Mopsa and Pamela in "Head Over Heels" is the Celebration of Love We All Need Right Now

Mopsa and Pamela in "Head Over Heels" is the Celebration of Love We All Need Right Now

I could honestly talk your ear off for days about my love for Head over Heels, which opened on Broadway on July 26th at the Hudson Theatre directed by Tony Award Winner Michael Mayer featuring the music of The Go-Go’s, but I wanted to point out one of the stories being told in this fun, original musical. That is the story of Mopsa and Pamela

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Adding Diversity to Shakespeare: An Asian Theatre Company takes on "Henry VI"

Adding Diversity to Shakespeare: An Asian Theatre Company takes on "Henry VI"

Diversity and Inclusion is something I am very passionate about. I believe creating new works that are intersectional in this political climate is a way we can fight for what is right and help heal the divide in our country. I also believe we can make shows of yore accessible to today’s public by giving a voice to groups of people normally not identified with such shows. 

This is exactly what National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) is doing with their latest production of Shakespeare’s Henry VI. Not only is it an all-Asian cast but it’s amazing how a play a few hundred of years old is still incredibly relevant today. 

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Specially Processed American Me

Specially Processed American Me

“I wanted to do a project on SPAM® because I think it’s a really perfect symbol of sort of the Asian-American identity. You know it’s this like this super American iconic product yet somehow super marginalized in the country and really embraced by Asian people and integrated into Asian cuisine. So that’s why I called the project Specially Processed American Me, a play on the acronym specially processed American meat for SPAM®, to talk about that.”

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What do Diversity, an Ancient Chinese Folktale and Feminism Have in Common? "The Monkey King"

What do Diversity, an Ancient Chinese Folktale and Feminism Have in Common? "The Monkey King"

There’s a new king (or queen) of the jungle, and it’s a Monkey. Wife and Husband duo Kimbirdlee and Jonathan Fadner are bringing an ancient tale to life with a beautiful diverse cast. 

Directed by Steven Eng of NAAP (National Asian Artist Project), The Monkey King will be playing on Roosevelt Island this coming weekend and then for one day only at Queens Theatre. 

Kimbirdlee is a woman of many talents and she not only co-wrote this show, but she is also starring in it as well. She’s a busy boss lady and was awesome enough to take some time and answer a few of my questions about this new work. 

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Chloe Bennet, Sorry If We Question Your Choice of Boyfriend

Chloe Bennet, Sorry If We Question Your Choice of Boyfriend

Earlier in the year, I applauded Chloe Bennet's reasoning for going by her stage name of Bennet rather than her birth name of Wang. Bennet revealed that she had changed her last name because she was having a hard time getting work in Hollywood. She decided to change her last name, to “Bennet,” her father’s first name.

“Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked,” Bennet shared to The Daily Beast last year. “So that’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works.”

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1000 Unseen Helping Hands: Having a Backbone in this Business

1000 Unseen Helping Hands: Having a Backbone in this Business

Mystic writer Joseph Campbell talks about 1000 unseen helping hands. I've seen this so often in the creative life. You know, when all the doors open up and you have incredible luck?!  This happened so much for me this past year on the road at film festivals promoting our award-winning comedy short “That’s Opportunity Knocking.” But this “winning” only happened after I witnessed 1000 seen UNhelping hands!  

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Creating Art in a World on Fire

Creating Art in a World on Fire

There are many difficult things about being an artist in this world; financial uneasiness, an uncertain life path, self-doubt, having to work a job that’s not your passion in order to live in a creative city, loved ones not understanding your lifestyle and why sometimes you’re too busy to spend time with them. What happens when you add a rupturing world into the mix? For me it’s a nagging thought, ever present in the back of my mind asking, are there more important things I can be doing?

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Profiles of Color: Mathilda Chua

Profiles of Color: Mathilda Chua

Mathilda Chua is an actor/writer based in New York City. Born and raised in Singapore, she moved to the States when she was 19 to pursue a BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied at both the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and Stonestreet Film Studios. After finishing up her studies, she began pursuing her career right here in the city. She has appeared in commercials for Conde Nast and Pearson and has had her plays accepted at the Midtown International Theatre Festival and the BMCC Writers-In-Performance summit. Other works include a staged reading with Third Eye Theatre Company's, Diary of a Gay Housewife, which premiered at MTC's Creative Center and is currently in development to be fully produced. 

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#Metoo in the Theatre : Understanding the Warning Signs of "Grooming"

#Metoo in the Theatre : Understanding the Warning Signs of "Grooming"

We are currently living in the zeitgeist of the #MeToo movement, which has empowered and emboldened sexual abuse survivors to speak up about the perpetrators. The number of sexual abuse survivors is likely underestimated, the best current information shows that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the United States have been the target of rape or attempted rape. #MeToo has helped to shed light on a small number of these abusers, from Hollywood to corporate America. No field is exempt from these accusations, including our beloved theater community. 

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Revival of "Kiss Me Kate" Adds to the Bleak Future of Female Creatives on Broadway

Revival of "Kiss Me Kate" Adds to the Bleak Future of Female Creatives on Broadway

Three female designers may have won Tonys on Sunday, but the outlook for the 2018-19 is worrisome for anyone who hoped that women would make great strides in being included on Broadway's creative teams. 

Today, the dates and theatre for the upcoming revival of Kiss Me Kate were announced. In addition to its opening night on March 19th, 2019 and its home at Studio 54, the production's creative team was also unveiled. And to my ever-so-slight surprise, it's all male. In the director's chair will be Scott Ellis, choreography by Tony winner Warren Carlyle, and music direction by Paul Gemignani. Other members of the team include David Rockwell (Sets), Jeff Mahshie (Costumes), Donald Holder (Lighting), Brian Ronan (Sound) and David Brian Brown (Hair & Wig design). Apparently, this already problematic revival is going for total Broadway nostalgia by hiring only white men to run it. 

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Everyone Should Participate in a Pilipino Culture Night at Least Once

Everyone Should Participate in a Pilipino Culture Night at Least Once

On April 25th, my college classmate Mark Mangaccat was murdered in cold blood.

It’s one of those things that is so awful, you look for anything to tell you that there’s been a misprint, that it’s not true. Somethings are just so senseless and vile, made exponentially bitter by the fact that they happen to some of the world’s best, kindest and least deserving people. When the news broke a week after the murder, I went through all of the articles I could find, looking for answers where there really weren’t any. I then turned to my photo archives in disbelief. I didn’t want the world to remember him this way, some sensationalist story on People Magazine.com or the Daily Mail.

Mark was, and is,  more than a headline. There are so many more reasons and ways to remember Mark.

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If the Creators of HAIRSPRAY Don't Care About its Casting, We Should.

If the Creators of HAIRSPRAY Don't Care About its Casting, We Should.

Man, I am so tired of crap like this.

Let me start off by saying that I love(d) the musical HAIRSPRAY. I love the John Waters film. I even love the film version of the musical, and I am absolutely not sorry about it. So colour me shocked and disgusted after reading the above statement.

HAIRSPRAY, with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray, has a creative team made up entirely of white men. White men who, apparently, don’t care if someone who isn’t Black plays Seaweed, or any other Black character in the show.

It's because they don't actually care about Black people or Black lives as long as they can use Black history to make money.

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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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