The Fairy Princess wishes you a Happy Holiday Season and there are some great things that have been happening, so we are going to go through that first because…well, as James T. Early said, “There have got to be some good times!”

First of all, yes, for those concerned, SHOBA NARAYAN is back on Broadway (where she belongs) in the role of Jasmine in ALADDIN, so you can all go and get tickets. However, as many know, she did a ‘side gig’ for a few months at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, the musical COME FALL IN LOVE, based on the international film of the same name.

Congratulations to the whole Cast, Creatives and Crew who put together a show so good, it had to be extended.

Currently, slated to come to Broadway in November of 2023, at the Imperial Theater, the cast abounds in South Asian talent, headed up by Veteran performers, the U.K.’s Irvine Iqbal (Aladdin) as Baldev, Rupal Pujara (In the Heights) as Lajjo, Vishal Vaidya (Road Show) as Ajit, Kinshuk Sen (Much Ado About Nothing) as Kuljit, and stars, of course, Ms. Narayan.


Very big Congratulations are due to JON JON BRIONES and RIZWAN MANJI, who starred in the live action version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which will air DEC 15TH, and on Disney + the next day.

Mr. Briones plays Belle’s father, Maurice. Mr. Manji plays Gaston’s evil sidekick, LeFou.

Starring H.E.R., who is of mixed Filipino and Black heritage, as Belle and Josh Groban as THE BEAST!

Honestly this is the most AAPIs cast by Disney in a non-Asian story, so this is a big deal, and we love to see all of the abundance fall to people who have worked their butts off to be in the position to ‘get there’.

Frankly, the ‘kids’ are going to be all right. Could there always be more? Of course, but honestly, claps all around for this beautiful cast photo. See how H.E.R. is centered?

It is Belle’s story, and had TFP seen this as a kid…things may have been quite different.

When TFP grew up Mixed Asian…anyway, story for another time, but Congrats to the AAPIs in the cast.

Let’s head to London, which if you are TELLY LEUNG and GEORGE TAKEI, you are going to do, as you are opening ALLEGIANCE, which played on Broadway a few years ago.

They are opening at the Charing Cross Theater and runs from January 7-April 23, 2023.

The U.K. Cast is comprised of Aynrand Ferrer, alongside Iroy Abesamis, Mark Anderson, Masashi Fujimoto, Megan Gardiner, Raiko Gohara, Eu Jin Hwang, Hana Ichijo, Misa Koide, Patrick Munday, Rachel Jayne Picar, Sario Solomon, Joy Tan and Iverson Yabut.

They do not have a trailer yet, but to refresh your memory, here is the trailer from the Broadway run.

There is a new book out on the Rutgers University Press dealing with Mixed Asian Experience by Mixed Asian herself, scholar Rena M. Heinrich, who is an Asst. Professor at USC. It’s called RACE AND ROLE: The Mixed Race Asian Experience in American Drama.

Mixed-race Asian American plays are often overlooked for their failure to fit smoothly into static racial categories, rendering mixed-race drama inconsequential in conversations about race and performance. Since the nineteenth century, however, these plays have long advocated for the social significance of multiracial Asian people.

Race and Role: The Mixed-Race Experience in American Drama traces the shifting identities of multiracial Asian figures in theater from the late-nineteenth century to the present day and explores the ways that mixed-race Asian identity transforms our understanding of race. Mixed-Asian playwrights harness theater’s generative power to enact performances of “double liminality” and expose the absurd tenacity with which society clings to a tenuous racial scaffolding.

As those of us who came in the ‘first round’ of Mixed Race Asians know, our numbers are only growing, but those of us on the front lines of that change, get to address it in a way that hopefully will smooth the path for future “people like us” – and this is one of the first, it may be ‘the first’ to examine this group in a scholarly way.

Congratulations Rena!

And now, much to TFP‘s chagrin, she must discuss the KPOP musical reviews, which have really been somewhat of a mindf*ck. Some are ok – some really are not. The ones that are ok, will not be discussed, the others…

Here’s why – critics can understand why people like it, the GENRE, (It’s a GENRE) as KPOP is a global phenomenon, but they also cannot help themselves when it comes to writing their own microaggessions.

