Archives for category: Diversity

The Fairy Princess is having media overload – the rest of the country is suffering from it as well. There have been countless examples of inequality based on skin tone, which have been met with many articles, forums, news conferences, and marches.

All of this discussion is good. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when the facts are hideous to face, it is good to have to talk about them. It is good to look underneath our society at the ‘mold’ that grows insidiously while unchecked.

However, all of it is having a toll – 0n everyone. On the men whose lives have been cut short and then dishonored by the lack of justice, on their grieving families, and on the population of our country.

The Fairy Princess blogs consistently on the issue of representation, and what it means for the world.

Entertainment is sometimes the first place that people who live in a homogeneous area get to see people who look different. It may be the first place that they ‘fall in love’ with a character who would walk a different path than they do, and it may help bridge that gap between ‘them’ and ‘us’.

The reason to need more diversity on television and on stage and on film is to share the thought that #alllivesmatter by showing us windows into people who may not look like us, but who share humanity as we all do.

The Fairy Princess wanted to share a story that happened to her – it is a personal story – but it has been on her mind over and over again, in the last few weeks, because it is a story of ‘us’, and she likes to think it shows the possibility of humanity.

Two and a half years ago, in late May, The Fairy Princess was exceptionally pregnant. She was ‘due’ at any minute, and thus, her husband decided to take her to see a Broadway show. We saw “Once”, with the original company, it was in previews at the time, and it was absolutely fabulous.

The Fairy Princess and her husband boarded a commuter train and they sat in the end seat. The end seats are for groups, so they have front and rear facing seats for conversation. Late evening trains are not generally crowded, so using TFP’s big preggers belly as a plus one, we were three in the seats.

The Fairy Princess‘s husband is a six foot tall Korean American who holds a black belt with multiple stripes in Tae Kwon Do and who used to play football in high school. (This becomes relevant later).

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Two Caucasian individuals, male and female, entered the train and sat directly facing us. They were inebriated. They were in their 20’s. The female was definitely worse for the drink, and was muttering under her breath while staring directly at TFP’s and her husband.

She muttered things about ‘those people‘ and ‘stealing our jobs‘, and such, and TFP suggested to her husband that we move seats, because…well….

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And if one is about to give birth, one really does not ‘have time for that’.

However, TFP’s husband has this stubborn streak, and he knew that when this couple entered the car, he was already seated, so they had no idea that he, if he rose, would actually tower over them by a few inches, and of course…if one holds a black belt, one takes very little notice of drunk people. Also, he has this sense of humor that is not easily defined, and he said “I want to see how this goes”.

TFP kind of hates when his sense of humor makes her sit opposite people who are drunken muttering, but when one is pregnant, it is kind of daunting to get up and down out of seats, so she thought….

 

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The rest of the passengers boarded and the train pulled out.

Now, this train was, obviously, in New York, and was coming from New York City. New York City is, de facto, a diverse place – people of all colors, genders, and sexual preferences. The average New Yorker walking around or taking the subway sees so much diversity, that no one seems to blink an eye at sharing space with someone who does not resemble them exactly.

Except this drunk young woman.

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Who loudly started to proclaim whilst staring at TFP‘s husband that he ‘should go back where he came from” (That would be Virginia, my dear), and that he and his kind ‘came over here to take our f**king jobs” (Actually, as we do not recognize you and he works in the Performing Arts, rest assured, your job is safe from him, good lady), and TFP was getting ready to say something. TFP was “getting her Irish up‘, as they say in her family, and it was not going to be pretty. (Plus, let’s been honest, she had just seen “Once’, so her “Irish” was pretty close to the forefront of her being that night)

However, another voice spoke up.

A gentleman from the seat across from us, also looking directly at this young woman’s face. He said “You should shut your mouth.” To which, of course, she responded. He said “You should shut your mouth. You have no idea where they came from, and you have no idea if they took your job or not, you are just being racist.”

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He continued with some other pointed barbs – not using profanity – and as TFP looked over, she did think that perhaps he was one of her ‘tribe’, but some Eurasians are hard to pin down, but TFP knew one thing – he was one of her “Menz”.

The person sticking up for her husband, was Gay. He was a Gay man who saw, to him, what appeared to be a drunk Caucasian insulting an Asian man (he didn’t know about TFP’s husband’s sense of humor), and he said something.

At this point, the argument was getting loud, but everyone remained seated.

Until the drunk girl’s companion called that lovely man seated opposite us, “a Faggot“.

Which was NOT ok.

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He also stood, this drunk man and threatened him with physical harm.

Which was when The Fairy Princess grabbed her giant belly and jumped in the aisle and told him to ‘sit the f*ck down”.

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Then this drunk Caucasian man started yelling about Unions and jobs and all, and this was his giant mistake (other than being an admirer of this female he was traveling with), because if you have read this blog before, then you may know that TFP’s relative, Mike Quill, started the TWU (The Transit Workers Union).

“The judge can drop dead in his black robes, and we would not call off the strike.  Personally, I don’t care if I rot in jail!” - Mike Quill

“The judge can drop dead in his black robes, and we would not call off the strike. Personally, I don’t care if I rot in jail!” – Mike Quill

TFP gave this drunk man a giant lecture on what Unions are supposed to stand for, and that he would not even have a Union except for her relation, and furthermore, non-discrimination on the basis of race or sexual preference is a tenant of Union by-laws!

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The Fairy Princess knows a lot about Unions.

Upon which, this drunk man threatened to come over and punch her.

Whereupon, TFP told him that she would knock him into next week if he came anywhere near  and gestured to her husband to stand.

However her husband had a big smile on his face, and pointed behind TFP and she glanced behind her where, unbeknownst to her, a GIANT African American Man was standing behind her, backing her up. He gave her the ‘go ahead‘ nod, so she knew it was going to be ok.

TFP looked, and half the car of passengers, who had been watching to see what was going to happen, many of whom were people of color, stood up.

They stood up, and they told this guy to sit down.

At which point there was a lot of yelling, and then the Conductor came through the car.

The Conductor was Caucasian.

He wanted to know what was going on.

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The Conductor looked around, asked a few questions, and then told these two drunks who were harassing everyone to get off his train, and as we were pulling into a stop (which was nowhere near where they wanted to go), he threw them off, telling them to sober up, mind their manners, and learn how to behave because that stuff that they were doing was not going to fly on his train.

Upon which, the car burst into spontaneous applause, and The Conductor took a bow.

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Then we all had a good laugh, and it turned out that one of the women in the car’s hair was all messed up because she had been to a club dancing, and the fellow who first responded to these people was a stylist and he offered to fix it for her if she came into his salon in the morning. She made an appointment with him immediately.

Everyone started laughing and chatting.

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It turned out the reason he had said something was because his Mom was Hawaiian Japanese and his Dad was Caucasian, and he had seen people talk badly to his Mother when he was a kid, and he could not do anything about it. However now, he speaks up all the time, because he is an adult.

That is what happened that day on the train – we, the adults,  all stood for one another.

We all had eachother’s back.

We united against something that on the surface seems trivial, but pulled back and exposed seems ugly and sordid.

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TFP asked her husband later, why he did not jump up earlier, and he told her “You didn’t need me, you didn’t see it, but everyone was there for you. You didn’t even look around to see, but they all had your back, so I just watched the show.

TFP may have mentioned that she does not always appreciate her husband’s humor.

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He did follow with “I would have jumped up and clocked him if I had to, but you know if I hit someone…they are not getting up.”

Which, upon reflection, it was probably for the best that he had not had to get up.

Tae-Kwon-DoThe Fairy Princess would like to believe that America can be like that train car.  That we can come together, regardless of experience or skin tone, regardless of politics, regardless of privilege.

The Fairy Princess was feeling media exhausted this morning, because she read about another school shooting. The Fairy Princess read about rape, and incest, and sexism, and political badgering, and environmental destruction, and captive orcas and deaths caused by lack of empathy for people whose skin color is different, and that was all before 9 A.M.

She was very, very sad.

But then she remembered this story, and she felt slightly better. She remembered that nod from that guy, that ‘go ahead, I’m here” nod that said she would be ok no matter what happened – and that, my friends, gives her hope.

Sometimes that is what you have to cling to, to get through the day.

