The Fairy Princess would like everyone reading to know that her buddy, Actor and Activist, and all around Mr. Little Tokyo, Rodney Kageyama died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday. TFP does not write obituaries, but thankfully, YOMYOMF‘s Tim Lounibos has done so. She will only say that he was a light in the darkness, and that Little Tokyo, East West Players, and the Universe will be a bit sadder with him not in it.

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Fly with the angels, my Friend.

xxxxx

Next, she would like to give thanks for some very special people in Orono, Maine who CANCELLED their scheduled production of AVENUE Q because they did not have minority performers, who are intrinsic to the show, come and audition.

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Yes, the SOME THEATER COMPANY has stood by it’s mission statement of inclusion and diversity, and decided the people of Orono and surrounding parts would NOT be served by whitewashing Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman and guess, what – HERE are key members of that Company….

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Here is what they had to say about it:

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They are absolutely correct in their decision, and while TFP’s past opinions may or may not have been read on this subject, the truth is – it was the wrong thing to do and they chose to not do it.

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Bravo SOME THEATER COMPANY, you win the Internet!

Tell them, Natalie Venetia Belcon!

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You know who ALSO wins the Internet?

The Cast of FLOWER DRUM SONG 1958, Bway Revival and First National Tour!

Check them out in this stunning display of talent across the ages – from Alvin Ing to Ali EwoldtTFP has to admit feeling a bit verklempt at this video.

Congrats to all, especially Lainie Sakakura and Alex Sanchez for coordinating this giant effort, from writing the script to choreography and recreating choreography –  and thanks to Broadway Cares/EFA for highlighting that NOT seeing AAPIs on our Broadway stages has NEVER been about talent.

It has been about Producers and Creative Teams who did not feel comfortable giving AAPIs a shot in a show that was not ABOUT being AAPI.

TFP thinks that is changing – but we cannot go forward without knowing our history – take a look:

TFP’s little heart that is five sizes too small – shrunken by the salty waters of white tears of regret – grew just by watching the video.

Until…and you KNEW there was an until, she read about this next Anniversary of a R&H Musical, SOUTH PACIFIC.

Seventy years doncha know?

Actually, it is TONIGHT – December 10th at the St. Regis.

TFP appreciates that dramatic reinterpretations are going to be happening, after all the show is 70 years old, and most 70 year olds in show business have had a little work done.

However there is no AAPI Female listed to perform in the cast that is really quite diverse – read about it. Eden Espinoza, Erin Dilly, Alex Newell, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Morgan James, Carmen Cusak, Jose Llana, Karim Sulayman…all brilliant performers.

Not one of them an APPI female.

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Yes, there is an AAPI male- actually you would have seen Jose perform IN that Flower Drum Song video above – but unless he is singing a song about a far away island – which is possible – there is a disconnect that is happening here that TFP wants to touch on.

Again – fans of all the performers listed – total fan – have seen several of them multiple times. All excellent. They did not hire themselves, TFP gets that. When you do these concerts, you have no idea really who else is on the bill till rehearsal.

Here is what the issue is for TFP, and wave your hands in the air if you agree…go ahead…s’allright even if no one can see you…she will wait.

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SOUTH PACIFIC is a show that has most of the time throughout it’s history – purported to represent a woman of a South Pacific Island – and then specifically NOT cast a woman of AAPI heritage. The character’s name of course is, Bloody Mary.

There was Juanita Hall, who was African American, who famously played the role on the stage and in the film.

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There was Beatrice Krebs, the opera singer, who was Caucasian, who incidentally told TFP that if one were to sing Bal’i Haishoes could not be worn, that was direct from Richard Rodgers. TFP was grateful to her for the information.

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You get the idea – it is only in recent years that people have tried to cast this piece authentically – it has two roles that are AAPI – Bloody Mary and her daughter, Liat.

The show was written in part to address prejudice against AAPIS and mixed race children. The story of Nurse Nellie being unable to wed Emile because he had previously been married to a Native Woman and had two children is one giant HELLO from Oscar Hammerstein about a world where we let ignorance rule our lives.

The issue that ‘you have to be taught to hate and fear‘ is profound – it is why Lt. Cable refuses to marry Liat after he takes her virginity, so her Mum (Bloody Mary) decides she is going to be married off to a vastly older and potentially cruel French Plantation owner.

Let’s be honest – we all know Liat is going to suffer.

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The show is built on the backs of women – both white women and AAPI women. The show is about ignorance being overcome by love.

So, riddle TFP this – if the show was written to show that there is racism against AAPI women – casting history nonwithstanding – why do they continue to NOT have an AAPI female in the show when presenting it on a Anniversary year in a big concert at the St. Regis?

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As a fundraiser for Broadway Dreams, which is a not for profit performing arts training organization with global reach?

Guess they better not reach to countries who fall under the AAPI Umbrella term.

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Anyway, break a leg to all the performers going on – TFP is sure they will be smashing, but she is not going to deny she is butt-hurt that there are no scheduled APPI females performing, that ‘we’ are being washed from a show that is named SOUTH PACIFIC.

The optics are not great here, R&H – not great at all.

In a year where we had #AsianAugust, where FRESH OFF THE BOAT made it to five seasons, where Hasan Minaj is the best thing on Netflix, where the Crazy Rich Asians made a Vanity Fair Cover, along with Hapa Darren Criss, where Nik Dodani is lighting up MURPHY BROWN for our LGBTQ Family, where Rizwan Manji is Shitt’s Creeking and Magicianing, where Shoba Narayan is touring as Eliza Hamilton with Marcus Choi as Washington, where Daniel Dae Kim is serving us diverse Dr realness on The Good Doctor, and where Sandra Oh is hosting the Golden Globes…the same year Thom Sesma played the iconic role of Sweeney Todd in a setting that sold actual PIES, you are going to give us a SOUTH PACIFIC with no AAPI females?

THIS LIST IS OFF THE TOP OF TFP‘s HEAD – SHE HAS A WHOLE OTHER 3/4 OF HER HEAD TO GO THROUGH and she knows she has missed some – don’t @ me!

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Perhaps you should watch that FLOWER DRUM SONG reunion video again – one that was done about a full WEEK prior to this concert that is happening tonight, to see what opportunities have been missed.

And to whomever is singing Bali Ha’i – TAKE YOUR DAMN SHOES OFF!

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess heard about two upcoming concerts that she is unable to attend and she wants you all to know about them and attend FOR her – tweet back at me and tell me how much it added to your life – because IT WILL!

These are dynamic, charismatic Broadway performers who bring their own brand of sass and swagger to the stage.

First up – TONIGHT – MS CARMEN RUBY FLYOD! In Well, Hello Carmen.

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She is going to take you from the beginning of her career to the current, with all the changes life has thrown at her. From Lion King, to Avenue Q OBC, Chicago, After Midnight, Porgy and Bess, and finally, Hello, Dolly – where she understudied DOLLY!

That is tonight at Birdland – 315 W. 44th Street at 9:30 PM.

She deserves a sellout, let’s make sure she has one.

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The second concert, ALSO at Birdland, that she wishes she could attend is on November 19th, at 7pm, and that is TELLY LEUNG!!!!!

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Currently starring in ALADDIN on Broadway! Telly has also been all over the country with his solo show in addition to appearing on Broadway in FLOWER DRUM SONG revival, GODSPELL, RENT, In TRANSIT, ALLEGIANCE – you get the idea.

So do yourself and your ears and heart a favor and go and take in these shows and when you are done with that….on Dec 2, at The Cutting Room in NYC, comes SPARKLE NY a benefit for THE ACTORS FUND.

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Yes, once again, Scott Nevins is getting the gang back together to raise money for a really great cause, The Actor’s Fund.

Join us on Dec 2nd at 7:30, you will have an amazing night.

That’s it – Happy Holidays!

The Fairy Princess notices that unlike other times when she has written a blog, this time the Broadway League has not made efforts to change their policy to include Dimming the Lights for TONY Nominated Playwright, Ntozake Shange. Nor, have they announced dimming the lights for 9 time OBIE Winner, playwright María Irene Fornés – whose work was at the core of the Latinx theater movement and whose work helped shape American theatrical representation.

Yes, Off Broadway is not Broadway.

True.

Most times, it is better.

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Bolder. Blunter. Less caring of breaking the rules.

Still, when we #DimTheLights for theatrical greats, we do not dim for minor reasons – these two have contributed to the Pantheon of American Theater. They staked a claim not only for themselves, but for those who came after. They taught, mentored, directed, wrote, spoke at length at the importance of being seen and heard. They fought harder than white males whose work was lauded at the time, who would have been seen as their contemporaries.

