Archives for the month of: January, 2018

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is coming, and the second annual Asian American Performers Panel is fast approaching…and The Fairy Princess has put together some of the most frequent breakers of the yellow ceiling to talk about how they got there, how far they have come, and where they intend to go.


Ali Ewoldt, Shoba Narayan, Raymond J. Lee, and Telly Leung

January 27th at 10AM at The Javits Center

Bring coffee.

UPDATE- after the following blog was written, the Gershwin Estate and licensing company avowed that Hungarian State Opera did NOT have permission to do a Non Black Production of P&B.

They are still going ahead with it.

Because as Christmas Eve says ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist’.


Now…TFP learned of something today that really has her like…


Because she has learned that The Gershwin Estate…the Estate of George and Ira Gershwin…that allows/does not allow people to perform/not perform the works of the two brothers…has LIFTED the rule that was put into place by Ira Gershwin, of having the landmark opera, PORGY AND BESS, performed by an All Black Cast.


This is, as the kids say, fer realz.

The Hungarian State Opera petitioned and received permissionfrom The Gershwin Estate, to have non-Black performers do the quintessential opera that represents the time period of post Civil War, economically depressed 1930’s in America, where many people were free, technically, but still bound by their lack of education and job mobility, to poverty.


For those of you not familiar with the story, TFP will sum up:

It follows the story of Porgy, who is a disabled man living in the slums of Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina.

Porgy attempts to ‘rescue’ Bess, a good girl gone wrong, from the clutches of her violent lover, Crown. This is complicated business because while Bess has initial affection for Porgy, she is always being tempted to run off as well with her drug dealer, Sportin’ Life.

There are additional plots going on – for example, Crown murders a fellow dice player, Robbins. This has Crown fleeing to Kittiwah island off the coast, and leaving Bess to fed for herself against the police. She knocks on all the doors in Catfish Row, but only Porgy will open his to hide her from the police. This is where the romance between Bess and Porgy begins. She cleans herself up, starts going to church, but then she goes to a picnic on Kittwah Island and boom, just like that, she is back in Crown’s clutches.

Eventually, there is a struggle between Porgy and Crown, with Porgy winning. However, while he is held in jail for refusing to look upon the body of Crown (Because the thought was that if a murderer looks on the body he killed, it will bleed), Bess ‘falls’ with ‘help’ from Sportin’ Life, and runs off to New York.

Porgy winds up walking free for lack of evidence, and when he finds Bess not at home, he decides to head off to New York and find her.

The opera was adapted fromDuBose Heywards novel, Porgy. The novel became a play, also called Porgy, and then with Mr. Heyward, the Misters Gershwin turned it into PORGY AND BESS.George Gershwin wrote the score, Ira Gershwin wrote the lyrics, and DuBose wrote the lyrics and libretto.

The music that George Gershwin wrote for this piece, he self described as ‘a folk tale.’ – and he has been bothpraised for the lushness of the score anddecried for the image it set forth about Black Americans and how they were viewed. Both are valid points of view.


The piece was original presented in 1935, and has been edited and adapted several times, for a variety of venues, Broadway, The Metropolitan Opera, a Film Version, and Opera Companies around the world.

Which is not the point of this post at all, except to say – yes, PORGY AND BESS has been viewed quite a variety of ways by the Black American Community – but that is their purview and the rest of us – and whatever color we happen to be, or how we identify – have to acknowledge that though it was written by non Black people, it was written FOR Black American performers.


That was the intent.



In the 1980’s, Ira Gershwin, knowing that time was a ticking and he was not going to be around forever, Ira, one of the lyricists of the piece, put in place the ‘rule’ that there were only to be Black Performers in PORGY AND BESS.

This rule has now been broken, after two years of negotiation with the Estates.

While it is a great piece of music and theater and opera – and should be heard more often around the world, it should not be heard at the cost of negating it’s essential casting.

While TFP understands that the Hungarian State Opera may have empathy or some sort of connection to the American Deep South,


their willingness to blithely displace performers who have connection to that heritage is troubling to say the least, racist to say the most.

It’s racist.

Yes, she said it. It is racist to do PORGY AND BESS without the People of Color that the Composer, Librettist, and Lyricist intended.

When you erase People of Color, in this case, specifically Black Americans from stories that are theirs alone to tell, it is not only wrong, it is racist. It is dictating how and when People of Color are ‘allowed’ to get on the stage and sing a story that has been written for them.

This story was not written for Hungarian singers – it was written for Black Americans. To deny them their right to sing it, is to deny them one of their essential stories – whether or not individuals have issues or not with it, it is their story to tell.

The show does NOT work without the nuance and the majesty that an All Black cast can give it.

Does it represent ALL the Black people in America?


Does it tell a story that some have issue with?


Have there been non Black performances of PORGY AND BESS before?

Yes, there have.

