The Fairy Princess hates when things go down over a Holiday weekend – in this case, LABOR DAY.

Like, CAN WE NOT HAVE ONE DAMN HOLIDAY WHERE SHE DOES NOT HAVE TO OPEN UP TWITTER OR SOMETHING AND SEE PEOPLE OVERTLY PRACTICING RACISM IN THE CREATIVE ARTS?

Apparently not.

Vera, your thoughts?

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This will be quick, because TFP wants to take her kid to the Children’s Museum…but here it goes – recently the show that has likely run the longest in San Francisco – a city known for it’s diversity and open minded attitude – Beach Blanket Babylon – posted a casting notice on their website that was, let’s face it, pretty awful.

They have taken it down, but here is a screen shot:14237770_10153647760981567_3227100291063088177_n

TFP was thinking lots of thoughts….

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She tweeted them – hey, it was a HOLIDAY WEEKEND!!!!!

There was also an article by YOMYOMF

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and Tweets sent by a number of API Activists, like for example, the written word warrior, Jeff Yang…

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Thus after much furious social media backlash, Beach Blanket Babylon has taken down their casting notice and apologized.

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Here’s the thing – ok fine, all well and good you apologized but there are a few salient points:

  1. How long was that casting notice up there, and how badly did it make actors who wanted to audition, who were not Caucasian feel?

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  1. Never crossed anyone’s mind that stating preference by skin tone is wrong? Your Graphic Designer said nothing? Your Web Person? Artistic Director?  You find nothing wrong with asking the “magical People of Color’ to be twenty times better just to get your notice? NO ONE THOUGHT THIS WAS SUSPECT?

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  1. Though BBB is not an AEA house, there is what we call in the performing arts – and in every other business (Looking at you, Wells Fargo) – a thing called ‘Standards and Practices‘ – meaning, there is a need to adhere to the current industry standard of advertising for roles.

Yes, if the character is African American, or Asian, or Latina, you may say that the character has that background – but you may not- because after all, AEA is a Union, (remember it was Labor Day ) Unions are not allowed to practice discrimination based on race or religion, disability, or gender – and as AEA sets the Industry standard for theater – BBB should adhere to that example.

Been running over 40 years? It’s time to join the world of 2016.

Also, where are the ASIAN AMERICANS IN THE CAST?

In SAN FRANCISCO? Seriously, what is the implication here – you cover Pop Culture and APIS are not a part of it?

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Have you tuned in on ABC at all?

FRESH OFF THE BOAT? DR. KEN?

Ring any bells?

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Here is the other thing that has TFP scratching her head – there are 5 PoC in the current cast of BBB – how the heck do you think this whole thing makes them feel?

Presumably management likes them, presumably they auditioned and felt great about getting cast..how do you think hearing that one of the reasons they got their job is because they could ‘pass’ is going to make them feel?

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Let’s just keep it real for a second, BBB – yes, you apologized – but you did not actually think about what you did – you knee jerk apologized and you are going to try and turn it around on all the folks who read it and say yes, you didn’t realize, and you were trying to be funny.

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You were trying to be funny about basing qualifications on skin tone, and not on talent.

You were trying to be funny about racism practiced openly and without shame.

What you did was invoke the worst kind of privilege – the kind where the Creative people judge Performers of Color based on looks FIRST, before their talent will be considered.

TFP does not buy this fauxpology.

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The show started in 1974, if you have not changed your attitudes to Performers of Color and Ability since then, perhaps it is time to leave the beach?

San Francisco, the dynamic city in which you live – in which you probably take a walk through Chinatown regularly, order out Indian Food, go down and sample chocolate brought to you by Italian Immigrants, the city that fought so hard for LGBT rights…San Fran does not need this sh*t.

San Francisco is better than what you did with your casting notice.

You took it down, but did you learn anything?

TFP hopes so, she really hopes so.

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Because…Beach Blanket Babylon also has a cast running in London.

So what is going on across the pond? Same thing?

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TFP wonders.

For abject stupidity and racism written down where everyone could see it – TFP fines Beach Blanket Babylon 50 whacks with the wand – grow up and realize that your sense of humor is dated.  We don’t tell Performers of Color that they have to enter through the back door and they need to use separate bathrooms in 2016 – or have you not checked out the winners at The TONYS this past year?

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Check yourself before you wreck yourself, BBB – because you are on your way to making yourselves obsolete.

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess has, let’s face it, been very active in writing about productions of THE MIKADO in the past.

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What’s THE MIKADO, you ask?

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It is an Operetta written by Gilbert and Sullivan, and, frankly, it has some of their most lilting melodies and lampooning of British mores that they ever wrote.

It is also set in Japan.

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Which, as it has turned out over the years, has led to a whole HEAP of problems with yellow face portrayals, racist stereotypes run amok, and general ill will from Asian Americans at large, and Asian American Performers specifically.

After all, it’s great that you love us and all – but stop trying to skin us and wear us like a coat.

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One might even say, that because THE MIKADO has so frequently been performed by both amateur groups and professional rep companies with the aforementioned issues – Asian American performers have stayed well away from being involved in any production of it.

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The exception being of course, the Doris Baizley/Ken Narasaki play “The Mikado Project’, which later turned into a film directed by Chil Kong, which stars, among others – Tamlyn Tomita and Rizwan Manji.

After the furor that was let loose last year, on NY Gilbert and Sullivan Players by both TFP and other bloggers and activists, their production was cancelled – they said they needed another year to work on their concept, and wouldn’t you know…it has been a year!

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TFP was told by a friend who was at the callbacks (which, for non-theater folks is, essentially, those who have made it to the second or third round of auditioning) that everyone coming in was VERY diverse.

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After speaking with someone associated with the Production upcoming, TFP can confirm that YES, they will be having a diverse, multi-racial MIKADO, however, they would like to have more Asian Americans come in and audition.

NYGASP is actively pursuing diversity in recruiting new company members“.

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Likely because of past issues with this particular show,  few APIs came in to audition – which impacts casting -and will lead to, again, anger and disbelief and listen…no one wants to write another blog on THE MIKADO and ask the question of WHY WHY WHY don’t they have more APIs in the cast in a show that is set in Japan – even if it is a mythical Japan.

(BTW, the concept of how they are going to deal with the whole ‘mythical Japan‘ was run by TFP, and it sounds very much in the spirit of G&S, and smart, just in talking through it – TFP is ‘with” NYGASP on this concept – and that is a sentence she never thought she would write !)

The issues are a few with the need for more APIs singing the Gilbert and Sullivan canon –

  1. The Singer must sing classically – no ‘pop/rock’
  2. The Singer must audition w/appropriate songs
  3. The Singer is actually auditioning for a spot in the repertory company of NYGASP, not limited to just a spot in this current MIKADO.

Take a look at number 3 – APIs are actually auditioning for a spot in the Company.

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Which means, next time they do IOLANTHE, or PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Which, is TFP‘s favorite), or RUDDIGORE – there are likely to be APIs in the cast, as they make it a point to use members of the Repertory company.

Which means, times are changing! Where New York City leads, others will follow – and it is great to know that positive things CAN happen.

Which means that the concept of Asian Americans playing Asian characters on stages in New York City and beyond, is happening.

Which means, Asian Americans will actually be able to relax a bit and not have that instant reaction that often accompanies the announcement of a MIKADO production.

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So listen Kids, NYGASP is having another day for MIKADO auditions and it is THIS COMING FRIDAY.

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Now, NYGASP does NOT use an independent Casting Professional for their shows – they announce auditions and people submit themselves for a time. That is the way it has always been, and that is the way it will continue to be.

Do not take it as a ‘diss – it’s not.

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Singers who have classically sounding voices and backgrounds, you must contact them at  auditions@ngyasp.org in order to submit yourself.

They want:

ONE verse of ONE Song, in English – preferably from the G&S canon, but not required.

Accompanist provided.

Photo and Resume.

NYGASP has a special agreement with AEA Assoc, however the Company auditions both Union and Non-Union Members by appointment only. All AEA Members who request an audition will get one.

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Look, Asian American Singers of Classical Background – this is YOUR shot – there was nothing like this when TFP graduated from CMU, that she will swear to.

This is an opportunity that has been hard won by folks you will likely never even meet. So many API journalists and bloggers and activists have worked on and at this issue for YEARS – do not throw it away by not attending this call.

