Archives for the month of: July, 2018

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


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


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

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

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and fellow Belgian, choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

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


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

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




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


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

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

If only…


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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


TFP does not know.

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

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


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

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


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


TFP out.

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

Something to keep in mind….


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


Which is both sad and amazing.

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

Amazing because…Sandra Oh is flat out, amazing!

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


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


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

So how about that!

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

Hereis the link for tickets!


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

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

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


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


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



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

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

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Not Latinx. Nor Spanish.

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

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

Boring DNA is no one’s issue.

It is what it is.


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

That seems like it is going to go GREAT!

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


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

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

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

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

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

West Side Story premiered on Broadway in 1957.

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

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

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

So TFP knows from whence she speaks.

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


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

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

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


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

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

Currently Sydney Opera has doubled down on the Whitewashing.


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

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


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

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


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

For those who need a refresher on WEST SIDE STORY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hindsight is 20/20.


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

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

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

Who reside in Australia.

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


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

Playing New York kids of the 1950’s.

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

The question is – will they?tumblr_n2psbdHELw1qm1vx8o1_500

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

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

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


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

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




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


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

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Lyndon Terracini.


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Bloody Hell.

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

So weird.


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


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


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

Probably spend thousands of dollars.

But nope.

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

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

That is the true and honest power of casting.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sparkly lights, feathers and glitter all the time!


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


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

TFP has a word for you, intersectionality.

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


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

And it ain’t right.


TFP out.