Who SHOULD have been seen as their colleagues and contemporaries. By NOT honoring them The Broadway League tells us, the People of Color of Broadway, that OUR foremothers do not matter. It tells us that equality is very far off, and possibly unattainable in our lifetimes, as it was in theirs.

TFP will not believe that, and neither will you if you reach the end of this blog.

Ntozake Shange and María Irene Fornès.

Remember them, Honor them.

Even if The Broadway League does not.

 

 

 

In the spirit of celebrating female Playwrights…TFP was quite honored to see WILD GOOSE DREAMS by Hansol Jung at The Public Theater this past week.

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The themes of modern life and disconnection, the ability to ‘like’ something and feel connected when you know almost nothing of the life being actually lived is something that succeeds remarkably well, and you should try and grab a seat if you can.

There are many reasons to see this show – on the tippy top of The Public Theater – don’t stop at Glenn Close on the second, keep climbing to the third! The acting is strong – and while TFP does not want to ‘review’ this work, she was very pleased to see people she knows, at the top of their profession, doing a remarkable job and making it seem effortless. The play is acted out by one of the strongest ensembles TFP has seen in a while. In that, they seem to be mainly pulled from the Broadway musical theater, and combine movement and sprechstimme in a rare and fluid way.

Bravo to Director Leigh Silverman, Hansol Jung, their Producers, and the Cast of this show: Michelle Krusiec (NYC Debut), Peter Kim, Francis Jue, Jaygee Mcapuguay, Lulu Fall, Joèl Perez, Dan Domingues, Kendyl Ito, Katrina Yaukey, Jamar Williams.

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The Forgotten, a new play being done RIGHT NOW, over in London, written by Daniel York Loh, has been getting fantastic reviews, and why should it not? Daniel is a talented Actor himself, as well as being a writer, director, and activist – and TFP sees no reason that some theater in the States – The Public, Second Stage, Ars Nova, Playwrights Horizons, BAM Harvey Center, Barrow Street Theater, Cherry Lane Theater, Daryl Roth Theater, HERE Arts Center, The Lucielle Lortel Theater, New Victory Theater, New World Stages, St. Luke’s, The Delacorte – or some such venue, could not mount a US Production!

Check out the interview with Daniel, explaining the origins of the piece, which combines aspects of Chinese Theater and Artistry, and the work that did behind the lines for the British during WW1.

 

 

TFP thinks this play, with it’s roots in Chinese history, and the Chinese Labor Corp being so integral to the success of the Western war – will be of interest to American audiences. The acceptance of the issue of structural racism that led to the ‘erasure’ of Chinese faces and contributions are real and in effect today.

Why not let American audiences share in this knowledge? Come on Off Broadway – this show has had great reviews, and we have stellar East Asian heritaged Actors in the United States – so why not?

Here are the names of the British East Asian Cast getting prime reviews, so ‘we’ all get to know one another – Rebecca Boey, Jon  Zhang, Zachary Hing, Camille Malet du Chauny, Michael Phong Le, Leo Wan.

Directed by Kim Pierce, Produced by Moongate Productions, Yellow Earth Productions, and Arcola Theater, Movement Direction by Quen Kien Van

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PAN ASIAN REPERTORY THEATER right here in Manhattan is mounting a Holiday show for…well, the HOLIDAYS, and you can take your CHILDREN (no this is not The Mikado) to have them see and feel what AAPI Faces on the stage means to them.

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THE EMPEROR’S NIGHTINGALE is playing on Theater Row at The Beckett Theater, 410 West 42nd Street and you may purchase tickets here.

It is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, set in 18th Century China, written by Damon Chua. Starring: Leanne Cabrera, Ya Han Chang, Dinh James Doan, Jonathan Frye, Brian Kim, Roger Yeh

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Also here in NYC you can check out Playwright Lloyd Suh‘s newest work, THE CHINESE LADY,  on Theater Row in NYC. Also at 410 West 42nd Street!

This play is being performed in Rep with SESAR by Playwright Orlando Pabotoy. THE CHINESE LADY is a co-production of the Barrington Stage and Ma-Yi Theater Company.

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Directed by Ralph B. Peña and starring Daniel K. Issac and Shannon Tyo, this tells the story of the first female immigrant from China, Afong Moy, who was put on display to satisfy the appetites of an America hungry for culture from China.

Just in case you are wondering, aspiring Producers, where you find new works to produce, check out the list from STEPPENWOLF Theater called THE MIX.

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TFP is so chuffed to see Writers of Color, and Gender Variety, interesting subjects and, well, this list feels like a giant relief that voices are being heard, and needs are closer to being met. If Artists of Color want to see their stories – and obviously there are those willing to tell them – then they should consider seeking out these plays and mounting them.

Here are but a few examples – and really, TFP would see every single one of these because they sound incredible, but she will only post a few because…there are emails on them, some of them – and while you can visit the link and do your own internet stalking – she’s not going to make it easy for you.

However, ASIAN AMERICAN PACIFIC ISLANDERS if you do NOT look at some of these plays for production – you are a FOOL. Because THIS IS WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO FIND YOUR STORIES….some of them.

(Also, so much love and congratulations to TFP’s friend, KEVIN R. FREE for being on the Mix List! YAAAAAY)

So again, for the AAPI’s – the definition including ALL peoples of Asia – Central, Eastern and Southern,  here are some options:

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Again, these are but a few – this list represents ALL People of Color, as POC are considered POC in this Country. They represent Queer and Gender Fluid voices, as well as Cis voices – in short, TFP believes this is a really, really great list.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it – is to grab one of these plays, and produce it.

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If the House can go Blue, you can be a Producer!

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess gets tired, her wings beat slower. Why does everything take a hashtag and a blog to get folks to do the right thing? A great playwright passed last week and thus far, nothing has been announced to honor her, the way we of The Broadway, typically note the individual contributions, ie: Dimming the Marquee Lights.

TFP gets why the fact that when playwright, Ntozake Shange passed, people would be confused that no plans have been announced to dim the Broadway marquees in her honor. She was the second woman of color, after Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In the Sun”, to have a play on Broadway.

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Her play, “For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf’ premiered Off Broadway, then went to The Public, won an OBIE, and then transferred to Broadway in 1976.

Ms. Shange was 27 years old. Read that again, she was twenty seven years old.

It was a hit, and it was nominated for a TONY Award.

TONY Award Nominations do not just go to everyone – they go to outstanding examples in the category – performance, writing, lighting, costume design – the best.

Year after year, we see lauded names compete with neophytes, and every year, the prestige and unquantifiable cachè of being a Nominee elevates the individual – but in terms of playwrighting, it elevates the message.

Her message was ‘listen to Black Women’.

Ms. Shange elevated the voices of those who had never been put forth in such a way – and the fact that she played one of the characters in her own TONY Nominated piece?

That she WAS the “Lady in Orange” – took her success to a whole other level.

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She was the holder of a Masters Degree in American Studies from USC, also a graduate of Barnard College, who had become deeply moved by the Civil Rights movement and changed her name from Paulette Williams to the Zulu, Ntozake as a young woman.

She not only wrote the story of Black women who had suffered abuse and trauma, but she performed it, night after night. Her play later became a film by Tyler Perry, so that it was more accessible to a wider audience, although it remains a staple in the regional theater.

That was not all she did. She was PROLIFIC on a Hamilton-esque scale.

She went on to adapt Bertholdt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and her Children“, also cited by the OBIE Awards, wrote 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, 6 novels, 5 children’s books, and 3 essay collections.

She was what it meant to ‘not throw away your shot’.

That there was one play, one TONY Nominated play of hers that made it to Broadway is not to be a ‘qualifier’ of her place in Broadway history.

We honor individual accomplishments on Broadway. Which is why the lights should dim for her. The lights should dim because her legacy is living right now on our stages in other works by other playwrights.

The world of the playwright has always been systemically tilted towards writers of other, paler melanin. Towards men. Should someone choose to produce one of her other works on Broadway, that play might also be nominated or win a TONY Award. We do not know why there was only one that made it to Broadway – although systemic bias towards both People of Color and Women may have played a part – but the one that DID make it – was glorious.

Dim the lights for Ntozake Shange because she held up a glorious rainbow bridge for Black Women in this country to be heard and seen in a art form that did not resemble her.

That largely, still, does not resemble many of us.