Let’s all work towards that, shall we?

 

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Tickets are avail on PurplePass.com and this show benefits THE ACTORS FUND

Tickets are avail on PurplePass.com and this show benefits THE ACTORS FUND

The Fairy Princess has not been blogging much, she’s been paying attention to world events that are too sad to reiterate here, though she has, of course, written at length, sadly,  in the past.

Image by Banksy

Image by Banksy

She hopes she never has to write about the slaughtering of young men again, she is hoping America will figure out how to come together and end senseless violence towards one another.

She hopes. Always, there is hope.

She also noted that two television shows starring Asian Americans were cancelled in the last weeks – SELFIE, starring, of course, the fantastic John Cho…

 

And TBS cancelled Sullivan and Son, with the always hilarious Jodi Long….

 

However….in every cloud there is a silver lining, so the saying goes, and here is one – HULU is going to be broadcasting the rest of the season of SELFIE, which means if you fell in love with John Cho as Henry, you are going to get some manner of resolution. And who knows? If the numbers are fantastic, maybe they will pick it up again – stranger things have happened.

Oh COME ON Rex Lee, The Entourage Movie happened!

Oh COME ON Rex Lee, The Entourage Movie happened!

Also, with Pilot season approaching in January, and perhaps sooner, it is likely that those Actors will book another show, The Fairy Princess is hoping the odds will be ever in their favor.

However, as TFP went about her day, she found a letter addressed to Playbill.com ‘s advice column, aka “Hey Johnny”. Every week “Hey Johnny’ is answered by a different person, so TFP is going to retype the letter here in case you have missed it.

Hey Johnny,

I go to a high school with a really great arts program (we do three shows a year) but I’ve noticed a problem. Our (white) director keeps making slightly racist comments towards the Asian students (during Avenue Q he referred to our Christmas Eve as “that Asian girl”). Even though a good number of Asian students auditioned for our next show, he didn’t even let most of them into the ensemble. We’re planning to do Miss Saigon in the spring and he’s been heavily implying that he’s going to cast white student in the leads, because that’s what they did last time they did it. It’s been like this all four years, and it’s really been making me and the other Asian students feel awful, and we’ve been doubting if we have a future in the theatre. I’ve tried to keep positive for us, but even I’ve fallen into a gloom. Please, what should we do?

Signed,

That Asian Kid

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Now, whoever answered that letter, that week, did a wonderful job responding to That Asian Kid, but did not seem to be Asian American. Who cares? Totally fine!  The response was thoughtful and caring, and one does not need to share a skin tone to have empathy or give encouragement or wisdom.

However, The Fairy Princess thought that That Asian Kid  and his classmates could use some words from someone who has ALSO been, ahem, That Asian Kid.

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Dear That Asian Kid,

That Director is out of line. The Fairy Princess could use many other words, but if she was in the room with him, this would be the mildest thing she could come up with:

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Here is what you are going to do, and you have to be brave. You have to be ok with whatever happens, because you are challenging the status quo and that is always, always difficult. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

Either way, it is ok, the Asian Americans of “The Broadway” have got your back.

The House of Xmas Eves...

The House of Xmas Eves…these are but of a  few of us

 

1. Gather a brief written (typed and signed) statement from any student, but particularly of course, the Asian American students, who have been addressed by only their race, or who have been recipients of racial toned remarks from this Director. I would imagine if he has said things to the Asian students, he has likely said things to the African American and Latino students as well, so ask around.

2. After you have these statements, you are to ask those who wrote them if they are willing to go to the Principal and present them with you. Some will, some won’t. I agree with “Hey Johnny”, that a multicultural group is best, do what you can. I would encourage you to take someone on the Student Council, and if you can, a member of the PTA to present these circumstances to your Principal. This is too big just for the ‘kids’, you need a Parent with some clout to back you up.

3. When you present to the Principal, tell he or she that should this issue not be dealt with in some manner, you are going to present the same statements at a local town government meeting, where minutes are recorded – so that it is on record that your school is choosing to ignore issues of microagression towards Asian Americans and racial bias.

That is what you are dealing with – microagressions from this Director.

You should outline your issues in one ‘master letter’, and you should also present in that letter, your concerns about the casting of the upcoming MISS SAIGON.

That should get the ball rolling…to say the least.

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Now, in terms of Casting, what you are dealing with, with this Director is called “White Washing”.

White Washing is very prevalent in our Society, and you are not the first to have suffered from it, and you will not be the last. It sucks. What it means is they take characters or stories that are linked to an ethnic group, and when they Cast the musical or the film or the television show – they cast Caucasian Actors.

That Asian Kid, this is Mickey Rooney as Mr. Miyagi in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's - awful, ain't it?

Jonathan Pryce, The Engineer from the Original Bway Cast of MISS SAIGON

Jonathan Pryce, The Engineer from the Original Bway Cast of MISS SAIGON

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

 

However, casting a Caucasian Actress as Kim in MISS SAIGON would be a serious breach of theatrical ethics, as well as horribly bad historical rewriting. The part of Kim is, as everyone knows,  a young woman coming of age in Vietnam.

 

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Even though Cameron MacIntosh did allow Mr. Pryce to play the Engineer (a character that is written as a Eurasian man), he drew the line at casting a Caucasian woman to play the part of Kim. Which gave us our only female Asian TONY Winner, in point of fact. Casting a non-Asian Kim is not acceptable – ever. And over time, casting a Non-Asian Performer as The Engineer has become a theatrical no-no, which is wonderful progress.

Which brings us to “Yellowface“, which is what will happen in your school if Kim is cast as a Caucasian.

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Yellowface is not acceptable in our mainstream and certainly not in a high school production. If your Principal does not understand this, explain to her/him that to Asian Americans, it is the same as blackface.

Yeah, this is totally offensive and I hate posting it, but if you have never seen it, you need a visual. An awful and offensive visual. Apologies.

This is totally offensive  but if you have never seen it, you need a visual. An awful and offensive visual. Apologies.

(The Fairy Princess is choosing not to comment on why a high school would be doing MISS SAIGON, but…

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she has some thoughts about the appropriateness of it.)

The simple truth is that this Director should not even have suggested MISS SAIGON if he felt that he would be unable to cast Kim or The Engineer with Asian American students. Not in this day and age, and if that has been his intention, then he should be released from his duties as an Educator.

Would he cast DREAMGIRLS with a non-African American cast? No. He likely would not dare, and it would be the same thing.

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Meaning that even if you truly love a show, you cannot take an ethnic based story and erase the ethnic faces from that story. It is illogical and ignorant. A point which, btw, you should make both to your Principal and that Director.

Whatever happens with that, TFP wishes you much luck with it, and hopes you have success. You may not, because it is high school, and because no one likes to rock the boat, and they will call you ‘oversensitive’ or accuse you of ‘making it up’ – those things can happen.

But….TFP thinks you may prevail if you all come at it with purpose. (Which is that little thing that lights a fire under your ass)

Finally, That Asian Kid, TFP wants to let you know that you are not the only Asian Kid that has ever had a dream of being on the stage and perhaps eventually, Broadway.

For example, this guy:

BD Wong, TONY Winner

BD Wong, TONY Winner

And this guy:

R.I.P. Kevin Gray

R.I.P. Kevin Gray

And not only did they make it to Broadway, some sang in Six Languages….

Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Graig

Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Graig

Or became renown solo entertainers and do copious amounts of television roles….

America's Gaysian Sweetheart, Alec Mapa

America’s Gaysian Sweetheart, Alec Mapa

Or work, work, work in every medium….

OBIE Winner and Drama Desk Nominee, Francis Jue

OBIE Winner and Drama Desk Nominee, Francis Jue

Some go from one show to the next…..

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles - Ruthie Ann is the new Lady Thiang in the King and I revival starring Ken Watanabe

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles – Ruthie Ann is the new Lady Thiang in the King and I revival starring Ken Watanabe

Some were the headliners in their show and went West to try out Hollywoodland

Manu Narayan, star of Bombay Dreams, pictured in award winning production of Glengarry Glenn Ross

Manu Narayan, star of Bombay Dreams, pictured in award winning production of Glengarry Glenn Ross

Some have not been to Broadway yet, but are on their way…

Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently starring in GIGI, the musical, which has announced it's intention to go to Broadway

Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently starring in GIGI, the musical, which has announced it’s intention to go to Broadway

Or working on new musicals they hope will head to Broadway

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe - they had hella nominations, y'all

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe – they had hella nominations, y’all

Or got started in musicals and made it to Portland….

