Archives for category: Diversity

The Fairy Princess has been contentedly watching Sandra Oh win all the awards – and she was very, very happy. Life was good. She attended Royal Family‘s Off Broadway adaptation of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES starring Ali Ewoldt, and life remained good.

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However then she took a gander at a open letter written by BEATS Organization, which is founded by and looks to support British East Asians working in theater and film and well…all good things come to an end.

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Now, just to give a brief summary of the situation for those NOT in the UK – here’s what – in light of Canada going into it’s 3rd blazing season of the brilliance that is Kim’s Convenience

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and American’s historical 5 seasons of FRESH OFF THE BOAT on ABC...

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and the tsunami that is Oz’s new fav Family sitcom, The Family Law,

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The BBC thought, well, “Let’s get me some of that”, and they commissioned a new show called LIVING WITH THE LAMS, about a British Chinese family that runs a restaurant in Manchester.

Jolly good, pip pip, what, what!” everyone thinks – the Brits are FINALLY getting it!

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Until one realizes that the Production Company behind this show, TWENTY TWENTY, has no British East Asians in any position of power.

Which means...shenannigans!

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Here is the woman leading the charge for representation for British East Asians, Ms. Helen Sodon, Head of Childrens at TWENTY TWENTY Production.

 

 

Yassss Hunties, this show is intended for children!

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Nah, Kid – it is because they wanna make them…

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Let’s be clear – in as much as Children’s programming is geared towards education and cultural understanding – that is an ideal. Does not always happen, and as it seems, it is not happening in this case.

What is happening is that they are taking the Panto to Prime Time, and Asians have not always fared well in this ‘traditional’ British art form. Usually the Asian characters – South, East, West and Central – are played for cheap laughs and stereotypes.

 

 

There in fact ARE experienced Children’s TV writers in the UK who are British East Asian, who have a list of show credits – the problem is, Ms. Sodon did not think it was ‘enough’ for her. In fact, of the several writers of British East Asian background that she interviewed, time and again, those writers did not seem to Ms. Sodon to be worthy of writing an amusing children’s television show about their own experiences.

She is the Sodon Gatekeeper!

(Brits will get that one)

Among the cultural crimes listed in THE DAILY MAIL that apparently ABOUND in the script & ‘show bible’ viewed – one scene described made TFP scream bloody murder – the script has – deep breath now Asians –  dumplings baked in the oven!

Not just baked, BURNED!

BURNED DUMPLINGS IN THE OVEN!!!!

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Look, even the second cousin on your Mother’s side who spends all winter in Aspen skiing and doesn’t cop to being remotely Asian would do a double-take at that.

Dumplings are steamed or fried, people!

Go to Chinatown. Walk around.

Look in a damn window.

Look past the brown ducks.

See those bamboo steamers?

THAT IS ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH WE PREP FRIGGIN’ DUMPLINGS YOU SOULESS HEATHENS!

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Has no one on this team eaten Chinese food?

The question as to preference is fully asked and answered before ANY dumplings are served to a table!

Y’all didn’t even grab lunch at a Chinese restaurant before writing about a Chinese restaurant?

Lazy.

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Other issues cited were scenes where people complain about the stinkiness of their food, people spitting on the floor and ongoing gags such as the Dad playing in a band called “Wok and Roll”.

The joke there being that Chinese people cannot say R’s – that’s for all y’all in the cheap seats trying to figure that out.

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The next joke that is not actually Punny, nor is it funny is the name of the restaurant – HAPPY PALACE.

Nothing like ‘reminding’ TV viewers that the common perception of East Asian women in the UK is that they are all sex workers who give ‘happy endings’. Subliminal but there.

Remember- this is for THE CHILDREN!

Now one of the key issues that is dogging this pony show, is that by in large – everyone associated with the creation of the show is Caucasian.

There are intended to be eight episodes written, with 2 of them being written by the only British East Asian writers that are on staff.

According to TFP’s sources, writing staffs can vary wildly – but comedies tend to have more writers than dramas. (That is because no one really trusts ‘the funny’. ‘The funny’ is like Mimi in La Boheme, fickle, delicate and always needing a fainting couch nearby.)

There is also, to be accurate to the East Asian diaspora of the show or lack thereof, a Hapa Producer (Chinese and Irish, just like TFP)  coming late to the game, and a “Cultural Consultant” that was added, who later quit. (Although worth noting that they have not taken her name off the pilot script, so they can point to it and say that East Asians were consulted in the writing of this cultural cacophony of cliche.)

The ” Cultural Consultant” felt she was not being listened to (DUMPLINGS ON A BAKING TRAY! SHOES IN THE HOUSE!), so she vamoosed. Rightly so.

No submissive East Asian Woman there! NOPE!

However that leaves the LAMS crying for authenticity with just the two British East Asian writers, who, one surmises, are trying to keep their jobs whilst being railroaded into supporting the show (see what TFP did there)  vocally, and the lone Producer.

They are in a rough position. We don’t pay their bills.

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BEATS has signed an open letter to the BBC with their complaints, and they would like some changes – to put it mildly.  Or if those changes are not made, they would like the show axed.  BEATS also would like ONLY British East Asians to write the show.

Since then, it has gotten more heated, with people on the production side citing falsehoods about the Mothership, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat as the reason their show , Dinner with the Lams, does not have a diverse Writers Room.

Huh?

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Let’s discuss:

FOTB, (which began with a 13 episodes order for season 1, and is now between 23-24 episodes per season) is a show created BY People of Color, FOR EVERYONE. Yes, the show is for everyone – just like all the great sitcoms. Where it differs is the stories it tells and where it also differs is finding the humor within a family that has both an American and an Immigrant POV.

Their Showrunner/Creator, Nanatchka Khan, (currently ‘away’ from the show filming a movie), took Chef Eddie Huang‘s memoir about growing up Chinese in Florida during the 1980’s with his Dad running a Texas type steakhouse restaurant, and mined it for comedy gold. The original Executive Producer is Chinese American, Melvin Mar.

 

 

Based on a memoir by an Asian American, Produced by an Asian American, and Created by a Persian American – and for those of you following at home, Iran is a country in Western Asia.

Behold the continents and boundaries of Asia – it is VAST and DIVERSE!

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Asians of all types coming together to tell a story about an American Taiwanese Family in the 1980’s.

Currently for FOTB, the Writers Room is a staff of 15 people Six are Asian American, and 7 are Female.

Is the Writer’s Room all Asian? No.

Neither is America.

Their Directors have always been 50% female, which was intentional out of the gate. It was important to both the EP and the Showrunner, and they chose  some Female Directors from Directing Initiative Program that was already set in place by ABC prior to this show becoming a reality.

Again, over a third of their writers are Asian, which is phenomenal.

FRESH OFF THE BOAT set a gold standard for television inclusion, which is likely why it is still on the air.

TFP asked Showrunner, Joshua Safran

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a few questions about his Writer’s Rooms – he created ABC’s QUANTICO a few years back, which starred Priyanka Chopra.

 

 

Most recently he created the show MIXTAPE which will air on NETFLIX.

For QUANTICO, they had 10 writers for 22 episodes, and for MIXTAPE there were 7 writers for 10 episodes. While the gender/race split of writers is dependent completely on the Showrunner, for QUANTICO there were 3 women, 4 straight men, and 5 Writers who identified as Queer. Two of the women were People of Color.

For MIXTAPE, out of the 7 writers, only one was a Straight White Man, and the rest of the room was Diverse, Queer, and/or Female.

Says Safran

It is important to me to have a room that looks like the Cast of the show. I strive for this. I hate how when I say to a studio, “I want a diverse room”, they say “Great! Here is A Writer”.

I have to always say, “No, I want a diverse room means I want a room where we try for everyone to be a Person of Color, Queer, Female – (For MIXTAPE) I ended up hiring 3 Playwrights who had never staffed before in order to find the inclusion I wanted.

He went on to explain that part of the issue with the ‘pipeline’ is getting those underrepresented writers Agency representation and/or Managers, because here in the States – and one assumes overseas as well, the traditional path goes – University Writing Program, Spec Script Submissions to Agencies, Agency/Manager Representation, Staffing on a Show.

While he does believe here in the States, things are changing, and that in three years there will be no issue with having varied choices for his Writer’s Rooms, he did have to go beyond what is normally required of a Showrunner in order to get the staff he wanted. He also believes that the Talent Agencies are beginning to actively seek Clients that are more varied now, something that was not happening even five years ago.

Safran looked to non-traditional means to find the writers whose stories would most contribute to the show. Outside the ‘traditional’ TV box.

He looked for people who had been successful writers in other mediums, whose Artistic voices had been noted by the Theatrical Communities who had Agency representation both in New York and on the West Coast, to see if they would be a fit for his show.

He looked and found, for example, the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist for THE GREAT LEAP, Princeton University’s MacKall Gwinn Hodder Fellow for 2018-2019, and past KILROY List maker, Lauren Yee, who he described as a “Rock Star”, among others.