Dim the Lights because a Great Artist has passed, and because in honoring her, we acknowledge that there has and will continue to be more to her legacy than a TONY Nominated Play that she wrote and performed in. She led a life doused in art and activism, and isn’t that what the best of theater is?

She was what the best of theater, is.

Come on, Broadway League, come ON!

Rest in Power, Ntozake Shange.

REST in POWER.

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Just a quick note from TFP to remind you all that Fresh Off The Boat on ABC enters into it’s HISTORIC FIFTH SEASON tonight! Friday October 5th!

Every show loses viewers every season, but what TFP would ask, as a personal favor is that we bring some of that #CrazyRichAsian energy to this evening’s premiere because what we want to prove is that being supportive and AAPI is something that we can maintain and grow.

Not to mention, the cast is adept and funny and deserves support – as do ALL AAPI Actors who are brave enough to take the plunge and enter into this oftimes rewarding and equally hideous career.

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That being said, TFP wants to address NAGINI and the casting of the role with South Korean Actress, Claudia Kim – who is, by the by, cute as a button.

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She spent six years in the USA as a child, and has appeared in several franchises including AVENGERS; Age of Ultron, THE DARK TOWER, and in Netflix’s MARCO POLO where she portrayed the character of Khutulun.

TFP understands the fervor around Nagini’s human side being the only Person of Color in this film, FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is an issue.

Before that – LOOK HOW HAPPY CLAUDIA KIM IS TO BE IN THIS FILM!

Now everyone is going to ‘yuck her yum‘ in regards to being in this film, so get ready.

That this is sort of a new issue for Asian Descended actors is cause for celebration and the occasional groan. It is not that one POC in a film is unusual in the United States, however if there there WAS, ahem ‘one person of color’ – the color was not ours. We are new to this ‘game’. A game that all other POC Actors have been playing for a while – they let one in, the rest get the door slammed shut.

AAPIS are very far behind in this concept – not that it is ‘right’, but this is the game that we are new to play. We have seen much advancement and change for various other groups, and now we are invited to play in a limited way. That will grow. It will, simply by dint of the success of ‘a certain film’ and because, frankly, there are more AAPI Executives in play than ever before in American Entertainment.

No one is perfect. Diversity is a growing concept. That the Harry Potter World is growing in representations of People of Color is fantastic, if slow.

In short – J.K. Rowling is not the enemy here.

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Look to the White House for that.

TFP is concerned with the backlash over Nagini, because it falls in line with the backlash almost every AAPI Actor or Actress has had, and she wants to ‘remind’ people what was said about people that are now lauded for the work they are doing.

Tiger Fans are the best, and the worst and it is worth revisiting to ‘remind’ ourselves that actors and actresses are real people, and while they try not NOT take things personally, it is almost impossible, if you hear these criticisms over and over for joy not to vanish as you continue on in the roles.

So this is a small list of criticisms that the AAPI Community has voiced in the past  towards AAPI Actors and Actresses, who are doing their best just to survive….

  • That Daniel Dae Kim‘s Korean fluency was not good enough to be on LOST
  • Margaret Cho was attacked about her ALL AMERICAN GIRL sitcom, and we would not have another sitcom on the air about an AAPI family for 20 years.
  • That Lucy Liu is both a sellout and only works with white people so she is ‘not really Asian’
  • That Randall Park should not be on FOTB because he was of Korean descent
  • That Ming Na Wen’s Doctor on ER was too inept and it set a bad example for Asian American Doctors.
  • That Kim Miyori‘s Doctor on St. Elsewhere should not have passed from AIDS.
  • Why did Constance Wu have to use an Accent of FOTB and by the way, is that a ‘real’ accent?
  • That Gedde Watanabe was responsible for all bullying of AAPI males ever and he is a sell out
  • That Grace Park was just on Hawaii 5.0 so they could see her in a bikini
  • That Masi Oka on HEROES was a stereotype, even though, he is an immigrant and yes, does have a slight accent.
  • That Masi Oka was responsible for white washing on a project he produced, when TFP personally knows that he is very involved and concerned with representation in projects he produces and acts in.
  • That James Kyson Lee was not Japanese so he should not be on HEROES and his Japanese fluency was ‘awful’.
  • That Chloe Bennett is ‘not really Asian”, even though she identifies as such
  • That Connie Chung is a ‘sellout’, because she rarely does AAPI events, but she did write a blistering and sobering support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
  • That MISS SAIGON should never be performed
  • That Anna May Wong just played the Dragon Lady
  • That the JOY LUCK CLUB bashes Chinese men.
  • That the JOY LUCK CLUB‘s cast was slightly mixed and therefore ‘not accurate’.
  • That Karate Kid Two is full of “tropes’ and not an accurate representation of Japan.
  • That Kelly Marie Tran does not belong in Star Wars
  • That you hate that THE KING AND I is still performed
  • Lana Condor should not be cast in TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE because she is Vietnamese heritage. Also, the character only liked non Asian boys, so that was offensive to some, regardless of the fact that an AAPI teen girl was the star of the film.
  • That Mindy Kaling is a sellout and only likes non-Indian men based on her TV show
  • That the Cast of OUTSOURCED were sellouts and non authentic Indians
  • That Crazy Rich Asians only represents a small, elite subsection, it has non ‘pure’ Asians in it, and it ignores racism in Singapore so no one should give it any sort of credit even though it is the highest grossing RomCom in years!
  • That Keanu Reeves never acknowledges his Asian heritage, but then he goes and does 47 Ronin, and people went crazy with ‘who does he think he is”
  • That even though The Rock is Samoan, he was not ‘authentic enough” to be in Moana
  • That Awkwafina was talking like she was ‘not Asian’. When she was talking like she was a rapper from Queens. Which, she is.
  • That George Takei was ‘too fey’ for Space.
  • That SAVING FACE, which starred Joan Chen, Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen was ‘a problem’ because it was a love story about young AsAm women falling in love with one another. (It’s an awesome coming of age film)
  • Things have been said about openly Gay Actors like Nico Santos, Alec Mapa, Rex Lee, that TFP will not repeat – but they were said. She saw and heard. She remembers who said them. They are on ‘the list’.
  • That Priyanka Chopra was not proud of her heritage because she had a nose job.
  • That Dr. Ken played a stereotype in the films he was a gangster in
  • That John Cho was thinking about a white lady in SELFIE so he was a ‘traitor”
  • There was backlash about a film called BETTER LUCK TOMORROW from the APPI Community and the Caucasian Community about representation, and you know what happened? The Director, Justin Lin, went on to become a powerhouse film franchise director and the founder of YOMYOMF.

These all sound completely ridiculous now, and they ARE.

TFP gets it- everyone is a sellout. Everyone is a trope. No one gets credit for talent. No one gets credit for taking a part from the page to the stage. We are all, AAPI Actors, literally ‘the worst’ and responsible for everything anyone has ever did, EVER.

This is but a sampling. Imagine how many more there are or were!

They were, and they ARE.

These were all Actors doing their jobs, and doing them so that they were hired IN SPITE OF the fact that people could have used their ethnicity to NOT cast them.

TFP was hopeful that kind of thing was in the past…and then, most recently, TFP heard a descriptive of Claudia Kim that had her reeling.

She will not repeat it.

BUT IT WAS NOT COOL!

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Stop bringing down our own so that you can prove some racism happened somewhere in the past, present and future – we know, ok?

TFP knows that the REASON you are upset has to do with the LACK of representation on the big and little screens and thus you are placing SO MUCH on EVERY performance that it is literally making  you CRAZY – but it has to stop.

That you are laboring under the belief that whatever AAPI face shows up on the screen, they are going to represent you, and you want them to get it right. You want them to be exactly you.

Which is, by the way, impossible.

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TFP gets that white washing is still out there, and Tilda Swinton is lurking around every corner to steal our stories, but we, the AAPI Acting community still have to be free to make choices. We have to be allowed to play the villains. The shady characters. The morally corrupt. The comic relief.

Because we are ACTORS and that is what we do!

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Sometimes, parts are parts. Sometimes your Agent calls with an opportunity and you HAVE to take it, because BILLS. Because it will lead to something BIGGER. Because it is on the journey and the journey is never complete.

AAPI Actors know we do not live in a perfect world and that we do not get access a lot of times to be the leads – and that is changing– however we are still trying to work. We are still trying to create. We are still trying to grow. We are writing, we are producing, we are working on it.

Give us some time to breathe.