Reggie Lee from NBC's GRIMM, who has also been in a ton of feature films

Reggie Lee from NBC’s GRIMM, who has also been in a ton of feature films

Or started on Broadway and then got eaten by Hannibal

Hettienne Park was 'discovered' by Creator of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller, in a play on Broadway

Hettienne Park was ‘discovered’ by Creator of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller, in a play on Broadway

Some are singing their tushes off in the Broadway show IF/Then

IF/Then Cast Members Marc DelaCruz, Pearl Sun, and Charles Hagerty

IF/Then Cast Members Marc DelaCruz, Pearl Sun, and Charles Hagerty

Some have had long, extensive Broadway careers like Joseph Anthony Foronda….

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen in MISS SAIGON at La Mirada

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen in MISS SAIGON at La Mirada

And Alvin Ing…

 

Like Lainie Sakakura, who also choreographs….

 

And of course, you would know this guy from GLEE…

 

Some are in new Broadway Shows like Raymond J. Lee….

The Flying Elvises from HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

The Flying Elvises from HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

Or cool shows that have ‘buzz’

That is Orville Mendoza with the cast of FOUND

That is Orville Mendoza with the cast of FOUND

The Fairy Princess’s point is, oh dear That Asian Kid, is that we have all felt, at one point or another, just as you are feeling now, frustrated, indignant, and powerless because someone somewhere has referred to us only by ethnicity, or categorized us only by ethnicity, or tried to limit what we could do because of our ethnicity – and, That Asian Kid….they failed.

We are ok.

Yes, there could and should be more of us working, particularly in television which is supposed to ‘reflect the American scene’, but there has been progress, and we are OK.

Asian Americans are not being silent about casting and representation.

We protest when things are wrong -

Yes, that is Tamlyn Tomita rallying at East West Players

Yes, that is Tamlyn Tomita rallying at East West Players

We are voices of change.

Cindy Cheung & Christine Toy Johnson at La Jolla's talkback...they look so pissed off I feel like I need to go practice piano and bring home an A plus.  TIGER ACTRESSES! RRROOOOWWRRR

Cindy Cheung & Christine Toy Johnson
at La Jolla’s talkback…

We give speeches…

 

Those of us who are ‘coming before you’ are working on a lot of stuff.

Actor/Producer Pun Bandhu at the RepresentAsian Conference

Actor/Producer Pun Bandhu at the RepresentAsian Conference

So you worry about school.

We got this.

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Do NOT give up because of this Director, That Asian Kid,  he is ONE guy and eventually, high school ends, and you graduate. You get to leave. And when you go to college, you can study whatever you want.

Happy Dance!

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Finally, as someone who was in AVENUE Q, to clarify – the point of  “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” is not to identify everyone by their ethnicity, it’s really to show that whatever prejudices we have, we are all the same underneath.

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets - Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd - all part of the Original Broadway Company

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets – Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd – all part of the Original Broadway Company

The point of the show is ‘when you help others, you are really helping yourself”, whether it is opening a school for Monsters, or speaking up when something is as far out of line as this situation seems to be from your letter.

The Fairy Princess wishes you and your fellow students much luck in surviving the rest of high school, she was not particularly fond of high school when she went through it herself, but as we say at the Q…

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Break a leg, That Asian Kid – and if he still gives you a problem, tell him to

KISS YOUR FAN TAN FANNIE…

 

The Fairy Princess is shaking her head – and Taylor Swift is not even playing. She is shaking her head because the CEO of The Ordway Theater in St. Paul, MN has caved to a small group of protestors and agreed, publicly, to never produce MISS SAIGON, the musical, again during her tenure.

Sorry, what?

Ok here is the backstory -( this is what The Fairy Princess wrote at the time)  a year ago, (this is what Playbill.com wrote) a small group of protesters formed a group and decided they did not like MISS SAIGON the musical because they did not like the depiction of Asian women in the show. Admittedly, most of them had not seen it – they just did not like the idea of it.

The idea.

Because theater is not supposed to deal with ideas? Ideas that make you think? Ideas that make you uncomfortable?

Not, apparently in St. Paul.

They do not like to be uncomfortable there, they do not like to think. You see, the “Protestors‘, such as they are, are a rag taggle group of Artists – some visual (none from musical theater), and regular folks, who have very high standards. In fact, they admitted in several interviews that many of them had not even gone to see MISS SAIGON, because their standards ARE so high and even though they were invited by the Producers to see it and have a talk back with the Artistic Staff, they refused.

The Fairy Princess supposes, they were afraid that their brain would grow two sizes too big.

Oh wait, that is a heart - well, the protestors do not seem to have that either

Oh wait, that is a heart – well, the protestors do not seem to have that either

The Fairy Princess supposes, they were concerned that once they saw it, they might…well…like it.

Let’s face it, some of those tunes are catchy.

They might have enjoyed how an entire stage filled with singing and dancing Asian Americans – Asian Americans who are on the forefront of representing Asian Americans because they spend their lives on the stage – would make them feel.

They might have felt….proud.

They might have felt….humbled.

They might have felt….inspired.

And if one is an “Artist’, one cannot feel any of those things? If you are an “Artist’ protesting a show that you have refused to see, or saw a different production of twenty years ago when, yes, the depiction by a Caucasian man OF an Eurasian man sent many of us reeling, of COURSE you do not want to see growth or advancement.

That would be expanding your mind….and what Artist wants to do that.

You just want to get your name in the papers and harass people into proclaiming, in print, that you have a voice.

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Ok. You have a voice. And you managed to harass one white lady until she caved.

Well, The Fairy Princess has seen many things, but she has never seen a CEO of a large Arts House become a coward.

Until now.

Patricia Mitchell, CEO of The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Patricia Mitchell, CEO of The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

The Fairy Princess thought they were made of sterner stuff out there in St. Paul.

Wait, it could not be all about the Protestors…because the Ordway dealt with them before, so what other factor could have led to this ‘agreement’?

A third party.

It seems that this  ‘agreement’ came from commissioning a dance piece with an Annaya Dance Company for the opening of their concert hall in March.

This seems so odd – a dance group makes it a condition to never have other dancers in the space owned by the Company? Was it prompted by competition? It seems odd.

Because dancers usually have a sense of community – and it seems in this case, these dancers used their power to take away options from other dancers because they did not like the dancing they were doing.

 

 

Perhaps you should take up a discussion on dance with Lainie Sakakura, Broadway Dancer extraordinare about Musical Theater dancing, she’s the professional. She knew Gwen Verdon. If one wanted to have a cultural exchange amongst dancers, Lainie is the first person that TFP would recommend talking to.

But it seems the talking is done and the Annaya Dance Theater has spoken.

Since Musical Theater dance is not your area, what hat is it you do again?

Ah – The Annaya Dance Theater is, to quote it’s website, the leading creator of contemporary Indian dance”.

The Fairy Princess is confused.

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MISS SAIGON does not depict a war in India, nor India bar girls, nor a love story between an Indian Mom and her half Indian child.

It depicts a war in Vietnam. While, yes, there have been many South Asian Americans in MISS SAIGON -

That is Manu Narayan leading the cast of LES MISERABLES at The MUNY, he has also appeared as Thuy in MISS SAIGON earlier in his career

That is Manu Narayan leading the cast of LES MISERABLES at The MUNY, he has also appeared as Thuy in MISS SAIGON earlier in his career

It does not, in fact, depict an Indian story.

So what the Annaya Dance Theater is saying, is that though they are ‘expert’ in one area, and represent proudly one area of dance that has South Asian heritage, they are going to leapfrog and become the clearing house for all Asian Americans who dance, and we now have to run it by them.

Ah.

The Annaya Dance Theater also says that they ‘invoke the work and dreams of women of color, and reframe the ground on which we dance…”

Oh, they are going to ‘reframe the ground’, which means they are going to ban certain works from being performed. How did they do that? Because that is censorship, and here in America, we have laws banning censorship.

How did they do it?  Hold please, The Fairy Princess needs to go back and check their website….

