Archives for category: Diversity

The Fairy Princess got up and watched The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and was honestly thrilled. So many Broadway shows featured!  Her child, who is only three years old, was able to experience the magic of a Broadway musical, if only in small segments, for the first time, and he was transfixed. (Particularly by KING AND I, and SOMETHING ROTTEN, which he adores probably more than most 3 year olds)

His Mother was also transfixed because of, of course, the diversity that is this current Broadway season – On Your Feet, Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, School of Rock, Something Rotten, The Wiz – there was something for everyone, no matter how you identify and that is HUGE!


Thus, TFP wanted to take a moment and say what she is grateful for – in terms of representation this past year.

She is going to begin with theater, because that is where it always starts for her.

TFP is thankful ALLEGIANCE has made it to Broadway and is telling the story of Asian Americans in America.


Whilst TFP is not a ‘reviewer’ of shows, per se – she can speak to how moved she was to see ALLEGIANCE. The performers are of course, wonderful – Telly Leung, just magic in his character’s willingness to go to war to ‘earn’ his being called an American hero all while hitting ‘money notes’ for days!


Greg Watanabe’s thought provoking Mike Masaoka, as a man trapped between so many rocks and hard places that any move he made would continue to be the subject of debate and conjecture to this day.


(Also, just to be on point, the JACL owes the creators and performers, particularly Greg Watanabe, a huge apology for releasing their statement prior to seeing this incarnation of the show. The show uses Mr. Masaoka’s own words and actions to show his situation, and it is nuanced and heartbreaking, to be frank.)

Michael K. Lee, back on Broadway, after reigning as one of South Korea’s leading Musical Theater Performers – giving the voice of the ‘resistors’ a powerful character to stand behind, even as he winds up going to prison for his decisions.


Katie Rose Clarke, representing the bewildered people of White America, who thought they were doing the right thing to protect their country in the beginning, but who change significantly and realize what an evil thing it is, to lock away a group of people simply because they look like people you are at war with. Under the skin, we are all the same, as Shakespeare’s Shylock told us, ever so long ago.


Lea Salonga,

lea salonga

so much has been said and written about her performance, TFP will only add that in case you were wondering, she does indeed sing her face off as Kei Kimura, caught between a ‘traditional’ upbringing and her changing perception of what ‘allegiance’ actually means. Ms. Salonga has helped shape this role during her long alliance with the show, and to TFP that means that she has much directing in her future. Just throwing it out there.


Then there is George Takei.


The power of Mr. Takei in this role, is something that cannot be underestimated. The story is moving, but when he walks onstage, the weight of the understanding of what went on in those Internment Camps is given a living being to speak for it. George Takei, a vibrant activist for human rights, for the acknowledgement of the injustices against Japanese Americans, he lives and breathes this role, and he is a mighty Archangel bringing America to task with his own life’s story.

These are not ‘reviews’ they are merely how TFP felt, upon reflection, after viewing the show – it is exceptionally powerful, and there is no getting away from it. Once the audience watches Ensemble member, Rumi Oyama as the character Mrs. Tanaka break down upon learning that the latrine has no walls for privacy, and that all eating will be done en masse in the mess hall, the audience is transfixed. Or they were when TFP saw it.


TFP is thankful that ALLEGIANCE is on Broadway – and urges you all to see it.


TFP is also thankful for HAMILTON, with the lovely Philippa Soo making her mark as Elizabeth Schulyer Hamilton.


She is thankful that “The Littlest Witch” from the National Wicked Tour, Ms. Isabella Russo, followed in her Broadway Parent’s footsteps and is now in SCHOOL OF ROCK playing the character of Summer.


Also making her Broadway debut in that show, is TFP‘s buddy, Jaygee Macapugugay, playing Isabella’s ‘Show Mom” – always exciting!


TFP is of course thankful for KING AND I having it’s open ended run at Lincoln Center, it’s a breathtaking production and she highly recommends it. Big ‘ups’ today to the Cast for bringing tropical Siam to 50 Degree Farenheit New York City. Where else but in New York City would TONY Winners come out and give their performances to the crowd? Bravo, Y’all!


TFP is thankful that the Dramatist Guild came out in support of Playwrights Lloyd Suh, Katori Hall, and Stephen Adly Guirgis, in their fights to defend their work from less than appropriate casting. That was very well done, a play under copyright belongs to the Playwright, significant changes are only allowed with their express permission.

The End.


TFP is also thankful to note that The Asian American Film Lab is producing a short film to highlight Elder Abuse in the Asian Communities


It is a great thing when an organization like AAFL creates work to show real social problems and bring attention so that, hopefully, these things will come to an end. It’s significant.  Thanks to Jennifer Betit-Yen for heading up this project, and to the Asian Women’s Giving Circle for giving the grant so the project could be funded.


Turning to Television, TFP is very thankful that CW’s CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND has had additional episodes ordered, after they showed the world the very first Filipino American Thanksgiving!


Additional episodes means that more of the world gets to fall in love with Josh Chan and his family- and pictured here are Coryn Mabalot, Tess Paras, Alberto Isaac, Rachel Bloom, Amy Hill, and Vincent Rodriguez 111.

Also the longer the show is on, the more the world gets to see the phenomenon that is Donna Lynne Champlin as Paula, and really, that is just the best gift on television right now.


ABC is also ‘killing it’ with Asian American Thanksgiving’s this year – first there was Huangsgiving –


Nothing says Thanksgiving like cradling the last frozen turkey left in the restaurant freezer…and then again, on DR. KEN it was an Asian American Multi-Cultural Throwdown where they come together to prove not only are they American, but that they can acknowledge their cultural heritage as well.


Nice to see Clyde Kutsatu, Dana Lee, and  Jeanne Sakata joining the rest of the regular cast for this episode.

So that is THREE significant Network comedies recognizing the greatness and hilarity of breaking Thanksgiving bread with Asian Americans!


For TFP’s last bit of thankfulness in regards to Asian Americans in Entertainment, she wants to acknowledge that she saw an episode of a show she has not really been following, TRUTH BE TOLD on NBC.


TFP only recently learned of it, and while the premise is a Caucasian College Professor and his Hapa Spouse live next door to an African American couple, who are their best friends, the truth is – Mark Paul Gosselar has Asian heritage.


Which means that this is the first ‘Hapa” marriage on television. This may not seem significant to many, but to TFP, who is also mixed Asian and Caucasian heritage – from a family that has been mixed for several generations now – this is mind blowing.

Particularly as she saw a recent episode where Vanessa Lachey is trying to explain to her daughter, why she should love Filipina Barbie just as much as good ol’ Blonde Barbie. TFP is not Filipina, but she ‘got’ this episode in a way that went to her core, that just the thought that this stuff is now on television is incredible.


So there you go, Asian American peeps – there are some things that TFP is grateful for today – at least in regards to Media and Representation – nothing is perfect, but it is getting better.

Happy Holidays!


The Fairy Princess has an Irish temper. That is one of the beautiful things about being multi-racial – you can call on a lot of different genetics in an effort to explain one’s own firebrand reaction to news items like those coming out of Clarion University.

Do not just take TFP’s word for it, read these very excellent blog posts by Howard Sherman and Bitter Gertrude to get some more information.


For those catching up, Clarion’s Drama Teacher, Marylouise Michel wanted to use Playwright Lloyd Suh’s play, JESUS IN INDIA. When she first approached him via his agent, he was told it was for classroom use. Later, after they made the decision to mount the play, they never executed a signed contract. However they went into production anyway.


