The Fairy Princess has had a terrible bout of food poisoning, shared by her toddler. Recommendations include never, ever eating again at a mall in Glendale. Even if you have successfully eaten there in the past.
The Fairy Princess is recommending to just say no, or if you are, as an actor, going to eat at a mall in Glendale, do it before Pilot Season because then you will be almost the exact rate beloved by television execs everywhere, which is about 30 per cent under the recommended daily weight for your personal height.
The Fairy Princess vows to not eat at a mall in Glendale till next January at least. And then she hopes to book a series regular. Other than that, this bout of food poisoning is totally wasted on me.
Although, I must say, my collar bone looks fantastic right now.
So to say she was feeling a bit ill, was, honestly, gilding the lily at this point – but I should have suspected that it would not be long before I was feeling like I was witnessing gilding the TIGER LILY, because then I read an article from Playbill.com on who should be the next King in the as yet, not officially announced, (but every Asian American Actor knows it’s been coming since War Horse was going to move), production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. At Lincoln Center.
Who doesn’t love The King & I?
Ummm, from what I hear tell, people from Siam. (Now Thailand). The film was banned because it was disrespectful. And likely, people from Burma. (and you have to hiss when you say Burrrrma, because that is how it is done in the show) (Burma is now Myanmar).
Of course there are all sorts of reasons for that, but the musical is based on a book by Anna Leonowens (who was, actually Eurasian of mixed Angl0/Indian descent born in India) which posits Anna as the great white savior-ess of the poor, befuddled, savage-adjacent King of Siam. So already, you know you are in for a bit of white-washing, ahem. There are all sorts of historical errors in the book, but you know, it was a ‘memoir’ technically, so if that’s what she remembered…?
Did you know that Tuptim was later reported to have actually married Chulalongkorn, who had 36 wives, so…no death by beating? History is so tricky, right?
But people in the United States love The King and I, and truly, The Fairy Princess loves The King and I because it was my first big ‘gig’, playing Lady Thiang, first wife, opposite Debby Boone as Mrs. Anna. (I had very good quotes, even though we tend to say we do not read reviews, actors love good quotes about the work)
But this is what is made me thing my food poisoning was making it’s return:
Playbill.com playfully tweeted “who should be The King and tweet us your answers‘, and people of the general public gleefully avoided ‘nominating’ anyone that was Asian American!
NOT. A. ONE.
EXCEPT for Asian American Musical Theater Actors who actually took the question seriously and gave real answers based on both star power and those who had played the role before, some several times.
So LET’S SEE who the General Public picked which was PUBLISHED by Playbill.com as viable choices that should potentially be considered to play The King in the next up and at ‘em production of The King and I:
These four gentlemen are, yes, all brilliantly talented.
The Fairy Princess has seen each and every one of them live and in digital form, and they are Musical Theater Masters, each in their own way. So, to a certain extent, she does understand the General Public ignoring one glaring fact about any of them taking the iconic role of The King, because they are Broadway Superfans and fans tend to, you know, be FANS, and ignore things like -
NONE OF THESE TALENTED MEN ARE ACTUALLY ASIAN HERITAGED MEN.
Which, in this day and age, does make them ineligible to play The King of Siam. On Broadway.
Because we of ‘The Broadway’ do not find this:
The Fairy Princess was dismayed, to say the very least, that an esteemed theatrical news outlet like Playbill.com would actually publish Caucasian faces as ‘potential’ Kings for The King & I. The reason she is so dismayed is because Playbill.com has been covering the change, in the last two years, of the way ‘yellowface’ is regarded in the Industry.
Change you say? Oh yes, The Fairy Princess gave a speech about it at LA Stage Day
Playbill.com has, actually, been covering the changing attitudes in Casting, and doing a very good job of it, for the past two years. For example: They covered the uproar at La Jolla Playhouse over “The Nightingale‘, they covered the protests at the last “Miss Saigon“ tour, they have even quoted The Fairy Princess!
(Which, btw, I was very moved by, because I read it all the time)
As one can see it is not as if Playbill.com was unaware that Caucasians playing Asian is, thankfully, turning into a big ‘no no’.
So, they are familiar with me, and let’s face it, It is not like I have ever refrained from saying this:
So if you are aware, Playbill.com, of the changing attitudes why publish this list as you did?
Wouldn’t it be a stronger editorial choice to say “look, yes, there are superfans that tweeted names that are not Asian American, and that is all well and good, but let’s concentrate on promoting and sharing potential Kings who have both the resume and the heritage to make this ‘tweet contest’ a list that Casting could look at seriously.”
Because if, say, there were going to be a revival of, oh, I don’t know, an August Wilson play, and someone tweeted you a photo of Tom Hanks – would you publish it?
Would you, Playbill.com?
The Fairy Princess is being serious.
Because of all publications, Playbill.com is in the best position, better than almost any, to know the percentage of Asian Americans on Broadway, and to know how rare it is to have a show that can encompass a mostly API Cast, and what potential that has for us, as a group.
With all the coverage when there is a bi-lingual West Side Story, or of All The Way, which focuses on Civil Rights, or After Midnight, which so gorgeously highlights the music of an era and a people, why, when it is Asian American, is it ‘ok’ to publish a list that includes Caucasian faces?
The Fairy Princess doubts that you would do that to any of those shows, Playbill.com
The Fairy Princess is willing to bet that this was a light-hearted attempt to get everyone excited about a revival of a show that is a Musical Theater staple, as most Twitter things are, but there needs to be editorial responsibility.
While The Fairy Princess is grateful for the coverage that Playbill.com has given to Asian American representation on Broadway, and the various Casting issues that have arisen over the last two years, she does think that in this case, they could have done better. They could have drawn a line in the editorial sand and said “we are going to stand with Asian American performers because it is the right thing to do’.
Because Asian American Performers who are delighted that they may get a chance to audition or be in the new cast of The King & I did not need to flip through that list, and see that General Viewing Public would be just as glad to see this revival if there were no Asian American faces in it.
We did not need to see that.
We see that every day.
We read Playbill.com all the time, and we rejoice for any and every friend and acquaintance that has mention, and we get delighted for any and all coverage on musicals because we love them so much – but we did not need to see one of ‘our’ industry ‘papers’, ‘zines’, etc, etc, etc, throw up NINE potential “Kings’, with FOUR of them being Caucasian.
C’mon Playbill.com – you published it. Which is…kind of endorsing it, doncha think?
We did not need to see that.
We see that every day.
The Fairy Princess does not want to get into a hashtag war with Playbill.com – there is no point to it, they do good work, and she is sure that there is a way to fix this.
In fact, she has thought of one:
The Fairy Princess thinks there should be a ‘revised’ list by Playbill.com reporters – who take into account the last time the show was in The West End, on Broadway, Regionally, who amongst API Actors started in Musicals and perhaps have gone on to popular television shows, things of that nature. They should compile this list and publish it.
Publish THAT list.
The Fairy Princess thinks that Playbill.com should lead the way in enlightening the General Musical Theater Going Public as to HOW MANY Asian American candidates there are for The King – and if there are 10, or 20, all the better.
The Fairy Princess is not going to debate who, now, should be the once and future King in the revival in 2015. Mainly because she knows most of them, and no matter what order they are put in, or how they are listed, she will hurt someone’s feelings.
She is going to trust that Casting, the real Casting Directors, will do their job wonderfully well, and put together a new and inspiring production of this show.
She wishes all of the potential Kings well – may the odds be ever in your favor.
Look, to quote the show, “Every day I do my best for one more day” - so come on, let’s just do a bit better
because if not…