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Oh, they played the ‘Women of Color” card.

They played it well, actually. They got what they wanted.

So let me get this straight – an Indian dance company (it does not, btw, say Indian American or even South East Asian dance company, it says Indian)  who choreographs – now this is all in response to their website statements – they choreograph in response to global issues to spark chemistry, has decided that what they can throw their weight and activism behind is…taking jobs from other Asian American dancers?

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They have decided, this one group of dancers, that they can choreograph and speak for all Women of Color, and that because they are sparking ‘chemistry’ with their dancing, we should all go along with it.

We, the Women of Color of America and the World. Well, the Women of Color and one Caucasian lady who has been bullied in St. Paul.

There are no other global issues they could throw their attention to? Like for example...honor killings, rape, education? Things that, as an Indian Dance Company would, it seems, be more important than banning a production that once every few years, arrives in St. Paul?

No, they are worried about a musical.

A MUSICAL THAT IS NOT NOR NEVER WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A FACTUAL DEPICTION OF VIETNAM.

So they pushed and yelled and coerced and bullied and they got their way.

Yes, The Fairy Princess said bullied – because that is what coercion is. Bullying is what small, mean people do. Bullying is manipulation, and yelling, and saying “I know better than you, I will always know better than you because I represent all Women of Color.”

Well, The Fairy Princess also happens to be a “Woman of Color”

Look at that, a color photo of a Eurasian Dual Citizen! Defacto - a woman of color

Look at that, a color photo of a Eurasian Dual Citizen! Defacto – a woman of color

 

She has an opinion about MISS SAIGON, and it is different than theirs – but hers does not count, is that the takeaway?

She now to understand that this Indian Dance Company, is now…ummmm, “the boss of us”?

The “Boss” of her?

 

Ruh- Roh

Ruh- Roh

 

No.

The Fairy Princess says no.

The Annaya Dance Theater does not, and will never, get to decide for her, what she can and cannot do as an Artist in America.

Never.

Because that is the anti-thesis of what BEING an Artist is supposed to be.

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen in MISS SAIGON at La Mirada

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen as Kim

Yes, we can ‘agree to disagree’ and decide not to go see a show, we can decide to not read an article, or decide that we do not like musicals, or that we do not like musicals where there are prostitutes – which, honestly would take out half the Musical Theater canon and most of the best songs – but WE do not have one mind.

lea-salonga

WE do not get to decide what is/is not allowed.

WE live in the United States, and even though this Mid-term election will, yes, slow any progress that is being attempted, it will not stop it.

Because WE do not have one mind  – not as Artists, not people of Asian heritage, and NOT as Americans.

 

youre-not-the-boss-of-me

You know what, Ordway and Annaya and Protestors….The Fairy Princess thinks you are missing the point of MISS SAIGON. You are all swept away in the bikinis and depictions of prostitutes and you are missing what is one of the most devastating songs in the musical theater canon - Bui Doi.

Orville Mendoza as The Engineer

Orville Mendoza as The Engineer

A song that deals with America taking responsibility for it’s Eurasian children, children that should be American citizens – or French or wherever their Fathers were from – children that should have had all the rights and freedoms and privileges of growing up in America, but they were denied that.

The point of MISS SAIGON is this:

 

“They are the living reminder of all the good we failed to do, we can’t forget, never forget, that they are all our children too”

(That is Ramin Karimloo, Stephen Rahman-Huges & Lee Mead in concert in Glasgow in 2012)

Look, if you want to look at MISS SAIGON and see evil, you are going to see evil – but ultimately, it is a love story about a Mother and her son, and what she will do to give him a better life.

It’s not evil – and neither are the women and men who so brilliantly perform the show.

You cannot call yourself an Artist or a Producer of Art if you limit people’s ability to decide for themselves – not only as performers, but audience as well. If you are an Artist – create Art – do not ban others because you do not like their Art. If you are a Producer – produce it and let the audience decide – they vote with tickets.

In other words – have open dialogue, but no way is one group or one theater to be Judge and Jury for what we, as Asian American performers are ‘allowed’ to do.

Let me quote an earlier blog in case you are missing the point:

Let me tell you something- and this is as straight as I can say it – Asian American Actors can take ANY part they choose. Period. The End. Asian American Actors are under NO obligation to make Asian America ‘comfortable’ with their personal choices. We do not stand over your shoulder at your job and tell you that you cannot do it, merely because it is our opinion that it should not be done.

Re-read that sentence, it’s accurate, but it’s kind of insane.

We are Actors.  First and FOREMOST we are Actors and WE tell stories. We do not have a group check in to get Asian American Community approval, and we do not have to have it. Because this is AMERICA.

Asian American Actors can use accents. Asian American Actors can play Pimps, Doctors, Prostitutes, Deli Owners, Thieves, Kings, and whatever else there is out there. We audition and people hire us. And if we can perform, on Broadway, or on a Television show, or in a Feature film, where it is so competitive even to get a a callback – then YOU, Mr. Joe Protestor, are not allowed to rob us of our right to do it to the highest possible level we can.

THAT is what Equality means TO US. That our choices are unlimited.

This is just sad, really, and so misguided, and hate filled – The Fairy Princess is disgusted both with the decision, The Ordway, The Aanaya Dance Theater and of course, the protestors.

10 Wacks with the Wand for all of you, and frankly, and she has rarely meant this more -

KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE

The Fairy Princess is not a Halloween fan. Not because she does not enjoy a good costume, she enjoys a good costume as much as the next person and she does not look down on anyone who dresses up their kid as a zombie or a princess or a butterfly, or any of the myriad of ridiculously cute costume choices available out there.

Some are amazing.

This is my friend's daughter...they WIN! The Russo Family wins the Internet!

This is my friend’s daughter…they WIN! The Russo Family wins the Internet!

 

Some are heartfelt.

178482-halloween-2011-fever-adorable-halloween-costumes-for-hot-dogs-and-tail

Some are completely inappropriate in a really fun way.

The Studs of the People's Couch - Blake as Capt. America, Scott as Elaine Stritch, and Emerson as 'The Bible Belt"

The Studs of the People’s Couch – Blake as Capt. America, Scott as Elaine Stritch, and Emerson as ‘The Bible Belt”

 

Some are culturally insensitive and donned by people who should know better. Which is why Halloween tends to not be TFP’s favorite holiday, when, honestly, it used to be.

She doesn’t like it that much anymore because of what some people choose to wear, because, well…they choose to wear Asian folks…like a coat. As someone who cannot ‘pick up, put down’ her skin and heritage anymore than a certain little girl in a certain film filled with joy and luck could pick up/put down chess, Halloween has, on occassion, become a rough holiday.

 

Yes, there are culturally offensive costumes, and they get worn every Halloween, by all sorts of people.

Like Debbie Allen.

Ms. Debbie Allen

Ms. Debbie Allen

NO! Not Debbie Allen!

Yes. Debbie Allen.

DAMMIT!

Yeah, the one who told us about ‘pain and sweat’ on the FAME teaser and who made us all want to be better versions of ourselves. Perhaps even, to be performers? That Debbie Allen?

Maybe there is another one?

Nope.

THIS DEBBIE ALLEN:

 

 

For that work on Fame, and A Different World, Motown 25, Amistad, the Debbie Allen Special and The Academy Awards, Ms. Allen was the recipient of 10 Image Awards from the NAACP.

Image Awards are given to those who are outstanding in her field – and make no doubt, Ms. Allen is outstanding in her field as a choreographer, an actor, a producer, a director….but The Fairy Princess is finding her choice of costume less than stellar.

The Fairy Princess could have done without this image.

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 10.01.52 PM

Of course, dressing as a person of a different culture is always dicey to begin with, but the issue The Fairy Princess has is not only is this a dated image, it is inaccurate.

The mask Ms. Allen is wearing is ostensibly a Thai face and headpiece,  but she is in Chinese pajamas, and flip flops! (One supposes from Bal’i Hai or some other place that people not of Asian heritage imagine Asian people are from.) Or maybe they are Manolos, who knows?

So that is the first issue – Ms. Allen, if you are going to attempt to represent an Asian person, pick one.

A Thai Dancer - not wearing Chinese PJs now, is she?