In 1943 in Copenhagen, which was Nazi occupied at the time. The singers wore blackface. It has also been performed in Europe in Switzerland and Sweden where they had all white singers in 1945 and 1950 respectively.

Not ok.

Let’s put it this way – if the Nazis thought it was a good idea – ‘we’ of the world should be against it.


Some of you out there will say – “Well, TFP does that mean only Egyptians should sing AIDA?” Or only Japanese people should sing BUTTERFLY?” “Should OTELLO only have a Black or PoC person as OTELLO?”

Ideally, yes.


Cue people raining down on TFP about not knowing too much about classical music and the requirements for those roles. They would be wrong.

TFP is well aware that there are specific kinds of voices that are needed for those roles, and they do not always live in the body that would be most ideal for that story – Heldentenors do not grow on trees….nor do Puccini Sopranos – however this is a specific case, it is different from those roles. This is not about one voice type for a specific role, this is about an entire company.

This show, this opera, is written specifically for Black Americans.

It is not set in Ancient Anywhere or Foreign Euro-pea or Geishaland – no one is dying of consumption on a couch, sorry, chaise – these are meant to portray a specific instance in the American South that – while fiction – does represent what could have happened to people at that time.


For PORGY AND BESS to work, it needs to have a few feet grounded in reality – and the toll that it takes on it’s audience – of all colors – is what is needed right now in America.

We are battling racism every day in this country – every, damn, day. So what we do NOT do – oh Gershwin Estate – what we do NOT do – is allow ourselves to EXPORT racism to other countries.

We do not allow them to white wash PORGY AND BESS, hate it or love it,  in all it’s glory.

If they want to do it, and they do not have the singers – there are two options:

  1. Import the singers and show the opera as it is supposed to be.
  2. Do not do it.

There are hundreds of operas by composers that Hungarian State Opera could do – and this is where white privilege really gets TFP’s goat.


She knows that People of Color are gorgeous and talented and alluring – but their culture and skin tones are not to be picked up and put down as a matter of whim by White Creatives and their staffs.

If you want to do a show, to diversify your stages – give them diverse faces, and not just on stage – Directors, Stage Managers, Crew!

To the Gershwin Estate…TFP does not know what Intern allowed this to go through, or if y’all just want to make some money and you thought no one in the States would find out about this…but this is a HUGE mistake.


We are living in an America DIVIDED. We have NAZIS in the White House. We have a POTUS who uses terms like ‘shithole or house” to describe African and Island Nations! Who regularly calls People of Color derogatory names! Who robs from the poor to give to the rich?


Who lies – not just about policy and what he said or did not say – but he lies about EVERYTHING! He says that he is 239lbs and passed a mental health test – the only way he passed a mental health evaluation is if the paper it was written on fell on the floor and he stepped over it! His whole team will look the American public in the face and tell them nothing resembling the truth and you think this is a good time to say that there are no Black People in PORGY AND BESS?


Two Jewish Men who made their living writing songs in Tin Pan Alley and ascended to the highest heights this country has to offer would NOT be pleased about this.

You need to rethink this.

And Hungary? Gurl – you are out of line, maybe you don’t know any better over there – maybe you are the kind of country that would add mustard to mac and cheese, but this is not right.


Not right.

TFP fines both The Gershwin Estate and Hungary – an actual country, but it has white people so our POTUS is fine with it – two hundred whacks of the wand.

WTF is going ON Folks?

Artists are supposed to do BETTER!

And ESTATES who represent the Artists who DID DO BETTER should not just go for the money – they should rep for the values that the Gershwins stood for! Or what are they? Just a clearing house for show tunes?


Totally disgusted. TFP out.

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The Fairy Princess is gearing up for BroadwayCon and you should be too!

Come check out the second Asian American panel with my amazingly talented panelists – Ali Ewoldt, Shoba Narayan, Raymond J. Lee, and Telly Leung!

We are on the schedule officially, and it will be FAN TAN FANTASTIC!

We will be talking about where Asian Americans are on Broadway now, and where they intend to go from here – these are the folks that live and breathe #ChangeTheStage

 Jan. 27th, 10 AM at the Jacob Javit’s Center in the Hildy Parks Room, 1A


Now, on to the BROADWAY...cuz TFP has some NEWS!


That is RIGHT Ms. Carmen Ruby Floyd has joined in the cast of HELLO, DOLLY and she is – Bernadette Peter’s Understudy!

Ms. Floyd has been in LION KING, AVENUE Q, PORGY and BESS, and AFTER MIDNIGHT – so Broadway is what she does – but this is a #ChangeTheStage moment, and we are all here to witness it.

TFP spoke to Ms. Floyd, and here is what she said about the part, which, is DOLLY EFFIN LEVI, btw, in case you did not get it the first time!

Ms. Floyd, what are your thoughts on joining the cast of this show?

