The Fairy Princess, in honor of the new musical, ALLEGIANCE, opening on November 8th, is publishing an interview per day, leading up to their Broadway Opening with one of their Actors.
For November 5th, we are talking to Michael K. Lee, who has been having a very successful career the last few years in Korea in several different musicals, but who grew up right here in New York and has been in several Broadway shows –
MISS SAIGON, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR,
and now, of course ALLEGIANCE.
TFP: We are here talking with Michael K. Lee about ALLEGIANCE, he plays Frankie Suzuki. Ok, questions, questions:
MKL: I don’t have all the answers (laughs)
TFP: I don’t expect you to! OK – where were you when you heard that ALLEGIANCE was going to Broadway?
MKL: I was working in Korea. I’m based in Korea now the past three years and the news came out last year.
TFP: Where were YOU when you found out YOU were going to Broadway? Were you in your kitchen? Playing X box?
MKL: What was I doing when they told me they found a theater? I wish I could remember.
TFP: It’s ok, you have two kids.
MKL: Exactly! (laughs)
TFP: Please, I have one boy and I can’t remember anything. Did you dance?
MKL: I was super excited.
We’ve been waiting for this since 2012. The energy we had at The Globe in 2012 was great. You know how the Globe is an incubator for Broadway Musicals?
MKL: Because we had broken Box Office records there at the time, we all thought we were going to ‘go’ within the next three to six months, so to be honest, with you, I went out and I bought opening night presents.
MKL: I was looking for a place to stay in New York…and then here we are.. three years later, finally about to open.
TFP: As an Asian American what is the thing you most want people to take away from this show?
MKL: That’s a great question. First and foremost I would love people to become informed about the Japanese Internment.
TFP: Right. It’s funny they don’t know as much about it on the East Coast as they do on the West Coast.
MKL: Right, and we have theories about that. We think that maybe because it’s part of California State History, maybe they learn it in bits and pieces as they’re going through middle and high school? But I grew up in New York, and I did not learn a thing about it, not a thing.
TFP: I think it was one line in a textbook.
TFP: Maybe one line“…and there was an internment”. I remember thinking “They went to camp?” Because you are young so you don’t equate – they didn’t say “concentration camp’ if they had said Concentration Camp or something like that…
MKL: Yeah, that would have resonated with me. To be totally honest, the first time I learned about it was when I went to college and I studied Asian American history and we read some novels based on those stories. The fact that people are becoming informed about this is the biggest takeaway from it.
What I hope people see, personally, is…that it is endemically an American Story. That any immigrant family that has come to the United States and has been judged by their ethnicity, rather than their nationality…can truly relate. If we can get people in beyond the Asian American Community, that would be most wonderful for me.
TFP: First Present you got yourself with your Broadway money?
MKL: I got myself a membership at a gym.
TFP: That is very responsible of you. Your Producers will be so happy with you. Very Ramin Karimloo. What is the thing you MUST have in your dressing room?
MKL: I have very fancy lozenges. A series of three – Golia from Italy, Propolis lozenges from Japan, and “Hanyak” lozenges from Korea – it’s a medicine but it’s lozenge in form, and I have to have those three.
(Note: Hanyak is only available with a prescription in Korea)
TFP: Fancy. Last show you did in Korea?
MKL: Jesus Christ Superstar
TFP: Which is crazy because you did that on The Broadway…
MKL: I did, in 2000!
TFP: The weirdest/craziest gift you have gotten from a fan.
MKL: I get such a variety of gifts – I got a wonderful tub of sake last week that was put in a traditional Japanese barrel with the Allegiance logo on it, it was an incredible sake and I got to share it with the Cast.
TFP: If you had to have a celebrity cut out in your dressing room for luck, who would it be? For inspiration? Good luck?
MKL: Two of my favorite actors are Gary Oldman and Daniel Day Lewis, because they disappear into the role, and that is my ultimate goal as an actor. I see them and I am blown away. So I would probably have one of them on each side and get in the middle and give them a fist bump before I go on. (laughs)
TFP: If I can find them for you, you will have them!
Break a Leg Michael, thanks for chatting!