The Fairy Princess calls this…oh what is the word? Stealing.


They stole his play for production – a living playwright, not someone deceased over 400 years – they stole a living playwright‘s work and then, when he was trying to figure it all out and inquired about casting, he found out that not only did they steal his play, they stole the parts intended for Actors of India or South Asian descent and gave them to non Asian descended people!

Mr. Suh pulled his play from production – as any living playwright would.


Just like playwright David Mamet did when the Milwaukee based Alchemist Theater cast a woman instead of a man in the lead role of OLEANNA. Just as playwright Bruce Norris pulled his play CLYBOURNE PARK from production in Germany. Just as playwright  Katori Hall recently objected to the casting of THE MOUNTAINTOP where they cast a Caucasian as Martin Luther King Jr. Just as Stephen Adly Guirgis spoke out against the casting of his play, THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT by Theaterworks in Hartford, Connecticut with no Hispanic Actors in roles written for them.

Living Playwrights…they have thoughts and ideas about what they have written. They envisioned something in their head and they spent a great deal of time and effort and energy to get it to the page and then the stage – of course, OF COURSE, they would have and SHOULD have input as to how the work is performed.

Even on a college campus, or rather, especially on a college campus!

College is the place where teenagers become adults – they get exposed to things that they did not learn at home, the bi-product is that their minds expand, they open up their thought processes and decide who, as an adult they will be.

That is the idea, anyway.


Clarion University with it’s 9% minority student body was caught stealing a play. That’s what happened. There was no signed contract. The Playwright was unaware that a production was going forward, and when he found out the details, they were not to his liking.

So he shut them down.


As did some of the Playwrights mentioned above. Here is the thing though, and here is what TFP is most annoyed about….Clarion’s response.

Here is what should have happened – the Director of the show, Marylouise Michel should have written an apology to the Playwright, the school, and admitted that she overstepped. She should have admitted that in her eagerness to do something that she hoped would get protested by Evangelical Christians, she made many mistakes – beginning with not securing the rights to a full production and ending with the erasure of Indian actors from a play where they are supposed to be.

This is all the fault of one person – Marylouise Michel.


It is her arrogance and disregard for the work of a living playwright that should be called into question. She put her hand in the cookie jar, got caught and then started proclaiming that none of this is her fault, that it is all the fault of that nasty Asian Playwright whose name she will not even type out.

Sorry – that Asian Playwright?


This guy?


 Lloyd Suh is the author of American Hwangap, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Jesus in India, Great Wall Story, The Children of Vonderly, Masha No Home and others, produced with Ma-Yi, The Play Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, La Mama ETC, Magic Theatre (SF), Denver Center Theatre Company, East West Players (LA), and internationally at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila, and with PCPA in Seoul, Korea. He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, the Andrew W. Mellon Launching New Plays Into the Repertoire initiative via the Lark Play Development Center, and the New York State Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Theatre Communications Group and Dramatists Guild. His plays have been published by Samuel French, Playscripts, Smith & Kraus, Duke University Press and American Theater magazine. He is an alum of EST’s Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer Director Lab, and from 2005-2010 served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He has served since 2011 as the Director of Onsite Programs at the Lark.

The Playwright who currently has running Off Broadway, a NY Times Critic’s Pick?


If David Mamet had pulled his play from her, would she call him “That Jewish Playwright“? Is Bruce Norris now “That White Playwright“? Is Katori HallThat Black Female Playwright” to Ms. Michel?


Marylouise Michel now refers to an award winning writer as…”that Asian Playwright”


Did Clarion University, the bastion of 6,000 strong chastise Ms. Michel’s for her post which was steeped in privilege and racism? Did they say “you know what – you totally overstepped here, and you are teaching the wrong thing.

No. They did not.

If any other reputable Drama Department at a University had a faculty member go so far off the rails as to only refer to a living playwright by his ethnic heritage after stealing their play, they would be fired.


But not at Clarion – oh no – they hired a Publicist and sent out this bon mot:

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The student actors of Clarion University never anticipated they’d be the latest headlines, punished for their race. Clarion University department of visual and performing arts was scheduled to open the off-Broadway musical “Jesus in India” on Nov. 18 until playwright, Lloyd Suh, yanked production rights and “condemned the way it had been cast.”

The small, state college in northern Pennsylvania has spent much of the year preparing for the musical only to learn by casting Caucasian and mixed-race actors in roles intended for South Asian actors, the production is canceled. With a student body of about 5,368 students, only 0.6 percent of students are Asian and no Asians auditioned for the play. The University claims their intent from the start was to honor the integrity of the playwright’s work, and the contract for performance rights did not specify ethnically appropriate casting. Despite the University’s attempt to give Suh a page in the program to explain his casting objections and a stage speech given by a university representative on the cast’s race, Suh rejected any solutions other then removing the non-Asian actors or canceling the production.

“We have no further desire to engage with Mr. Suh, the playwright, as he made his position on race to our theater students crystal clear,” says Dr. Karen Whitney, Clarion University President. “I personally prefer to invest my energy into explaining to the student actors, stage crew and production team members why the hundreds of hours they committed to bringing ‘Jesus in India‘ to our stage and community has been denied since they are the wrong skin color.”

Clarion University students and administrators were left stunned by Suh’s decision, including senior Kiah Harrington-Wymer who was set to play a main character in the musical. As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harrington-Wymer spent months preparing for the role, which was to be her senior-year capstone project, and was devastated by the news. Harrington-Wymer is of mixed race and has experienced her fair share of discrimination and claims this hurts just as much as any other time.


SOURCE Clarion University





Sorry, have to say that again – PUNISHED FOR THEIR RACE?


Caucasian people? Punished for their race? Punished for simply appearing Caucasian in America? In the state of Pennsylvania? In a school that has 543 minority students out of a student body of 6,080?


Dr. Karen Whitney and students…


This is not okay.

In 2016 this is NOT okay. 

(Almost 2016, yes)

It is not okay to show the level of disdain to Mr. Suh that has been shown,  it is not okay to comfort yourself that you are a persecuted minority of Caucasians (Gad, TFP cannot even type that without gagging).


You are not okay Dr. Karen Whitney – and neither is Marylouise Michel.


The Students are not being punished. The Students are learning a lesson that the rest of the world seems to be learning right along with them which is – Asian Americans – South Asian Americans, East Asian Americans – Asian Americans who live on the Coasts, Asian Americans who live in the Heartland – we are not standing for this anymore.


What Ms. Michel did was PAINT her students to look Indian!


Let TFP break it down for you – if the play had been JESUS IN AFRICA and not INDIA...would you have put the students in Blackface makeup?

TFP bets you damn would not have.


That is the point. The point is – a living playwright gets the respect to add his or her ‘two cents’ – and that respect has been given in the past. There are SO MANY FRIGGIN’ PLAYS WITH CAUCASIAN PROTAGONISTS it, in fact, BOGGLES the mind.

You cannot even COUNT the number of plays where the main players are ‘meant’ to be Caucasian – it would be like trying to deliver letters from children to Santa, beginning with the founding of the US Postal Service!


So stop with the excuses, stop with the righteous indignation – you had a Professor who STOLE A PLAY and she got caught – and instead of chastising her and showing your Student Body that Clarion  does not stand for stealing and co-option – YOU BACKED HER UP!!!! YOU BACKED UP AN ARTISTIC THIEF AND THEN TRIED TO BLAME THE PLAYWRIGHT!!!!