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Ms. Yee, when asked, said she found Mr. Safran’s Writers Room to be ‘A Kind and Warm Room!”.

Wait – an Asian American Writer had a great experience working in television?

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In the United States, it is getting better. Slowly but surely.

There are more Creatives and Executives of Asian descent than ever before working to bring you your favorite shows.  This is cross pollinating itself – people who have been successful in other parts of the Entertainment landscape, are embracing their ‘star power’ to create new shows or films, and cast them accordingly. Reflecting the American scene to the tenth degree!

Shout out to Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Justin Chon for jumping behind the camera and the table and being committed to telling different tales! Justin is lighting up the Indie Scene and Daniel….

Like, here is the tea on the Writers Room of the ABC hit, THE GOOD DOCTOR– produced by DDK’s Production Company.

Eleven Writers. 8 Men, 3 Women. Of those – 4 People of Color, of those Four, 2 fall under the AAPI designation. 1 of the Male Writers is on the Spectrum, 1 of the Male Writers is a Person with a Disability.

They shot 18 episodes with 14 different Directors and of those 5 were Women, 5 were People of Color. Two of those were Women of Color.

ABC is fully winning because they have invested in under represented talent in front and behind the camera.

FULLY. WINNING.

ABC.

Clock it.

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As TFP said, American Television has been aware of the issue of inclusion for some time now, and while it is not ‘perfect’, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX all have Diversity programs that do become a creative pipeline for people who have been traditionally shut out of competing for those positions. The programs make a difference, and they can change people’s lives and the way that they make their living, which in turn, enables opportunity to come for others.

Teresa Huang, who is on the Writing Staff on the CBS Show, SEAL TEAM is one of the people that participated in some of those programs.

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After many years as a successful Actor, this MIT Grad was accepted into the CBS Writers Mentoring Program, the CAPE New Writers Fellowship, and the WGA TV Writer’s Access Project, before getting a job as a Writer’s Assistant on four TV Shows before becoming Staff on SEAL Team, where she is one of two writers that would fall under the APPI designation. When discussing the benefits of the programs, she particularly lauded CBS’s program as something that really got her ready to work on a TV staff.

“It’s an incredible feeling to have a seat at the table. Even though I am constantly navigating the room politics of when to speak and when to be silent, being in the room means I have a voice in creating the stories of the show. And you better believe I do my best to make sure we’re no just telling stories through the white male lens.” – Teresa Huang

Asian Americans are ‘thirsty’ for new voices, and as Networks acknowledge it, they are not sticking to the tired trope that just because someone has limited experience or little in writing for television, that they will not have television success.

Look at Kevin Kwan, the novelist.

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He penned the breakout summer read, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which was turned into a screenplay by Adele Lim and Peter Chiarelli, which then became the mega successful Rom Com of the Summer. He has now has landed a deal at CBS to co-write and co-produce a multi-camera comedy for Ken Jeong, called THE EMPEROR OF MALIBU. Jeong will play Gerry, a Chinese Tech Billionaire who disapproves of his son’s plan to marry an American woman.

Does he have TV experience?

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That would be a NOPE!

He got a Pilot Deal though.

Just sayin’.

So with all these examples out there, why is the BBC and Twenty Twenty going along on the assumption that they do not really need a gender equal, racially diverse Writing Staff to be on a show about one of the least represented in British Entertainment – aka British East Asians?

Honestly, you would have to really TRY HARD to be this willfully ignorant. Like, it takes far more effort to “white-splain’ all the nuances of your non-reasoning than take a thoughtful measured approach to a show that is supposed to be for the CHILDREN!

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If all the Colonies can seem to figure this out, why can’t the UK?

Canada, America, Australia – have all taken the note that if you find projects that have their roots in writings by East Asians, your shows will ring true with comedy and authenticity.

Kim’s Convenience was originally a play written by Korean Canadian Ins Choi.

The Family Law was created by Chinese Aussie, Benjamin Law based on a book he and Marieke Hardy had written about his life – then why does this remain a mystery to be solved by Agatha Christie on the BBC?

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As far as TFP can discern, Living With the Lams is based on…nothing.

It is based on an idea to rip off East Asian content from around the Globe that is successful, but with no investment in the talent required for it to succeed. They have not looked at their successful crop of British East Asian Playwrights or Bloggers or Standup Comics for writing talent, they simply barrelled ahead with the assurance that they do, indeed know best.

They would be wrong.

But back to the argument that TWENTY TWENTY is comfortable with – that there just are no qualified British East Asian Television Writers.

How do you know if you are a Television Writer if you have never been given an opportunity to write for television?

Listen, Comediennes Jenny Yang (Late Night Talk Show, BUSY TONIGHT)  and Ali Wong (AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE) got their first jobs writing for tv when someone saw their standup acts.

 

 

They had never written for television before – but coming from another medium that involves timing and charisma is not going to hurt a script, you know what TFP is saying?

Comic Steve Byrne wrote a television show based on his Hapa upbringing, which is part of his standup and they got SULLIVAN & Son three seasons on TBS.

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Which is BASIC CABLE!

You know you are pathetically behind when anything with the title “Basic” is winning for inclusion, and the giant cultural octopus that is the BBC with their period dramas, car shows, and baking meglomaniacs is losing in the court of representation.

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A sitcom writes itself with comics, but perhaps it’s the British sense of humor…or lack thereof that turns their executives into a bunch of gatekeeping twits, more intent on preserving racism than alleviating it.

Public school, what? Eh? See you at the Club, Old Man?

TFP would rather watch this squirrel eating an egg roll than hear the crying of the LAMS.

GET THAT SQUIRREL A PILOT DEAL!

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Check out these Tweets from Akwafina about her brand new show, kismet really that she tweeted these:

 

 

Already this show looks to be a great big hit, and where did it start?

With the Writers.

Duh.

TFP asked Showrunner and Artistic Visonary, Bryan Fuller for some of his thoughts on where television is finding it’s new voices and what effect that has on the Writer’s Room.

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“On American Gods Season 2, Michael and I insisted on having a much more diverse room than either of us have every been in before, and it was fantastic. We took some risks that involved hiring writers with no experience, who showed promise and a point of view because we wanted to give them what any of us needs to truly excel at our craft: experience.

We are going to continue having singular points of view unless we expand our outreach for Minority Writers. Some of the best programs that find Minority Writers and create pathways for them in the Industry are simply unable to reach people who don’t have access to higher end educational opportunities because of socio-economic reasons. Which is why we need to be looking high and low for Creative Voices.”

So everyone is saying it – the Networks, the Creatives, the Actors, the Sponsors – everyone is behind authenticity in the Writer’s Room of a sitcom or drama. It is needed. It is wanted.

America gets it. Canada gets it. Australia gets it.

What say you BBC?

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THAT is the exact problem.

Look at the numbers from overseas – they are staggering. They are definitive proof that Diversity = Dollars. Er, pounds.

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People are readily available from talent pools that may not be ‘exactly’ what one Blonde lady in Production wants, but they are THERE.

TFP has even shown you quotes from two of the most successful working Show Runners on American television, about what their goals are moving forward with representation and why it is necessary to do the work they love to do.

TFP can even point you towards some names – Lucy Sheen, Daniel York Loh, Anna Chen, Evelyn Mok,  Ken Cheng, Phil Wang, Nigel Ng.

Guess how TFP got those names?

SEARCH ENGINE!

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The BBC has a duty to the charter that it operates under to represent the best interests of the public, and to handle complaints in a timely manner. The BEATS organization has a petition and an Open Letter to get these complaints heard, but thus far it has been slower than that boat to China.

She hopes you all go and sign it – you do not have to be Asian to understand that being erased from your own stories is the death knell of societal acceptance.

TFP is hopeful that the success of television shows overseas, featuring majority or full Asian descended Casts, with a proportional number of diverse writers will be ‘enough’ for the LAMS – characters who do not see themselves as caricatures – to stop crying.

Because she is pretty sure they are.

LET THEM HAVE THEIR DAMN RESTAURANT WITH DIGNITY AND COMEDY FER F*CKSSAKE YA BOGAN COLONIZERS!

The concept of an inclusive kids show starring British East Asians is a wonderful one – but without help from authentic voices – and we are talking a majority voice – this show is never going to get there, and that would be a pity.

These kinds of things have consequences, especially with children watching. Because they grow up – and they either learn empathy and tolerance and understanding, or they do not.

We have all seen what happens when people do not have empathy.

Walls and Brexit-ing. Robbing people of their rights to exist. Mocking of Parents and Grandparents and Children, lack of empathy ‘helps’ you put kids in cages when you pull them from their parents- when all they did was legally seek asylum.

Lack of empathy leads to attacks on people who are in the LGBTQ community. Lack of empathy kills in higher proportions, Trans people of Color.

Lack of empathy leads to ‘othering’, which leads to bigotry and war and…damn, this is depressing.