You want to change the parameters – make every single television show and film that has an AAPI in it – ANYWHERE IN A SIGNIFICANT WAY – make it a monster hit.

You want SANDRA OH to get that MF Emmy? The one she FULLY DESERVED?

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Watch KILLING EVE. Watch it and tweet about it and blog about it until your eyeballs fall out. Send letters of support.

Make Entertainment in America have it’s own form of a #BlueWave.

Let’s put a #AAPITsunami out there for American Entertainment.

Buy tickets. Watch shows. See who advertises and buy their products.

Support THESE shows new and old because there are AAPI Actors on Them:

CRAZY Ex-Girlfriend, CHARMED, SUPERSTORE, CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, THE FIRST, GOD FRIENDED ME, I FEEL BAD, MAGNUM P.I., MANIAC, MANIFEST, A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, THE MAGICIANS, MR. INBETWEEN, MURPHY BROWN, NEW AMSTERDAM, THE ROOKIE, SINGLE PARENTS, SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS, TITANS, YOU, CHICAGO FIRE, THE GOOD DOCTOR, BILLIONS, IRON FIST…ETC ETC ETC

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Attacking the people who are trying to figure it out along with all of us, how to get ‘us’ in there, seems counterproductive. Try not to j’accuse the helpers, the ones who are trying, but who may fail a bit, or…frankly, completely. When you accuse people of trying to shoehorn diversity into a project, what you do is negate that the actor and their talent had anything to do with them being cast.

If they have ‘us’ in there, then they are ‘caving to diversity and trying to shoehorn us in’ – if they don’t have us, they get accused of white washing or abject racism. Why would anyone want to use AAPI Actors and walk that tightrope of the never happy, AAPI Audience?

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TFP wants to know what YOU are going to do to raise the profile of AAPIS in Entertainment….

Have you purchased tickets to plays by David Henry Hwang? Lauren Yee? Young Jean LeeLeah Nakano Winkler? Rick Shiomi? Lloyd Suh? Philip Tan Gotanda? Chay Yew? Denise Uyehara? Lane Nishikawa? Frank Chin? Jessica Hagedorn? Jeanne Sakata?

Do you support Pan Asian Rep? East West Players? NAATCO?

Annual gifts? Endowments?

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Pan Asian is having a big benefit dinner on OCTOBER 18th, you could still buy a ticket!

Have you gone to see Kate Rigg down at La Mama?

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Do the work yourself, before you go full tilt boogie with what you do not like.

Let’s get more APPI Actors on the screen.

Do as Lynn Chen has done and go and film something yourself.

Yes, there is a learning curve happening and we are all bearing witness to it.

Bearing witness is not easy… and none of us had to testify and then be ignored before the Senate Judiciary.

Just saying.

Thank you Dr. Ford.

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Bearing witness while something is changing is a hard thing to do, you want it to just be all fixed already.

It does not work that way. Nothing works that way.

Casting is hard.

Acting is hard.

Acting while being AAPI is effin impossible.

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You can start TONIGHT with FRESH OFF THE BOAT

TFP out.

It has been a week since TFP took herself to see GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER...and her mind….was blown.

The Reviewers were wrong.

The show was funny.

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Not perfect, but that was part of the charm of it. She observed people gasping for breath to the left and right of her, she herself had a roaringly good time – as did every Broadway professional she consulted about their experience seeing this show.

Everyone enjoyed it.

No one could figure out the reviews.

 

Let the record show:

From Jesse Greene at The New York Times: The show aims so low that all it achieves is a ruckus in the tuchis.

From Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter: Director John Rando (Urinetown, On the Town) keeps things moving at a sufficiently brisk pace, but it’s a mystery why he felt the need to have the performers constantly jump offstage and race down the aisles as if heading for the exits. It makes it look as if they’re trying to escape before the reviews come in.

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Photo by Cherie Tay

David Cote, Observer: Having sat through the sweaty, janky garbage fire Gettin’ the Band Back Together, I strongly suspect that producer and book writer Ken Davenport has a chest tattoo that reads (in Gothic script), “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Davenport, who is also responsible for My First Time (about losing your virginity), The Awesome ’80s Prom and That Bachelorette Show, seems to never hesitate in grabbing, shall we say, the fruit that hangs low.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: You can smell the flop sweat before Gettin’ the Band Back Together even begins, as Ken Davenport-the show’s lead producer and also, not coincidentally, its principal author-takes the stage with a handheld mic to deliver a curtain speech. “What you’re about to see is one of those rare things on Broadway these days: a totally original musical,” he claims. But although the show is not based on any single preexisting source, it is, in fact, supremely unoriginal, from its formulaic ’90s-movie plot to its instantly forgettable ’80s-rock score. A community-theater vanity production that has somehow surfaced at a Broadway house, it is schlocky at every turn.

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Photo by Cherie Tay

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: This is a show, directed with a loopy Labrador’s energy by John Rando, that sells itself shamelessly to its intended audience. Perhaps in the next few weeks, the company will start handing out fliers at Penn Station. You’ll roll your eyes at that repeated geographical gag, and at much else in this musical, not least its hackneyed rock ‘n’ roll, ageing dreamers, reclaiming-past-glories storyline.

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Photo by T. Charles Ericksen

Elisabeth Vincentelli, Newsday: You can’t say the new musical “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” doesn’t try hard. At one point somebody shoots T-shirts into the audience from a cannon. Marilu Henner, who plays the lead’s mom, passes along Rice Krispies Treats during the intermission. Throughout, the game cast sells the action with undeniable energy – if Broadway quality was measured in sweat, “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” would be a shoo-in for a Tony. Unfortunately, other factors must be considered. The show is a willfully silly piece of cheese, but that stuff is actually hard to pull off – and “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” is no “Head Over Heels” or “Rock of Ages.”

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The show is too long. It’s plot mechanics are creaky. Some of those character numbers should be cut, delightful as they are-darlings waiting to be killed. (Bart’s, which is hilarious, is also too dirty for a family show.) And yet it’s all just a really good time.

TFP read those reviews and she had some feelings….

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TFP gets it, part of the bargain that theater people enter into when they invite critics in is that critics have the right to write whatever they want.

These reviews are very pointed in their disdain for

  1. The Producer, Ken Davenport
  2. New Jersey
  3. Humor that is funny to the audience, but not British humor = therefore ‘low brow.’

We are the country that invented vaudeville and burlesque based on theatrical traditions from other countries.

We are ‘high brow’?

The people who kept MAMMA MIA open? CATS? ROCK OF AGES? (Yes, yes, they are all super fun and campy shows and we love them, but Shakespeare they ain’t)

Those ‘high brows’?

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These are the people who get into raging debates  on the internet over being allowed to wear tank tops and shorts and flip flops to the theater, over dress pants and a nice wedge heel?

Because they want to be comfortable?

Like they are in their living room?

Does that sound like ‘high brow’ behavior?

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The critics wrote those reviews for New York City’s mythical 400, those lofty robber barons who aped European standards to create New York High Society around the turn of the century in the late 1800’s. In short, not the average theater audience. People come to the theater for all kinds of different reasons, but escaping ‘real life’ for two short hours is a legitimate reason to grab a ticket, no matter where your family origins hail from.

The critics did not, with rare exception, point out how talented the cast was, or that they were delivering stellar comedic moments in a solid manner.

The cast did their jobs – they sang and danced and made people laugh. The Critics failed to realize that the comedic rule of three – first one, tiny laugh, second one, bigger laugh, third one, hysteria – was well in play in this production, and used to great effect.

The point of these reviews seems to be to punish Producer Davenport, who had the temerity to get up and give a pre-curtain speech on opening night about the fact that this show began as an improv.

A show that began with an improv, not with a film or television show establishing it’s provenance, which makes it a risk. Which is to be lauded, but apparently not ‘too’ much and not by a person of mixed race.

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There has to be, on Broadway and Off, and regionally, of course – room for all kinds of theatrical experiences. There can be a rainbow – it is freaking BROADWAY, folks!

Sometimes your show experience will be DEAR EVAN HANSEN and sometimes your show experience will be GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER – and it is ok. The important thing is for the audience to have had a good time – theater is  a service industry.

Theater people serve at the will of the people – just like public office. Yes, theater ‘makes people think‘ or ‘have the feels‘ or help them reach a ‘realization‘ – but  theater, as much as it is a magical, unicorn band of people who create it – create the work to be part of a service industry.

A luxury service industry.