Did TFP help tear down this castle of a production that was NYGASP’s last vision of THE MIKADO?

She did.

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Is she willing to help get the word out now and help rebuild the flying buttresses of operetta?

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She is.

But, as the song goes from CHICAGOI simply can not do it alone‘.

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Please submit yourself and go in and sing your damn face off. Even if you cannot for schedule reasons do this particular production – Brian Stokes Mitchell it.

Make them hear you.

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Otherwise, when we see a ‘typical’ MIKADO come the Fall, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

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They have taken the notes – they have API Consultants and Creatives behind the table, they have a new set design and so on – it is now up to us.

You wanted representation on those stages – brush off your vocalizes and go and represent.

TFP out.

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The Fairy Princess is enjoying her summer – she has done several workshops (NOT LABS) and has another one coming up for a musical she has seen through 2 years of development called I SPY A SPY, which is pretty brilliant (Contact Producer Eric Krebs if you are interested in investing), and her kid is in this new short film, BALANCING ACT

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as part of the YOMYOMF short film competition.

The interesting part of the film competition for TFP is that the dialogue was four lines written by David Henry Hwang, who is also having a pretty good couple of months – his new play, “Soft Power” is premiering at CTG in Los Angeles, AND…there is an AND…he was named the chair of the American Theater Wing!

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Wait – there is MORE good stuff of note for the API Theatrical Community – we have EJ Zimmerman holding down as an alternate Eponine in Les Miserables, Ali Ewoldt as Christine in Phantom of the Opera, Aaron J. Albano and Gina Pazcoguin in CATS for the foreseable future, Jenna Ushkowitz coming in to replace Kimiko Glenn in WAITRESS, Ari Afsar is playing Eliza in the Chicago cast of HAMILTON…little Isabella Russo holding it down at SCHOOL OF ROCK along with Jaygee Macapuguay who plays her Mom…and our stalwarts at ALADDINAdam Jacobs and Courtney Reed.

That makes it 10!

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Out of 29 Broadway shows currently running.

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The incoming Broadway season looks to be brought to you by Clorox –  even shows that would seemingly incorporate diversity – you know, ones that have international story lines about planes landing in a small town during 9/11, do not include APIs in the cast.

Guess Asians and Asian Americans don’t take planes.

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HAMILTON did not fix anything in terms of casting. It’s an amazing show, but it is a one off, and we all have to realize that essentially, while last year was a great season, this next one coming up…kinda not.

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TFP attended the Opening Night of the Asian American International Film Festival last  night in New York City, and the whole film festival is devoted to opening people’s minds and eyes to ‘see’ API people and their stories – and TFP suggests you check out their roster of films.

THE OPPOSITE OF A FAIRY TALE, which is about Elder Abuse will play Sat night at 8pm.

You should totally try and go see some of the films and their API faces and varying points of view, because you are not going to see too many on The Broadway any time soon.

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Anyway, into the fray of the unbearable whiteness of theater comes another entry – and this one is definitely taking their cue from Hollywood and it is…wait for it…PRINCE OF EGYPT.

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Now, this is a Dreamworks concert project based on one of their Animated films from years past, and it is being made free to the good people of Sag Harbor, NY. by Artistic Director Scott Schwartz of the Bay Street Theater.

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He is the son of TONY Winning composer, Stephen Schwartz. Stephen Schwartz wrote the songs for the film and some other shows you may have heard tell of like, oh…WICKED and GODSPELL and PIPPIN.

It is part of their stage reading series, and ostensibly, they hope to present it free to the public in Mashashimuet Park both for their enjoyment and for the Producers to see if the show has the legs they think it has. Truthfully, TFP thinks more Producers should do this – have large public presentations and see if shows ‘work’ sans multi-million dollar sets – more often. It would probably save a lot of money. And sequins.

However here is the issue. The show takes place in Egypt.

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Egypt is in Northern Africa. It is super close to Saudi Arabia. It has one boarder on the Mediterranean Sea. It had port cities for trading, and was not far from Greece, not even that far from Italy.

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THE PRINCE OF EGYPT is the story of Moses and how he began life as a pampered Prince of Egyptian nobility which he was adopted into and who led the Jewish slaves out of Egypt as an adult.

This show takes place in the time of Ramses the Great. Ramses was born in or about 1305 B.C. and died in or about 1213 B.C.  This is an Artist rendering from the time of Ramses.

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There are many, many theories about what race Ancient Egypt was –  TFP is not going to break it down except to say – they have tested a lot of Mummies, and there is DNA evidence of origins in North Africa and then, as one proceeds onwards in time, after invasions and such, more diversity in the DNA that includes other races as we classify them today.

Here is an example of Ancient Egyptian artwork that was found in a tomb to carry the pharaoh to the next life, you can see there are a variety of skin tones – which is not surprising. Port cities tend to have diversity, and Egypt if you look at the map above, was really quite close to many countries all of which would have had a variety of shades of people.

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In general, while there is HUGE debate over what ‘race’ Ancient Egyptians were, specifically – it is safe to say that they were “People of Color”, with all the range of skin tones and features that roots in Northern Africa and a general diaspora that included trade with foreign peoples, would lend itself to.

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None of the information listed above is surprising if one has, at all, studied, even casually, the history of Egypt.

What is surprising is that the cast of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT  for this concert   appears as though it was cast in the 1800’s. It embodies a Eurocentric vision of what Ancient Egypt was – which encompassed the  incredulity that People of Color would have their own nation with their own rulers- their own Kings and Queens.

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This view also had with it the refusal to believe that those ruling People of Color would enslave lighter skinned people to help them build pyramids and so on.

Left to right in the following roles – Casey Cott as Moses, Stark Sands as Ramses, Shuler Hensley at Pharoh Seti, Solea Pfeiffer as Tzipporah, and Marin Mazzie as Queen Tuya.

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This does not seem to, other than Solea Pfeiffer, to embrace anything other than the Hollywood status quo – which is that Egyptian means Caucasian when it is casting lead roles.

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That this is happening post HAMILTON and in light of all the recent troubles that have plagued the nation – Orlando, Philandro Castile, Alton Sterling, the Policemen shot in the line of duty both in Dallas, Texas and in Baton Rouge, the most recent debacle of shooting behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey while he was with an autistic patient – it seems, how shall TFP put it?

Insensitive to the current climate of our Nation.

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To be fair, the last time, in 2015 that Bay Street produced a concert version of this piece, they did use TONY Nominee, Norm Lewis and TONY Winner, Patina Miller.

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TFP is not entirely sure what happened with this new concert – perhaps it was due to schedules or friendships… or that there are no People of Color with amazing voices available to come out to Long Island and sing a concert in the middle of the summer for some rehearsals and one performance…

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We will likely never know.

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Here is the real problem with things like what is going to go down in Sag Harbor – let’s put it in national context.

Sag Harbor, in the summer, is pretty much the dwelling place of ‘the 1 per cent’ – aka, rich people. Now, some will argue that year round residents are not all rolling on their beds awash in hundred dollar bills, and there is some truth to that – but not in the summer.

In the summer, there are high end rentals and there is a lot of money floating around – if TFP had a show that she wanted to go to Broadway, what better way to find investors than ‘give it away’ in the park for a bunch of millionaires sitting on blankets drinking wine?

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It is a genius strategy.

However – they are taking the story of two ethnic groups – Jewish and Ancient Egyptian which had Northern African roots,

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and they are whitewashing the ethnicity out of the story.

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When, in point of fact, we need MORE representations of diversity on our stages than ever before – people need to acknowledge that America is not a one raced nation. We are a melting pot- we do not need walls, we need understanding. We need more conversations about how we train people in high stress positions and we need to openly talk about racism both within America at large and then within smaller ethnic groups.

We also need to reach people who favor an Orange faced racist for President, and remind them that the world does not all look like Sag Harbor in the summer.

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Theater is supposed to enlighten as well as entertain. Removing ethnic faces from ethnic stories is not what is going to help America stay on track as a world power – it is going to deepen the divide.

Plus, these are educated people – don’t we think one or two or twenty is going to do a double take when the leads walk out?

Give the crowd some credit – these are the people that buy HAMILTON tickets! Like, they pay ridiculous amounts to a ticket broker without batting an eye, they don’t have friends in the cast that can get them house seats!