You get one chance to get this ‘right’, BBC, you will know soon enough what Mama Ru has to say about it.

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TFP out.

 

 

 

The Fairy Princess was glued to the Golden Globes for several reasons – and here is one of them:

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Billy Porter makes everything extra – and she is here for it.

And though he has not said this directly to her, she knows that this would be something he would say, if she had asked his feelings on being nominated for the role of PRAY TELL in the ever delightful show, POSE on F/X.

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Uh huh. So delightfully extra and BRAVO you talented, MF!

Second reason – and no it is not a competition, rather an indication of which one she knows longer – is this PHENOMENALLY TALENTED PERSON….

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Two time Golden Globe Winner, Sandra Oh.

She is a trailblazer – first Asian descended Actress to win multiple Golden Globes, first to Host the ceremony itself, and first one to do an Asian flush joke on national television.

If you have NOT seen her amazing show on BBC AmericaKILLING EVE, get yourself on that RIGHT NOW!

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It is everything!

Also congrats to fellow Hapa, Darren Criss – who picked up the Golden Globe to match his EMMY Award for the same role – as Hapa, Andrew Cunanan – in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

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Darren thanked his Mom who hails from Cebu in The Philippines.

Sandra Oh thanked her parents, who attended the ceremony with her, in KOREAN – “Mommy, Daddy, I love you” and then she friggin executed a filial bow.

TFP was DONE!

Check it for yourself.

 

Overall, it was a very AAPI night at the Globes – and let’s face it, when you have NOT seen yourself, EVER on an Awards show and then, all in the same night – there are two winners and CRAZY, RICH ASIANS is nominated and the trailer shown…you are going to be feeling yourself – AND THAT IS OK, AND THAT IS WHAT WHITE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE ALL THE TIME!!!!!

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TFP thought the GG did a great job in the winners in all the Actress categories – she felt like the women who had INVESTED in their careers – decades – were recognized and honored. It was not all about the cute, young thing in the sparkles, and that was a welcome relief.

Watching it, she felt like Sheila in A CHORUS LINE.

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(Not that she wants you to smoke, you should totally NOT smoke !)

Now on to BROADWAYCON!!!!!

It starts THIS FRIDAY and runs until Sunday, Jan 13 and it is CHOCK A BLOCK with Broadway Stars and Panels and a Marketplace and also – IT IS BACK IN THE MIDTOWN HILTON, which is where we were the first year in the GIANT BLIZZARD that shut the city down!

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TFP will be hosting the panel that talks about AAPIs ON BROADWAY!

CRAZY, TRIPLE THREAT ASIANS!

Gramercy West Room

SUN JAN 13 10AM

with these beautiful Broadway Babies:


 

 

 

Jaygee MacapupguaySCHOOL OF ROCK, The Public’s HERE LIES LOVE, The Public’s WILD GOOSE DREAMS, CTG’s SOFT POWER

Manu Narayan BOMBAY DREAMS, MY FAIR LADY 2018 REVIVAL, GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, Roundabout’s MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG revival. Films: The Love Guru, Walkaway, The Last Airbender, A Cinderella Story, 99 Homes, Good Night Good Morning

Kelvin Moon LohSIDE SHOW, KING AND I revival 2015, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS,  CSC’s revival of PACIFIC OVERTURES, National Tour of AMERICAN IDIOT, The Public’s HERE LIES LOVE and upcoming Broadway premiere of BEETLEJUICE

Orville MendozaPACIFIC OVERTURES, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, CSC’s revival of PACIFIC OVERTURES, ATC’s FOUND, The Public’s TIMON OF ATHENS, Off Broadway’s ROAD SHOW, Off Broadway’s ROMEO AND JULIET, Off Broadway’s ADRIFT IN MACAO, La Jolla’s revival of THE WIZ, Actor’s Fund Concert of HAIR – and bound for Broadway’s show based on Huey Lewis’s music – THE HEART OF ROCK AND ROLL

DEFINITELY do not miss it – and if you are ABSOLUTELY unable to get there – TFP has arranged for it to be LIVE STREAMED on the OFFICIAL ERIN QUILL FB page – so you can watch it in real time!

But do not NOT get there because it is too early – TFP does not want to hear about ‘too early‘ – quid pro quo MF ers!

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These performers show up for YOU all the time – 8 shows a week. They give up holidays and time with loved ones to make sure they knock it out of the park every, single time – so all we are asking for is your BUTTS in the SEATS!

Come and see and hear what they have to say about where we are, where we are going, and what their focus is going into 2019.

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OK, TFP has a lot – A LOT – to say about the current AEA strike in regards to the LAB Contracts, but it boils down to this – the Farmer and the Cowman can’t be friends.

The Producers and the Actors are never, ever going to see eye to eye on this – and here is why – one is in love with the financial, one is in love with the craft, but the craft could vanish in an instant.

Which is why a guaranteed, relatively small ‘residual’ payment for the Actor, would be of use. It would be, not only an acknowledgement of services rendered, but one of ‘use’ in a real and viable way.

No, not all Producers only care about the ‘bottom line’, many are artistic in their choices, but their investors do. Which is why AEA has been trying for TWO YEARS to get this situation adjusted. When the original Lab, Workshop etc performers are the vessel of the show’s ability to transfer to Broadway, the Actors should be compensated.

Why, you ask?

When you, as an Actor, begin to work on ‘Your ” show,  and that is what we Actor’s call it – “Our show/My Show” – we take ownership of it because we have to channel our bodies and souls to show up and do those 8 shows a week.

We take as much ownership of it as the Producers and Creatives because we know we were vital to the process. We are the vessel of change.

When you put your heart and soul into – workshop after workshop, lab after lab, reading after reading with very little financial gain you do it for a purpose, to get the show up.

For the thrill of saying ‘We did it!’ and of course for a steady paycheck as it runs.

If you are lucky, you see “your” show running for YEARS – and yet the Actor, once they leave, can find themselves in the position of having to apply to The Actor’s Fund for assistance to pay rent, or health insurance, or mortgage – it’s not a sustainable system.

Some shows are totally upfront and reasonable –

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and that has to do with the Creatives and the Producers.

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or the Heirs of the Estate – who feel it is the moral thing to do.

Thank you to the Larson Family, who, TFP believes were the first ones to implement this change, they are the exception – not the rule.

Some casts have to sue their producers to try and recoup their ‘investment’ in the show’s creation.

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Just sayin’.

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An Actor’s ‘investment” you say? What is that?

That is time and talent. Their ‘investment’ is turning down other gigs so that they are available to run it again and again in the Lab so that the Creatives can hear where it needs to be ‘tweaked’. 

Their ‘investment‘ is their personal creative energy that takes lines on a page, and transforms them to something ‘other’. It is their being able to go the Creatives and say “Hey, this line…I’m not feeling the character would say that”, and a change happens and then MAGIC.

You do not know, when you go into a Lab what the “something’ is that you are going to come out with. The pressure nowadays is fierce. The risk is huge – and people who take the biggest risk – the Producers – deserve to recoup, they do.

Not at the expense of the Actor.

A residual payment from an Original Lab or Workshop can make a difference in an Actor’s life. A huge friggin’ difference. They can secure a mortgage, for example, if the show is a big hit. They can send their kid to therapy or a school that may have been out of reach prior. It is a quantifiable difference, easily measured.

To an Actor, those payments make a difference. They are a return on their investment. They are the ability to believe you are not ‘crazy’ for trying to succeed in the crazy business of show.

The ‘something’ they create – that could give the Producers the ability to charge several hundred dollars per ticket, as they transfer to Broadway.

The Actor’s ‘investment’ is the meeting of the minds with the Authors, so magic can happen.

When a show runs, long term, there are re-creations of the show that happen as replacements and understudies come in – and those sparks of inspiration were born in a Lab, which lead to a more comedic or dramatic moment are put IN to the show, and there they stay – forever more.

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No matter who does the role. They are moments written in to the Stage Manager’s ‘show bible’ of what is supposed to happen to maintain the show, kept there – under glass – sacrosanct.

No compensation.

Even if you were the Actor who came up with ‘that’ whatever moment, gesture, ‘take’.

Nothing. Nope. Nada.

Now, in television and film – Actors get residuals. It comes, after the first year or so – to pennies on the dollar. For example, TFP saves her residual checks, which come to sometimes, thirty cents – until she has a bunch and then she deposits them. It is not a lot, however it does let her know that her contribution to that television show or film is acknowledged and appreciated.

That is what the Actors of AEA want – to know that – if they were part of the ORIGINAL Lab or workshop and the show goes to Broadway, that they are acknowledged with financial recompense.

Because their contributions are worthy and helped shape the show.

TFP worked for some truly gifted Creatives and Producers this past summer – and she would love to work with them again.

She hopes this all works out.

Eleven years, no raise. Eleven years of investment, and no return other than a show poster, maybe some show SWAG, and random recognition that fades after you do not win some award?