You know, TFP is a parent, and yes, of course, as a parent of a minority child in the United States, seeing this situation, she would not send her son to Clarion University.

However, even if she took after her Father, and looked 100% Caucasian, and her son did as well, she would STILL not send him to Clarion University. Because if this is any indication of how Clarion is broadening minds, then that is not a place to attend school, one cannot imagine why any International student would want to attend there either.

Lloyd Suh yanked his play JESUS IN INDIA because you were not serving the play. You were not serving the vision of the play, so you do not get to produce the play. TFP is truly, truly disgusted – you failed as educators in this regard and then you spread your failure around like seeds to plant more hostility towards Asian Americans in the Arts than there already is.

For stealing a play, defaming the playwright in print, social media, and in press releases and blaming him for your idiocyTFP sentences Dr. Karen Whitney and Ms. Michel fifty wacks of the wand and you know what – go see ALLEGIANCE and see the power of Asian Americans telling a story where they are supposed to be seen.

(And BTW Broadway composers, it’s been a hot minute since BOMBAY DREAMS…let’s get some shows going for the singing and dancing South Asians, of which there are MANY….)


TFP out.


The Fairy Princess has done about ALL she can do to tell everyone about ALLEGIANCE and why it’s opening is so historic and important, if you still have not decided to go and see it, take a look at the trailer, and then decide to grab your tickets!

MOVING ON...While YES, it is November, and the weather in New York City is mild and lovely, there are people gearing up for their December fundraising efforts and two of these campaigns are actually fairly close to TFP – one because she is IN it – photo from last year –


and the other, of course, because her First Cousin, James Burchill’s Ad Company – RUMBLE – located in Brisbane, Australia – has come up with it in partnership with the Cancer Council of Queensland.

That’s James on the far right, with Katie Clift the host of #LiveWellBeWell Radio wearing her ‘rashie’.


First out of the gate – SPARKLE – now there are 2 SPARKLE Concerts this year – one in New York City on December 6th, and one in Los Angeles on December 15th. SPARKLE is a concert that is a fundraiser for THE ACTORS FUND, which does extraordinary work supporting those members of the Acting Community and extended players, when they need some help.

The lineup for New York City is first rate, and you should all totally and completely come and see it – there are some great, great people on the bill:

Sparkle NYC Poster Final

Sunday, December 6th at 7:30PM at The Cutting Room – 44 E32nd Street, NYC (212)691-1900 and tickets can be purchased at – Please come and support a great cause.

On the odd chance that you cannot read the names on the poster they are as follows:


Hosted and Produced of course, and always by the one and only – direct from THE PEOPLE’S COUCH on BRAVO TV – SCOTT NEVINS.


Buy your tickets for the NYC show quick folks – it sells out in a NY minute!


Next up –

UGLY-XMAS-BUTTONA take off on America’s own unique and hideous tradition of dreadful knit garments that do nothing to enhance either the figure OR people’s view of the person wearing it – our Ugly Xmas Sweaters.


In Oz, around Christmastime, particularly in Far North Queensland, (which is the only place in Oz that TFP has spent that particular holiday) it is wicked hot. Like…fry an egg on the sidewalk hot, and most people stay near a large body of water – either an ocean or a pool.


Hence, an Ugly Sweater campaign would not, of course work – who the heck wants to wear those sweaters in that kind of weather?


The answer is absolutely no one.


Therefore, of course, one must come up with a campaign and a product that Australians and people the world over will use – and that is what we call in America, a swim shirt, and what they call over there, ‘a rashie‘.


So here it is – the #UglyXmasRashie as a fundraiser and as a useful product. If you purchase one, you’ll not only be saving your own skin, but you’ll be saving others as well – so…pocketbooks out – they are unisex and let’s face it – if you are having an issue in the water, the surfie (aka lifeguard) will have no problems spotting you in this get up.


So there you have it – from the Family that brought you The Fairy Princess and a Creative Partner at RUMBLE – two Holiday Fundraising Campaigns that can help people as we head towards the Holidays!

There are, of course, a ton of causes one can give to, these are not the only ones, but these two in particular you can have a good time with and STILL give to charity – so let’s sing show tunes and prevent skin cancer!


TFP out!

The Fairy Princess, continuing in her quest to bring you bring you all things ALLEGIANCE, as it heads to it’s big Broadway Opening on November 8th, has a very special treat for you now, Hunties….that’s right…five minutes with Ms. Lea Salonga!


Lest you have been living under a rock since the 1990’s, let’s break it down for you – she is the Original KIM in MISS SAIGON in both the West End and Broadway productions, for which she won THE OLIVIER AWARD and THE TONY AWARD,


she is the singing voice of Disney’s MULAN and Jasmine in ALADDIN,


she has appeared as both Eponine and Fantine in LES MISERABLES,



she headlined the Broadway revival of FLOWER DRUM SONG with the new book by David Henry Hwang,


she’s done concerts worldwide, been an mentor on THE VOICE in The Philippines, recordings, films, countless stage shows –  it’s probably too endless to type out – and YET…and YET…with all of that, she still was kind enough to take a photo for TFP holding up a “Hi ____” sign, for one of TFP‘s students…in short…fancy – and nice.

So here we go –


TFP: We are sitting here with Ms. Lea Salonga to talk about ALLEGIANCE – don’t worry, the questions will be fun.

LS: Ok. (smiles)

TFP: Well, hopefully – where were you when you first heard ALLEGIANCE was going to Broadway?

LS: Crud, I can’t remember. I think I was in Manila, probably doing The Voice.


TFP: (silently giggling that Lea Salonga said “crud”) What were your thoughts when you heard the news – immediate reaction?


TFP: Right? No kidding. Who was the first person you told?

LS: (smiles) The Husband.


TFP: What is the thing, as an Asian performer, that you want the audience to take away from this show the most?

LS: There’s a lot to take away from this show – there are so many things we ‘hit’. The Japanese American Internment was such a dark part of American history. I’m hoping what people can take away from it (is) that, despite the darkness that happens, despite the rifts that take place within families, it is never too late to get a second chance at finding closure and finding happiness again.

TFP: What is the first big gift you bought yourself with your Broadway ALLEGIANCE money?

LS: The first rehearsal check I just put in the bank.

TFP: Oh, you are so Asian.

LS: (laughs) It goes into the bank, I didn’t splurge on anything. I’m waiting for big occasions like Opening Night.

TFP: I get that.

LS: I’m giving myself a video game console, probably, because there are all these cool games coming out!


LS: I want to play the new Assassin’s Creed so bad!


TFP: I did not see that coming.


LS: Then for Christmas, we’ll probably get more gadgets because…we’re Asian. (laughs)

TFP: You are totally Asian, I don’t know if you know that, but wow, yes you are!


TFP: Last question…it’s not about ALLEGIANCE per se, but it led up to ALLEGIANCE,’s about MISS SAIGON…

LS: (raises eyebrow)


TFP: You know that with recent productions of MISS SAIGON, there have been protestors, there are petitions, and the are starting to get a reaction in some spots. Myself, I’m not for the protesting -my thoughts are, in theater, if you don’t want to see something, no one is forcing you to see it, don’t go.

I think if you are looking at MISS SAIGON and only see prostitution, you are completely missing the point.

LS: You are missing the point.