Frankly, not everyone with money necessarily has high brow taste, and even those who do sometimes need to go slumming. The world is too tense right now to have to ignore that  the basic inalienable right to laughter, is one of the best reasons to go to the theater.

There is room for both EVAN HANSEN and GETTIN THE BAND, both shows, which yes, TFP has seen and enjoyed and where she viewed the casts do their jobs.

Or did, in the case of GETTIN THE BAND. It did it’s job, and TFP is sad that it is closed.

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Photo by Lia Chang

It was not nearly as raunchy or dirty as these reviews made it out to be – in fact, AVENUE Q has equally if not more room for parental concern, if we are to be honest. Singing about having sex with someone’s Mom is not as graphic as watching puppets with no genitals go at it for an extended number.

It is TFP’s considered opinion that the show should still be open. The audience she viewed it with went WILD, and upon further investigation, she was told that audiences consistently went wild as the show ended. That has to count for something. Audience response should count.

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Photo by Lia Chang

While attending the matinee, TFP sat next to a woman who, at intermission, informed TFP that she had seen GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER five times already. She had seen the show FIVE TIMES.

It opened in AUGUST.

Closed SEPT 16th.

FIVE TIMES!

TFP was astonished, she needed to know this story.

Here, paraphrased, is what she was told.

It is a good time.  It is a solid good time. You know, I started coming to the theater when I was a caregiver for my husband, and…my Brother In Law would come and watch my husband and then _______ and I would take the bus in – you know the bus is around $3 as a senior…Anyway, I saw the name.

I thought “That sounds fun”. I am from New Jersey, this show is set in New Jersey. I knew of one of the performers. So I came. It was so funny. I had a great time. The next time, she asked me what I wanted to see – I said GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER.

So I came again, and again. Five times. Oh – they are so talented. You know, if you see it more than once, you see SO MUCH TALENT on that stage, not just the lead – well, I do love Brandon, he is so handsome – but the supporting cast. They all play instruments, and sing and dance, and are funny….there is no reason not to love this show.

I am sick that it is closing. Sick. What are all those talented performers going to do? Oh, it makes me sad. The show is happy, but it makes me sad.

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Photo by Lia Chang

Thank you for that, Jersey Jenny – you were feeling sad and GETTIN THE BAND helped you feel better.

It did what it was supposed to do.

Let’s all take a moment – because this show will be done regionally and people will get to enjoy it – and decide that Broadway, for all it’s lofty aspirations, began it’s reign as a pastime for the regular folks of New York, and that as long as there ARE still ‘regular’ folks of New York, there was room for the band to get back together.

Plenty of room. Eight shows a week.

RIP GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, you did your job.

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The Fairy Princess kinda went on hiatus for most of August, she had to get ‘back into the grind’ of New York – however she wanted to take a moment to share that she had a chance in her career to work with the luminous Marin Mazzie.

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Just once.

It was not an extended run, or an intimate concert – it was the first workshop of the musical DAVE, written by Thomas Meehan, Nell Benjamin and Tom Kitt. It had a different director than the show that was just closed in D.C. at Arena Stage, it was somewhat of a different show. Ms. Mazzie played Ellen Mitchell, the First Lady, and TFP played a news pundit.

When TFP walked into rehearsal that first day of that first musical and saw Ms. Mazzie, her heart skipped a beat.

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There were ‘more famous’, technically, people in the room. There were some in the room that are part of the television and film ‘firmament’, and good times were had by all – but Marin Mazzie was the voice that had been so intrinsic to TFP developing her own sound….and TFP went SILENT and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw her.

(Which, let’s face it, is very hard to make her do.)

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Ms. Mazzie could not have been more gracious or kind. She joked around, she made everyone feel welcome around her, and she knew – as all great theater Diva’s know – that sometimes their power makes others feel intimidated. There are two ways to deal with that – and Ms. Mazzie chose the kinder way.

It was how she was.

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That was a glorious week.

We had a great new show, and yet, all through rehearsal, on every break, if she would look over at Ms. Mazzie, all TFP could think about was this glorious sound, a sound that her heart had absorbed from the moment she first heard the notes. The richness, it was effortless.

Listen. Close your eyes. Majestic.

WHICH IS WHY ALL THE THEATERS SHOULD BE DIMMED FOR MS. MAZZIE – ALL OF THEM!

BROADWAY HAS 41 THEATERS and WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A DAMN KNOB THAT HAS TO BE TURNED DOWN FOR ONE MINUTE!

ONE MINUTE!

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Three TONY Nominations in 6 years – and we cannot give her a MINUTE?

A tireless performer who, even with her illness, continued to fundraise and to sing, and to take to the stage, because she was a creature OF the stage?

The Broadway League cannot dim for one damn minute for the 41 theaters that are part of the League?

Why?

Honestly and sincerely, WHY?

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For someone whose Cast Recordings and videos of performances, intimate and grand  will live ad infinitum and inspire generations of young kids to try?

For someone who changed the way we listened and thought about acting through song?

Who was literally the definition of an Actor who Sings and a Singer who Acts?

The Broadway League cannot give her one minute?

When she gave a lifetime?

Ain’t that a kick in the head?

TFP is TIRED of the disrespect shown to Female performers – remember when there was a big fight to get everyone to#DimForJoanRivers? Recall that for Jan Maxwell, a five time TONY nominee, only two theaters dimmed the lights?

Oh yes, everyone LOVES or LURVS or YAAAAASSSess the Divas, but now is the time for respect.

Now is the time for actual homage.

Now is not the time to count theatrical lights and a dimming switch like they are priceless jewels.

Now is the time, oh Broadway League, to acknowledge that you could not do what YOU all do so well, without women like Marin Mazzie.

She did straight theater and musicals. She was gifted. She put butts in seats.

So weird cuz like, when Tony Soprano, Actor, James Gandolfini unexpectedly passed – there was no question the lights would be dimmed.

All of them.

James Gandolfini had a TONY nomination for his performance in GOD OF CARNAGE, and in 1995 appeared in “On the Waterfront” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1992.

They dimmed them all.

When men pass, great men, btw, great men of the theater – there is no actual question asked, naturally the lights dim for NEIL SIMON. Of course they should, OF COURSE THEY SHOULD!

They dimmed the lights for ROBIN WILLIAMS – on Broadway twice, once was a concert, no TONY nomination – and of COURSE they should. He was ROBBIN EFFIN WILLIAMS!

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However you see it, right? The automatic ‘female tax’ that is applied when deciding these things?

Shall TFP tell you what she thinks of you?

For Performers who are considered part of theatrical history – the lights should be dimmed. We should not be ‘tallying up’ as to someone’s worthiness.

Well this one had that many awards, and over here, that person was on a television show.

It is ridiculous. Blah, blah, blah.

They are Actors. They lived and made an impact on people around them and their craft. They changed the world, for GOOD. They let light and magic in where it once was not, and they did it eight shows a week, sometimes five on a weekend.

Period.

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Marin Mazzie was a theatrical legend, a wonderful person, with a loving and devoted Husband and Family.

Give her her GODDAMN MINUTE.

Or TFP is going to ouija board the crap outta Elaine Stritch,  till she comes and berates you for trying to minimize the passing of one of the great voices of our time.

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Rest in Power, Marin Mazzie.

Rest In Power.

The Fairy Princess would like to just have a ‘check in’ with folks, so here it goes….

A big personal THANK YOU to the Writers, Producers, Original, and Current & Past Casts of the TONY Winning Show, AVENUE Q . There was an extra special reunion concert this past Monday, and TFP would not have missed it for the world.

(Jen Barnhart was there, but she was off kibbutzing when we were taking photos!)

L-R: Erin Quill, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Jordan Gelber, John Tartaglia, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, and Rick Lyon

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Not ‘everyone’ was able to make it – but though they were missed, the show went on, and it is incredible to know that one has this ‘second family’ out there, who share common experiences and humor…especially the ones who were there the first go ’round. The names to add there (in alphabetical order) are Natalie Venetia Belcon,  Jodi Eichelberger, Aymee Garcia and of course, Ann Harada.

(Apologies for not really knowing where the camera was, but CLEARLY Jen was there)

First of all – the incredible Ruthie Ann Miles returned to her TONY Award winning role in THE KING AND I in London, and that gives TFP all the feels. We are swept away with multiple emotions at her strength and fortitude, and we hope that this marks a positive change for her and her Family.