Come on….

Even if you are NOT an Actor – would you stay in a job where you did not get a raise in 11 years?

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When you open your laptop and check your phone and find that Broadway has had it’s most successful year just moments ago in 2018?

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BTW, that is a screen shot from their website – The Broadway League’s.

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Everyone please – let’s be civil.

Work this out so we can get back to work.

As Hammerstein wrote:

“One of them likes to push a plow, the other one likes to chase a cow –

but that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.”

Sing it.

NO REASON.

THE PLOW CAN GIVE A POINT!

IT IS BUT ONE PRONG ON THE PLOW!

To quote another show, one that is going on National Tour starring several delightful people….written by William Finn:

“It’s about time, don’t think? It’s about time to grow up, don’t you think?

It’s about time to grow up and face the music. It’s about time”

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess would like everyone reading to know that her buddy, Actor and Activist, and all around Mr. Little Tokyo, Rodney Kageyama died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday. TFP does not write obituaries, but thankfully, YOMYOMF‘s Tim Lounibos has done so. She will only say that he was a light in the darkness, and that Little Tokyo, East West Players, and the Universe will be a bit sadder with him not in it.

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Fly with the angels, my Friend.

xxxxx

Next, she would like to give thanks for some very special people in Orono, Maine who CANCELLED their scheduled production of AVENUE Q because they did not have minority performers, who are intrinsic to the show, come and audition.

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Yes, the SOME THEATER COMPANY has stood by it’s mission statement of inclusion and diversity, and decided the people of Orono and surrounding parts would NOT be served by whitewashing Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman and guess, what – HERE are key members of that Company….

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Here is what they had to say about it:

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They are absolutely correct in their decision, and while TFP’s past opinions may or may not have been read on this subject, the truth is – it was the wrong thing to do and they chose to not do it.

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Bravo SOME THEATER COMPANY, you win the Internet!

Tell them, Natalie Venetia Belcon!

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You know who ALSO wins the Internet?

The Cast of FLOWER DRUM SONG 1958, Bway Revival and First National Tour!

Check them out in this stunning display of talent across the ages – from Alvin Ing to Ali EwoldtTFP has to admit feeling a bit verklempt at this video.

Congrats to all, especially Lainie Sakakura and Alex Sanchez for coordinating this giant effort, from writing the script to choreography and recreating choreography –  and thanks to Broadway Cares/EFA for highlighting that NOT seeing AAPIs on our Broadway stages has NEVER been about talent.

It has been about Producers and Creative Teams who did not feel comfortable giving AAPIs a shot in a show that was not ABOUT being AAPI.

TFP thinks that is changing – but we cannot go forward without knowing our history – take a look:

TFP’s little heart that is five sizes too small – shrunken by the salty waters of white tears of regret – grew just by watching the video.

Until…and you KNEW there was an until, she read about this next Anniversary of a R&H Musical, SOUTH PACIFIC.

Seventy years doncha know?

Actually, it is TONIGHT – December 10th at the St. Regis.

TFP appreciates that dramatic reinterpretations are going to be happening, after all the show is 70 years old, and most 70 year olds in show business have had a little work done.

However there is no AAPI Female listed to perform in the cast that is really quite diverse – read about it. Eden Espinoza, Erin Dilly, Alex Newell, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Morgan James, Carmen Cusak, Jose Llana, Karim Sulayman…all brilliant performers.

Not one of them an APPI female.

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Yes, there is an AAPI male- actually you would have seen Jose perform IN that Flower Drum Song video above – but unless he is singing a song about a far away island – which is possible – there is a disconnect that is happening here that TFP wants to touch on.

Again – fans of all the performers listed – total fan – have seen several of them multiple times. All excellent. They did not hire themselves, TFP gets that. When you do these concerts, you have no idea really who else is on the bill till rehearsal.

Here is what the issue is for TFP, and wave your hands in the air if you agree…go ahead…s’allright even if no one can see you…she will wait.

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SOUTH PACIFIC is a show that has most of the time throughout it’s history – purported to represent a woman of a South Pacific Island – and then specifically NOT cast a woman of AAPI heritage. The character’s name of course is, Bloody Mary.

There was Juanita Hall, who was African American, who famously played the role on the stage and in the film.

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There was Beatrice Krebs, the opera singer, who was Caucasian, who incidentally told TFP that if one were to sing Bal’i Haishoes could not be worn, that was direct from Richard Rodgers. TFP was grateful to her for the information.

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You get the idea – it is only in recent years that people have tried to cast this piece authentically – it has two roles that are AAPI – Bloody Mary and her daughter, Liat.

The show was written in part to address prejudice against AAPIS and mixed race children. The story of Nurse Nellie being unable to wed Emile because he had previously been married to a Native Woman and had two children is one giant HELLO from Oscar Hammerstein about a world where we let ignorance rule our lives.

The issue that ‘you have to be taught to hate and fear‘ is profound – it is why Lt. Cable refuses to marry Liat after he takes her virginity, so her Mum (Bloody Mary) decides she is going to be married off to a vastly older and potentially cruel French Plantation owner.

Let’s be honest – we all know Liat is going to suffer.

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The show is built on the backs of women – both white women and AAPI women. The show is about ignorance being overcome by love.

So, riddle TFP this – if the show was written to show that there is racism against AAPI women – casting history nonwithstanding – why do they continue to NOT have an AAPI female in the show when presenting it on a Anniversary year in a big concert at the St. Regis?

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As a fundraiser for Broadway Dreams, which is a not for profit performing arts training organization with global reach?

Guess they better not reach to countries who fall under the AAPI Umbrella term.

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Anyway, break a leg to all the performers going on – TFP is sure they will be smashing, but she is not going to deny she is butt-hurt that there are no scheduled APPI females performing, that ‘we’ are being washed from a show that is named SOUTH PACIFIC.

The optics are not great here, R&H – not great at all.

In a year where we had #AsianAugust, where FRESH OFF THE BOAT made it to five seasons, where Hasan Minaj is the best thing on Netflix, where the Crazy Rich Asians made a Vanity Fair Cover, along with Hapa Darren Criss, where Nik Dodani is lighting up MURPHY BROWN for our LGBTQ Family, where Rizwan Manji is Shitt’s Creeking and Magicianing, where Shoba Narayan is touring as Eliza Hamilton with Marcus Choi as Washington, where Daniel Dae Kim is serving us diverse Dr realness on The Good Doctor, and where Sandra Oh is hosting the Golden Globes…the same year Thom Sesma played the iconic role of Sweeney Todd in a setting that sold actual PIES, you are going to give us a SOUTH PACIFIC with no AAPI females?

THIS LIST IS OFF THE TOP OF TFP‘s HEAD – SHE HAS A WHOLE OTHER 3/4 OF HER HEAD TO GO THROUGH and she knows she has missed some – don’t @ me!

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Perhaps you should watch that FLOWER DRUM SONG reunion video again – one that was done about a full WEEK prior to this concert that is happening tonight, to see what opportunities have been missed.

And to whomever is singing Bali Ha’i – TAKE YOUR DAMN SHOES OFF!

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TFP out.

The Fairy Princess heard about two upcoming concerts that she is unable to attend and she wants you all to know about them and attend FOR her – tweet back at me and tell me how much it added to your life – because IT WILL!

These are dynamic, charismatic Broadway performers who bring their own brand of sass and swagger to the stage.

First up – TONIGHT – MS CARMEN RUBY FLYOD! In Well, Hello Carmen.

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She is going to take you from the beginning of her career to the current, with all the changes life has thrown at her. From Lion King, to Avenue Q OBC, Chicago, After Midnight, Porgy and Bess, and finally, Hello, Dolly – where she understudied DOLLY!

That is tonight at Birdland – 315 W. 44th Street at 9:30 PM.

She deserves a sellout, let’s make sure she has one.

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The second concert, ALSO at Birdland, that she wishes she could attend is on November 19th, at 7pm, and that is TELLY LEUNG!!!!!

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Currently starring in ALADDIN on Broadway! Telly has also been all over the country with his solo show in addition to appearing on Broadway in FLOWER DRUM SONG revival, GODSPELL, RENT, In TRANSIT, ALLEGIANCE – you get the idea.

So do yourself and your ears and heart a favor and go and take in these shows and when you are done with that….on Dec 2, at The Cutting Room in NYC, comes SPARKLE NY a benefit for THE ACTORS FUND.

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Yes, once again, Scott Nevins is getting the gang back together to raise money for a really great cause, The Actor’s Fund.

Join us on Dec 2nd at 7:30, you will have an amazing night.

That’s it – Happy Holidays!

The Fairy Princess notices that unlike other times when she has written a blog, this time the Broadway League has not made efforts to change their policy to include Dimming the Lights for TONY Nominated Playwright, Ntozake Shange. Nor, have they announced dimming the lights for 9 time OBIE Winner, playwright María Irene Fornés – whose work was at the core of the Latinx theater movement and whose work helped shape American theatrical representation.