A Thai Dancer – not wearing Chinese PJs now, is she?

Just one.

Because if you do not, it falls under that ‘all look same‘ category in my book, and The Fairy Princess takes a very dim view of culturally smashing all of the Asian groups together with little to no regard as to what makes us so very unique and different.

As you are a wonderful dancer and choreographer, had you gone ‘full tilt Thai Dancer‘ – the costume, without the mask, The Fairy Princess would have given you a pass. Because costumes are ok – The Fairy Princess appreciates if you take the time to try and be honorable and authentic.

However you did not do that. Which, is, well…it’s lazy.

Which is a word that The Fairy Princess has never, EVER associated with Debbie Allen. Never.

The OTHER issue The Fairy Princess is having with this costume is -you are wearing it ON THE SET OF GREY’S ANATOMY!

A SHOW WHICH CURRENTLY SHOWCASES NO ASIAN AMERICAN TALENT AS SERIES REGULARS ON A SHOW SET IN SEATTLE IN A HOSPITAL.

Seattle has an Asian American population that has grown 8.1 % between 2010 and 2012 – and while looking at the numbers, you might think “Hey, 7.5% of a population of a city is not that much…”, you would be wrong.

Graphic from Seattle Times showing ethnic makeup of Seattle

Graphic from Seattle Times showing ethnic makeup of Seattle

Because it’s not really just that 7.5%, you see that green triangle? 3.7% - more than one race. Which means, Eurasians. Not that all who identify as two races are Eurasian, but having spent quite a lot of time in Seattle, The Fairy Princess can tell you there are a LOT of Eurasian children running around there. So there are a few more than 7.5%.

It’s a lot for one group – one group that keeps growing.

Population-growth-2010-20121

Also, among all 50 states, Washington State has the 5th HIGHEST population of Asian Americans, according to both the US Census and this article from The Seattle Times.

So let me spell it out for you -

1. No Asian Americans as Series Regulars on the show set in Seattle.

2. Seattle has 5th highest API population in the Country.

3. APIs are dominant in the medical profession in all areas, including research, nursing, and physicians

4. You came as an amalgam of Asian parts on Halloween, mocking the people who are least represented on that show, a show that is supposed to represent a city where APIs are a large part of the population.

In fact, one would be hard pressed to walk into a hospital in any major city and not find API Medical professionals….

Except in Seattle Grace.

On Grey’s Anatomy.

A show which you appear on as an Actress and also, every so often, direct.

A show where you chose to wear this to the set:

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 10.01.52 PM

Now, you may be getting all upset about being called out on this, but here is a quick question for you:

Would you have worn that if Dr. Yang was still making the rounds as a top Cardio surgeon?

 

3067641_f1e30735-7eb1-4876-9ca8-f9ece0af0a1a-christina-yang

The Fairy Princess thinks not.

Let’s face it, you did not come as a composite Latino, could it be because Sara Ramirez is on the show?

Just wondering….

grey-s-anatomy-10321628smlrj_2006

RuPaul? Thoughts?

 

34griwx

The Fairy Princess agrees with RuPaul – you would have thought twice about wearing this costume when Dr. Yang was racing around being Meredith’s “Person”.

original

Because you would have considered that the actress playing one of the lead characters for ten seasons on the show might have some thoughts and feelings about you coming dressed to work as a cornucopia of Asian people

You see, this is the danger of non-representation, something which, Ms. Allen, I know you have spoken about in your career.

 

 

There are no Asian Americans currently on Grey’s Anatomy as series regulars. Which means that there is no one of the group you are mocking, that you perhaps see every day as a peer, that would make you think twice before showing up to work and tweeting that photo.

A photo which The Fairy Princess, a true fan of yours, was very hurt to see. She was so hurt, she checked several times to make sure that it came from your account, and that it was you. Because she did not want to see it.

What one person thinks is harmless, can be harmful. However on ‘your’ show there are no Asian Americans around to make you think about that.

So when you needed to play ‘dress up’, you picked on a group that has minimal representation on the culture of that show, and you came as ‘them’.

Asian people are not a costume. They are not a costume any more than African Americans are a costume. They are not a costume any more than Native Americans are a costume.

Costumes are clothing, and they can be fun, and enjoyable. But putting on the face of another race?

That is not acceptable. Positioning your hands in what can be described as a stereotypical stance? Not acceptable. Not a costume.

The Fairy Princess’s tiara is tilting sadly, as she tells you this, Ms. Allen, she hopes you feel just a bit of pain and sweat as you read this and…  KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!

 

The Fairy Princess likes to…you know…keep up with what’s happening in the world – yesterday it was the British East Asians and their remarkable video rebuttal to The Royal Shakespeare Company entitled The Orphan of Zhao Redux and today….she had an email from Sandra Oh.

Yes, that Sandra Oh…

Sandra-Oh

And let’s face it, if she sends you an email, you are going to open it.

The Fairy Princess should add here, that yes, she does know Ms. Oh, and they have corresponded before, but they do not, say, down shots of tequila and dance on bars together or get mad and eat cookie dough raw or anything like that….although, let’s face it, TFP totes would do that if asked.

(She’s done worse)

Thus, full disclaimer in place – she does, yes, know Ms. Oh, and finds her to be one of the coolest and most talented actors on the planet.

So there, do what you will with that.

Anyway, this is somewhat of a breaking story….

Sandra Oh has decided to produce an animated film – here is the description:

 WINDOW HORSES: THE POETIC PERSIAN EPIPHANY OF ROSIE MING.
In this coming-of-age story, Rosie Ming, a young Canadian poet, is invited to perform at a Poetry Festival in Shiraz, Iran, but she’d rather be in Paris.  She lives at home with her over-protective Chinese grandparents and has never been anywhere by herself. Once in Iran, she finds herself in the company of poets and Persians, all who tell her stories that force her to confront her past; the Iranian father she assumed abandoned her and the nature of Poetry itself.  Rosie goes on an unwitting journey of forgiveness, reconciliation, and perhaps above all, understanding, through learning about her father’s past, her own complicated cultural identity, and her responsibility to it.  It’s about building bridges across generations and cultures  through the magic of Poetry.  
We hope this film will contribute a little more peace, love and understanding to our increasingly complex and conflicted world through art, poetry, history and culture.

 

OMIGOODNESS THAT SOUNDS GREAT!
Now, here is the thing – this is an animated feature about a mixed race girl in Canada. Now, while The Fairy Princess did not grow up in Canada, she has….let’s face it, a bit of knowledge about being a mixed raced little girl.
My Father and I

My Father and I

When she was a kid, she would have loved to have seen a story such as this – it would have spoken to her in a way that, perhaps, was different from other stories. She rarely envisioned herself as a protagonist because, well….there were none in the books she read, or was read to, or in the television she saw, or in the movies – she was too young for Bruce Lee and she would have looked terrible in a yellow track suit.

As a person of mixed race who is raising another one, this made The Fairy Princess very interested in this project – interested enough to provide the link so if you would like to contribute to this project, which is being produced in conjunction with the Canadian Film Centre, you can.

The other, super awesome thing about this – for fans of American Cinema, is that the belle of Flower Drum Song, the feature film, Ms. Nancy Kwan, will voice one of the characters – Gloria, the overprotective Grandmother of Rosie.

Film Star, Nancy Kwan, from World of Suzie Wong & Flower Drum Song fame

Film Star, Nancy Kwan, from World of Suzie Wong & Flower Drum Song fame

Wrap your Fan Tan Fannies around that little tidbit!

Nancy Kwan!

(Full disclosureno – have never done shots or cookie dough with Ms. Kwan)

(Yes, have met her, yes, have a photo)

The thought of that is terrifyingThe Fairy Princess would embarrass herself.

Because, when she was a bit older than in that photo, she viewed Flower Drum Song on television, and her Mother told her, “That lady is Eurasian, like you.”

Well…it was the first time that The Fairy Princess ever considered that a person ‘like her’ could do something as amazing as a musical.

Which makes the whole thing, just a bit more special, don’t you think?

ANYWAY – HERE IS THE LINK!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/window-horses-an-animated-feature

They need to raise $230, 050 Canadian, and thus far, they have almost $5,000.