TFP: So I wanted to ask YOU, because no one has asked you what your thoughts are…


LS: The pickets and the demonstrations and all of the rallies taking place, that’s not anything new. I mean, I remember being in Previews at The Broadway Theater and there were demonstrators that blasted into the mezzanine, and while we were doing scenes from the show -happened to be doing DREAMLAND – which is the opening of the show, where all of the girls are in their skimpiest and we could hear people screaming from the mezz and screaming at us.

I looked up and went “What the hell is going on, I’m trying to do my job here!”

The thing is that the portrayal of the prostitutes is such a small part of the musical – it’s there to set a scene. We don’t see prostitutes for the two hours and twenty minutes that the show is going on. We see where this girl comes from, we see where this guy comes from. And then we have to be invested in what happens to these two – that’s really it. Yes, there are prostitutes but they are there for what, 10 min?

TFP: I agree, and the fact is, we do not see German people out protesting CABARET, we do not see French people out protesting LES MISERABLES, or GIGI, or English people out protesting OLIVER…

LS: Right. You see “Lovely Ladies” (from LES MISERABLES) and what do you think they are? Just because they happen to be Asian Prostitutes? You’re protesting? If you are going to protest prostitution, then you have to protest things like THE LIFE.

TFP: YES! That is what I said!

LS: You have to protest other shows that portray that – ummm SWEET CHARITY. You have to keep going…so if you are going to protest one, you have to protest everything else… If it’s a generalizing this ‘looking down on the portrayal of women‘, then you have to go to each and every show that portrays prostitution then and protest that.

Because if you are focusing on the Asian prostitutes, ok – what makes the Asian prostitutes different from the Western?


The oldest profession is the oldest profession, no matter where it is performed.

TFP: Exactly.

LS: You have to see the forest for the trees, and some people just don’t.


TFP: Thank you, Ms. Lea Salonga – and there you have it!

Library is closed, we can all go home now – Break Legs on Opening Night and here is to a long and successful run.


The Fairy Princess continues to add to the fervor building up to the Broadway Opening of the show, ALLEGIANCE, with another Cast Interview before it opens on November 8th.

This time, with Carnegie Mellon Grad, Telly Leung, who plays the role of young Sam Kimura – the elder version of Sam is played by George Takei.


TFP: We are here with Telly Leung, talking about ALLEGIANCE – so, when did you know that ALLEGIANCE was headed to Broadway?

TL: Oh gosh. I remember the day very clearly, you know getting a theater is the hardest part of getting a Broadway show going – and that was the last piece of the puzzle that wasn’t filled. I remember being on the street, on 53rd and 8th, heading to a rehearsal, and I ran into my Producer, Lorenzo Thione! He told me on the street and he told me “You can’t tell anyone else, I can’t believe I’m running into you today, because I just heard”.


So it happened in the best of all possible places – right in the theater district – right on 53rd and 8th – on a cold November day, I remember. So I knew well before there was an announcement and I had to sit on the secret for a long time, which was so hard to do, but jumping up and down, so happy.

TFP: So that is my next question – did you dance?

TL: We definitely did a little dance together, I think people on on 8th Avenue thought we were crazy people, there’s a little Chinese boy and a tall Italian Producer jumping up and down on the street together…


TFP: Or maybe they thought you were going to an Open Call and just warming up?

TL: Or that.

TFP: Who was the first person you told?

TL: The first person, even though I was supposed to sit on the secret, and not tell anyone – I told my Partner of eleven years, I told Jimmy.

TFP: You didn’t tell your Mom!


TL: I did not tell my Mom. (laughs) I felt like Mom was so new to the social media thing, she might have spilled it – she might have been texting my Dad and posted it on FaceBook or something. I don’t trust my Parents yet with that, but I told them eventually. (laughs)

TFP: That’s good (Laughs). As an Asian American what is the thing you want people to take away from this show the most?

TL: First of all, I think the show is not just for Asian American’s, I think all audiences are going to relate to the show. Of course Asian Americans have a very special connection to this show – but I have had …audience members who have had Family that have gone through the Concentration Camp experience and say that this show relates to them. I have had …audience members who have come up to me afterwards and said that “I totally understand the story of what it is like to be an American but judged on the color of your skin’, it related to them. I think the show touches everyone.

But specifically to the Asian American community, there is a pressure and there is so much riding on ALLEGIANCE being a successful show.

TFP: Right.

TL: Because there are very few opportunities and very few Asian stories being told on Broadway – for whatever reason that is. Whether Producers feel like they can’t take the risk to tell those stories, or they feel that audiences don’t want to pay for those stories on Broadway, whatever that means – I don’t think that is true – but those opportunities have not existed.

TFP: So you find yourselves at much higher stakes, it’s not just as simple (not that it’s ever simple) as opening a Broadway show – this show could open up a whole new conversation for Asian Americans on Broadway, and that must feel both a blessing and a burden.

TL: If you look at it, FLOWER DRUM SONG, KING AND I, PACIFIC OVERTURES, and MISS SAIGON – that’s all there was – and Saigon was 1991, so from 1991 till now, there hasn’t been this kind of Asian presence on Broadway.

TFP: Yes, you will join KING AND I, currently at Lincoln Center on Broadway in an open ended run, and then prior to that, the only other show where Asians were featured was HERE LIES LOVE, based on Imelda Marcos, but it played Downtown at The Public where it kept getting extended.

TL: HERE LIES LOVE also existed at a Not for Profit (theater) so they could take the risk to do that.

TFP: Exactly, and it sold out, proving that diverse stories can reach anyone with a mind to listen to them. However the difference – not just Uptown/Downtown – between HERE LIES LOVE and ALLEGIANCE is that, HERE LIES LOVE was set entirely in the Philippines, and ALLEGIANCE is an American story.

It happened in America, it is part of the fabric of America and the internment has repercussions to this day. It is the first entirely original musical (FLOWER DRUM SONG was based on a novel by CY LEE) to tell the story of Asian heritaged people, in America. There is definitely pressure there, to succeed, from the Asian American community, you can smell it.


What is your hope as you approach your Broadway Opening Night?

TL: The dream of all dreams is that, of course, ALLEGIANCE is successful, of course I want the show to be successful, but if it IS successful that would mean that perhaps that audiences would say “We want to hear more stories about Japanese Americans, we want to hear more stories about Chinese Americans, Korean Americans, Indian Americans, Middle Eastern Americans – We want to hear more stories of Americans of Color”

With all of these shows (this season) that feature very diverse casts and very unique American stories by and about People of Color – I think this is a landmark year in the theater – and I’m proud that ALLEGIANCE is such a big part of that movement. I think it’s more than just “Hey, we’re putting on a show’, I think the reverberations of this will last for many years.

TFP: Totally agree.

First thing you did when you knew the show was ‘frozen”? Did you collapse? Did you go get a smoothie?

TL: Our director, Stafford Arima, has this tradition, that when a show is frozen, he passes around ice. In San Diego, it was a pitcher of ice that he had put in the freezer in the first day of previews and he took this big pitcher of ice out and passed it around and told everyone to touch it. When we froze the show on Friday he passed around a big bag of ice that he got from the corner store and we all touched this wet bag of ice, it was a tradition I love, and I think I’m going to carry on with me.


TFP: It’s very Titanic of you. OK – first present you bought yourself with your Broadway money?

TL: Oh gosh – I’m so Chinese and practical…(laughs)

TFP: Did you put it in the bank?

TL: I am a good Chinese boy, my Parents raised me well…


TFP Lea put it in the bank.