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TFP really likes Stephen Schwartz, she would probably like his son if she met him, and she  very much likes Sag Harbor spent many, many hours of her youth  there- but this casting announcement leaves her with a bad taste in her mouth.

Which btw, is NOT a reflection on the performers themselves – they did not cast themselves and they are all brilliantly talented – but, as one FB friend pointed out – didn’t we all skip on the feature film, GODS OF EGYPT because they did the very same thing?

This simply shows that what we all celebrated – the diversity of last season’s Broadway – did not trickle down whatsoever.

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Trickle down did not work – again.

No, we cannot ‘solve’ the various theories on what happened in Ancient Egypt to any one ‘expert’ opinion – however we could decide as a friggin’ theater community to have “Hamilton-esque” casting on shows that have their roots in countries other than Europe!

Otherwise what are all these damn panels on diversity and inclusion for?

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So the theater companies can all come and apologize AFTER they have done EXACTLY what they wanted to do, but they are annoyed ‘we’ called them on their blindness to diversity?

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WHEN IS EVERYONE GOING TO JUST START DOING WHAT THEY HAVE SAID THEY ARE INTERESTED IN DOING?

WHEN?

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For whitewashing Egypt – TFP fines The Bay Street Theater  50 whacks of the wand – while we were not in the ‘room where it happened‘, from this casting, we can see what may not be happening at all.

And KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even The Fairy Princess gets tired, kids.

This is, not even kidding – the third blog in a day and a half, and quite frankly here is what you need to know – Marvel Comics Film Division is not going to cast Asian Americans – ever.

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The news came down today that the character of Ganke Lee is going to be in the upcoming film Spider-man Homecoming.

Ganke Lee?

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Yeah, the BFF of Miles Morales!

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Oh – catch up Buttercup – Miles Morales is the ‘new’ Spider-man now that Peter Parker is dead. He too was bitten by a radioactive spider, but check it – it was IN GANKE’S KOREAN AMERICAN HOUSE!

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So anyway, Ganke Lee quickly gets on the computer and does research and finds out that the now dead Spider-man was ALSO bitten by a spider and thus…the legend continues. Hurling Miles Morales into the malestrom that is the latest incarnation of Spider-man.

Honestly, it’s a great idea.

Because here is Miles Morales…

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and here is his BFF, Ganke Lee

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Now they are casting the major motion picture and here is a list from Unreality Mag giving you their top 10 of who should play Miles in an eventual film- NOT this Homecoming film, Peter Parker is somehow not dead, so Spider-man is still Caucasian.

Which is a shame, TFP would rather see Miles.

TFP is a fan of Jacob Anderson, because she loves Game of Thrones, but who knows who it will be?  The good part is, no one is saying that Miles will be cast in any way that would go against the very real triumph of having a Person of Color become a Marvel Superhero.

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So no, we do not know who is playing Miles yet. We don’t even know if Miles is getting a film any time soon. However because of the way Marvel has folded one incarnation of Spider-man into another- in a redonk cross pollination, Peter Parker lives and gets Miles’ BFF.

Again- don’t know who is playing Miles or when that will happen, but in 2017 there will be a new film released.

As of today, we know who is playing Ganke Lee.

This guy:

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This is Michael Barbieri, and he is going to play Ganke Lee – although the character will no longer have the surname Lee.

Because that would be too hard to deny.

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Now, the character will have the ‘characteristics’ of Ganke – the BFF relentless enthusiasm and support, but he will not be Asian American. If you are up for a read, Inverse does a great job of saying why this is not ok.

Several years ago…this would not have caused an eye blink – because America did not have a joyful, funny, husky child actor of Asian descent on television who could do anything like bring a giant audience with him to enhance the allure of this film, that we knew of.

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Now, there’s Hudson Yang from ABC’s HIT TV SHOWFresh Off The Boat.

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Which is so popular, it is making history by being renewed for a third season.

Now, Hudson is a bit younger than the Ganke character, so one can see if they wanted to do any of the icky kissing type things, that they might want to go older.

However that is an easy fix.

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They could have run out and done a Casting session or two to find the right kid to play Ganke Lee at the age he is written. 

Asian American teens are not something that America is running out of anytime soon – and with Hudson’s success, more Parents may be willing to take their kid on that audition.

Which is how Hudson was ‘found’ – FOTB is one of the first auditions he went on.

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Needless to say, this is pretty damn stupid – so much of whitewashing comes down to personal preference of the Director and Producers, and what MARVEL is telling us – yet again, is that they do not ‘see’ Asian Americans in their franchises…ever.

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Like never, ever, ever kind of ever.

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Honestly, APIs need to stop buying comic books unless they are written by Greg Pak!

TFP is tired.

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Three blog pieces in a day and a half about stupidity based on the inability to see Asian Americans as part of America – as a real, moneymaking, vital part of America – when every DAY you can look up an article on us and all our disposable income?

C’mon.

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Skip this movie, Folks.

Don’t go.

Not just ‘Asian Americans don’t go” – everyone don’t go.

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Because this is some Trump-like movie making going on, and we do not have to buy tickets to watch our own erasure from popular culture, we don’t.

Oh and MARVEL Casting?

Watching you try to pointedly and repeatedly erase Asian faces from cinema is damn exhausting. The relentless justifications makes TFP want to take a Silkwood shower.

TFB fines you 150 whacks of the wand for this unbelievably stupid addition to your history of whitewashing.

We have ALL had enough already! 

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TFP out.

 

 

The Fairy Princess was feeling ok about her last blog – which was published this morning, and she thought she had, like a hot second of respite from the abject foolishness that is show business.

She was wrong.

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According to an article in The Guardian, screenwriter David Franzoni, who wrote the blockbuster film, GLADIATOR which starred Russell Crowe – and which, btw, though not historically accurate, was an enjoyable film – has a new project.

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The subject of the new film is the 13th century poet Jalaluddin al-Rumi.

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Rumi was a Persian poet, born in what today is known as Afghanistan.  He was an Islamic scholar and a Sufi mystic. His writing has been translated and appreciated the world over since the 13th century! Go on with your bad self, Rumi!

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Rumi believed in the the use of poetry, music, and dance as a path for reaching God.

Let’s look at some Rumi quotes in case you are unfamiliar with his writing.

“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.”

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

“When I am with you, we stay up all night. When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep. Praise God for those two insomnias! And the difference between them.”

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

Sounds like a great guy!

Does Rumi merit a biopic?

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Absolutely – this is a great choice for a biopic. Rumi was a spiritual man who was both scholar and artist and his life has touched millions of people since the 13th Century. He escaped the Mongol invasion, traveled widely, and finally settled in Turkey, where he passed from old age.

Two of his works, the Masnavi and the Divan, are considered among the best poetry ever written, so yeah, of course – give this man’s story the full Hollywood treatment – especially now, when we could all benefit from the story of this Sufi teacher – a man of peace and love, who meets the fellow with whom he has conversations that change both his life and his poetry.

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This should be a win!

This should be more than a win, this should be a happy dance kind of time!

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Rather specifically, it should be a Sufi swirling dance kind of time!

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But it’s not.

Sadly, screenwriter Franzoni and producer, Stephen Joel Brown definitely want to give Rumi the full ‘Hollywood’ treatment.

They want Leonardo DiCaprio to play Rumi.

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They would also like Robert Downey Jr. to play Shams of Tabriz.

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Who was an Iranian Muslim.

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 They want to, in full Hollywood tradition – erase the Middle Eastern roots of the men whose stories they want, so desperately, to tell!

This is what they say in The Guardian article:

“David Franzoni, who wrote the script for the 2000 blockbuster Gladiator, and Stephen Joel Brown, a producer on the Rumi film, said they wanted to challenge the stereotypical portrayal of Muslim characters in western cinema by charting the life of the great Sufi scholar.”

They want to challenge the stereotypical portrayal of Muslim characters in Western cinema, by having two stars of Western cinema who have no ethnic ties to the Middle East play the roles.

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Well, that is pretty stereotypical – hate to break that to you, Mr. Franzoni.

It’s whitewashing.

It’s the erasure of ethnic people in the stories of their own lives.

It is the essence of what TFP always likes to say:

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Oh sure, they ‘love’ the Rumi story. They ‘love’ it as source material.

What they are failing to ‘love’ is the very real point that these two men are ethnic men.

