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.
Which is not to say she has not been paying attention – she has attended panels and discussions, so let’s get to it.
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.
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 KING AND I revival on Broadway has posted their closing date – June 26th.
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…
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,
Miss Isabella Russo in SCHOOL OF ROCK,
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).
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.
Adam Jacobs. Here he is with his Parents.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.”
The “Right roles’, as in…very few? As in “Supporting”? As in “Recurring?”
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?
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.
Congrats to the TV Execs that show vision!
All the other ones Kiss My Fan Tan Fannie! They know who they are.