Yes, Off Broadway is not Broadway.

True.

Most times, it is better.

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Bolder. Blunter. Less caring of breaking the rules.

Still, when we #DimTheLights for theatrical greats, we do not dim for minor reasons – these two have contributed to the Pantheon of American Theater. They staked a claim not only for themselves, but for those who came after. They taught, mentored, directed, wrote, spoke at length at the importance of being seen and heard. They fought harder than white males whose work was lauded at the time, who would have been seen as their contemporaries.

Who SHOULD have been seen as their colleagues and contemporaries. By NOT honoring them The Broadway League tells us, the People of Color of Broadway, that OUR foremothers do not matter. It tells us that equality is very far off, and possibly unattainable in our lifetimes, as it was in theirs.

TFP will not believe that, and neither will you if you reach the end of this blog.

Ntozake Shange and María Irene Fornès.

Remember them, Honor them.

Even if The Broadway League does not.

 

 

 

In the spirit of celebrating female Playwrights…TFP was quite honored to see WILD GOOSE DREAMS by Hansol Jung at The Public Theater this past week.

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The themes of modern life and disconnection, the ability to ‘like’ something and feel connected when you know almost nothing of the life being actually lived is something that succeeds remarkably well, and you should try and grab a seat if you can.

There are many reasons to see this show – on the tippy top of The Public Theater – don’t stop at Glenn Close on the second, keep climbing to the third! The acting is strong – and while TFP does not want to ‘review’ this work, she was very pleased to see people she knows, at the top of their profession, doing a remarkable job and making it seem effortless. The play is acted out by one of the strongest ensembles TFP has seen in a while. In that, they seem to be mainly pulled from the Broadway musical theater, and combine movement and sprechstimme in a rare and fluid way.

Bravo to Director Leigh Silverman, Hansol Jung, their Producers, and the Cast of this show: Michelle Krusiec (NYC Debut), Peter Kim, Francis Jue, Jaygee Mcapuguay, Lulu Fall, Joèl Perez, Dan Domingues, Kendyl Ito, Katrina Yaukey, Jamar Williams.

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The Forgotten, a new play being done RIGHT NOW, over in London, written by Daniel York Loh, has been getting fantastic reviews, and why should it not? Daniel is a talented Actor himself, as well as being a writer, director, and activist – and TFP sees no reason that some theater in the States – The Public, Second Stage, Ars Nova, Playwrights Horizons, BAM Harvey Center, Barrow Street Theater, Cherry Lane Theater, Daryl Roth Theater, HERE Arts Center, The Lucielle Lortel Theater, New Victory Theater, New World Stages, St. Luke’s, The Delacorte – or some such venue, could not mount a US Production!

Check out the interview with Daniel, explaining the origins of the piece, which combines aspects of Chinese Theater and Artistry, and the work that did behind the lines for the British during WW1.

 

 

TFP thinks this play, with it’s roots in Chinese history, and the Chinese Labor Corp being so integral to the success of the Western war – will be of interest to American audiences. The acceptance of the issue of structural racism that led to the ‘erasure’ of Chinese faces and contributions are real and in effect today.

Why not let American audiences share in this knowledge? Come on Off Broadway – this show has had great reviews, and we have stellar East Asian heritaged Actors in the United States – so why not?

Here are the names of the British East Asian Cast getting prime reviews, so ‘we’ all get to know one another – Rebecca Boey, Jon  Zhang, Zachary Hing, Camille Malet du Chauny, Michael Phong Le, Leo Wan.

Directed by Kim Pierce, Produced by Moongate Productions, Yellow Earth Productions, and Arcola Theater, Movement Direction by Quen Kien Van

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PAN ASIAN REPERTORY THEATER right here in Manhattan is mounting a Holiday show for…well, the HOLIDAYS, and you can take your CHILDREN (no this is not The Mikado) to have them see and feel what AAPI Faces on the stage means to them.

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THE EMPEROR’S NIGHTINGALE is playing on Theater Row at The Beckett Theater, 410 West 42nd Street and you may purchase tickets here.

It is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, set in 18th Century China, written by Damon Chua. Starring: Leanne Cabrera, Ya Han Chang, Dinh James Doan, Jonathan Frye, Brian Kim, Roger Yeh

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Also here in NYC you can check out Playwright Lloyd Suh‘s newest work, THE CHINESE LADY,  on Theater Row in NYC. Also at 410 West 42nd Street!

This play is being performed in Rep with SESAR by Playwright Orlando Pabotoy. THE CHINESE LADY is a co-production of the Barrington Stage and Ma-Yi Theater Company.

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Directed by Ralph B. Peña and starring Daniel K. Issac and Shannon Tyo, this tells the story of the first female immigrant from China, Afong Moy, who was put on display to satisfy the appetites of an America hungry for culture from China.

Just in case you are wondering, aspiring Producers, where you find new works to produce, check out the list from STEPPENWOLF Theater called THE MIX.

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TFP is so chuffed to see Writers of Color, and Gender Variety, interesting subjects and, well, this list feels like a giant relief that voices are being heard, and needs are closer to being met. If Artists of Color want to see their stories – and obviously there are those willing to tell them – then they should consider seeking out these plays and mounting them.

Here are but a few examples – and really, TFP would see every single one of these because they sound incredible, but she will only post a few because…there are emails on them, some of them – and while you can visit the link and do your own internet stalking – she’s not going to make it easy for you.

However, ASIAN AMERICAN PACIFIC ISLANDERS if you do NOT look at some of these plays for production – you are a FOOL. Because THIS IS WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO FIND YOUR STORIES….some of them.

(Also, so much love and congratulations to TFP’s friend, KEVIN R. FREE for being on the Mix List! YAAAAAY)

So again, for the AAPI’s – the definition including ALL peoples of Asia – Central, Eastern and Southern,  here are some options:

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Again, these are but a few – this list represents ALL People of Color, as POC are considered POC in this Country. They represent Queer and Gender Fluid voices, as well as Cis voices – in short, TFP believes this is a really, really great list.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it – is to grab one of these plays, and produce it.

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If the House can go Blue, you can be a Producer!

TFP out.

The Fairy Princess gets tired, her wings beat slower. Why does everything take a hashtag and a blog to get folks to do the right thing? A great playwright passed last week and thus far, nothing has been announced to honor her, the way we of The Broadway, typically note the individual contributions, ie: Dimming the Marquee Lights.

TFP gets why the fact that when playwright, Ntozake Shange passed, people would be confused that no plans have been announced to dim the Broadway marquees in her honor. She was the second woman of color, after Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In the Sun”, to have a play on Broadway.

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Her play, “For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf’ premiered Off Broadway, then went to The Public, won an OBIE, and then transferred to Broadway in 1976.

Ms. Shange was 27 years old. Read that again, she was twenty seven years old.

It was a hit, and it was nominated for a TONY Award.

TONY Award Nominations do not just go to everyone – they go to outstanding examples in the category – performance, writing, lighting, costume design – the best.

Year after year, we see lauded names compete with neophytes, and every year, the prestige and unquantifiable cachè of being a Nominee elevates the individual – but in terms of playwrighting, it elevates the message.

Her message was ‘listen to Black Women’.

Ms. Shange elevated the voices of those who had never been put forth in such a way – and the fact that she played one of the characters in her own TONY Nominated piece?

That she WAS the “Lady in Orange” – took her success to a whole other level.

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She was the holder of a Masters Degree in American Studies from USC, also a graduate of Barnard College, who had become deeply moved by the Civil Rights movement and changed her name from Paulette Williams to the Zulu, Ntozake as a young woman.

She not only wrote the story of Black women who had suffered abuse and trauma, but she performed it, night after night. Her play later became a film by Tyler Perry, so that it was more accessible to a wider audience, although it remains a staple in the regional theater.

That was not all she did. She was PROLIFIC on a Hamilton-esque scale.

She went on to adapt Bertholdt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and her Children“, also cited by the OBIE Awards, wrote 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, 6 novels, 5 children’s books, and 3 essay collections.

She was what it meant to ‘not throw away your shot’.

That there was one play, one TONY Nominated play of hers that made it to Broadway is not to be a ‘qualifier’ of her place in Broadway history.

We honor individual accomplishments on Broadway. Which is why the lights should dim for her. The lights should dim because her legacy is living right now on our stages in other works by other playwrights.

The world of the playwright has always been systemically tilted towards writers of other, paler melanin. Towards men. Should someone choose to produce one of her other works on Broadway, that play might also be nominated or win a TONY Award. We do not know why there was only one that made it to Broadway – although systemic bias towards both People of Color and Women may have played a part – but the one that DID make it – was glorious.

Dim the lights for Ntozake Shange because she held up a glorious rainbow bridge for Black Women in this country to be heard and seen in a art form that did not resemble her.

That largely, still, does not resemble many of us.