You can contribute from $5 and up – and let’s be frank, if you are a person of mixed race, who grew up being asked ‘what are you?” or any of the myriad of questions we are asked, you may want to contribute simply to see more stories in which you and your experiences are reflected.

Just sayin….

In closing – Congrats to Ms. Oh and her partner in this venture, Ann Marie Fleming, who has been making award winning films for over 25 years that deal with family, history, memory and issues of identity. This is a story that comes out of a combination of her own personal experiences as a mixed race Canadian.

The Fairy Princess very much looks forward to seeing this film and sending a few bucks your way!

Break a leg with it!

The Fairy Princess once twittered that if Producers wanted to keep her from blogging, they should just keep her employed – and that is what has been happening. That, and, of course, a toddler who likes to break at least one major item a day and does not want to nap – ever. Apologies.

However, in the midst of this oddly timed employment, for which she is quite grateful, she did happen to catch the British East Asian’s answer to The Royal Shakespeare Company’s elimination of Asian faces in their production of The Orphan Of Zhao – done successfully here in the States with an Asian American Cast, in a joint production from A.C.T. in San Francisco, and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. (I still have my eye on you, La Jolla….)

To borrow some of the British parlance, The Fairy Princess found their video answer to this casting debacle, absolutely smashing, and hopes that Gregory Doran and the rest of the RSC will see it and be absolutely gobsmacked at the British East Asian talent that is RIGHT THERE in his own backyard.

And thus she wanted to share this wonderful video entitled “The Orphan of Zhao Redux” and give you all a chance to see the marvelous work that happens when creative minds attack a problem and try to open eyes and minds.

Mind, it is nine minutes – but it is absolutely worth it, and if you get a minute, perhaps you will Tweet to the RSC (@TheRSC) that you have seen it, and that you wished that they would host more productions where they feature the astonishing talent of the British East Asians…particularly when the show in question is set in CHINA...or any other local where one would expect to find Asian faces.

Or even…wait for it…put them in shows where they are not defined by their race, but by their acting!

Just a thought…mull that one over.

Congratulations to my fellow Actors, and all who put this together, you were all ‘in it to win it‘, and you certainly have.

In a world where people throw things willy nilly up on the internet, with no production value or thought, The Fairy Princess was moved to see how this video speaks to the issues raised by the Casting of The Orphan of Zhao at the RSC.

She also was thrilled to meet some of the brilliant people behind this video on a recent trip to London, and hopes to get over there more, and check in with everyone – the energy of this group is fantastic.

Well Done!

UPDATE: In a, ahem, remarkable turn around,  after Jordan Roth announced that his theaters would dim in honor of Joan Rivers,  and after this blog was published, The Broadway League has reversed it’s initial position:

“Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her. Due to the outpouring of love and respect for Joan Rivers from our community and from her friends and fans worldwide, the marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will be dimmed in her memory.” – Charlotte St. Martin, Exec Dir, The Broadway League

Tonight, at 6:45pm, Theater Lights on Broadway will dim in honor of Ms. Joan Rivers.

934835_10154574751860612_7557474859587747331_n

Why yes we can, Ms. Rivers – yes we can.

Rest In Peace.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Fairy Princess has been reflecting on what it means to be a “theater person’ today, in light of The Broadway League’s decision to not dim the lights in honor of the passing of TONY Nominee and thrice walker of ‘the boards’, Ms. Joan Rivers.

This is what Joan said about Broadway in a recent interview with  New York Magazine,

If you don’t go to Broadway, you’re a fool. On Broadway, off Broadway, above Broadway, below Broadway, go! Don’t tell me there isn’t something wonderful playing. If I’m home in New York at night, I’m either at a Broadway or an Off Broadway show. We’re in the theater capital of the world, and if you don’t get it, you’re an idiot.”

4373772-0-3

So guess who doesn’t get it?

Apparently, The Broadway League.

“Under our criteria people need to have been very active recently in the theater, or else be synonymous with Broadway – people who made their careers here, or kept it up,” Ms. St. Martin said in an interview on Monday.

“We love Joan – she was very supportive of Broadway and came to a lot of show openings – but she hasn’t acted on Broadway in 20 years,” Ms. St. Martin added. “When you say Joan Rivers, you don’t think comedy, television and Broadway. You think comedy and television. It’s certainly nothing against her.

The night before Ms. Rivers went in to that fateful surgery which helped end her life at the age of 81, she did a show – she did a full length act at The Laurie Beechman Theater in the West Bank Cafe. As that is, in fact, a theater, and the show was over an hour of solo performance, one could argue that she in fact, defined being ‘active in theater’. Her calendar was full, even at 81, she had a bunch of live shows coming up, in addition to possibly returning to Broadway, and shooting Fashion Police.

It’s hard to fathom why Ms. Rivers is being egregiously overlooked, but let’s look at who the lights have been dimmed for recently:

“Lauren Bacall had a distinct presence onstage and screen during a career that spanned decades,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League. “Along with her talent and memorable performances, her timeless beauty and witty intelligence will be remembered. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and fans.”

Ms. Bacall had 2 TONYS, 1 Honorary OSCAR, was a Kennedy Center Honoree, 2 Golden Globes, and 1 SAG Award and she had not appeared on Broadway since 1999 –  dim the lights.

Lauren Bacall

Robin Williams left us all, sadly too soon.

Academy-tweet-about-Robin-Williams

 “Robin Williams was a comedic genius with limitless talent and stunning versaitlity who left this world far too early,‘ said Broadway League Exec Director Charlotte St. Martin. “He made an impact on everyone he met or entertained. Whether on screen or live on stage, his multi-faceted talent always created memorable performances. Robin Williams will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans”

Robin Williams appeared on Broadway twice – once in concert – Robin Williams Live On Broadway in 2002, and as an Actor in Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo in 2011. He also appeared with Steve Martin in Waiting For Godot at Lincoln Center.

A comedic genius with 2 Broadway credits, 4 Golden Globes, 1 Oscar, 3 GRAMMYS, 1 EMMY, 2 SAG awards – dim the lights.

53c8109fd547558a0d7367c5_s-elaine-stritch

“Elaine Stritch’s big personality was matched by her big talent,” Broadway League executive director Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement. “Collaborating with some of Broadway’s greatest playwrights and composers throughout her lengthy career, her signature numbers and singular style created a memorable legacy.”

Elaine Stritch had 4 TONY Nominations, 1 TONY for Best Special Theatrical Event, and 3 EMMYs – dim the lights.

So, The Broadway League will, as they should, dim the lights for someone who is known on screen, known on television, and known to be a comedic genius, with a career that spanned decades but they won’t dim the lights for Joan Rivers, who was, actually all of those things combined?

Seem odd to anyone else?

tumblr_mn7lilBTsO1sqykc2o4_r4_250

Now, you could argue, of course, that Joan Rivers received a TONY Nomination, and that, perhaps is the criteria? They will not dim the lights for her because she did not win? That could be the ‘line in the sand’, one supposes.

Until you remember that Broadway dimmed the lights for James Gandolfini, although he was nominated for GOD OF CARNAGE in 2009, he never won a TONY award.

He appeared 2 other times on Broadway in ON THE WATERFRONT in 1995 and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE in 1992. And, without putting it too bluntly, he was best known for his work on Television in HBO’s The Soprano’s. Television? Oh dear, whatever will Charlotte St. Martin say?

James-Gandolfini-7

James Gandolfini was a consummate actor who brought individuality to each role and inspired a true connection with the audience. Whether on screen or on a Broadway stage, he made every role believable and seemingly effortless, said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, in a statement. “Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, and certainly to all of his fans who felt as if they knew his characters.

I see.

So, no, Broadway League, you cannot argue the “she only had a nomination and 3 appearances on Broadway” because, well – so did James Gandolfini, and you dimmed the lights for him.

Rightly so.

He was a great theater person.

Joan Rivers was also a great theater person.

In fact, all of the above mentioned people were great theater people – being a theater person is not just appearing in a show.

It is being generous of spirit by continually supporting the efforts of others -

for example, attending a show….

Joan+Rivers+Outerwear+Evening+Coat+jSCKNQJxrmIl

joan-rivers-gets-a-hug-from-rod-and-john-tartaglia-at-the-95777

At Sister Act

At Sister Act, the Musical

Attending a show where you know that Broadway Producers are going to use your image and your name to sell more seats at their show and make money off of it – money that you, personally will never see.