What they are failing to realize is that in 13th Century Afghanistan, as men who were religious scholars, their heritage both religious and ethnic played a vital part in their lives and influenced how they came to their work – work which is still selling, hundreds of years later!

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Look, this film is not even written yet, the writer and producer are on their way to do research – and no, the two actors mentioned are not attached in any way – one hopes they would be too intelligent and too aware to agree to star in a film that is supposed to be about two men with Persian heritage.

If not, someone for the love of all that is holy please go and whisper these two titles in their ears “PRINCE OF PERSIA” and “GODS OF EGYPT” – should wake them up like a kimchi slap in late August.

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This is the same issue that happened when the writer for Dr. Strange decided to give us all a lecture on the vagaries of casting an East Asian Actor, as he saw it – for which Marvel later smacked him with a wet noodle and made him apologize for – these writers do not see ethnic peoples as anything but source material for the basis of a script in which Caucasians will star.

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This is a very real problem that is enabled by the entire way Hollywood writes and casts films.

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It is a problem of entitlement. It is fueled by past successes and enormous egos, and there needs to be a reckoning.

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That these two men feel quite comfortable in saying their end goal, to tell the story of one of the world’s greatest poets, includes having him played by a man with no Persian background, all to change the stereotypes of Muslims…

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For announcing their intent to whitewash the roles of two of the most influential Muslim men who were ever born, TFP fines Mr. Franzoni and Mr. Brown to fifty whacks with the wand and a WGA diversity training session, which they are to be locked in like it’s a Scientology debriefing until they ‘get it’.

Seriously, Dudes…think about it – GODS OF EGYPT and PRINCE OF PERSIA, but you want to do the same damn thing…

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess has been out of sorts lately – several deaths in the Family in a short period of time, some travel, some charity work – and therefore has not weighed in as yet since The Ancient One was crowned Celtic by Marvel.

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Which is not to say she has not been paying attention – she has attended panels and discussions, so let’s get to it.

The Good:

Asian American Film Lab is lighting it up again with their annual 72 Hour Shoot Out. This is when contestants have 72 hours to write and produce a short film that centers around a theme. This year’s theme was “Lose the Labels’.  All eligible films have been submitted now and the top ten winning films will premiere on July 23rd at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York City.

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In more AAFL news, their short film, The Opposite of a Fairy Tale, will premiere at MOCA on Thursday June 16th at 6:30pm. The short is about elder abuse in the Asian and Asian American communities, and is based on a true story.

The Bad:

THE KING AND I revival on Broadway has posted their closing date – June 26th.

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We have to be happy to have had this sumptuous revival on Broadway, which gave us our second (ever) API Female TONY Winner in Performance, Ruthie Ann Miles…

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however with the closing of the show, the API representation on The Great WHITE Way is now being represented in leading roles for women by TONY Nominee, Philippa Soo of HAMILTON,

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Miss Isabella Russo in SCHOOL OF ROCK,

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and Courtney Reed in ALADDIN.

 

JUST ANNOUNCED Casting of Ali Ewoldt as the first API to play Christine in PHANTOM on Broadway. (The role has been played by an API previously – Margaret Ann Gates in Canada).
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TFP did not get the ‘math gene’, but in case you were wondering that is 1 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 4. (stop singing that number from SIDE SHOW!)

For MALE representation on Broadway in a lead role there is…ONE, as of June 26,2016.

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In ALADDIN.

Adam Jacobs. Here he is with his Parents.

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Yep, once KING AND I is closed, the only API Male Lead on Bway will be Mr. Jacobs.

Until MISS SAIGON gets here, we had hopes of a more Jellicle representation, but…

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We can do WAY better with that, Broadway, can’t we? Don’t give in to the perception that APIs cannot sell tickets, or that people will not go and see shows with APIs in lead roles. It’s  the ‘No Fats, Femmes, or Asians” esthetic that keeps infiltrating our ability to be called in, to be truly considered, and finally to be cast.

Broadway should be better than that. Broadway should be better than what TFP likes to call ‘accidental racism’ – the ‘OH, there just aren’t any”, or “We don’t know if they have broad appeal…”

There are a ton of shows coming in and guess what – other than MISS SAIGON, GOTTA DANCE and one cast member of CATS…there are no APIs. Feel free to email TFP if she is wrong, but judging by what is coming in…nope.

The only lead role for an API coming into the next season is Lori Tan Chinn in GOTTA DANCE. Which will bring the number of lead roles – assuming the casting announced at the top of this blog remains intact – to FIVE.

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UPDATE: Philippa Soo has announced that she is leaving the cast of HAMILTON in July- so…back to FOUR.

TFP wants to expand everyone’s idea of casting APIs, we do not have to just be in roles where ethnicity is ‘required’ – we can and should play any role that our talent justifies – and thus she throws this circumstance out there, just for your consideration.

Next season, the venerated East West Players is doing GYPSY.

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Yes, that is what TFP was told.

Now, traditionally, EWP has done what a great many ‘ethnic’ theaters do in America and has done for example, an All API Sweeney Todd – this is all well and good. However, recently AD Tim Dang, who is retiring after years and years of service, did choose to integrate his casting, particularly in their production of PIPPIN because, he believes this is the ‘next step’.

TFP is inclined to agree with him.

So when she started thinking about GYPSY and how it might be perceived, she had a thought, based on her own niece’s being blonde and blue eyed…

What if Mama Rose was Hapa? Aka ‘mixed race’. What if the father of Louise and Baby June (who is never seen) was Caucasian – thus Baby June is blonde and while Louise is a brunette, she also does not look what most people would view as Asian?

Then, all of a sudden you realize, without having to be ‘told’ about racism – you would ‘see’ why it was that Mama Rose singing to all those Shriners really did not have a ‘chance’, but why her kids would? It would also go along with many Hollywood stories – Viven Leigh, Merle Oberon…people who had Asian heritage, but who ‘passed’.

For example, just as an example – ALLEGIANCE’s Manna Nichols…as grown up Louise? TFP thinks audiences would relish this kind of reimagining of a classic MT piece.

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THINK of the EPIC and intrinsic anger that Rose’s Turn would have by the end of the show and the poignancy of Louise watching her and telling her “You would have been great, Mama.”

It would be a very interesting way to deal with APIs doing GYPSY in this day and age – and let’s be honest – Gypsy Rose Lee? LEE?

It’s just a thought.

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Back to the APIs of The Broadway – come on Producers – ALLEGIANCE is closed, KING AND I is closing – tick tock. Tick tock – we cannot just leave it to The Family Jacobs to hold it down for all of us.

Now…coincidentally, Mr. Jacob’s sister named…wait for it…Arielle, is going Down Under to play Jasmine in their production of ALADDIN and for half a second TFP needs to address some sh..some stuff going on as an Aussie.

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TFP is a dual citizen, and her family has been in Oz since the 1800’s. Her Chinese side of the family. So no, no one was transported – sit down, and let’s get to listening.

There has been quite a bit of push back in Oz about Ms. Jacob’s casting, as well as productions bringing over cast members from The States to do shows in Australia. The shows that are upsetting folks are – ALADDIN, KINKY BOOTS, BOOK OF MORMON, LION KING, HAMILTON...and everyone needs to stop moaning about it.

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You see, Aussie theater is even more closed to people of color than American or British theater – hard to believe, but it is true. The shows that are bringing over performers are not HEATHERS or MY FAIR LADY – both currently in production there – no – the shows that are bringing over performers are shows that require Actors of Color in the roles.

(* Correction: MFL does have one Brit, in the role of Henry Higgins, 3x Olivier Winner, Alex Jennings. He is Caucasian. 

The Australian Performers Union is trying to hammer out an agreement with Foreign Producers, which TFP supports without question. 

This post is not about that fight specifically- this is about reactions she has noticed on Aussie Actor message boards etc- it is not about performer visas or the ability to obtain a green card, it is about professional camaraderie.)

Whilst Oz has gotten away with ‘well we just don’t have any over here‘ for quite a long time – it was only a year or so ago they cast a Caucasian as The King in King and I, before internet uproar had them replace him with Jason Scott Lee, and then Lou Diamond Philips- that is simply not true. 

There are PoC Performers, but unless you go to Theater 4A or some such place, they are not visible.

Thus, when it comes to a visible presence on Aussie stages for Performers of Color, it is rare to non-existent. Which is why Producers often bring PoC performers from overseas.