Dim the Lights because a Great Artist has passed, and because in honoring her, we acknowledge that there has and will continue to be more to her legacy than a TONY Nominated Play that she wrote and performed in. She led a life doused in art and activism, and isn’t that what the best of theater is?

She was what the best of theater, is.

Come on, Broadway League, come ON!

Rest in Power, Ntozake Shange.

REST in POWER.

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Just a quick note from TFP to remind you all that Fresh Off The Boat on ABC enters into it’s HISTORIC FIFTH SEASON tonight! Friday October 5th!

Every show loses viewers every season, but what TFP would ask, as a personal favor is that we bring some of that #CrazyRichAsian energy to this evening’s premiere because what we want to prove is that being supportive and AAPI is something that we can maintain and grow.

Not to mention, the cast is adept and funny and deserves support – as do ALL AAPI Actors who are brave enough to take the plunge and enter into this oftimes rewarding and equally hideous career.

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That being said, TFP wants to address NAGINI and the casting of the role with South Korean Actress, Claudia Kim – who is, by the by, cute as a button.

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She spent six years in the USA as a child, and has appeared in several franchises including AVENGERS; Age of Ultron, THE DARK TOWER, and in Netflix’s MARCO POLO where she portrayed the character of Khutulun.

TFP understands the fervor around Nagini’s human side being the only Person of Color in this film, FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is an issue.

Before that – LOOK HOW HAPPY CLAUDIA KIM IS TO BE IN THIS FILM!

Now everyone is going to ‘yuck her yum‘ in regards to being in this film, so get ready.

That this is sort of a new issue for Asian Descended actors is cause for celebration and the occasional groan. It is not that one POC in a film is unusual in the United States, however if there there WAS, ahem ‘one person of color’ – the color was not ours. We are new to this ‘game’. A game that all other POC Actors have been playing for a while – they let one in, the rest get the door slammed shut.

AAPIS are very far behind in this concept – not that it is ‘right’, but this is the game that we are new to play. We have seen much advancement and change for various other groups, and now we are invited to play in a limited way. That will grow. It will, simply by dint of the success of ‘a certain film’ and because, frankly, there are more AAPI Executives in play than ever before in American Entertainment.

No one is perfect. Diversity is a growing concept. That the Harry Potter World is growing in representations of People of Color is fantastic, if slow.

In short – J.K. Rowling is not the enemy here.

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Look to the White House for that.

TFP is concerned with the backlash over Nagini, because it falls in line with the backlash almost every AAPI Actor or Actress has had, and she wants to ‘remind’ people what was said about people that are now lauded for the work they are doing.

Tiger Fans are the best, and the worst and it is worth revisiting to ‘remind’ ourselves that actors and actresses are real people, and while they try not NOT take things personally, it is almost impossible, if you hear these criticisms over and over for joy not to vanish as you continue on in the roles.

So this is a small list of criticisms that the AAPI Community has voiced in the past  towards AAPI Actors and Actresses, who are doing their best just to survive….

  • That Daniel Dae Kim‘s Korean fluency was not good enough to be on LOST
  • Margaret Cho was attacked about her ALL AMERICAN GIRL sitcom, and we would not have another sitcom on the air about an AAPI family for 20 years.
  • That Lucy Liu is both a sellout and only works with white people so she is ‘not really Asian’
  • That Randall Park should not be on FOTB because he was of Korean descent
  • That Ming Na Wen’s Doctor on ER was too inept and it set a bad example for Asian American Doctors.
  • That Kim Miyori‘s Doctor on St. Elsewhere should not have passed from AIDS.
  • Why did Constance Wu have to use an Accent of FOTB and by the way, is that a ‘real’ accent?
  • That Gedde Watanabe was responsible for all bullying of AAPI males ever and he is a sell out
  • That Grace Park was just on Hawaii 5.0 so they could see her in a bikini
  • That Masi Oka on HEROES was a stereotype, even though, he is an immigrant and yes, does have a slight accent.
  • That Masi Oka was responsible for white washing on a project he produced, when TFP personally knows that he is very involved and concerned with representation in projects he produces and acts in.
  • That James Kyson Lee was not Japanese so he should not be on HEROES and his Japanese fluency was ‘awful’.
  • That Chloe Bennett is ‘not really Asian”, even though she identifies as such
  • That Connie Chung is a ‘sellout’, because she rarely does AAPI events, but she did write a blistering and sobering support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
  • That MISS SAIGON should never be performed
  • That Anna May Wong just played the Dragon Lady
  • That the JOY LUCK CLUB bashes Chinese men.
  • That the JOY LUCK CLUB‘s cast was slightly mixed and therefore ‘not accurate’.
  • That Karate Kid Two is full of “tropes’ and not an accurate representation of Japan.
  • That Kelly Marie Tran does not belong in Star Wars
  • That you hate that THE KING AND I is still performed
  • Lana Condor should not be cast in TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE because she is Vietnamese heritage. Also, the character only liked non Asian boys, so that was offensive to some, regardless of the fact that an AAPI teen girl was the star of the film.
  • That Mindy Kaling is a sellout and only likes non-Indian men based on her TV show
  • That the Cast of OUTSOURCED were sellouts and non authentic Indians
  • That Crazy Rich Asians only represents a small, elite subsection, it has non ‘pure’ Asians in it, and it ignores racism in Singapore so no one should give it any sort of credit even though it is the highest grossing RomCom in years!
  • That Keanu Reeves never acknowledges his Asian heritage, but then he goes and does 47 Ronin, and people went crazy with ‘who does he think he is”
  • That even though The Rock is Samoan, he was not ‘authentic enough” to be in Moana
  • That Awkwafina was talking like she was ‘not Asian’. When she was talking like she was a rapper from Queens. Which, she is.
  • That George Takei was ‘too fey’ for Space.
  • That SAVING FACE, which starred Joan Chen, Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen was ‘a problem’ because it was a love story about young AsAm women falling in love with one another. (It’s an awesome coming of age film)
  • Things have been said about openly Gay Actors like Nico Santos, Alec Mapa, Rex Lee, that TFP will not repeat – but they were said. She saw and heard. She remembers who said them. They are on ‘the list’.
  • That Priyanka Chopra was not proud of her heritage because she had a nose job.
  • That Dr. Ken played a stereotype in the films he was a gangster in
  • That John Cho was thinking about a white lady in SELFIE so he was a ‘traitor”
  • There was backlash about a film called BETTER LUCK TOMORROW from the APPI Community and the Caucasian Community about representation, and you know what happened? The Director, Justin Lin, went on to become a powerhouse film franchise director and the founder of YOMYOMF.

These all sound completely ridiculous now, and they ARE.

TFP gets it- everyone is a sellout. Everyone is a trope. No one gets credit for talent. No one gets credit for taking a part from the page to the stage. We are all, AAPI Actors, literally ‘the worst’ and responsible for everything anyone has ever did, EVER.

This is but a sampling. Imagine how many more there are or were!

They were, and they ARE.

These were all Actors doing their jobs, and doing them so that they were hired IN SPITE OF the fact that people could have used their ethnicity to NOT cast them.

TFP was hopeful that kind of thing was in the past…and then, most recently, TFP heard a descriptive of Claudia Kim that had her reeling.

She will not repeat it.

BUT IT WAS NOT COOL!

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Stop bringing down our own so that you can prove some racism happened somewhere in the past, present and future – we know, ok?

TFP knows that the REASON you are upset has to do with the LACK of representation on the big and little screens and thus you are placing SO MUCH on EVERY performance that it is literally making  you CRAZY – but it has to stop.

That you are laboring under the belief that whatever AAPI face shows up on the screen, they are going to represent you, and you want them to get it right. You want them to be exactly you.

Which is, by the way, impossible.

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TFP gets that white washing is still out there, and Tilda Swinton is lurking around every corner to steal our stories, but we, the AAPI Acting community still have to be free to make choices. We have to be allowed to play the villains. The shady characters. The morally corrupt. The comic relief.

Because we are ACTORS and that is what we do!

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Sometimes, parts are parts. Sometimes your Agent calls with an opportunity and you HAVE to take it, because BILLS. Because it will lead to something BIGGER. Because it is on the journey and the journey is never complete.

AAPI Actors know we do not live in a perfect world and that we do not get access a lot of times to be the leads – and that is changing– however we are still trying to work. We are still trying to create. We are still trying to grow. We are writing, we are producing, we are working on it.

Give us some time to breathe.

You want to change the parameters – make every single television show and film that has an AAPI in it – ANYWHERE IN A SIGNIFICANT WAY – make it a monster hit.

You want SANDRA OH to get that MF Emmy? The one she FULLY DESERVED?

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Watch KILLING EVE. Watch it and tweet about it and blog about it until your eyeballs fall out. Send letters of support.

Make Entertainment in America have it’s own form of a #BlueWave.

Let’s put a #AAPITsunami out there for American Entertainment.