Producers that are all in The Broadway League.

Ahem.

She would go to shows multiple times and bring people, was a major fan of anything Broadway. Most of our conversations were about what she saw or what I was going to see, or I had seen – she was always recommending what show to watch. Our last trip she yelled at me to see HERE LIES LOVE.

One of her favorites was Jerry Herman, she thought he should have written the music for ROCKY…or ANY Broadway show. Of course she loved Broadway, she starred in her own Broadway show that she wrote! Nominated for a TONY!”

                   – Dan Glosser, longtime friend & pianist

With Arnold Steifel, Kenny Solms, Dan Glosser & Tony Tripoli

With Arnold Steifel, Kenny Solms, Dan Glosser & Tony Tripoli

Being a Theater Person means raising money for charity - she was one of the first celebrities, if not the first celebrity, to come out in support of raising money and awareness for AIDS prevention and treatment. She was on the Board of God’s Love, We Deliver, and delivered meals to those in need herself on Thanksgiving.

Joan_Rivers

She supported Guide Dogs for the Blind, a school which helps connect guide dogs to those who are in need of canine assistance due to blindness or low sighted ability.

Joan presents George Basioli with a guide dog named after her late husband, Edgar in 1988

Joan presents George Basioli with a guide dog named after her late husband, Edgar in 1988

 

Ms. Rivers served as an honorary Director at The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, having experienced that particular loss in her life. These mentioned were but a few of her many, many charities.

Joan Rivers & Tony Tripoli

Joan Rivers & Tony Tripoli

Being a theater person is having to surround yourself with it’s music and texts constantly and wear them like a coat even in your darkest hour.

“Joan was so devoted to New York Theater. She went to absolutely EVERYTHING and having done Broadway 3 times, often said it was the toughest, most rewarding place for any actor to work. She was planning a return to Broadway with a remount of her show, “Sally Marr & her Escorts”. She insisted that every loved one who came to town go to at least one show – her treat, naturally – each visit.

When I sat with her while she was in a medically induced coma, the Original Cast Album of OKLAHOMA was filling the entire Intensive Care Unit. At one point, I couldn’t take it any longer and I changed the cd to A CHORUS LINE – I secretly hoped she’d wake up and tell me again about going to it’s Opening Night.

For the Broadway League not to dim the marquee lights for Joan is an insult to the memory of one of the New York stage’s most passionate advocates and talented performers.”

-Tony Tripoli – Head Writer, Fashion Police

Being a theater person is knowing that if you make it look easy, everyone will think that they can do what you can do ‘no problem’, when you know it took thousands of hours, endless preparation, and a combination of luck and talent that is different in everyone who succeeds.

 

Being a theater person is getting back up when they knock you down, and smiling while doing it.

“Joan Rivers is the top of the pyramid when it comes to comedians – male or female. She was also a devastatingly underused actress. Over the years, I had the great fortune to meet  and work beside her several times. Beyond being funny, she was incredibly warm, caring, and full of life and love.

The world, not just the people in showbiz, have suffered a huge loss, and I for one, would dim every light in the world to honor the great Joan Rivers. Shame on the Broadway League for being too dim to realize what a disgraceful decision they have made. In the end, Joan herself probably would have laughed and said “Oh F*uck em if they’re too dumb to realize they could’ve saved a few bucks on the electric bill!”

-Scott Nevins, Bravo’s The People’s Couch

Joan Rivers & Scott Nevins

Joan Rivers & Scott Nevins

Joan Rivers was the epitome of what it means to be a theater person – she loved it, she lived it, she wrote it, she experienced it. She did the Broadway ‘8 shows a week’ time step, and she also did television, and she wrote books, and she also did charity work, and she  did films. She was also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother.

Her comedy was caustic and rough at times, yes, but so was Elaine Stritch’s – and the lights were rightly dimmed for her – The Fairy Princess was there. It was special and moving, because ordinary New Yorkers and tourists and Broadway professionals stopped and looked at her image and said their own personal farewells. My group had people who were very close to her, and it comforted them.

Do not Ms. Rivers’ friends and family and extended audience deserve similar comfort?

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Did she swear? Yes.

So the f*#!k what?

Ms. Rivers surely could not have cursed more than David Mamet, and though no one wishes it, when the time comes, do we not all agree that Broadway will dim the lights in his honor?

They F*#!kin’ better!

Was she a saint? No. Are any of us? Do not we of the theater salute and embrace all our colorful people with all their eccentricities?

Yes, we do.

When did we of the theater start scorning people who started in the theater and went on to other things?

When did we become that small and petty? When, Broadway League?

When did we toss people out of our little group simply because they became successful in another area? The woman began her career starring in a play opposite Barbra Streisand!

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The Fairy Princess would like to remind The Broadway League that dimming the lights takes….

ONE MINUTE.

This woman promoted Broadway, appeared on Broadway, was nominated for one of Broadway’s highest honors and we, of The Broadway cannot turn off the lights for ONE MINUTE?

“In the ever changing world of Broadway, the ‘rules’ for the TONY Awards change every year due to ‘unique circumstances’ and a changing art form. Why all of a sudden is The Broadway League clinging to an interpretation of a random rule – especially when it comes to honoring such an Ambassador of Broadway – it is beyond me.

By the way, what are we talking about here? Someone pushes a button and then pushes it again sixty seconds later? She gave us 81 years, I think we can give her 60 seconds.”

-Erich Bergen, JERSEY BOYS the movie, Madame Secretary

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The Fairy Princess would like you to look at this next photo – (she found it on the web, Melissa, don’t yell at anyone) it is the program of Joan River’s final service

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Only a true theater person would ask to be saluted by The NY Gay Men’s Chorus singing “Nothing Like a Dame“, segue to multiple TONY Winner Audra McDonald singing “Smile“, then bring in TONY Winner and the tallest Aussie to grace our stages, Hugh Jackman to sing a song Peter Allen wrote for Judy Garland, and finally, end with a bagpipe salute of “Give My Regards To Broadway”.

To quote that Peter Allen song:

So put your hands together and help her along

All that’s left of the singer

All that’s left of the song

Stand for the Ovation

And give her one last celebration

Quiet Please, there’s a person up there

And she’s been singing of the things

That none of us could bear to hear for ourselves

Give her your respect, if nothing else

While Jujamcyn President, Jordan Roth, has announced that his theaters will dim their lights in honor of Ms. Joan Rivers tomorrow, Tues. Sept 9 at 6:45 pm, as of this writing, none of the other Broadway theaters have announced their intention to do so.

Oh – nicely done Mr. Roth, you Sir, are a man of the theater!

The rest of The Broadway League needs to catch up – your arguments as to ‘why not’ simply do not make sense – you can honor men who have appeared on Broadway exactly the same amount of times as Ms. Rivers, or who have had exactly the same type of fame, but you cannot honor Ms. Rivers?

Not ONE MINUTE for a career that spans over 40 years?

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81 Smacks of The Wand to The Broadway League for using some made up excuse that is probably based, in part, on sexism and jealousy, to deny Joan Rivers ONE MINUTE of theatrical respect that we, The Broadway Community, should give her.

She left us asking us to “Give her regards to Old Broadway”, cannot Broadway give her regards in turn?

Cannot Broadway give her ONE MINUTE of regard?

‘Shouldn’t just everyone go to The Broadway League Facebook Page and ask them to dim the lights for Joan? Shouldn’t they?”

- Jim Caruso, Cast Party

Linda Lavin, Joan, and Jim Caruso at Feinstein's

Linda Lavin, Joan, and Jim Caruso at Feinstein’s

So from The Fairy Princess, and in Honor of Ms. Joan Rivers, please-

Kiss our (##*!?#)Fan, Tan Fannie!

And DIM THE DAMN LIGHTS!

The Fairy Princess is having a bad few weeks, along with the rest of the world. The news has been devastating each and every night. While she normally does not write about events that are ‘newsworthy’ – let’s face it, she writes about Diversity and Asian American theatrical representation, the events of the last weeks must be acknowledged.

And so…the blog:

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It bears repeating that my thoughts and prayers go out to the Family of Robin Williams, who was a superlative performer and, according to all accounts, a superlative person in his personal life.