Which led to some really ‘interesting’ comments that TFP saw on Aussie actor message boards etc.

So, my fellow Aussies – you need to stop.

Lola cannot be played by a Caucasian. Likewise The Genie, Jasmine, and so on and so forth.

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Again- this is NOT to say that there are no Actors of Color over in Oz, for example they are doing AVENUE Q over there and they do have an Asian Aussie playing Christmas Eve – which, let’s face it, is better than they did in Cincinnati!

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But the truth is, an overwhelming majority of roles in Australia, in musical theater, go to Caucasians – and it is this disparity, that leads to minority Aussie actors not having as much on their resumes and possibly less representation by agents and so forth – and the snowball effect is – if you are a big producer bringing a show over from The States or Britain, and your show requires an Actor or Actress of Color, you are going to bring someone in because they have the Broadway/West End experience of eight shows a week.

These castings are not, truly, something for Aussie Actors in Musical Theater who are NOT of minority heritage, to get upset about. Let’s also remember, than when an Aussie or NZ Actor is on Broadway – of which there have been many, no performers over here protest in the way that TFP has seen in the vice versa.

Hugh Jackman? Bring it. Hayden Tee? Sings like a boss. Kaye Tuckerman in MAMA MIA? No one blinked. There are SO many here they have their own night at 54 Below! 

US performers are fine with it.

No worries, Mate. No Worries at all.

Also note – the original story of Aladdin was added to Arabian nights later. The original story occurs in China along the Silk Road trading routes, so casting a person of East Asian descent is technically correct.

These producers are not doing anything except protecting the integrity of their show – and they have a right to do so. Relax. No, you probably will not be in HAMILTON unless you are King George, but that is called a ‘world view’ and that is something to be embraced and learned from.

In short…allow yourselves, Aussie Producers and Directors to embrace more diversity on your stages, look for local PoC Actors, but until then..if Actors of Color are coming over there to work, you need to…

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TFP now has to address a stupid thing said this past week – she will try and be brief…which, as we all know, is not her strongest suit.

So, the President of CBS Glenn Geller said, in regards to their picking up almost exclusively, shows that star mainly Caucasian males in their 40’s, 50’s, that though they have some diversity in their ensembles and shows (Madame Secretary, Mom, 2 Broke Girls) with a female leads, that “We’re not casting color-blind, we’re casting color conscious – the right roles for diversity.”

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The “Right roles’, as in…very few? As in “Supporting”? As in “Recurring?”

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The genius of this verbiage is that over the course of the years, people have stopped calling for ‘color blind’ casting – which came to mean to some, just sticking a diverse actor in a role simply to complete a picture, and they have started using ‘color conscious’. Meaning, please, if the show takes place in an area or field where there is naturally diverse people, please use variety when representing this location.

He is taking the ‘advancement’ of the language and turning it back on under-represented folks, in essence saying – Y’all would not like to be in THIS show, it’s not a place you would fit.

Like, in society? In America?

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TFP supposes it does not matter – ABC is totes kicking CBS’s tush in their casting and subject matter – take a look at this fantastic trailer from their new show, SPEECHLESS

Carry on ABC, you are kicking ass and taking names. 

The Dummer Award? Named for Exec Victoria Dummer? Acknowledging advanced ways of thinking and supporting a rainbow of talent?

Awesome! Rock on ABC!

Likewise, yay for The CW and the dope way Mark Pedowitz said he was renewing everything because he liked the schedule.

Baller.

Congrats to the TV Execs that show vision!

All the other ones Kiss My Fan Tan Fannie! They know who they are.

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess was feeling pretty good – she was in the Opening Number for the Easter Bonnet Competition for Broadway Cares/EFA – directed by T. Oliver Reed, written by Jed Resnick, and choreographed by Rommy Sandhu.

The number celebrated both the 25th Anniversary of The Will Rogers Follies AND the current Broadway season, which is rife with Diversity. TFP got to ‘play’ with Tony Award Winner, Cady Huffman, After Midnight‘s Carmen Ruby Floyd, and Hamilton’s own David DeGuzman, as well as all the beautiful dancers in cowboy hats, tap shoes, and chaps – it was a blast!

That was this past Monday and Tuesday and you can read all about it in Playbill.com as well as catch photos and the Sweeney Todd sketch by the company of Hamilton that made TFP simply howl with laughter both when she saw the rehearsal and during both performances.

The whole fundraising event raised over 5 Million dollars for one of TFP’s favorite charities, and thus she was filled with the spirit of good intentions – until she read the interview with screenwriter C. Robert Cargill, who worked on the yet to be released, but infamous for it’s whitewashing of The Ancient One character, Dr. Strange.

In the interview, Mr. Cargill says that casting Tilda Swinton was done, in part, to prevent China from boycotting the film, because as the world knows, China is forever trying to annex Tibet from being an independent country. Mr. Cargill said, in a nutshell, that if you consider that Tibet is a real place…

(IF?!?!)

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Continuing on…if you consider that Tibet is a real place and try and cast a Tibetan, China will not go, and the studio will lose bajillions and bajillions of dollars. Likewise if they cast a Chinese person as a Tibetan, they would lose…TFP does not know…she tried to find out Tibet’s spending habits in regards to film, but it is not popping up. However, for argument’s sake, let’s say a few million at least.

Thus he and the director had to make the character of The Ancient One a white woman from a Tibetan male.

Because…CHINA.

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Thank you so much C. Robert Cargill for your analysis of the situation, but you are talking out of your ass.

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Realizing that C. Robert Cargill’s statements were doing more harm than good – plus which, the person they were considering was Ken Watanabe, who is Japanese, and whose casting would not have offended Chinese or Tibetan people (other than in that pesky most Asian countries have a bad history with Japan kind of way) Marvel has ventured into the whitewashing fray and released a few statements of their own, to try and contain the poop volcano that seems to be spraying them every time one of their people tries to ‘defend’ this casting.

Also, Marvel made Cargill apologize:

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but none that I regret as much as choosing to answer a question to which I had no place in speaking. I tried to make it right by clarifying my position on Twitter Monday but unfortunately — perhaps ironically, given that this story gained so much steam on social media — those comments were not picked up by those reporting on my statements from the original podcast. Those original statements were my own personal musings about a character, and although I worked on the film script, I came to the project after the first draft and was not part of any casting discussions or decisions so I had no right or knowledge to speak about them as if I was. It was a moronic decision, and worst of all, I embarrassed my friends and colleagues by coming across as if I were speaking for them. I was not.

(Benedict Cumberbatch has wisely not commented, he is shoring up his good PR by doing fun Shakespeare videos with Prince Charles- wise man.)

Here is what Marvel is now asking us all to believe – that the  part of The Ancient One was so rife with racism, that they could not even deal with having an Asian play an Asian – no, they had to protect us all from seeing ourselves playing ourselves – so they CHANGED The Ancient One‘s origins.

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The Ancient One now is a revolving title that somehow gets passed along and in this case, has been passed to a bald Tilda Swinton in silk pajamas, because…wait for it, the NEW AND IMPROVED ANCIENT ONE IS….

Wait for it…

CELTIC!

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Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.

Well, now TFP has to, just HAS to say something because…TFP is Asian and…wait for it – IRISH.

A.K.A. Celtic.

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So now, as an Irishwoman, TFP has to brave these stupid Marvel-less waters and protest on behalf of the erasure of Celtic tradition.

Let’s go to the photo of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One

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First thing one notices is of course, the baldness.

One problem – Ancient Celtic women would not have shaved their heads. It was a cold climate for one, and long hair kept one warmer than not, but also, charms and spells of protection could be woven into hair – hair was sacred.

NO ANCIENT CELT WOULD SHAVE THEIR HEAD.

Perhaps you were as unaware of Ancient Celtic Female Warriors as Marvel is.

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Well, click on the link for the tale of the legendary Scottish female warrior woman, Scathach. Or the the other woman she battled against – Aife.

They may have looked a bit like Keira Knightly’s character in King Arthur in 2004, when they depicted Guinevere. Perhaps less sexy. Perhaps more.

