

"Opening Doors" with Animal Handler, Schuyler Beeman

One significant aspect of being involved in theater is the ability to combine different interests into unique pursuits. Like theater and history? Be a dramaturge. Like theater and technology? Create effects or projections. Like theater and martial arts? Choreograph stage combat. The focus of this latest Opening Doors column, 30-year-old Schuyler Beeman, was able to combine two of his biggest passions into a fascinating, burgeoning career. Schuyler is an animal handler and actor who tours the world working with (and starring alongside) the non-human performers needed in all manner of stage shows.

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Two Old White Guys are Offended by Hamilton....Call Me Shocked

Two Old White Guys are Offended by Hamilton....Call Me Shocked

Not everyone has to love Hamilton. You are allowed to dislike the show for a myriad of reasons. You can tell your friends and family how much you didn't like it. Just like any other show, you can do this. 

But the moment you print those comments or send them off to a newspaper for publishing, then you're entering my world. And if your goal is to have as many people see your comments, it's in our right to respond to them. I believe in Freedom of Speech, I own a blog. I also believe that Freedom of Speech extends to criticizing how others exercise that right. 

Which is why when I see moronic, ill-informed comments published in newspapers, I'm going to say something. 

Take for instance this week when the Denver Post published two letters written to them regarding the Hamilton tour stop. I'll let the comments speak for themselves.

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Giving Everyone the Spotlight: A Chat with Sir Richard Stilgoe

Giving Everyone the Spotlight: A Chat with Sir Richard Stilgoe

So the snow's melted, and it seems that those of us in and around London have a week of rain to look forward to. Perhaps we could all use a little inspiration to pick us up, and where better to find that inspiration than at the Orpheus Centre, an educational charity helping to improve the lives of young, disabled people with a passion for the arts. I've been talking to Sir Richard Stilgoe, founder and trustee, about the Centre's 20th anniversary year.

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As an Autistic Playwright, I Don’t Mind If Autistic Characters Are Played by Non-Autistic Actors

As an Autistic Playwright, I Don’t Mind If Autistic Characters Are Played by Non-Autistic Actors

In recent years, the topic of autistic characters being played by autistic actors – as well as the importance that some people say it has – is something that has gotten more and more attention, as more shows, films and television shows emerge that deal with autism and Asperger’s, and highlight how people on the spectrum deal with it. Indeed, I can’t help but notice that – for some people – it may even be controversial for characters in theatre, film, TV, etc. who are autistic do not always end up getting portrayed by autistic actors.

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Being an Introverted Actor

Being an Introverted Actor

I am an actor. That being said, I also consider myself to be an introvert. This has caused confusion among people who only know me from endeavours outside of the theatrical world. Telling people about the show I’m in, or that I’d like to pursue a career in theatre often leads to responses like “You know, actors have to talk a lot right?” or “You’re going to have to learn to be more outgoing if you want to do that.” I never really know how to respond to this, or where to start, as these people probably have misunderstandings in two areas. One being what introversion really is and the other being what being a performer really entails. 

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"No Excuses": How One Theatre Teacher Changed My Self Image

"No Excuses": How One Theatre Teacher Changed My Self Image

Three weeks after my tenth birthday, I had an experience that would be the beginning of a change in the way I see myself. I walked into the Dayton Jewish Center multipurpose room, hit a button on a CD player, sang my best “Colors of the Wind”, and went home. There was no way I'd get to hear the word yes.

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#Oscarsnotsowhite but Certainly Not Asian

#Oscarsnotsowhite but Certainly Not Asian

For the record, I am thrilled to see the diversity in this year's Oscar nominees. We have both black and female directors nominated and four of the acting nominees are black as well. 

But as an Asian man, I'm tired of celebrating the small victories of singular nominations. For all the progress that the Oscars has made in a more diverse pool of nominees, Asians are still getting drastically left behind. 

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