“I’m just happy to sprinkle some #BlackGirlMagic, especially for this show.

I grew up with Pearl Bailey playing Hello Dolly with Cab Calloway, so I ‘know’ that soundtrack – that is what I grew up listening to, dreaming to, singing along with.

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Legit singing! High B’s! Representation matters – this is one of the classic ‘practically perfect in every way’ shows, and I am legit thrilled to be there.

Jerry Herman! YES!

And when do you start?

Rehearsal starts tomorrow!

Tell TFP some of the things you are most excited about for this show?

I’m going to wear some amazing costumes and be fierce. This next week I get to see the show with Bette Midler before she goes. It goes dark for a week, and then…Bernadette Peters!


It’s like opening a new show, and I am here for it. I met her when she came to AFTER MIDNIGHT, and she was so kind to me – that’s all you need after a show. I wrote that down in my journal after meeting her, that one of my dreams was to work with her, and now to understudy her? I am so joyous.

I’m taking it all in, all of that. Come see us in our Sunday Clothes!

Congratulations, Ms. Ruby Floyd, TFP is definitely coming to see you – having been blown away by your previous performances and it will be a thrill!

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Thom Sesma – last seen Off Broadway in the beautiful revamping of PACIFIC OVERTURES, will take on the title role of SWEENEY in the Off Bway Production of SWEENEY TODD on February 27th.

Thom is a well respected character actor on the stage and on film and television – holding down roles on Broadway since 1983! Thom has been the change he wants to see, and TFP could not be happier to see him take on this magnum opus of a role.

Here is what Mr. Sesma has to say about it:

I am profoundly grateful, not just for the opportunity to play the role, but in retrospect – just for the opportunity to have been taken seriously as a ‘candidate’ for the role.

It is equally surprising and ‘reassuring’ that the Producing and Creative team behind the Barrow Street SWEENEY have assembled a cast of Actors that reflects a distinct American landscape – Caucasian, African American, and now with Zach Piser and I, Asian American.

The most remarkable thing about this casting is how UNremarkably it has been recieved. We’re just actors – like I said, kind of crazy and kind of right. It’s how it should be.

I hope people pay attention.



Now we have some slightly sad news – the glamorous Merle Dandridge, who played the role of Papa Ge in the revival of Once On This Island, has had to leave the show because of her television show, Greenleaf – produced by OPRAH… (c’mon, that is so fab)

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TFP was very lucky to catch the her the Saturday matinee before she left and though she had seen the show in previews, it was so stellar now that it has opened and the cast is more settled. She would also like to give a shout out to T. Oliver Reid,

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who was on that day as Agwe – he was a spectacular God of the (cold) Water.

The whole cast was delightful, and as TFP looked at her 5 year old’s face, watching the show, being drawn into the magical world that was created, she could not help but wonder what effect it would have on his own creativity, now that he has seen this show.


SIDEBAR: There was some Broadway Beef that went down over ONCE ON THIS ISLAND this past week, and this is what TFP has to say about it, as a person of mixed race herself.

As a person who is never easily identifiable and who often is told that she does not ‘count’ to claim one thing or the other it is time to accept, oh greater Broadway community that mixed race people  look all kinds of ways.

The way they present, does not negate their background or their culture.

We all need to come together and agree that when someone makes a mistake about a mixed race person ‘belonging’ somewhere or being able to tell one story or another – not only do we limit our understanding of the term, People of Color, we often fracture it without meaning to, creating distrust and turmoil, when what is needed is more understanding.


Ok – back to fun news and then we wrap it up…

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Drama Desk Winner Francis Jue– taking the world by storm in various productions of KING OF THE YEES by Lauren Yee, will be joining his fellow cast mates, Sutton Foster, Gavin Creel and Harriet Harris, in a reunion of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE for one night only, for the Actors Fund. Tickets can be found, here, and let’s keep raising money for people in showbiz who find themselves in a bit of a pickle now and then.

There you go – Folks who are #ChangingTheStage, one role at a time.

Chosen for their excellence, their passion, their commitment & cuz they are so damn cute.


TFP out.

The Fairy Princess hopes you have a most excellent 2018.

She, among perhaps the great majority of the country, or at the very least, the great majority of the entertainment community, was thrilled to see the year of abject idiocy, 2017, fall by the wayside.

Social media should not be used if you do not have a basic understanding of the grammar of the language you propose that you speak, nor should it cater to people who only get their news from one source, the television, and one network in particular.


Anyway, 2017 is over –


So what is up thus far for 2018…


BroadwayCon is at it again, year three!

Yes, Virginia, there WILL be an Asian American Panel again this year, TFP is calling it Fan Tan Fantastic!