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Or take a look at the largest legendary Warrior Queen, Boudica as played by Alex Kingston,

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Is one getting the overall picture of what an Ancient Celt would look like? Long hair?  Leather? Iron weapons? Tatoos? Possibly blue body paint? Probably used furs for warmth and some kind of homespun for clothes. Cloaks?
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Then there are the adornments. Now, as most Asian people will tell you – at the time of The Ancient One‘s original origin story – the valuable jewelry would be made of jade in varying shades, ivory (which is why we will probably have no elephants left by the time TFP‘s son grows to an adult), gold, precious or semi-precious stones, and a variety of perfumed woods.

We have all seen images of Tibetan monks and so on with prayer beads, or necklaces of some sort – no one is immune from the status of adornment.We would expect to see some sort of adornment, because Tibetan traditions include wearing forms of wealth- and again, even religious people have items that have meaning, though they might not be made from precious metals.

If the new Ancient One is Celtic – there should be  a variety of adornments made of silver or gold – armbands, torques, bracelets, amulets, pins, necklaces – in Ancient times, they were supposed to protect the wearer. One did not go to battle without them, one’s status was seen immediately when one wore them. People were buried with them, so the Gods would recognize their status in the afterlife.

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TFP failed to notice any armbands, torques, bracelets or anything Celtic adorning Ancient Tilda Swinton.

Now, it is all very well to try and whitesplain your way out of a bad casting choice –

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TFP fully expected something of this sort. However, with this new explanation, Marvel is taking the offense to a whole new level!

Now they have TFP‘s Irish up!

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First they co-opted Tibet, then they took the Asian face out of Tibet, then they took the contribution of Tibet away, but kept the location of Tibet, and then they put a Scottish heritaged person in there and arbitrarily announced the character was now an Ancient Celt, but stripped the character of any of the defining looks or accompanying symbols of being an Ancient Celt!

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Is anyone else exhausted?

Tilda Swinton said that when she was approached, it was not to play an Asian character. Ok Tilda, we’ll play along then, given this new information – but here is the thing – you let them whitewash the Celtic out of the character!

YOU! Who actually has Celtic heritage!

They whitewashed the Celtic out of the character of ‘The Ancient One Who Is No Longer Tibetan But Celtic’ and Tilda Swinton let them! Tilda and whoever the Costume Designer was – guess they did not get the ‘switch it to Celtic‘ memo, they were still in the Asian-adjacent train of thought.

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This is actually hilarious. TFP thought she was annoyed about this as an Asian American – guess what? She’s more frustrated as a person of Celtic descent!

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Oh Marvel – you have made this explanation crazier than a rat in a coffee can and all TFP can think is….

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Marvel – you cannot just announce that you are co-opting yet ANOTHER culture in this mess of a film and expect us all to buy it – or buy a ticket!

Ancient Celts were actual people with long history of creativity, warrior tradition, they had a culture, they had music, laws – they are not a get out of jail free card to be thrown into  this mess of a miscasting.

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Trying to excuse the casting with this explanation dishonors two traditions – Tibetan and Celtic. Let’s clarify in case you still have not gotten it – you got it wrong, TWICE.

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TFP cannot EVEN!

OMG this is amusing beyond all reasonable measure!

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See you all next week when The Ancient One somehow becomes Incan.

TFP out.

 

The Fairy Princess wanted to write today about language – the power of it. You see, this week, an attorney in New York City, Randolph McLaughlin

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from the Civil Rights Firm of Newman & Ferrara decided to call attention to a casting notice put out by the musical HAMILTON.

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Yes, that HAMILTONthe big, fat, hip hop hit of a musical, and no you will never get a ticket any time soon – HAMILTON.

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What he did was call attention – and a press conference – calling out the language used in the casting notice – here is his quote:

“You cannot advertise showing that you have preference for one racial group over another, You can’t express racial preference. I don’t know how a producer in the 21st century can think this is OK,” he said. “Even when the intention is obviously good, you can’t express racial preference. This is an issue we have been fighting for decades and it started for black people. Imagine if the casting call was for WHITES ONLY. Al Sharpton would have a picket line. Listen, Idris Alba might not be the best person to play James Bond, but he should certainly be allowed to audition for the role if he wants to.”

Now – is he wrong?

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He is not wrong.
(Except about Idris Elba, he would be a GREAT Mr. Bond!)
 The language of the ad was not compliant with Actors Equity Standards.
AEA is the stage union of America, and as such, it must be compliant with Federal and State Laws.
Here is what AEA had to say about it via an email to Fortune Magazine, from their representative, Maria Somma:
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Actors’ Equity Association reviews and handles every official casting notice that goes up on our website and that we issue to Playbill and to Backstage. The posting on the Hamilton website was done by the show and is not an official Equity casting notice nor is it in compliance with our Production Contract language.”

 In simple terms – you can describe the character in an ad –  you cannot describe or limit the people you will see come in to audition for it by their race, creed, gender etc.
 Describe the Character, not the Actor.
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 So, could he have handled this in a much less public way? Absolutely.
Should he have? In TFP’s opinion that yes, he should have.
 However now if you interweb search for HAMILTON, this ‘casting controversy‘ is the first thing that pops up and Mr. McLaughlin’s name and that of his firm is all over it.
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Well played, Mr. McLaughlin.
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Rather quickly of course, the Producers of HAMILTON met with AEA and their language on their ads on their website are now compliant and they, of course, will continue to maintain the diverse casting of the show.
 Problem solved, end of story – yes?
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 Nope.
 This controversy, though legally correct and actually only about word usage has grown to passionate proportions because to People of Color on Broadway – this seemed like an attack.
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This seemed personal.
Performers of Color have a great deal of emotion invested in the success of HAMILTON, because it reflects us – something we do not often see.
Show Business is not as diverse as it could be, Caucasians on any size screen and on Broadway are definitely the majority, and that…as TFP can tell you first hand, is oftentimes exhausting.
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 It’s exhausting to go to a show, after paying a ton of money, and realize that not only is your story not being told, they don’t even see you as any part of the narrative.
It’s exhausting to try and be happy over a new score or a new book or a new play that does not show anything but people of color playing an adjunct role.
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Yes, there needs to be more principal roles for People of Color on Broadway.
Yes, there needs to be shows where Caucasians do  not come in and ‘save the day’.
We need shows about the world we live in and the relationships  we have where race is a part of the story but not the story itself.
Of course we need re-imagined classics, of course we need gender equality and representation of Actors who are differently abled, and who show the wide scope of the LGBT community.
That is not in question.
That is NEVER in question – and as HAMILTON shows us, it is vital for theater to invest in different stories, to change all of our narratives.
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 This “attack’ seemed like someone decided that a show that was written by and stars People of Color, with it’s pricey tickets and it’s street cred, and star-studded audience – should now be taken away and given to Caucasians.
It seemed like “they” were going to come in and try and take it away.
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 This was a reaction based on emotion – please, gurl – even Trump could not build a wall that would contain HAMILTON.

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Asian Pacific Islanders, Latinos, African Americans are all represented in HAMILTON, and to those of us in the performing communities the success of this show gave us hope – and hope is a powerful motivator.

Hope can change things.

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  In fact, almost as soon as it became a hit at The Public Theater, there were shows that started to advertise that they wanted “HAMILTON casting’, and that was ‘our shot, shot‘.
This one show is powerfully pulling all of us along in it’s wake, because as TFP has often said – Diversity means dollars.
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Only one man ‘threatened’ to stop the boat. One man, who many thought was “Da Man” raised an objection, and then all the ranting began.
Here is the ‘interesting’ part of all this – that man happens to be a Black Civil Rights Attorney. Here he is with Congressman Charlie Rangel and former NY Mayor, David Dinkins.
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What seemed so incredible about this was the fact that non-discriminatory language that had been designed to protect ‘us’ was being turned back on ‘us’ to make a point. However look back on what he said ““…Even when the intention is obviously good, you can’t express racial preference. This is an issue we have been fighting for decades and it started for black people…”

We really don’t know why he felt the need to do this – what we do know is – within the letter of the law about discrimination and who can be advertised for and how they can be advertised for – he was in the right.

Does it make it worse that he is a Person of Color or better?

TFP doesn’t know.

Many people thought, if TFP can refer to her social media community for a moment in the most general way- that this was about people who were not a majority in HAMILTON launching a calculated and hypocritical attack at the people that were a majority in HAMILTON.

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It wasn’t.