My small son had viewed Aladin the night before the announcement of his death, and was so filled with wonder and awe, his joy so apparent, that even at that simple moment, before we knew, I marveled once again, at the talent of Robin Williams and thought “what a blessing’ to have that kind of gift, that is accessible to all ages.

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What should be spoken of is how much he gave, and how much we shall miss him, and how grateful we are to his Family, for sharing him with us all these years.

 

Thank you, Oh Captain my Captain….

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The Fairy Princess would also like to share a story, given that she has also passed now, of meeting Lauren Bacall. By all accounts she was very feisty and the life of the party, with a razor sharp wit. It seems that everyone has a Lauren Bacall story and actually, The Fairy Princess has two, and she thinks that Betty would kind of get a chuckle out of her sharing them.

The first was viewing her on stage, 6th row in the orchestra, in her TONY winning role in the musical, WOMAN OF THE YEAR.

 

Being a mere 6 rows from Lauren Bacall leaves a lasting impression.

Lauren Bacall

Luckily my Grandmother, who was a concert pianist, realized what was ‘happening’ and after the show, she bought me the Cast Album – on tape. So I ‘wouldn’t forget’. I had memorized it by the next afternoon and performed it for my Parents, and I remember my Mother looking at my Father and saying, “Well…I know how this is going to go now...”

After that, I was in love with every musical I came into contact with – except 1776 – and I set off on my merry way to sing and dance and befriend people of similar ilk. WOMAN OF THE YEAR always remained a favorite, and on my Senior recital, I even did a set of songs from the show. I could probably recite some of the songs, if not all, lyric for lyric even now.

In 2003, Lauren Bacall came to see a Broadway show that I was a cast member of, and she came backstage – well, our backstage was really an alley behind the theater, and I was thrilled to see her, almost at the same distance that I  had first seen her in person many years prior.

We had a chance to speak and I said, “Ms. Bacall, I saw you in Woman of the Year when I was a kid, and I was so blown away. My Grandma bought me the Cast recording and I had it memorized by the next day. I think that is why I am in this business!”

And Ms. Betty Bacall looked at me for a moment, and then drawled in her inimitable way, “Woman of the Year? That old piece of sh*t?”

(a beat)

And then I said, “The camera is right over there, please smile”.

Jordan Gelber, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Lauren Bacall, Erin Quill backstage at Avenue Q

Jordan Gelber, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Lauren Bacall, Erin Quill backstage at Avenue Q

Thank you, Ms. Bacall, you gave us plenty to watch, and you lived ‘fascinating’ in such a way, that we all shared a tiny bit of it.

A true legend, a powerhouse, and the last icon to leave us from a great era of American Film.

RIP Betty.

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The Fairy Princess would also like to send support and share her horror at the death of photojournalist James Foley, who the Islamic State Militant Group known as ISIS has claimed to execute. She has no words. He was doing his job, and he was killed for what he was, as much as who he was. Many thoughts of peace go out to his Family and Friends.

Photojournalist James Foley

Photojournalist James Foley

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And then we have the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Michael Brown, RIP.

Michael Brown, RIP.

Michael Brown had been visiting his Grandmother, when he was stopped for jaywalking. He wound up with six shots in his body, which killed him. Four shots to the right arm, and two to the head. His body, his corpse, was then left lying in the street for hours while law enforcement tried to figure out what to do with what had just happened. They did not call for medical assistance for Michael Brown, he was not rushed to any hospital. He died, in the street, and was left there for hours.

Michael Brown was 18 years old.

Michael Brown possessed no weapon.

The Fairy Princess has her own opinions about why Michael Brown was stopped for jaywalking. Michael Brown, who was set to start college two days after he was killed, was killed because he was not safe to walk the streets in his Grandmother’s neighborhood as a young man of color.

The Fairy Princess knows that in most places in America, it is not truly safe to walk around alone as a Person of Color….or as a Woman, or as a Elderly person, or as an openly LGBT person, or as a small child.  For a majority of the population, to be caught walking alone by someone bigger, or someone armed, or someone intent on doing harm to us who is hanging with like minded individuals is a daily nightmare.

It can be seen as women brace themselves to walk past a group of men who are likely to catcall, it can be seen in the tensing of young men in sweatshirts when a patrol car drives slowly by them or a large pickup truck filled with individuals who may have been drinking. It can be seen in the elderly, who strive to be home before dark. It can be seen in the way parents hover over their children, fearful that this day, when one is a minute late to the bus, your child will no longer be there.

We would like to believe this not to be true, we would like to believe that as we journey into far away lands to ‘fix’ things, we remain a shining light to aspire to – but this is not the case.

A shining light to aspire to in the Western World is Canada. They have Universal Health Care, Marriage Equality, Police who patrol unarmed, and great skiing. Not to mention maple syrup, Sandra Oh, and Michael J. Fox.

The United States falls far behind, and with the violence in Ferguson, we are falling even further.

Fear of other people, fear of people different than oneself is the monster under America’s bed that no one is talking about.

People fear those who have advanced learning. People fear those who have no learning at all. People fear science. People fear people who substitute religion for science. People fear skin color, but they fear more than that talking about why they fear people with different skin color than their own. People fear falling in love just as much as they fear being alone. For every fear there is a reaction – and what we are seeing in Ferguson is the reaction to fear – and it is anger, and it is being met with water cannons, tear gas, and rhetoric.

It is time for America to stop perpetuating this cycle – in the daily lives of their citizens, and as policy makers.

The Fairy Princess read an article written by Michael Bell, whose son was also killed by police, ten years ago in Wisconsin. His son too, had been stopped on a pretext, and wound up with a gunshot point blank to the temple, so close it left powder burns. There was a reaction there too, and it was spearheaded by Mr. Bell – remove the ability of the police to investigate themselves.

Mr. Bell wrote at length about it, and also is in favor of having cameras on officers and in patrol cars, which has been shown to reduce violence in police actions by 60 %.

Both of these steps sound like morally actionable changes that can improve the chances of a Person of Color surviving being stopped for jaywalking. Both of these things sound like something honorable and diligent Officers would want to have implemented. There is no reason to fear either of these actions – independent investigations and cameras on officers and in vehicles not only protects the public, it protects the police as well.

We cannot return the life of Michael Brown to his Family, to his Friends, or to himself. What we can do – all of us, People of Color and Caucasians in this country, is change the conversation from fear to legislation. Change how we respect one another, change how we listen to one another, change how we focus on differences, and instead try and focus on similarities.

Ghandi said If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”  

We need not wait.

We have waited long enough.

For Michael Brown, and so many others, we have waited too long.

Let us not wait any longer.

My condolences to the Brown Family at this wretched time.

 

Last night The Fairy Princess had a somewhat humbling moment realizing that a show she was part of has been on the New York stages for 11 years.

That’s right 11 years!

So, nothing ‘political’, no ‘message’ this time, just a few words of thanks that I was ever included in that show, and I am thrilled that it is still running and bringing the world much needed laughter.

Congrats to the current Cast inhabiting Christmas Eve, Princeton, Rod, Trekkie, Brian, Lucy T. Slut, Kate Monster, Gary Coleman and Nicki – you all did a wonderful job, and they continue to do so over at New World Stages on 50th Street – go check them out!

Here is a photo from last night:

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets - Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd - all part of the Original Broadway Company

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets – Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd – all part of the Original Broadway Company

 

Realizing it has been 11 years, really does bring home the message in “Only for now….” If you would like to read some of the tweets, because the audience was invited to do so throughout the show, please go to #AvenueQLive or if you only want to read mine, they can be found at @Equill

And…the magic ‘surprise’ at the end of “Only For Now” – SELFIES…. because as the song goes….

“Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now”

Top L-R: John Tartaglia, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Beverly Jenkins, Producer Robyn Goodman, Erin Quill, Phoebe Kreutz, Producer Kevin McCollum Lower Left Photo: Star of MEMPHIS: J. Bernard Calloway Lower Rt Photo: Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

Top L-R: John Tartaglia, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Beverly Jenkins, Producer Robyn Goodman, Erin Quill, Phoebe Kreutz, Producer Kevin McCollum
Lower Left Photo: Star of MEMPHIS: J. Bernard Calloway
Lower Rt Photo: Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

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