Buy tickets. Watch shows. See who advertises and buy their products.

Support THESE shows new and old because there are AAPI Actors on Them:

CRAZY Ex-Girlfriend, CHARMED, SUPERSTORE, CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, THE FIRST, GOD FRIENDED ME, I FEEL BAD, MAGNUM P.I., MANIAC, MANIFEST, A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, THE MAGICIANS, MR. INBETWEEN, MURPHY BROWN, NEW AMSTERDAM, THE ROOKIE, SINGLE PARENTS, SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS, TITANS, YOU, CHICAGO FIRE, THE GOOD DOCTOR, BILLIONS, IRON FIST…ETC ETC ETC

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Attacking the people who are trying to figure it out along with all of us, how to get ‘us’ in there, seems counterproductive. Try not to j’accuse the helpers, the ones who are trying, but who may fail a bit, or…frankly, completely. When you accuse people of trying to shoehorn diversity into a project, what you do is negate that the actor and their talent had anything to do with them being cast.

If they have ‘us’ in there, then they are ‘caving to diversity and trying to shoehorn us in’ – if they don’t have us, they get accused of white washing or abject racism. Why would anyone want to use AAPI Actors and walk that tightrope of the never happy, AAPI Audience?

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TFP wants to know what YOU are going to do to raise the profile of AAPIS in Entertainment….

Have you purchased tickets to plays by David Henry Hwang? Lauren Yee? Young Jean LeeLeah Nakano Winkler? Rick Shiomi? Lloyd Suh? Philip Tan Gotanda? Chay Yew? Denise Uyehara? Lane Nishikawa? Frank Chin? Jessica Hagedorn? Jeanne Sakata?

Do you support Pan Asian Rep? East West Players? NAATCO?

Annual gifts? Endowments?

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Pan Asian is having a big benefit dinner on OCTOBER 18th, you could still buy a ticket!

Have you gone to see Kate Rigg down at La Mama?

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Do the work yourself, before you go full tilt boogie with what you do not like.

Let’s get more APPI Actors on the screen.

Do as Lynn Chen has done and go and film something yourself.

Yes, there is a learning curve happening and we are all bearing witness to it.

Bearing witness is not easy… and none of us had to testify and then be ignored before the Senate Judiciary.

Just saying.

Thank you Dr. Ford.

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Bearing witness while something is changing is a hard thing to do, you want it to just be all fixed already.

It does not work that way. Nothing works that way.

Casting is hard.

Acting is hard.

Acting while being AAPI is effin impossible.

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You can start TONIGHT with FRESH OFF THE BOAT

TFP out.

It has been a week since TFP took herself to see GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER...and her mind….was blown.

The Reviewers were wrong.

The show was funny.

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Not perfect, but that was part of the charm of it. She observed people gasping for breath to the left and right of her, she herself had a roaringly good time – as did every Broadway professional she consulted about their experience seeing this show.

Everyone enjoyed it.

No one could figure out the reviews.

 

Let the record show:

From Jesse Greene at The New York Times: The show aims so low that all it achieves is a ruckus in the tuchis.

From Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter: Director John Rando (Urinetown, On the Town) keeps things moving at a sufficiently brisk pace, but it’s a mystery why he felt the need to have the performers constantly jump offstage and race down the aisles as if heading for the exits. It makes it look as if they’re trying to escape before the reviews come in.

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Photo by Cherie Tay

David Cote, Observer: Having sat through the sweaty, janky garbage fire Gettin’ the Band Back Together, I strongly suspect that producer and book writer Ken Davenport has a chest tattoo that reads (in Gothic script), “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Davenport, who is also responsible for My First Time (about losing your virginity), The Awesome ’80s Prom and That Bachelorette Show, seems to never hesitate in grabbing, shall we say, the fruit that hangs low.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: You can smell the flop sweat before Gettin’ the Band Back Together even begins, as Ken Davenport-the show’s lead producer and also, not coincidentally, its principal author-takes the stage with a handheld mic to deliver a curtain speech. “What you’re about to see is one of those rare things on Broadway these days: a totally original musical,” he claims. But although the show is not based on any single preexisting source, it is, in fact, supremely unoriginal, from its formulaic ’90s-movie plot to its instantly forgettable ’80s-rock score. A community-theater vanity production that has somehow surfaced at a Broadway house, it is schlocky at every turn.

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Photo by Cherie Tay

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: This is a show, directed with a loopy Labrador’s energy by John Rando, that sells itself shamelessly to its intended audience. Perhaps in the next few weeks, the company will start handing out fliers at Penn Station. You’ll roll your eyes at that repeated geographical gag, and at much else in this musical, not least its hackneyed rock ‘n’ roll, ageing dreamers, reclaiming-past-glories storyline.

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Photo by T. Charles Ericksen

Elisabeth Vincentelli, Newsday: You can’t say the new musical “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” doesn’t try hard. At one point somebody shoots T-shirts into the audience from a cannon. Marilu Henner, who plays the lead’s mom, passes along Rice Krispies Treats during the intermission. Throughout, the game cast sells the action with undeniable energy – if Broadway quality was measured in sweat, “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” would be a shoo-in for a Tony. Unfortunately, other factors must be considered. The show is a willfully silly piece of cheese, but that stuff is actually hard to pull off – and “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” is no “Head Over Heels” or “Rock of Ages.”

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The show is too long. It’s plot mechanics are creaky. Some of those character numbers should be cut, delightful as they are-darlings waiting to be killed. (Bart’s, which is hilarious, is also too dirty for a family show.) And yet it’s all just a really good time.

TFP read those reviews and she had some feelings….

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TFP gets it, part of the bargain that theater people enter into when they invite critics in is that critics have the right to write whatever they want.

These reviews are very pointed in their disdain for

  1. The Producer, Ken Davenport
  2. New Jersey
  3. Humor that is funny to the audience, but not British humor = therefore ‘low brow.’

We are the country that invented vaudeville and burlesque based on theatrical traditions from other countries.

We are ‘high brow’?

The people who kept MAMMA MIA open? CATS? ROCK OF AGES? (Yes, yes, they are all super fun and campy shows and we love them, but Shakespeare they ain’t)

Those ‘high brows’?

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These are the people who get into raging debates  on the internet over being allowed to wear tank tops and shorts and flip flops to the theater, over dress pants and a nice wedge heel?

Because they want to be comfortable?

Like they are in their living room?

Does that sound like ‘high brow’ behavior?

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The critics wrote those reviews for New York City’s mythical 400, those lofty robber barons who aped European standards to create New York High Society around the turn of the century in the late 1800’s. In short, not the average theater audience. People come to the theater for all kinds of different reasons, but escaping ‘real life’ for two short hours is a legitimate reason to grab a ticket, no matter where your family origins hail from.

The critics did not, with rare exception, point out how talented the cast was, or that they were delivering stellar comedic moments in a solid manner.

The cast did their jobs – they sang and danced and made people laugh. The Critics failed to realize that the comedic rule of three – first one, tiny laugh, second one, bigger laugh, third one, hysteria – was well in play in this production, and used to great effect.

The point of these reviews seems to be to punish Producer Davenport, who had the temerity to get up and give a pre-curtain speech on opening night about the fact that this show began as an improv.

A show that began with an improv, not with a film or television show establishing it’s provenance, which makes it a risk. Which is to be lauded, but apparently not ‘too’ much and not by a person of mixed race.

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There has to be, on Broadway and Off, and regionally, of course – room for all kinds of theatrical experiences. There can be a rainbow – it is freaking BROADWAY, folks!

Sometimes your show experience will be DEAR EVAN HANSEN and sometimes your show experience will be GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER – and it is ok. The important thing is for the audience to have had a good time – theater is  a service industry.

Theater people serve at the will of the people – just like public office. Yes, theater ‘makes people think‘ or ‘have the feels‘ or help them reach a ‘realization‘ – but  theater, as much as it is a magical, unicorn band of people who create it – create the work to be part of a service industry.

A luxury service industry.

Frankly, not everyone with money necessarily has high brow taste, and even those who do sometimes need to go slumming. The world is too tense right now to have to ignore that  the basic inalienable right to laughter, is one of the best reasons to go to the theater.

There is room for both EVAN HANSEN and GETTIN THE BAND, both shows, which yes, TFP has seen and enjoyed and where she viewed the casts do their jobs.

Or did, in the case of GETTIN THE BAND. It did it’s job, and TFP is sad that it is closed.

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Photo by Lia Chang

It was not nearly as raunchy or dirty as these reviews made it out to be – in fact, AVENUE Q has equally if not more room for parental concern, if we are to be honest. Singing about having sex with someone’s Mom is not as graphic as watching puppets with no genitals go at it for an extended number.

It is TFP’s considered opinion that the show should still be open. The audience she viewed it with went WILD, and upon further investigation, she was told that audiences consistently went wild as the show ended. That has to count for something. Audience response should count.