It felt like an outrage, but it was really just a tactic.
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The point is – language is powerful. Laws that are meant to protect are meant to protect all  – just because one is popular does not negate the need to be compliant with Non-Discrimination laws.
It seems stupid to have to say it, but it’s true. This was a quick fix, super quick – add a clause to a casting notice and describe a character, not the actor coming in to audition.
Will HAMILTON still be HAMILTON in all the beautiful ways it is after this?
Of course.
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Producers will comply as much as they have to, and then they will cast exactly who they want, and HAMILTON will still have it’s lovely, beautiful effect on casting, and it will give even MORE people a chance at a ‘shot, shot‘.
Even Peggy.
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 In Lin-Manuel Miranda we trust.
TFP out.

 

UPDATED: TFP has been notified via Twitter, that The Lamplighters decided to change the setting of their Mikado to Victorian England. Apparently this was announced four days ago, please note the date of March 25th.

TFP thanks them for responding to community concerns and wishes them a long and successful run, however she is leaving this post up because she realizes she is widely read and she has  a responsibility to note that the news of this change – which is hugely positive – gets to all concerned.

So therefore, she leaves her initial post up – with the knowledge that by putting this information at the top – the news will indeed reach the people it needs to.

She does suggest that The Lamplighter should update their PR photos, because their Yellowface photos are all over promoting the show – and this could lead to much community push back, which is now rendered unnecessary.

She also wishes to congratulate them on making changes and not chickening out like NYGASP, who cancelled their production completely.

Go on there, Lamplighters – snaps to you.

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THIS WAS THE INITIAL POST.

TFP LEAVES IT UP TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE ISSUE AT HAND AND TO MAKE SURE THAT OTHER G&S COMPANIES IN THE U.S. NOTE THAT POSITIVE CHANGE CAN BE HAD…AND IF NOT…SHE WILL LIKELY WRITE ABOUT IT – AND NO ONE WANTS THAT, DO WE?

The Fairy Princess was sitting in solemn silence – wait, that is totally false, as she has an almost four year old – there is never silence.

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What some would call silence, TFP calls “waiting for sh*t to hit the fan’ and she was right – the fan is on and it’s blowing, and in this case – the fan is being waved in San Francisco of all places by, you may have guessed it, a Gilbert and Sullivan company. In this case, the company is called The Lamplighters.

Their motto is “Bringing Music and Laughter since 1952” They should at “At Asian Americans” to the end of that. Not with, at.

You see, they are going to produce The Mikado. In the ‘traditional Yellowface style”.

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TFP has had MUCH experience in writing about The Mikado and here are a few highlights of opinions she has expressed, ad nauseum, in the past –

No one is out to get your precious Mikado!

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Asian Americans do not want to ‘take it away’ from G&S enthusiasts – and by circling the wagon and deciding that is what we ‘all’ want to do, Caucasians are definitely and defiantly missing the point of what the continued objection to The Mikado is – the mockery of Asian appearance and dress by Caucasians.

TFP assumes you know you look ridiculous, but just in case you don’t…Lady Cora?

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The following images are from The Lamplighters’ Production…

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Thoughts?

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Your continued productions of The Mikado are not smartly done – the companies involved have not invested the time and effort to find out how to honor the Japanese customs in the way Gilbert wanted to do – you have somehow decided it was your right to imbue it with American jingo-ism stemming from WW2 backlash against Japanese Americans, and you have made it beyond ridiculous – caricatures that almost no one wants to see.

You might as well declare you want to build a wall around The Mikado and have APIs pay for it.

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You have not invested in finding local Asian American talent that could lend this piece it’s dignity back – yes, yes, you talk about putting an ad in a paper or online to ‘find’ someone – but most of the time, Asian Americans know that the line about diversity in your ad is nothing but lip service.

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Let’s face it – you do this because you LIKE it – you like making fun of people, specifically API people – and since Blackface is a giant no-no that even y’all can understand, Yellowface is too fun for you to give up.  It is your last chance to mock another set of people secure in the argument that you can hide behind the “It’s Art” statement.

By the way – the minute you bring out the ‘authenticity’ argument, TFP will direct your attention to your own rewrite of “A Little List“. The minute you rewrite it, you are not authentic – seems relatively simple to understand from where TFP sits.

You really don’t want API’s in your production, because they might call you out on your own racism, and that is so veddy, veddy uncomfortable.

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You could set The Mikado almost anywhere – there have been countless productions – the most famous of course is the English National Opera’s – where excessive makeup and costumes are not the order of the day, and which would express more creativity and sensitivity.

 

Those are points that TFP has made – over and over – in regards to Seattle, in New York where NYGASP actually closed the show – (which TFP was not for, the cancellation) and now, we are looking at you, San Francisco.

San Francisco, you should be ashamed of yourself.

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You have what is one of the largest Asian American populations in the United States – 21.4% –  and one of the longest records of Asian American settlement in American History.

Asian Americans have contributed to the health and well being and entertainment of San Franciscans since the beginning, and for those who do not know, or who have not seen the wonderful documentary FORBIDDEN CITY by Arthur Dong, San Francisco had a wonderful nightclub that featured the talents of Asian Americans called The Forbidden City. (Now available on digital remaster Blu-Ray on Amazon)

They had the Chinese Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the Chinese Frank Sinatra, the Chinese (there were plenty of APIs in the club, everyone was billed as being ‘the Chinese…insert white performer name) – you get the picture.

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In point of fact, the novel by CY Lee – FLOWER DRUM SONG, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was set in The Forbidden City in San Francisco. Likewise the musical FLOWER DRUM SONG was also set in San Francisco. This then became the film FLOWER DRUM SONG, which had one of the most famous movie numbers filmed on what is now the most famous street IN San Francisco – Grant Avenue!

Asian Americans and San Francisco go together – like Clang Clang Clang and Trolley. Asian Americans are as visible and as vibrant in San Francisco as The Golden Gate bridge.

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In point of fact – Angel Island off the coast of San Francisco was the famous immigration point for Asian people trying to enter the country!

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San Francisco was where Wong Kim Ark tried to re-enter the country of his birth and was denied, and thus he sued the United States and THAT is why – if you are BORN here, you are a Citizen.

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He was born in the United States. In San Francisco – 751 Sacramento Street.

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San Francisco and Asian Americans are united in a blood oath, we just cannot quit one another.

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(Above photo by Lia Chang)

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San Francisco – you deserve better than this Lamplighter production – you are too find a city to allow caricatures of Asian peoples on your stages…and while TFP is not advocating to close this production, lessons can always be learned no matter how painfulshe is asking The Lamplighters a simple question:

If you could not hide your production behind the Yellowface makeup, exaggerated cartoonish gestures, and flowing robes – would it be any good?

Would this production – stripped down – show the fun of mocking Victorian mores? Or would it simply show that you do not have the talent to rely only on your voices and performances?

It is a question worth answering.

Oh yeah, and Kiss our Fan, Tan Fannie!

TFP out.

 

The Fairy Princess has, of course, written extensively about white washing the Asian Americans out of the Musical Theater, Major Motion Pictures and mocking them on International Awards shows….and it has all be for ‘the greater good‘.

She does not benefit personally over pointing out that the King in King and I should be of Asian descent, she’s never going to play the King.

She has pointed out in the past that Mrs. Anna was of mixed Asian descent, but this was more for general knowledge and not for her personal benefit.

She has never been requested for a production of The Mikado, but she does not want API’s tortured when they go see it, so she has asked that productions be more sensitive about putting on this operetta.

TFP was not going to jump into to replace Tilda Swinton or Emma Stone – simply put – most of what she writes about is not personal, it’s common sense.

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Recently she was sent an article about a production of Avenue Q that is  up in Cincinnati written by David Lyman, who pointed out the casting of Christmas Eve with someone who does not present as Asian or Asian American.

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Let’s not beat around the Trekkie Monster – TFP was in the Original Broadway Company of the show in question and while she has been told but never shown photos that this role has been whitewashed in regional theater before, and colleges etc – this is the first time she has read about anyone having an objection to it– for which she would like to thank Mr. Lyman and Cincinnati Actor, Elizabeth Molloy for ‘standing up’.

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Now, we are all clear that Christmas Eve, who is supposed to be an immigrant from Japan, is to appear Asian – not due to exaggerated makeup or prosethetics a la Jonathan Pryce – the character is legitimately supposed to appear Asian.

The way they decided to solve a problem like an Asian in the Original Broadway Cast was to actually cast an Asian American in the role, Ms. Ann Harada. (And then TFP)

Crazy, right? TFP will just give you a minute to take that in. How you doing?