TL: I also put it in the bank. (laughs) This is my fifth Broadway show, and you know, I’ve definitely been in hits and I”ve been in shows that have not been hits. I’ve always been told by Actors who I look up to in this business that you have to save for a rainy day, because as an Actor you’ll probably have more rainy days than sunny days…so…I put it away. And who knows? Maybe some day I’ll spend it on a really nice dinner or a vacation…

TFP: OK what’s your must have in your dressing room?

TL: Grether’s pastille – sugar free black currant pastille, a big tin of them.


TFP: Weirdest/best gift you have gotten from a fan.

TL: There is a wonderful gift giving culture in Japan, and I did RENT in Tokyo for a month. When we did RENT, there would be 1,000 people outside the theater with gifts of all kinds, food or origami, it was just a way of saying thank you (for viewing the performance). The most extravagant gift I ever got was all these clothes from DIESEL.

TFP: What?

TL: DIESEL is expensive, I don’t necessarily splurge DIESEL clothes often, and I was like “I can’t possibly accept!” and this fan said “No, you should take this” – somehow this fan knew my size and what would fit me!

TFP: Ok that’s weird…


TL: I thought – this is bizarre and wild, but it would be rude not to accept the gift..

TFP: I would totally accept something from DIESEL

TL: But it was a wonderful gift and I still have it, and thank you – and if that fan is reading this – thank you very much!

TFP: IF you had to have a celebrity cut out in your dressing room, who would it be? You know, to give high fives to before you go on, or as a good luck charm kind of thing?

TL: Because I’m such a Broadway nerd – can I have two?


TFP: Yes

TL: I need one of Carol… Channing


TFP: Of course

TL: And I need one of Elaine Stritch.


TFP: Aww, that’s nice.

TL: Those two. I would sort of like to have them flanking me. My Grandparents are no longer with me, but I always secretly wanted Carol Channing and Elaine Stritch to be my Grandparents. I met her once (Carol Channing) at the Magic Castle, when she was doing a benefit for her Education program, and she was absolutely lovely.

Seeing her in HELLO DOLLY changed my life, seeing her at the Lunt Fontane changed my life – because at the time she was in her 70’s and still never missed a show and was commanding a stage and I looked and I said “If she can do it” – it was inspiring.

And in many ways, George is so inspiring to me – watching George Takei make his Broadway debut at 78…it is a sign that it is never too late to fulfill whatever dream it is you had, he is the living embodiment of that for me. Your Broadway dreams can come true whenever, and for George it happened at 78!


Getting to watch him love this experience and go through all of the first things – first preview and the Gypsy Run, and Opening night…

TFP: Oh wait till he sees the Gypsy Robe, he’s going to go crazy!

TL: You know, he’s learning all this at 78, it’s wild and wonderful to go through this with him.


TFP: Well, it’s been wonderful to watch you all on this journey – and it’s only just beginning – Thanks very much for chatting Telly, and Break A Leg!

The Fairy Princess, in honor of the new musical, ALLEGIANCE, opening on November 8th, is publishing an interview per day, leading up to their Broadway Opening with one of their Actors.

For November 5th, we are talking to Michael K. Lee, who has been having a very successful career the last few years in Korea in several different musicals, but who grew up right here in New York and has been in several Broadway shows –







and now, of course ALLEGIANCE.

This image provided by The O & M Company shows actress Lea Salonga, right, with Michael K. Lee during a performance of TFP: We are here talking with Michael K. Lee about ALLEGIANCE, he plays Frankie Suzuki. Ok, questions, questions:


MKL: I don’t have all the answers (laughs)

TFP: I don’t expect you to! OK – where were you when you heard that ALLEGIANCE was going to Broadway?

MKL: I was working in Korea. I’m based in Korea now the past three years and the news came out last year.

TFP: Where were YOU when you found out YOU were going to Broadway? Were you in your kitchen? Playing X box?

MKL: What was I doing when they told me they found a theater? I wish I could remember.

TFP: It’s ok, you have two kids.

MKL: Exactly! (laughs)

TFP: Please, I have one boy and I can’t remember anything. Did you dance?


MKL: I was super excited.


We’ve been waiting for this since 2012. The energy we had at The Globe in 2012 was great. You know how the Globe is an incubator for Broadway Musicals?

TFP: Right.

MKL: Because we had broken Box Office records there at the time, we all thought we were going to ‘go’ within the next three to six months, so to be honest, with you, I went out and I bought opening night presents.


MKL: I was looking for a place to stay in New York…and then here we are.. three years later, finally about to open.


TFP: As an Asian American what is the thing you most want people to take away from this show?

 MKL: That’s a great question. First and foremost I would love people to become informed about the Japanese Internment.

TFP: Right. It’s funny they don’t know as much about it on the East Coast as they do on the West Coast.

MKL: Right, and we have theories about that. We think that maybe because it’s part of California State History, maybe they learn it in bits and pieces as they’re going through middle and high school? But I grew up in New York, and I did not learn a thing about it, not a thing.

 TFP: I think it was one line in a textbook.

MKL: Maybe

TFP: Maybe one line“…and there was an internment”.  I remember thinking “They went to camp?” Because you are young so you don’t equate – they didn’t say “concentration camp’ if they had said Concentration Camp or something like that…

MKL: Yeah, that would have resonated with me. To be totally honest, the first time I learned about it was when I went to college and I studied Asian American history and we read some novels based on those stories. The fact that people are becoming informed about this is the biggest takeaway from it.

What I hope people see, personally, is…that it is endemically an American Story. That any immigrant family that has come to the United States and has been judged by their ethnicity, rather than their nationality…can truly relate. If we can get people in beyond the Asian American Community, that would be most wonderful for me.


TFP: First Present you got yourself with your Broadway money?

 MKL: I got myself a membership at a gym.

TFP: That is very responsible of you. Your Producers will be so happy with you. Very Ramin Karimloo. What is the thing you MUST have in your dressing room?

MKL: I have very fancy lozenges. A series of three – Golia from Italy, Propolis lozenges from Japan, and “Hanyak” lozenges from Korea – it’s a medicine but it’s lozenge in form, and I have to have those three.

(Note: Hanyak is only available with a prescription in Korea)


TFP: Fancy. Last show you did in Korea?

MKL: Jesus Christ Superstar


TFP: Which is crazy because you did that on The Broadway…

 MKL: I did, in 2000!


TFP: The weirdest/craziest gift you have gotten from a fan.

MKL: I get such a variety of gifts – I got a wonderful tub of sake last week that was put in a traditional Japanese barrel with the Allegiance logo on it, it was an incredible sake and I got to share it with the Cast.

TFP: If you had to have a celebrity cut out in your dressing room for luck, who would it be? For inspiration? Good luck?

MKL: Two of my favorite actors are Gary Oldman and Daniel Day Lewis, because they disappear into the role, and that is my ultimate goal as an actor. I see them and I am blown away. So I would probably have one of them on each side and get in the middle and give them a fist bump before I go on. (laughs)

TFP: If I can find them for you, you will have them!

Break a Leg Michael, thanks for chatting!


The Fairy Princess was able to pop by famed NY Restaurant, SARDI’S and interview a few members of the #ALLEGIANCE family. As the show opens on November 8th, and it is currently November 4th, she thought she would put forth a series of interviews, one a day, leading up to their Broadway Opening.