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SecondTFP binged watched on Netflix, the Canadian show, KIM’S CONVENIENCE, which was first a play, and then a television show – and she is, without a doubt, totally obsessed with the Kim family dynamic. It is an endearing, hilarious show with a lot of heart and laughs, and for any child of immigrants – of ANY KIND – you will see yourself and your Family in this show. It gets just about everything right – and no, you do not have to be Korean to enjoy it.

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Third – CRAZY RICH ASIANS, directed by John Chu, has it’s US released date on August 15th – which is, inexplicably, a WEDNESDAY.

This film was highly anticipated as soon as the book came out and entered the zeitgeist – TFP would appreciate it if everyone purchased a ticket – not just AAPIs, that is not going to be ‘enough’ to tip this over into ‘yes, we will fund another AAPI major motion picture’.

It has to be everyone. Everyone no matter the color of their skin. Everyone, including 53% of White Women who like romantic comedies. It has to be Everyone who is a Person of Color that wants to see, if not ‘exactly’ them, a film with a group of people also not regularly represented in our mainstream entertainment scene. It has to be Everyone that has a ‘thirst trap‘ for Simu Liu, as well as Henry Golding….

(Ooh wow, look at AAPI America – having two opportunities for star gazing instead of putting these two in the ultimate death cage match where we have to declare supremacy of one over the other!)

By the way – neither one is American – Simu is Canadian and Henry is based in Malaysia and Singapore.

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TFP was joking about having to ‘choose’ between watching KIM’S CONVENIENCE and CRAZY RICH ASIANS, because there has been some debate about that. We do not have to choose one over the other!

This is not like picking one kind of dumpling and staying with it for life! My goodness can you imagine if you were asked to pick ONLY one kind of dumpling?

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There is room for everyone at an AAPI Banquet Hall, and if you do not get in during the first 1,000 people sitting, you can certainly come back in two hours and get in the next round.

That is what entertainment is – food for the soul when you are hungry – and everyone gets hungry at different times!

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Ok, now we have to get to the bitter with the sweet…and this will be brief cuz Mama’s got a matinee…our beloved Ali Ewoldt, first APPI to do the role on Broadway,

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currently playing Christine in  PHANTOM OF THE OPERA recently got ‘trolled’, and here is what was said:

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Now, Ali did respond, quite graciously to this jealous, nasty woman…probably a 53% er..

Now TFP is going to weigh in – especially given that audiences do not seem to know how to be respectful anymore.

Here is the thing, Folks – you bought a ticket.

A ticket is an agreement that you would like to view the event, and that the performers would like to show you the event to the best of their ability. It is, in fact, a contract in which certain behaviors are, in common parlance, not acceptable.

TFP is going to list those behaviors right here – so we are all in, once again, agreement – and because your Parents did a crap job.

IN THE THEATER, AS AN AUDIENCE MEMBER, IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO:

  1. TOUCH YOUR PHONE EXCEPT TO TURN IT OFF BEFORE THE SHOW AND TURN IT ON AFTER THE SHOW
  2. MANSPREAD IN YOUR SEAT, OR ON THE AISLES w/your limbs or baggage!
  3. EXPRESS YOURSELF OTHER THAN BY CLAPPING or LAUGHING
  4. DEMAND THAT PERFORMERS SIGN EVERYTHING YOU BROUGHT WITH YOU AND THEN CHAT WITH YOU FOR TWENTY MINUTES REGARDLESS IF THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE THERE WAITING FOR THEM TO SIGN
  5. TAKE PHOTOS WITHOUT ASKING – asking for a photo is fine, taking one without permission is not.
  6. THE TAKING OF ANY VIDEO DURING THE SHOW IS ILLEGAL, AS ARE PHOTOS!
  7. DENIGRATE ANY ARTIST WHO HAS BEEN ON THE STAGE THAT EVENING

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If you did not like the show, that is on you – talk to your friends about it, fine. Have a beverage. You are cranky, ok – did you eat before the show? Did you have a bad day?

Guess what?

Even if those two scenarios happened, or dozens of others, it is not the ‘done thing’ to contribute MORE toxicity to a world that has to attach an office in front of a name that is linked to bankruptcy, fraud, extortion, non-payment of bills, kids in cages and white supremacy!

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What you do not do, is search down the Artist’s Promotional Social Media Page so that you can flagellate them with your ‘opinions’.

Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has them.

You, along with hundreds of other people, got the fulfillment of your ticket purchasing contract – you viewed Artists at the top of their game, your contract was fulfilled.

Go home. Look longingly at your Playbill. Dream of other shows you wish to see, or that you wish to be in.

Most of all, try kindness.

Because TFP is not here for your bullshit.

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TFP out.

 

 

 

OK, as previously stated, The Fairy Princess is busy.

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So one cool announcement – she will be appearing at 54 Below with some of the other Cast Members of the Original Broadway Company of AVENUE Q, along with composers Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez, singing some cut songs, some show favorites, and celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Broadway Premiere of that TONY Winning Best Musical.

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Let’s get to the thing that she’s kinda wondering about – and she is being careful about the wondering because this could very easily be an error.

Here is what – y’all know that European Director, Ivo van Hove

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and fellow Belgian, choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

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have decided that the next project they will take on, on the Broadway, will be WEST SIDE STORY.

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TFP was a bit…nervous about this announcement for a few reasons – and by the way, none of those reasons concerned the creative brilliance of either of them.

She was nervous because Maria being Puerto Rican is a giant part of the storyline, right?

THERE SEEMS TO BE NO LATINX IMPUT ON THE CREATIVE TEAM.

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WHEN HALF THE SHOW REVOLVES AROUND LATINX CULTURE OF THE 1950’s.

WHEN THERE ARE, IN FACT, PEOPLE OF LATINX HERITAGE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE BRILLIANTLY TO THIS STORY – Directors and Choreographers, Assistant Directors, Lighting Designers, Stage Managers, Costume Designers…lots of Latinx “behind the table’ talent around in New York City!

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If only there was someone who knew all about the brilliance and diversity of Latinx culture in New York, who might even perhaps, be of Puerto Rican heritage?

Who possibly has worked on WEST SIDE STORY in the past?

If only…

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In fact, WEST SIDE STORY examines race relations between two groups of different culture and physical appearance. (No, you do not get to respond with ‘why is everything about race?” because the answer is – it IS, it is categorically about the clash of ethnic groups, who are specific, in New York City)

Each side spouts derogatory remarks about the other, in the period of the time, in order to eventually prove to the audience that…these things do not matter. Love is what matters in WEST SIDE STORY, ( love, high notes, and dancing) and if everyone would just get out of the way of love, and the color that they believe it has to look like – we would all be stronger for it.

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By the way – this is a concern for all POC, this is not one of the times you get to say “not my problem”, because this is a problem, Peg + Cat – not including POC to help tell a story about THEM…that is a problem.

Belgium is not known for it’s influx of Puerto Ricans, nor actually, Latinx people in general – they get their immigrants (and they do have quite a lot) from conflicted countries in Europe – Over the last decade, the main countries of origin have been Russia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, and Serbia and growing numbers from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and India.

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Belgium has not been a hot spot of Latinx immigration in recent years.

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Of course, these are people that are international travelers and artists….but they would, TFP believes, have to seek out in a really active way, exploring Puerto Rican culture during the post signing of the law that anyone born in PR is a US citizen.

Though Spain is close, in Europe everything is relatively close – Spain is not Puerto Rico.

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Which is why the characters in WSS are at the point they are at – because jobs and opportunity were few at the time, so they came to America to pursue the American dream. They are Americans who are bilingual. Also they hold dual citizenship, that of Puerto Rico and the United States. However, they were seen at the time as immigrants, because they were multi-lingual and because they came from a culture that had been invaded by the Spanish.

However, once here, they run up against the children of previous groups of immigrants who happened to be Caucasian – TONY is supposed to be Polish American – who have already assimilated into the New York City of the 1950’s.

The cast is equally split between Caucasians and Latinx roles, and they re-tell the story of Romeo and Juliette in the ‘modern’ era of the 1950’s.

Thus it was very surprising that the casting breakdown of the character of MARIA…

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currently on the internet for several days now, who is, definitively newly arrived from Puerto Rico, does not have Puerto Rican listed in the description. Or even Latinx.

They do not even list her as a soprano, which, she is an ingenue soprano!

DEFINITIVELY!

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TFP does not know why this is, and she does not want to…it could just be an oversight.

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Is it not listed because….everyone knows that Maria is Puerto Rican and this musical premiered on Broadway in 1957 and then was revived in 2009, so they just think everyone knows this?

It is not listed because….an intern wrote the casting breakdown?