This is the case for all reviewers – yes ALL reviewers. They review through their own lense of enjoyment, and what happens when they do that as their career continues, is that many of them seems to believe THEIR own press. They lean in to the belief that they really are a taste maker – the power of their own opinion is alluring, and they rarely get real and actual pushback that they listen to – because most of the communities pushing back to reviewers, are People of Color.

POC are people who are far LESS represented in the Critics realm of employment.

So even as ‘theater became woke’ started to be the default that every palm colored actor used to explain why they were not working (and no, that is not even CLOSE to true), Critics- white, male critics…some of them…have consistently degraded work being presented when it makes them rethink positions long held – too Asian, too Gay, too Black, too Latinx, too Indigenous, too not Directed by a European, too, too, too.

Too ‘confusing’ for their white gaze.

It’s frankly, too much.

Does it happen as much when the talent pool for critics includes People of the Global Majority and Women in general?

No, it really doesn’t – however though TFP is not entirely ‘up’ on every single Critic of Global Majority working for a major publication, she, off the top of her head, just off the cuff, really only knows of Jose Solís, Dîep Tran, (who is now heading up Playbill), and for example, the Professorial critic who teaches at Princeton, Brian Eugenio Herrera.

However she did a bit of a deep dive and found a Google Doc where critics, Nicole Serratore and the aforementioned, Mr. Solis, have asked Under-repped critics to self identify, and it is very, very encouraging.

However what she has seen on that document, does tell her that, for example Maya Phillips is a theater critic for THE NEW YORK TIMES…and what she wondered was – do they have a bias in assigning someone to a show, who is also part of an under reppresented group?

TFP is confused as to why they did not send Ms. Phillips to review? She’s pretty hip, she enjoys newer things, and let’s be honest, she would have known, though she does not seem to be Asian by her photo – not to use phrases like ‘squint-inducing’.

TFP should mention, for the sake of clarity, that The New York Times has a training program where they are actively looking to train Critics of Color, and the issue there is – it takes a while and this may only be the first or second year of that program. She cannot remember, the pandemic has melded together in her mind, so it could be one, it could be two.

She would have known, that, to ASIANS, who get trolled by the ENTIRE WORLD for their beautiful eye shapes, at sporting events around the world, by tourists who are lined up to eat at our restaurants- and she would not have included it in her assessment of the show.

It is not something ‘we’ the People of the Global Majority, do to one another.

When TFP saw the KPOP reviews, particularly that of the New York Times, she looked immediately to see who wrote them – and when she read them, if they were written by a Non Asian, Non POC male, she disregarded them – because she knows that not every cis male white critics is as good as Peter Marks from the Washington Post with their ‘neutrality”and their perpetual excitement about challenging material.

Frankly, to be a theater critic in New York working for a major publication where there needs to be reviewing done constantly, TFP wonders if they begin to resent theater?

Or that is just how it comes across – ennui wrapped in snark, draped in faux fur for glamor.

The Gray Lady styled by Miss Havisham.

Perhaps they’d prefer a world where it is all revivals and stars, with the occasional British import that has already been well reviewed overseas where they just have to figure out a way to say a version of that thing that has already been said?

Perhaps they resent lowering their guard to truly enjoy something or they feel they are lowering their standards when what they should be lowering is …their biases.

TFP has seen this Broadway version of KPOP, and she saw it on the night when all the principals went out with illness, and every single understudy was on, more than half making their Broadway debuts. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen, and yet, it didn’t happen.

It was not a disaster, and honestly, the show works as it intends to.

In fact, were one to read a review that is both constructive and acknowledges the triumphs of the show, TFP recommends looking up Helen Shaw’s review in THE NEW YORKER.

Is Ms. Shaw Asian? Does she have to be? No.

However, again, similar to my thoughts on Ms. Philipps being the reviewer for the Times, she knew better, so she did better.