ALLEGIANCE is notable for many reasons, but primarily, in TFP’s opinion, for showing us a story that falls within the American purview – it is the story of Asian Americans within America. Much like MEMPHIS or RAGTIME or 1776 showed us glimpses of America’s past with song and book- ALLEGIANCE is the first musical on Broadway to bring to light America’s incarceration of it’s own Citizens during wartime, based on nothing more than their heritage.

That being said, Americans have historically displayed xenophobia to immigrants and their generations, be they Irish, Jewish, Italian, African American, Muslim, and so forth, but the Japanese American Internment stands alone as a particularly dark period in the American story.

ALLEGIANCE and the struggles of it’s characters against injustice is a universal tale.


The following is an interview with Actor, Greg Watanabe, who plays the role of Mike Masaoka – who was a real person – and whose actions directly affected the Asian Americans that were incarcerated. Mr. Masaoka is a controversial figure to some – in fact the JACL has issued a statement protesting the use of him as a dramatic character in this piece, but Mr. Watanabe already answered that in this blog.


TFP: We’re here with Greg Wantabe, from ALLEGIANCE – these are some easy questions, so relax, here we go: where were you when you learned you were going to Broadway?

GW: I found out I was going to be in it actually in the room in NY, at Telsey and Company. I went and did the callback and then they said “Hey can you hold on and if you have something else to show us that would be great.” I was like “OK.” 

Other people came in and they said “OK, we have cameras by the way, but you’re not going to audition we are just going to ask you some questions.” So with that, I walked into the room with the entire creative team there, and then they were like “What are you doing this summer?” I’m like “I don’t know, looking for work?” and they said “How ’bout being in our Broadway show?

TFP: That’s awesome!

GW: Yeah, it was totally cool. I probably did not play it off as well as I could have. I didn’t have very good game face on. I was kind of stunned, I was just like “Really? Cool”

TFP: Did you get out of the room and do a victory dance?


GW: I didn’t. I was probably stunned for like, a good month. It was also several months coming, so it’s like…there’s that too. It was just stunning, the whole thing was kind of mind blowing.

TFP: Who was the first person you told?

GW: I think I called my Mom.

TFP: Like a good Japanese son, you called your Mommy!


GW: (Laughs) Yeah, and then I called my Girlfriend. I think I called my sister – I may have texted my sister, and some other friends.

 TFP: But Mom was first?

GW: Yeah, Mom was first, I mean, you know…yeah, Mom’s first (Laughs)

TFP: Mom’s always first. I have a boy, Mommy’s always going to be first.


OK, as an API what is the thing you want people to most take away from this show?

GW: As an Asian American and as a Japanese American, I hope that people take away a sense of the importance of social justice, and I know that sounds sort of pretentious. But one of the most important things for me as a Japanese American about the Japanese incarceration experience in World War Two is that is that no one stood up for the Japanese American community – very few people did. The ACLU backed off, the JACL say they did their best but in many ways they did not support many people who were taking constitutional stands. The Quakers were the only ones who said “We’ll provide you safe harbor and some resources” and things like that.

No one else helped us at time when all of this was happening. I think that is the biggest lesson from the incarceration experience itself, that we have to show solidarity and you have to stand up for social justice, you have to keep the Government accountable to it’s own ideals. If our play can do any of that, then that would be the best thing that could happen for me. Not only would other Asian American feel that, but that the wider audience would feel that.

I think that the fact that this particular story has never made it’s way to Broadway – despite the fact that there have been many books and films and regional plays – that it’s never been to Broadway – is sort of a testament to the fact that sort of our– exclusion might be too strong a word – (but it’s lack of attention) from the mainstream storytelling stream media- I hope people see it and feel like “Hey, we can participate” as storytellers on this level and at this scale.

Those two things, that would be what I want people to take away.

TFP: That’s a great answer.


First present you bought yourself with your first Broadway check?

GW: (Laughs) Wow, That’s tough to say. I have to say, I’ve been trying to be frugal, but I always fail. And one of my big weaknesses is just going out and buying food all the time.

TFP: New York has really good food.

GW: Yeah, New York has great food. So I’m like how many purchases have I made that have been like “F##k it, I’m on Broadway!”

TFP: Right? I can get that $8 coffee, I’m on Broadway! Dude!

GW: Yeah, $30 for lunch, sure…why not? (laughs)

TFP: What’s a ‘must have’ that you must have in your dressing room?

GW: One of the things I really like having, and this sounds strange, but I really like having my coat and scarf with me so that when I go lay down somewhere I can lay down on the floor, in the balcony or on a chair or…

TFP: So you’re saying you’re in a Broadway show, but you are laying down in the balcony to catch a nap during tech?

GW: Yeah, well….

TFP: I did that during that during my tech too! No, I totally did that!


GW: (laughs) And between shows! Previews are so grueling, I had no idea how long of a process, how intense it is.

TFP: So that is my last question – you come from 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors sketch comedy and a ton of straight plays where you have gotten awards and nominations – and now you are in a Broadway musical – what is the biggest difference, hardest adjustment for you?

GW: Probably the first adjustment was underscoring. So much of my stuff is exposition that happens in between or as parts of songs – and so I’m really not used to having to start on a beat and end on a beat – even if I’m not singing, that’s still part of my job. I really had to get used to that, that was one of the hardest things.

TFP: It’s hard.

GW: The other aspect was, and I don’t have a huge role, but you know it’s an important role…

TFP: You have a pivotal role. (Greg plays JACL Leader at the time, Mike Masaoka, who was a real person during this time period)

GW: Yes, I have a pivotal role – in fact I’m going to steal that.

TFP: Yes, that’s right, you have to steal that – pivotal role.

GW: The other aspect (to adjust to) was the amount of time to do the choreography and the songs, and all the energy – almost all of it goes to that. So, you don’t do the table work like you do in straight plays, you don’t do the kind of exploration – there is just not the real estate for that, once I got used to that…It gave me a lot of freedom to be able to explore things…Stafford is the coolest director ever, the nicest man and the most accommodating, and if I ever needed anything I could always ask for it.

TFP: In musicals it’s kind of like they just trust that you are a grown up and you are going to do all that on your own and then bring it to school.

GW: That’s right., and then they’ll see about it. I just said “Well, I’ll just make a choice and we’ll deal with it later, or I’ll get a note” (Laughs) But being given the freedom was great, because of that I’m having a great time.

TFP: And I am sure we will all have a great time watching you, Congratulations!


The Fairy Princess has been lax – no, not hanging in LA, just lax in general because she has been checking out what is going on with Asian Americans in Entertainment, and, truthfully – it is getting better. So she wanted to point you in the direction of some things you may/may not be aware of, and just…well, see if it gives you any hope.



Thanks ABC – that was well done.

And over at The CW – the writers at Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have given “Josh Chan” – played by Vincent Rodriguez III – his very own boy band number to accompany their full season order!

It’s like a K-Pop video with only your favorite member in it!

In other news about singing and dancing Asian Americans…..

ALLEGIANCE has officially ‘frozen’ their show!


Oh sorry, that’s a GOOD thing – it means that, for those who have been keeping up with this groundbreaking show, that the changes that have been occurring on almost a daily basis during their Previews are concluded. The show is ‘Frozen”, in other words – anyone viewing the show from now until the Opening on November 8, 2015, will be seeing the same show.

In ad finitum.


ALLEGIANCE is not the ONLY show that one should be aware of – oh no, my children…there is yet ANOTHER show aside from that has an Asian American Cast entering it’s previews…



Some may see this title and think…


but TFP is here to tell you to NOT lose your sh*t.