It is not listed because…it is being directed and choreographed by Belgians and it has escaped their notice?

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TFP does not know.

However, it is concerning to her. VERY concerning to her.

Yes, we should all trust these very talented European Creatives whose work has not heretofore revolved around anything dealing with Latinx culture that TFP can find on the internet, to do their research.

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TFP has absolute confidence that they are doing their research while, apparently, erasing one of the Musical Theaters greatest choreographers work – Jerome Robbins, looking at you….and know that they will do an amazing job. Their past work has been breathtaking and mind-blowing and she hopes that will happen with their reinvention of WEST SIDE STORY.

But it is not off to a good start, Folks….

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Erasing Maria being Puerto Rican is not the way to begin WEST SIDE STORY.

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess was taking the summer off. She is working – and, as she said low those many moons ago – if Producers would just keep her employed, there would be no blog, because she would not have time.

Something to keep in mind….

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First off, let’s have some GOOD news, and there is a ton –TFP‘s Favorite, Ms. Sandra Oh, was the first woman of Asian descent was nominated for an Emmy Awardfor a lead role.

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Which is both sad and amazing.

Sad this is just the first time in the millions of years since the EMMYS were founded in 1949  – that a person of Asian descent has had a meaty role on television in a leading category.

Amazing because…Sandra Oh is flat out, amazing!

As both an Actor and an Activist, she never gives an inch, and that is what makes her an outstanding person and creative artist. TFP is proud to know her and her work.

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TFP doesn’t take too much personally, but if Sandra Oh does NOT win, oh EMMY voters….

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In more surprising news – Sandra Oh is NOT the only Asian Descended Person nominated this year – Darren Criss is also nominated as a Lead Actor in the Television Movie category. The show, WESTWORLD – which features Aussie actor, Leonardo Nam, was nominated. DRUNK HISTORY, which this year featured Randall Park retelling the story of the Frank Emi, was nominated. Eddie Shin is part of the nominated show, Alexa and Katie, awesome. As was Japanese born American television director, Hiro Murai for the show, ATLANTA.

So how about that!

Then across the pond, Daniel York is doing us proud by not only being a brilliant Actor and Activist, he has written a play specifically about Chinese people in the UK, around World War 1, and it is being produced by the Arcola Theater!

Hereis the link for tickets!

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Forgotten 遗忘 is inspired by the little-known story of the 140,000 Chinese Labour Corps who left everything and traveled half way around the world to work for Britain and the Allies behind the front lines during World War One.

TFP is thrilled about this because, Mr. York saw a need, and filled it –  and while it is not a great time to be an East Asian Actor in the UK, it is getting better with Artists such as he is leading the charge and also making room for up and comers.

TFP wants to thank Daniel, and Lucy Sheen, and Anna Chen and many others for continuing the fight, and ALSO because she knows that they were out there protesting the American Cheeto POTUS, and that makes her happy.

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Now in totally awful ‘representation’ news, from Down Under,

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which has the casting sensitivity of a goana, the Sydney Opera House has announced that they have set the two main principals for their production of WEST SIDE STORY, and is Maria Latinx?

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NYET!

(TFP figured we should all start casually throwing in Russian phrases in casual conversation so we are ready when Putin calls in his markers)

Now, Sydney Opera House has cast a local soprano as Maria, and let’s – even though photos do not ever adequately represent a representation of the Latinx diaspora – they do show the people at home the soprano, Julia Lea Goodwin.

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Adorable.

Not Latinx. Nor Spanish.

She is well known for playing Maria on an Australian national tour, but prior to that, she was ‘plucked from obscurity’ to cover the role of Christine Daàe in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, starring Anthony Warlow in 2007 when she was 19. She has done a heap of concerts and operas, and in general, seems like a true Aussie Sheila, and has a lovely voice.

She does not, upon TFP‘s searching, represent or claim to be anything other than Caucasian in Australia – and there is nothing wrong with that.

Boring DNA is no one’s issue.

It is what it is.

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There IS, however, something wrong with her being hired to be Maria in West Side Story because…wait for it, Maria for those unfamiliar with the show, is Puerto Rican.Which is not a group that Australia is overly familiar with, to be blunt. The production is being directed by Francesca Zambello, who was born in America, but grew up abroad and is fluent in several languages, but not Spanish.

That seems like it is going to go GREAT!

As far as TFP can see, this is a WSS being done and directed by people who have only seen the West Side on a postcard, and thus far, there is no Puerto Rican influences within the creative team – which is not the best thing for the world in general.

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First off – Where is Puerto Rico? Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.19.27 AM

Puerto Rico is off of the end of Florida, for those who know where to look, and if you do not, in the right corner, marked PR?  Right there.

The USA ‘annexed’ Puerto Rico in 1898 as a result of the Spanish American War.  ‘Annexed’ is a nice way of saying that the USA took it from Spain, who had previously claimed it. This was all part of an ongoing plot by the US Government to ‘annex’ strategic territories like Guam, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, and Mariana Islands for military and economic purposes, but hold off on granting them statehood.Which would mean they would get rights. As it is, they are in a weird limbo.

It was a super selfish and sh*tty thing to do, and totally self serving, but it was done. What it really does is allow the United States to treat Puerto Rico as part of the USA when they want, and as a foreign nation, when they legally choose to.

In 1940 Congress ruled that anyone born in Puerto Rico, was a US Citizen.

West Side Story premiered on Broadway in 1957.

Puerto Rico is a set of islands that united to become the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1952. They are an unincorporated territory of the United States.  People who are Puerto Rican can be both citizens of the United States, and citizens of Puerto Rico. Concurrently.

Languages spoken in Puerto Rico are Taino, Spanish, and English.  Spanish & English are the ‘official’ languages of Puerto Rico.

Now, Australia has an awful track record with minorities – we see that every day if you have an internet connection and a penchant for watching minorities get attacked on public transport. As a matter of fact, TFP‘s Great Grandad was murdered there in 1922 in Innisfail- partially for being wealthy and partially for being Chinese. His murderer got off because they thought it would be problematic for a White Man to be convicted of killing a Chinese.

So TFP knows from whence she speaks.

Combine that with Opera casting which tends to be traditionally problematic, because they disregard background in favor of the desired sound. So many Butterflies, So many Radamès and Aïdas, Otellos, Carmen’s…operatic stages fully embrace the sound alone – and in a perfect world, that would be fine.

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Australia still is very reluctant to cast with authenticity – and time and time again, whether it is IN THE HEIGHTS or EVITA, (Also produced by Sydney Opera, with a non Latinx Eva Peron) they get it wrong far more than they get it right for Latinx performers.

When on occasion queried by TFP, at a conference and such, Aussie creatives blatantly reply that there are not trained performers of minority to put forth from conservatory, and thus, they rely on wigs and makeup to represent those people, time and time again, ad nauseum.

This was at a Musical Theater Educators conference at NYU where TFP was an invited speaker.

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The comfort they have with the erasure of peoples of different cultures is ingrained in the country, and as the country is majority Caucasian, they see no reason to change, while at the same time they market themselves as a tourist destination, the Gateway to Asia, and plug diversity anywhere the world’s eye can catch it to fuel the tourism industry. However in practice, the performing communities of Australia tend to be dominated by Caucasians – they are both the gatekeepers and the perpetuators of the status quo.

Like, can’t they just pop the lid on their stubbies and get down to the task of authenticity in casting? What is the delay? Are they really just THAT entrenched in their own bullshit that they cannot smell the stink on this bit of news?

Currently Sydney Opera has doubled down on the Whitewashing.

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This is the same company that thought it was appropriate to cast a non Asian person as The King in THE KING AND I.

Boyfriend of the woman set to play Mrs. Anna, wasn’t it?

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The resulting uproar was such that they had to place a call to Hawaii and ask Mr. Jason Scott Lee to come and save their tushes until he broke his ankle and asked his buddy, Lou Diamond Philips, who had done it on Broadway, and yes, for those in the back, is Filipino heritage, to fill in for the rest of the tour.

Even though recent casting uproars in Australia – some of which have led to either postponing the show or cancelling it

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to just soldier on with more ridiculous notions of casting in the 1950’s, rather than step up to the plate and evolve with current times, and cast as most benefits the story.

For those who need a refresher on WEST SIDE STORY:

Based on a modern retelling of Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare, this one is written by three brilliant men, Leonard Bernstein (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics), and Arthur Laurents (book).