She has an absolutely stellar bunch of panelists – and yes, Gurl, she has enough panelists, there is a limit – and here they are:


ALI EWOLDT has become known for being the first Asian American to play the role of CHRISTINE DAAE on Broadway in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. She made her Broadway debut as Cosette in Les Miserables, and was also in The King and I in the recent Lincoln Center revival. (Which won a TONY) (Pretty Fancy) She has a ton of other credits and we’ll get all into that at the panel.

Not giving away the farm, you understand, you’ll have to show up.


SHOBA NARAYAN has most recently been cast in the Second National Tour of HAMILTON. (Yes, that one) Prior to that she appeared on Broadway in Natasha and Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812, where she understudied the role of Natasha. Other theater credits include MISS SAIGON NAT’L TOUR, and workshops of MURDER AT THE GATES (written by Steven Sater, Tony Award winner) and PRINCE OF EGYPT (adaption of 1998 DreamWorks film).

Lots of TV stuff as well, but this is BROADWAYCON, so again, you’ll have to wait for it…wait for it…


RAYMOND J. LEE recently originated the role of RALPH in last season’s GROUNDHOG DAY. On Broadway he has been part of the casts of HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, ANYTHING GOES, MAMMA MIA. Ray also has a ton of plays and television appearances and is an activist in his own right, founding the Asian American Actors Alliance.

and finally….drumroll please…..cuz we have ALADDIN!


TELLY LEUNG  is currently playing the title role in Disney’s ALADDIN on Broadway. Other Broadway & National Tour credits: In Transit, Allegiance (with George Takei and Lea Salonga), Godspell, Rent (final Broadway company), Wicked (Boq, Chicago company), Pacific Overtures, & Flower Drum Song.

Again, tons of television, including GLEE, (stop that screaming), recordings…and lots of other stuff we will get into in the fifty minutes that this glorious chat will take place in.

TFP is excited about this panel.


Also, TFP changed her hair – don’t worry, she is still repping, but yeah, she is shaking it up a bit…don’t freak out when you see it.

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So here are the details: Javits Center. Jan 27th. 10AM.

BroadwayConmake it so!



Come ON!

Other Fun News:

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Lea Salonga and Merle Dandridge are holding it down over at ONCE ON THIS ISLAND on Broadway, and it is phenomenal.


TFP saw it, and the cast and the direction is stunning. They are adding Norm Lewis and Tamyra Gray January 7th, but if you can, go see our Gals, because they are breathtaking.


Young Jean Lee, the playwright, will become, in the upcoming season – the FIRST ASIAN AMERICAN FEMALE PLAYWRIGHT TO HAVE HER WORK ON BROADWAY.

This is a HUGE deal.

What is it called?



Yes, that is what the play is called and that is pretty much what you are going to see.

Here’s why TFP is excited – because while the play will star white men, ostensibly but not necessarily straight – this is an Asian American playwright examining race and culture but not having Asian American actors up there and, frankly –  that is a relief.

Let’s pass the burden of privilege and calling it out to the people who have it.

Just this once.

TFP is looking forward to it.

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RuthieAnn Miles and Ramin Karimloo are going to play our favorite Russian smartypantses in CHESS. They will be where they want to be and how they want to be and do what they always sang they could and say they never sweat at all…


(TFP may be a bit CHESS impaired.)

Anyway, they join Karen Olivio and Raul Esparza as the leads and this is going to play in D.C. on a pre-Broadway tryout and that should be SUPER AWESOME!

FROZEN, with music and lyrics by Kristin Anderson Lopez (In Transit) & Bobby Lopez (Avenue Q, Book of Mormon), based on the Disney movie is selling tickets for a February 2018 opening.

Everyone will be able to LET IT GO in no time flat.


Felt like they opened it on New Year’s Eve in NYC, but nah – get those Elsa dresses at the ready!

Turning for a moment to cable….


IRON FIST got a second season on NETFLIX – so while not everything was perfect round one, we still has some great fighting and there is a new showrunner – Raven Metzner from Sleepy Hollow – so…fingers crossed for some female kickassness, both in the story and in the fight scenes.

INTO THE BADLANDS done stole Lewis Tan from IRON FIST, so make sure you check out that show, which combines martial arts, a dystopian storyline and actually, more than one Asian lead character.


Something only ABC has been able to pull off…speaking of which…

FRESH OFF THE BOAT and AGENTS OF S.H.E.I.L.D. are holding strong and continue to be fan favorites over on ABC, which also has BLACKISH and THE GOOD DOCTOR in a very strong first season, which helped boost their Network Report card to B.


On their Network Diversity Cards.


Sorry, automatic response to getting a B.


That was the highest grade, the highest grade of any network – and it matches the highest grade given EVER. Had ABC kept Dr. Ken and a few others, it would likely be at least a B+, but there you have it.

The start of 2018.

(They will never get into their safety school!)


And yeah, the other networks did worse.




TFP‘s inner Tiger Mom is a growlin’.

TFP out.