Hold on to it, because this is being produced by the National Asian American Theatre Company, and it is written by esteemed playwright, Lloyd Suh.


Here is the log line: 1967: The auspicious beginnings of a new political identity called Asian American, a young literary hippie named Frank essays an inscrutable Chinese detective. A harmless sing-song orientalist minstrel show that ENDS IN A GROSTESQUE CARNIVAL OF MURDER!

If you go to you can find ticket information – it is running from November 2-21st. Tickets are $40.

Directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar and starring Jeff Biehl, Jennifer Ikeda, Peter Kim, Orville Mendoza, KK Moggie, Jeffrey Omura

Other cool things to look for – BD Wong on GOTHAM, AMC’s INTO THE BADLANDS which is new, but also AMC’s Hell on Wheels…kinda rocking TFP’s world there AMC!

There is some stuff going on!

For those who are mourning the possible death of The Walking Dead’s GLENN, played of course by Steve Yeun, there was a particularly funny ‘take’ on what some consider to be television tragedy over at You Offend Me, You Offend My Family website, posted by Phil – and I will leave you with that.

TFP out!


The Fairy Princess is aware that not everyone knows that there is a quiet revolution going on on “The Broadway”, which involves diverse casting and telling under represented, but true American stories.

Of course, the smash hit HAMILTON is leading the charge, with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s retelling of the story of Alexander Hamilton, in a multi-ethnic way. Coming up behind them, having just begun previews is ALLEGIANCE, a musical based on the story of Actor George Takei’s family and their wrongful internment along with so many Japanese Americans during World War II.


Though Asian Americans of all backgrounds should embrace this show by purchasing tickets and the cast recordings – simply because it is the first Broadway Musical show written since MISS SAIGON 

(There have been many fine plays by the TONY Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang that have Asian Americans playing Asian and/or Asian American- M.Butterfly, Chinglish, the update of Flower Drum Song, and there have been musicals such as King and I, Pacific Overtures, but they were written prior to Miss Saigon, and Here Lies Love did not play on Broadway)

that deals with a story in which Asian people play Asian people – the good folks at the JACL – The Japanese American Citizen’s League  have quite a different take on embracing ALLEGIANCE.

They think the show should be changed because there is a character that is named and is representing a real person.


Well, let’s let them speak for themselves:


Priscilla Ouchida, Executive Director,
Jeffrey Moy, Vice President for Public Affairs,

As the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is proud of our legacy, the important contributions of our leaders, and the unique opportunity we have to continue educating people around the world on the Japanese American incarceration experience during World War II and its relevance to civil rights work past and present.

On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes and into incarceration camps located in remote locations throughout the country. This disturbing event, ignoring the principles of due process and equal protection set forth by the Constitution, serves as one of the darkest chapters in American history as well as an important reminder of the need for continued advocacy to ensure that the rights of American citizens are never violated again.

Originally founded in 1929, the JACL strives to secure and safeguard the civil rights of all communities affected by injustice and bigotry, in large part by reflecting upon and educating others on our own history. As an open and inclusive Asian Pacific American civil rights organization, it is not difficult to find a myriad of opinions of the work and positions the organization has held, especially regarding the World War II incarceration. In such a tumultuous period of time, the feelings of those affected and their positions on what the JACL could have or should have done cannot be understated. But with wartime hysteria creating rampant and violent racism, it is also not hard to understand how a relatively young organization and its leaders would have done whatever they could to navigate an impossible position with the best interest of their members and the community in mind.

Allegiance, which originally debuted in San Diego in 2012, is a fictional musical inspired by the life of George Takei, who also stars in the performance opening on Broadway next month. The JACL appreciates the effort by Mr. Takei to bring the story of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II to a wide audience. However, it is important to keep in mind that this musical is an artistic interpretation of events that provide a backdrop for a love story. Although most of the characters, which are loosely based on individuals, have fictional names, the JACL is disturbed by the play’s use of the names of the Japanese American Citizens League and of Mike Masaoka. The JACL is concerned that by using actual names, audience members may forget that they are watching a historical fiction.

The JACL hopes that those who see Allegiance will see this as the start of a conversation, and an opportunity to be better educated on this horrific event, consider the implications of how this struggle has affected the Japanese American community, and recognize how it may relate to issues within their own community. These considerations are the reason the JACL has been a staunch supporter of all those affected by discrimination, such as our positions on LGBTQ rights or our support of Arab American, Muslim American, and Sikh American communities in the wake of September 11th. We invite anyone interested in learning more to access the resources available on our website and work with us to ensure such a tragic event is never repeated.


TFP is a bit confused – because, well – they have not seen the current production.

In point of fact, other than in small previews specifically designed for Press (which BTW TFP has tried repeatedly to get access to as she has ‘covered’ this show since San Diego, and to which she tried to gain access to for other API Bloggers and Journalists and has, as of this writing, has had no real response) – no one has seen this current version of the show.


Who has seen it?

Just the paying audience at the first Broadway preview which happened a day or so ago.


And they are still making tweaks and changes.

To sally forth waving the flag of ‘you don’t know jack’ about Mike Masaoka based on whatever the JACL saw in a previous production in San Diego to TFP, seems misguided.


The Actor playing the role is different. the script has changed, and there has been – according to inside sources – vast amounts of change.

Now, having seen the production in San Diego, TFP can tell you that Mr. Masaoka was treated, as a character, as a person who was constantly trying to lead while working with the Roosevelt Government to try and gain some sort of security for Japanese Americans at the time – those in the camps and those that were not. In retrospect, yes, those choices made do not seem…they would not seem to us, as modern Asian Americans, to be effective.

TFP is not saying that Mr. Masaoka was a villain or a monster – and she does not believe that ALLEGIANCE is saying that either – what she thought when she saw it in San Diego was a man, who was as flawed as all men are, who was in a difficult situation with very little guidance, who made tough decisions that in hindsight, were not as helpful as he had intended.

Just as any other historical character whose life makes it to the Broadway stage.




In fact, she rather liked it because there was no aspect where she felt that the book writer was trying to cover up or rewrite history, the show was very much dealing with what the people in the show would have been dealing with. Also, they have in the cast, George Takei, who is playing his own Great Grandfather, as a source – and regardless of what the JACL would want everyone to believe, there was disagreement about Mr. Masaoka amongst the community, and there is a character or two that represent that opinion.

Now, TFP does want to write about the double-edged sword of API performers constantly being called to the carpet for roles that they perform and why this happens, but frankly,  she has to get to rehearsal.

Rather than give her ‘take’ on things – she asked Greg Watanabe, who is playing Mike Masaoka on Broadway – to answer this charge by the JACL. This was what he responded to via email.


“Well, I agree with them in that I hope people who see the show will seek out more information, not only from JACL, but Densho, the Japanese American National Museum, the National Japanese American Historical Society, or other resource organizations.

I’m not sure how you could fictionalize the JACL in a story about the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans…. I suppose you could not talk about them at all, as other stories about the incarceration have. But in a play (or musical), it’s possible to be historically factual, and still express an opinion. That is to say, FDR was president. He signed executive order 9066. The US military dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. All facts in mentioned in Allegiance. Opinions about those facts are many and varied. Was FDR racist? Did he actually believe in the military necessity of incarcerating Japanese Americans? Was there military necessity for the use of atomic weapons on civilians?