Originally, it was going to be a modern retelling of R&J with a forbidden romance between a Jewish ingenue and an Irish hero. They were in familiar territory, because they had experienced anti-semitism in its many forms, and they thought they could write about it.

With various delays, stops and starts over 8 years, and after glancing at a newspaper article about the gang wars in Los Angeles, but feeling that it had to be set in New York because they knew the geography better – and since director/choreographer Jerome Robbins loved the idea of working with Latin rhythms on a show, the location changed, as did the name.

What once was EAST SIDE STORY, became WEST SIDE STORY, and warring New York gangs were the backdrop. As they knew enough to know that at the time, New York had more Puerto Ricans than Mexicans – the basis of the original article was about gang wars between rival Mexican groups in Los Angeles – the Sharks were written to be Puerto Rican.

Thus a landmark musical was born, in which songs and dance bled into one another without the jarring formulas of earlier musicals – dance expressed emotion, and not just a dream ballet. It was earth-shattering at the time, and has remained sacrosanct in many productions around the country even as it grew older.

The show grew into a musical theater staple with performers all around the country, because of the diaspora of the Puerto Rican culture, throwing on dark wigs, and a deeper base makeup to give stereotypical representations of what they imagined Puerto Ricans to be. Even though they could look at the film, and see EGOT winner, and actual Puerto Rican, Rita Moreno, play the role of Anita.

In the original Broadway production, it was played by Chita Rivera, while non Latinx performer, Carol Lawrence played Maria.

According to Professor Brian Herrera of Princeton University, the most recent Broadway production in 2009 acknowledged that there were issues with the representation of Puerto Ricans in the original – the language that they used, the syntax, was changed, and Lin-Mañuel Miranda was hired to translate some of the lyrics into Spanish.

Was it entirely successful? Not entirely – the translation went from English to Spanish, and lyrics that worked in English did not necessarily work in Spanish – however, it was the brainchild of Arthur Laurents, writer of the book of the show. Both he and Sondheim have stated that they have had issues with the show, and that they could have done better.

Hindsight is 20/20.

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In Australia, Latinx immigration waves started in the 1970’s with people immigrating from Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, while in the 1980’s this expanded to include El Salvador and other Central American countries. Primarily now, the largest numbers still come from Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and El Salvador.

In the 2006 Census, there were just under 90K Latinx people in the country who were born elsewhere and immigrated and then there were just under 100K people born in Australia of Latinx heritage. In general, they make up, or did make up 0.91% of Australia.

Now, of those around 200K people, TFP estimates that there are a least a few sopranos that would be appropriate for Maria.

Who reside in Australia.

Who did not get to audition or even get a call about checking their avail.

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Likewise, she is fairly certain that Sydney Opera can find Latinx singers and dancers to play the Sharks, Bernardo and Anita. That is only half the cast. The remainder can be as white as white can be. The remainder can be typical “true blue, fair dinkum, g’day mate, prawns on the barbie, violet crumble, mates at the pub after work‘ typical Aussie.

Playing New York kids of the 1950’s.

Put bluntly, if they were able to shut down and then re-emerge with an authentic IN THE HEIGHTS, this should be no issue at all.

The question is – will they?tumblr_n2psbdHELw1qm1vx8o1_500

Or will their general tone deaf, we can do whatever we want because we are Australia and no one can see us, vibe continue?

What of their American Director? Will she put her foot down, and embrace American Broadway standards, or is she going to say that it is another country, she didn’t choose the soprano, and she is just a hired gun?

Which is what Directors of Operas tend to say when there is an issue such as this.

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The other thing to note is that Opera Australia is not limited to only Aussie artists. They host foreign artists all the time, and cite all their international clout on their website – so why choose to elevate a singer that has no authenticity to tell this story?

If this story is something you want to tell, in this day and age, do it right, or do OKLAHOMA.

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Or SOUND OF MUSIC.

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Or WITCHES OF EASTWICK, CAROUSEL(wait, no, no one should do Carousel, forget TFP said that, it is gross – good music, but gross), MUSIC MAN, CANDIDE, FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, HELLO DOLLY, BRIGADOON, PAINT YOUR WAGON….literally we could be here all day if we chose shows that have nothing to do with Latinx culture that would feature a soprano!

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However, this issue of white washing starts with the top management at Sydney Opera and trickles through the company. People of Color are able to be seen only at the purview of the people at the top – and who exactly is at the ‘top’ of the Sydney Opera House?

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Lyndon Terracini.

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He is a former baritone, and is currently the Artistic Director of Sydney Opera. He likely sees nothing wrong with who he helped choose to play Maria because he is not thinking about the differences through which the world is seen.

Which is interesting, because his Parents or Grandparents would have been immigrants to Australia, and yet, he is not featuring Latinx people in either EVITA or WEST SIDE STORY – one of which is up now, and one of which is coming. He is comfortably enabling white washing, and one wonders – because Italians did not have the easiest acceptance in Oz following the war, if this is in some way, trying to prove something to himself internally.

What if it was an Italian story? Would it be important to be authentic then? Would you want someone with cultural ties to that community to be involved if it was MOST HAPPY FELLA? Or LA BOHEME? Or BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY?

Why would you tell 2 Latinx stories, without them, in a celebratory year for Latinx Australians? It makes no sense.

When they are all geared up for the Sydney Latin Festival which is one of the biggest gatherings of Latin dancers in the world?

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You would have to be an idiot to think they were not going to notice non Latina Eva Peron’s and Maria’s!

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He is also not, apparently, developing new audiences, because Latinx Aussies would love to come and see themselves represented in a story that purports to represent them. There are about 200K of them in Oz, and yet…no audience outreach.

Bloody Hell.

He wants them, because he chose the shows, but he will not cast them, because he doesn’t want their performances muddying up his sacrosanct space?

So weird.

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If TFP was on the Board of that Opera Company, she would be concerned that he is, once again, putting the international reputation of the Sydney Opera Company at risk, while at the same time ignoring revenue streams.

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What exactly is Sydney Opera teaching here? They are just reinforcing the view that minorities do not have the right to tell stories in which they are major characters.

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TFP knows this because she has three little 1/2 Brasilian, 1/2 Eurasian Aussie cousins who study music and dance, and their parents would likely fly them to Sydney to let them take in a more authentic representation of Maria and company.

Probably spend thousands of dollars.

But nope.

Sorry, nyet – that is thousands of dollars not being spend at the Opera House.

Look, Oz has a lot to answer for – they stole Aboriginal children from their families, they practiced blatant discrimination against the Chinese, domestic violence is very bad, there have been countless murders and attacks on people who are not the prototypical Aussie – but don’t they get that if they simply started telling authentic stories, that the rate of tolerance in the country would rise?

That is the true and honest power of casting.

That stories that make ‘us’, what is usually termed ‘the other’, the stories that make us human and portray us as having feelings and rationals and goals – those universal stories that people love without question – don’t you think seeing an actual minority face in the role will have an effect on the thousands of people that will come and see the production?

What hurts minorities and leads to racial violence is the ability to think you have higher status than someone else because of your race or gender.

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Using people that are within a reasonable scope of the ethnic requirements of the character helps people see them as human.

Denying visibility because you do not want to go through the extra step of making a goddamn phone call to a few managers, is, to put it bluntly – racist.

It’s racist. And lazy. But mostly racist.

We see you – the world sees you, and Sydney Opera, you are on notice – TFP is watching – every time you do it, she will call it out. The population of Oz is changing, and you have to keep up. A brown wig and cheap pancake makeup badly applied is not going to do it any longer.

We is in the 24 hour news cycle, now kids….

Sparkly lights, feathers and glitter all the time!

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Ms. Zambello?  No, TFP did not forget you. Not in holy Hannah Gadsby did she forget you…no, no, Nanette!

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You are an American, you know better. My friend, the late film critic Anderson Jones always told TFP that if people knew better, they would do better.

TFP has a word for you, intersectionality.

People of Color have stood for and are part of the LGBTQ community, a giant part – and seeing that you are a part of this whitewashing hurts TFP’s almost entirely dessiccated from having to explain this over and over again, heart.

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TFP sentences all the Creatives that are putting up this Whitewashed WEST SIDE 100 whacks of the wand, commands them to get their heads out of their asses where they have apparently lain dormant for some time, and decrees you must all purchase via Amazon, the graphic novel created to help save Puerto Rico, RICANSTRUCTION – because Hurricane Sydney Opera is comfortable with doing it’s own damage to those people who proudly claim it’s heritage.

And it ain’t right.

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TFP out.