Yes KPOP is new and it’s different and it’s addressing Broadway’s need to acknowledge the global market and have shows that specifically set them up to welcome tourist dollars. Also, it opens up a new sound to an audience, who clearly wants it. The screams were enormous from the crowd. It was a pop concert yes, but we of the Broadway just welcomed news of a Britney Spears musical, ONE MORE TIME, set to open in the Spring.

Clearly, Broadway desires pop music – and again, the bias shown here to composer, Helen Park, in the Times is a huge red flag – Mr. Green does not like the sound, he does not like the arrangements, he does not like that there are three musicians – we are Sam I Am, we get it.

Also according to the review, the costumes by Clint Ramos & Sophia Choi are too much, the lighting design by Jiyoun Chang is too much…it wasn’t possible to list one thing he really liked, except for acoustic renditions. By the by, all those things are fair game, it is how they are said that is the problem, and he sounded like he needed a few Snickers before he saw the show.

If you are going to send a critic to review, shouldn’t you send, when possible, someone who will try to enjoy it? Someone, who, while reviewing, will also consider – as they seem to consider for so many other works that do not have Asian Creatives on it, and which stars people of Asian diaspora…

  • This show speaks to a group of people who have never been on the stage NOT within the white gaze.
  • A show about Asians without a war, or a brothel, or a pimp (Though you could make a case for Ruby)
  • The King and I, and KPOP can co-exist.

There has to be room for that, even if the white guys are uncomfortable not seeing ‘us’ in our is a ‘traditional’ settings.

Just like there had to be room for A Strange Loop, or The Prom, or Six, or Hadestown, or In The Heights, or Hamilton. And room was made. Because different is good.

The issue is not this one criticthough that is what it seems like if you are in the show, or associated with in it any way.

The issue is that, even though the critic wrote what he wrote, the Editor did not know enough or does not have enough sensitivity to flag it and tell the writer to take it down.

Should have ended with a red circle around it and a note saying “choose better words”.

It didn’t bother the Editor, so we all had to share in the trauma the Cast and Creatives felt – and are NOT wrong in feeling btw – because essentially, The New York Times Arts Editor thought it was ok. Perhaps the Editor thought it was a snarky way to make a slightly racist point – similar to when Basketball star, Jeremy Lin’s photo was on an article titled “Chink in the Armor” on ESPN.

Someone thought it was a funny, it was an ‘actual phrase‘, but when you allow phrases like that to be positioned opposite Asian American faces, like ‘squint inducing’ in an article about a show whose lighting designer is Asian, the racists who read it know what YOU mean, and WE, the Asians, know what you mean.

You just thought it was funny, yeah yeah, we can’t take a joke, you urinated in our soft drink and danced around us on the playground pulling your eyes, it’s not a far reach to say the culmination of that behavior being endorsed by The Times has far reaching effects that include people in New York City being attacked on the street for those eyes.

The issue is that any of us read it at ALL.

By now, the Producers of the show , Tim Forbes and Joey Parnas, have asked The New York Times for an apology, but it is too late – it’s already out there, and the damage is done. Although, that is what is needed – more white guys fighting white guys on behalf of underserved groups. It is not like this bias has not been seen and mentioned before, but without ‘white backup’, very little changes.

What they should do is have the entire New York Times sans the aforementioned Mr. Green, return and review the show without inserting coded language in the article and publish them. Critical evaluation is nice – gatekeeping Broadway from AAPI writers, performers, and visual creatives is not.

TFP did not want to wade into this fight – she is tired. She thought everyone was doing a fairly good job of self advocating – but to fight one critic is not as effective as you think – yes, he wrote it, but the Editor approved it, and then the Editor above that person approved it and it RAN.

There is a lot of work to be done at The New York Times and likely it ran, in part, to appease folks who are not in the majority in the House of Representatives. People who fear change, who fear not being in charge – but TFP is going to caution everyone that the Year of the Rabbit is approaching…and AAPIs on Broadway and elsewhere are ready to take giant leaps forward.

20,000 Whacks of the Wand to the Editorial Staff of The New York Times for letting that review run – it wasn’t a review, it was a school yard bully attack in print.

TFP out