I believe it’s perfectly legitimate to create a fictional narrative based on actual events, and reference actual organizations and public historical figures like the JACL and Mike Masaoka.

As with any narrative, not everyone is going to agree. I think it’s entirely possible that the JACL doesn’t agree with the narrative being created in Allegiance, but you’d have to ask them. Also, the narrative is still in flux and won’t be set til Allegiance opens November 8.

I believe this is a pretty balanced representation of Mike Masaoka and the JACL. I’m interested to hear more opinions from JACL and their membership.

And again, I share their hope that audience members seek more information.



And there you have it.

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess woke up this morning and read that NYGASP – NY GILBERT AND SULLIVAN PLAYERS – has cancelled their production of THE MIKADO that was to be at The Skirball Center, and replaced it with PIRATES OF PENZANCE.

Now, one might think, as TFP has been quoted a few times in various articles (here, here, here) that she is thrilled with the news and looking all like


But one would be wrong.


TFP is not at all happy about the cancellation…er…replacement of THE MIKADO by NYGASP, even though their statement…

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players announces that the production of The Mikado, planned for December 26, 2015-January 2, 2016, is cancelled. We are pleased to announce that The Pirates of Penzance will run in its place for 6 performances over the same dates.

NYGASP never intended to give offense and the company regrets the missed opportunity to responsively adapt this December. Our patrons can be sure we will contact them as soon as we are able, and answer any questions they may have.

We will now look to the future, focusing on how we can affect a production that is imaginative, smart, loyal to Gilbert and Sullivan’s beautiful words, music, and story, and that eliminates elements of performance practice that are offensive.

Thanks to all for the constructive criticism. We sincerely hope that the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan remains a source of joy for many generations to come.

David Wannen Executive Director New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players

is well written.


It seems sad to TFP that a ‘request’ that was made by API Bloggers, and covered so well by and  and NBC Asian America was not able to be easily made by December.

Because it is September currently.


This was the ‘request’ – please stop using exaggerated makeup and gestures, and please remove the HIDEOUS addition of a character called “The Axe Coolie”.


That was it.

No one said “Please never do this again”, no one said “Please halt your production”.


All that was said was – please look closer at the fact that you are mocking Asians when you use exaggerated paint and gestures, and try and bring it closer to the first production of THE MIKADO, which was supposed to be respectful and elegant.


So what is the


That in 3 months, they cannot change their makeup?


In 3 months, they cannot ‘axe’ The Axe Coolie?


Just refusing to do the production – with three months to go – seems…well…


slightly immature.

You can see why TFP has concerns, especially if you peruse the comments section of their FB page…the attitude now is that those “big, bad Asians are taking away our show”, the general theme is “thank goodness I saw it as it was meant to be before those thin skinned prickly Asians interrupted all our fun’ and ‘what is the world coming to?”


Well, the world is coming to be more diverse, frankly.  America especially.


Cancelling a production does not negate the very real discussion which is – HOW did NYGASP arrive at their ‘standard’ production of THE MIKADO, which is so very far off the mark from the intent of Gilbert & Sullivan?


Why is it that NYGASP, which yes, is a premiere standard of Gilbert & Sullivan performances here in the United States, why is it they can do a beautiful IOLANTHE, or a super fun PIRATES, or giggly in moments H.M.S. PINAFORE, but when they get to THE MIKADO, they kind of all seem to lose their damned minds as to what is appropriate for our multicultured New York City.

TFP is puzzled about where authentic performance begins, and where stereotype and racial mockery becomes known as ‘authentic’, thus ending it.


Exchanging one production for another is but a band aid on a boil – it might help soothe temporarily, but underneath there is something festering, and why – honestly – WHY in a work of ART – was it SOOOOOOOO easy to get there?


TFP is not a social scientist, so she is just going to lay out those questions and hope that someone at NYGASP does take a good look at them.

Because you see, Dear Reader – just because they are not doing THE MIKADO that they wanted in NYC, does not mean it is over.


NYGASP has the exact same production of THE MIKADO, the “Just as they like it” version and it’s booked for FLORIDA. 


Next week – September 23, 2015!

At The Sharon Performing Arts Center




TFP wonders if The Axe Coolie will make an appearance?

She’s pretty sure that some people in Florida will love The Axe Coolie.


Which is actually the issue. The issue is – are we always going to have to ‘catch’ people with these kinds of productions? Is the rest of the country so afraid, or so intimidated by Asian Americans that they will jump at a chance to label and mock us?


It’s an interesting thought, if a negative one, and TFP does not like negative thoughts.

This is the second production that TFP has had a bit of hand in closing – the other was (alarmingly) The National Asian Art Project’s production of SHOW BOAT, which was to feature an All API Cast to tell the story of racial divide in the United States post Civil War. That closing, NAAP’s?

TFP was ok with that.  It was the wrong thing to do, and the API community spoke up and were heard.


HOWEVER, TFP does not like the closing of productions like NYGASP’s because that is a ‘close’ of the conversation.

Why cannot there BE a conversation?

TFP has a thought (which she stole from her friend Jeffrey S., but he would totally give it to her because he hates what this represents too, which is why they are friends) (She is expanding on it though)


– what if NYGASP took a big leap and did a bare, stripped down MIKADO? Just to try it. What IF…they took off their face paint and set in on say…The Upper East Side of New York City? And Titipu was like, just the name of an area in New York like Chelsea, or Meat Packing District?

And instead of carrying fans and parasols, they carried Birkin bags with little faux dogs in them? Or pushed GIANT DOUBLE STROLLERS WHILE CARRYING A STARBUCKS AND TEXTING?


And maybe the THREE LITTLE MAIDS went to a ritzy boarding school like Gywneth Paltrow used to go to?


Because if they did that, even just this once, would it not be clear, once again – what Gilbert and Sullivan were actually writing about? Social mores and how they color our behavior? That love can find a way, even if you are not 18 with a rocking bod, that if talking to your Boss isn’t getting you anywhere, talking to the President of the Company might get you a promotion? How rich kids like to run around on the down low, escaping their responsibilities because they do not want to become their Parents?

Are those sentiments ONLY for classic productions of THE MIKADO?


For those purists, who want the traditional dress and book – that is ok. Just be respectful. Would we like more Asians playing Asians in the cast?


However, a mixed cast of a classical work is perfectly fine – they do it in Shakespeare, they can do it in Operetta.


Just lose the makeup, the pulling of the eyes, the excessive tittering, shuffling and overall remember that Asian Americans are people, and also – they are Americans. If you would not do a minstrel show in front of an African American audience, then do not do a racist Mikado in front of us.

It is that simple.


TFP has another thought, actually – what if NAPP went on and did….an All API Version of PIRATES OF PENZANCE?


That is what NAAP does – All API Productions – and that is great, that’s their mission statement, perfect – serves a need.




Then everyone would learn…together.

TFP would really like to come in for RUTH if that happens.


Also, for those out there who are interested in supporting NAAP, they are having a fundraiser on October 5th – GUESS WHERE?



ANYWAY, those are some thoughts for today…just gonna leave those here – NYGASP, TFP appreciates that you ‘heard’ us – but she’s concerned that it would take you over 3 months to remove makeup and behaviors from your production. It seems it is a bit of a ‘dodge the bullet’ tactic….HOWEVER – TFP is serious about that All API Pirates with NAAP – you should really get on that, it’s a good idea, even if it came from someone you are not entirely pleased with right about now.

TFP out.



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