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Yes, they did this crazy thing and wrote a part specifically for an Asian performer and they cast API performers! Over and over and over again. Like, they went out and auditioned real live API performers and…guess what?

FOUND THEM!

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In New York City, if there is a Christmas Eve, it’s a pretty safe bet she is being played by an API.

TFP does not even think this is up for debate, it just IS – just like, you know Aussie Hugh Jackman played Aussie Peter Allen, or like a Laura Benanti tweet that is funny,  or the notion that Lin Manuel Miranda will rap in a musical – there are things that just ARE in the current musical theater canon, they just ARE – which is totally fun and fine.

Kick ball change.

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Here is a photo from the 10th Anniversary of the show – a photo TFP likes to call ‘Ghosts of Christmas Eves Past‘. You will notice the inimitable Ann Harada in the center in navy, then left to right – Lisa Helmi Johanson, Sala Iwamatsu, Erin Quill, Hazel Anne Raymundo, and (future TONY winner) RuthieAnn Blumenstein.

Now, if one was to put this in “Harry Potter” speak – yes, you have some Purebloods and some half Muggles, but as one can see, one of the requirements to play the part of Christmas Eve was that it should be played by someone who naturally has API appearance because of things in the text.

There is an accent, which there should be because it is someone coming from another country to the USA, and what is your problem with accents – have you never met an Australian?

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There is also the point of view of the immigrant, and the verbal syntax of an Immigrant to whom English is a second language.

The reason, continuing on all the other playwright vs. casting issues that have been cropping up lately, to cast an API in the role is because the role is written for an API!

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Not only was it written for an API, it was actually written BY an API – one of the authors of Avenue Q, Bobby Lopez is of Filipino descent. Since then he has won more Tony Awards, an Emmy Award, an Oscar, and more than one Grammy – so…one would assume he knew what he wanted when he co-wrote the show with Jeff Marx & Jeff Whitty.

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(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Mr. Lopez is the youngest EGOT winner on record and he accomplished it in the shortest time span on record – ten years!

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There is actually no ‘gray area’ in regards to this character. Don’t believe TFP? On we go to the lyrics:

Christmas Eve enters and sings:

Your lives suck? I hearing you correctly? HA!

I coming to this country, for opportunities.

Try to work in Korean deli, but I am Japanese.

But with hard work I earn two masters degrees in social work.

And now I a therapist. But I have no clients.

And I have an unemployed fiance and we have lots of bills to pay.

It suck to be me. It suck to be me.

I say it sucka, sucka, sucka, sucka, sucka, sucka, sucka, sucka,suck!

It suck to be me!

Music & Lyrics by Bobby Lopez and Jeff Marx

So the first question that TFP wants to answer, regardless of the specifics of the Cincinnati production is – should non-Asians be cast in the role of Christmas Eve?

The answer please, Ms. Nicole Scherzinger?

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When you cast a non-API person in the role of Christmas Eve, you wind up turning her into Mickey Rooney – and that is not cool – don’t believe TFP, take a look –

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If the sight of that photo does not send shivers down your theater loving spine, then

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You may be the most liberal person you know – you may love the show with every fiber of your being, you may be a card carrying member of everything – if you cast a non-Asian person as Christmas Eve, the song is not the only thing that is a little bit racist.

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TFP acknowledges that the Actress playing Christmas Eve in the Cincinnati production has stated that her ‘great, great, great grandmother was from the island of Ma’ohi in Tahiti’.

GREAT!

Wait..how many is that removed? Count with TFP, she’s bad at math…

The Actress, Her Parent, Her Grandparent, Her Great Grandma, Her Great Great Grandma, and her Great Great Great Grandma. That is seven! A -ha- ha! Or perhaps six…TFP is not sure if you count the last person…or does one not count the first person?

(Now, if one was Native American and had ‘blood quantum‘ laws to deal with, that would be an issue, but APIs do not have that)

The theater producers said they did not want to ‘judge’ someone on their Asian-ness so they went forward and cast her.

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Obviously their next production is Show Boat.

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DNA is DNA – that is not the issue. The issue is – is the story being served in a way that honors the original intention?

TFP would say that the casting of Gary Coleman and Christmas Eve are of tremendous import to the effectiveness of the show.

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In a show that deals with stereotype and intolerance, it’s important to keep the authors’ intent in mind when producing it. It is not all about “The Internet is for Porn” and “Loud as the Hell“, it’s also about “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist‘ – or did you not watch the last Democratic Debate in Flint?

The main issue is that Christmas Eve is an immigrant character. First generation. The background of her story is such that it provides reason to use her to skewer certain tropes, particularly, for example when Brian, her fiance, in order to prove he is not racist, says to Princeton, “How many Oriental wives have you got?” – after which, Christmas Eve brings the rain, and then acknowledges her own prejudices.

Which affects the show.

Which means this falls under the domain of the Director, Elizabeth A. Harris. She was backed by the Producers. They are the ones who are in charge of casting, no Actress casts themselves.

In this case, in Cincinnati, the casting of Christmas Eve affected the reviewer’s ability to enjoy the show so much, that he spent the first half of his article discussing the history of “Yellowface’ casting in theater and film.

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One imagines that there were others in the audience similarly affected.

Unless they were all Trump supporters, and then one supposes they all thought it was great.

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Look, TFP always has a hard time convincing people that she is 2nd generation Irish American…

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so she can acknowledge that the struggle for mixed race people is real – after all, she has never been cast in The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

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As to other reports that Christmas Eve is regionally played by Caucasians – this post is to acknowledge the profound sadness that TFP feels seeing how easily people dismiss the contributions of API female performers in musical theater. How our ‘worth’ is viewed as inconsequential beside someone’s need to tell this lovely little ‘dirty puppet show‘.

Just do the typical, insensitive production of The Mikado if you are going to whitewash- at least we know what to expect.

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(Kidding, totally kidding on that one – DO NOT DO A RACIST MIKADO)

The role of Christmas Eve is in one of…here is the list – Flower Drum Song, Miss Saigon, Avenue Q, Allegiance, School of Rock, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,  King and I – 8 musicals where an API female is ‘required’. 

South Pacific does not always cast Bloody Mary with an API, so though one thinks of it as ‘required’, TFP has seen it an equal number of times with someone who is a minority, but not API. 

It is the only straight up comedy.

Spelling Bee is comedic, but has dark moments, TFP does not consider it as broad a comedy piece.

Even hearing about college productions or local productions where she is played with no thought for what the authors’ intended gives TFPthe sads‘.

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As she said previously, the production in Cincinnati is not the first time she has heard of this issue – friends have mentioned it in passing, like seeing Bigfoot or a Unicorn – but this is the first time she has read such a passionate questioning from the local press, and for that reason, she felt she had to address it.

As stated at the top, this is somewhat personal, and if TFP has stuck up for The King, and the Orphan of Zhao, and everyone else – she must stick up too for Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is a game changing API character in musical theater – there is nothing submissive about her – she is ballsy and tough and she has a kick ass song, as well as punchlines.

It is not too different from Jessica on Fresh off The Boat on ABC.

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(FOTB has been renewed for a third season, a historic third season, btw.)

For that reason, the casting of Christmas Eve needs to be done with acknowledgment and respect – or it should not be done. If you cannot find an appropriate Gary Coleman or Christmas Eve – do not produce the show. If you went ahead and those two parts were knowingly stripped of their ethnicity, that just proves that you do not understand the show at all.

TFP does not accept the ‘we cannot find any’ excuse that will no doubt be lobbied whenever the whitewashing of Christmas Eve comes up for two reasons –

First – the show is almost (ack!) 15 years old, just like any other show over a decade old, in that time, people have learned to sing this music.

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Second: If someday it may happen that an Eve cannot be found – go down your little list and make a damn phone call and get someone who can do the role! This excuse can be solved by an index finger, a smart phone, and free wifi at a coffee shop.

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It is really that simple.

However, let’s throw it back to Christmas Eve herself – she allows for knowledge to be acquired – let us hope this ‘experience’ of being called to the table was worth the ‘learning’ it shared.

TFP was reminded of this quote by Ann Harada, which was pretty badass, in response to this situation.

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Here’s the quote:

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Now that everyone has fallen out of the nest and been eaten by a bird a few times, let’s try and do better.

TFP out.

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