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Photo by Lia Chang

While attending the matinee, TFP sat next to a woman who, at intermission, informed TFP that she had seen GETTIN THE BAND BACK TOGETHER five times already. She had seen the show FIVE TIMES.

It opened in AUGUST.

Closed SEPT 16th.

FIVE TIMES!

TFP was astonished, she needed to know this story.

Here, paraphrased, is what she was told.

It is a good time.  It is a solid good time. You know, I started coming to the theater when I was a caregiver for my husband, and…my Brother In Law would come and watch my husband and then _______ and I would take the bus in – you know the bus is around $3 as a senior…Anyway, I saw the name.

I thought “That sounds fun”. I am from New Jersey, this show is set in New Jersey. I knew of one of the performers. So I came. It was so funny. I had a great time. The next time, she asked me what I wanted to see – I said GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER.

So I came again, and again. Five times. Oh – they are so talented. You know, if you see it more than once, you see SO MUCH TALENT on that stage, not just the lead – well, I do love Brandon, he is so handsome – but the supporting cast. They all play instruments, and sing and dance, and are funny….there is no reason not to love this show.

I am sick that it is closing. Sick. What are all those talented performers going to do? Oh, it makes me sad. The show is happy, but it makes me sad.

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Photo by Lia Chang

Thank you for that, Jersey Jenny – you were feeling sad and GETTIN THE BAND helped you feel better.

It did what it was supposed to do.

Let’s all take a moment – because this show will be done regionally and people will get to enjoy it – and decide that Broadway, for all it’s lofty aspirations, began it’s reign as a pastime for the regular folks of New York, and that as long as there ARE still ‘regular’ folks of New York, there was room for the band to get back together.

Plenty of room. Eight shows a week.

RIP GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, you did your job.

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The Fairy Princess kinda went on hiatus for most of August, she had to get ‘back into the grind’ of New York – however she wanted to take a moment to share that she had a chance in her career to work with the luminous Marin Mazzie.

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Just once.

It was not an extended run, or an intimate concert – it was the first workshop of the musical DAVE, written by Thomas Meehan, Nell Benjamin and Tom Kitt. It had a different director than the show that was just closed in D.C. at Arena Stage, it was somewhat of a different show. Ms. Mazzie played Ellen Mitchell, the First Lady, and TFP played a news pundit.

When TFP walked into rehearsal that first day of that first musical and saw Ms. Mazzie, her heart skipped a beat.

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There were ‘more famous’, technically, people in the room. There were some in the room that are part of the television and film ‘firmament’, and good times were had by all – but Marin Mazzie was the voice that had been so intrinsic to TFP developing her own sound….and TFP went SILENT and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw her.

(Which, let’s face it, is very hard to make her do.)

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Ms. Mazzie could not have been more gracious or kind. She joked around, she made everyone feel welcome around her, and she knew – as all great theater Diva’s know – that sometimes their power makes others feel intimidated. There are two ways to deal with that – and Ms. Mazzie chose the kinder way.

It was how she was.

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That was a glorious week.

We had a great new show, and yet, all through rehearsal, on every break, if she would look over at Ms. Mazzie, all TFP could think about was this glorious sound, a sound that her heart had absorbed from the moment she first heard the notes. The richness, it was effortless.

Listen. Close your eyes. Majestic.

WHICH IS WHY ALL THE THEATERS SHOULD BE DIMMED FOR MS. MAZZIE – ALL OF THEM!

BROADWAY HAS 41 THEATERS and WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A DAMN KNOB THAT HAS TO BE TURNED DOWN FOR ONE MINUTE!

ONE MINUTE!

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Three TONY Nominations in 6 years – and we cannot give her a MINUTE?

A tireless performer who, even with her illness, continued to fundraise and to sing, and to take to the stage, because she was a creature OF the stage?

The Broadway League cannot dim for one damn minute for the 41 theaters that are part of the League?

Why?

Honestly and sincerely, WHY?

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For someone whose Cast Recordings and videos of performances, intimate and grand  will live ad infinitum and inspire generations of young kids to try?

For someone who changed the way we listened and thought about acting through song?

Who was literally the definition of an Actor who Sings and a Singer who Acts?

The Broadway League cannot give her one minute?

When she gave a lifetime?

Ain’t that a kick in the head?

TFP is TIRED of the disrespect shown to Female performers – remember when there was a big fight to get everyone to#DimForJoanRivers? Recall that for Jan Maxwell, a five time TONY nominee, only two theaters dimmed the lights?

Oh yes, everyone LOVES or LURVS or YAAAAASSSess the Divas, but now is the time for respect.

Now is the time for actual homage.

Now is not the time to count theatrical lights and a dimming switch like they are priceless jewels.

Now is the time, oh Broadway League, to acknowledge that you could not do what YOU all do so well, without women like Marin Mazzie.

She did straight theater and musicals. She was gifted. She put butts in seats.

So weird cuz like, when Tony Soprano, Actor, James Gandolfini unexpectedly passed – there was no question the lights would be dimmed.

All of them.

James Gandolfini had a TONY nomination for his performance in GOD OF CARNAGE, and in 1995 appeared in “On the Waterfront” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1992.

They dimmed them all.

When men pass, great men, btw, great men of the theater – there is no actual question asked, naturally the lights dim for NEIL SIMON. Of course they should, OF COURSE THEY SHOULD!

They dimmed the lights for ROBIN WILLIAMS – on Broadway twice, once was a concert, no TONY nomination – and of COURSE they should. He was ROBBIN EFFIN WILLIAMS!

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However you see it, right? The automatic ‘female tax’ that is applied when deciding these things?

Shall TFP tell you what she thinks of you?

For Performers who are considered part of theatrical history – the lights should be dimmed. We should not be ‘tallying up’ as to someone’s worthiness.

Well this one had that many awards, and over here, that person was on a television show.

It is ridiculous. Blah, blah, blah.

They are Actors. They lived and made an impact on people around them and their craft. They changed the world, for GOOD. They let light and magic in where it once was not, and they did it eight shows a week, sometimes five on a weekend.

Period.

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Marin Mazzie was a theatrical legend, a wonderful person, with a loving and devoted Husband and Family.

Give her her GODDAMN MINUTE.

Or TFP is going to ouija board the crap outta Elaine Stritch,  till she comes and berates you for trying to minimize the passing of one of the great voices of our time.

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Rest in Power, Marin Mazzie.

Rest In Power.

The Fairy Princess would like to just have a ‘check in’ with folks, so here it goes….

A big personal THANK YOU to the Writers, Producers, Original, and Current & Past Casts of the TONY Winning Show, AVENUE Q . There was an extra special reunion concert this past Monday, and TFP would not have missed it for the world.

(Jen Barnhart was there, but she was off kibbutzing when we were taking photos!)

L-R: Erin Quill, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Jordan Gelber, John Tartaglia, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, and Rick Lyon

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Not ‘everyone’ was able to make it – but though they were missed, the show went on, and it is incredible to know that one has this ‘second family’ out there, who share common experiences and humor…especially the ones who were there the first go ’round. The names to add there (in alphabetical order) are Natalie Venetia Belcon,  Jodi Eichelberger, Aymee Garcia and of course, Ann Harada.

(Apologies for not really knowing where the camera was, but CLEARLY Jen was there)

First of all – the incredible Ruthie Ann Miles returned to her TONY Award winning role in THE KING AND I in London, and that gives TFP all the feels. We are swept away with multiple emotions at her strength and fortitude, and we hope that this marks a positive change for her and her Family.

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SecondTFP binged watched on Netflix, the Canadian show, KIM’S CONVENIENCE, which was first a play, and then a television show – and she is, without a doubt, totally obsessed with the Kim family dynamic. It is an endearing, hilarious show with a lot of heart and laughs, and for any child of immigrants – of ANY KIND – you will see yourself and your Family in this show. It gets just about everything right – and no, you do not have to be Korean to enjoy it.

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Third – CRAZY RICH ASIANS, directed by John Chu, has it’s US released date on August 15th – which is, inexplicably, a WEDNESDAY.

This film was highly anticipated as soon as the book came out and entered the zeitgeist – TFP would appreciate it if everyone purchased a ticket – not just AAPIs, that is not going to be ‘enough’ to tip this over into ‘yes, we will fund another AAPI major motion picture’.

It has to be everyone. Everyone no matter the color of their skin. Everyone, including 53% of White Women who like romantic comedies. It has to be Everyone who is a Person of Color that wants to see, if not ‘exactly’ them, a film with a group of people also not regularly represented in our mainstream entertainment scene. It has to be Everyone that has a ‘thirst trap‘ for Simu Liu, as well as Henry Golding….

(Ooh wow, look at AAPI America – having two opportunities for star gazing instead of putting these two in the ultimate death cage match where we have to declare supremacy of one over the other!)

By the way – neither one is American – Simu is Canadian and Henry is based in Malaysia and Singapore.

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TFP was joking about having to ‘choose’ between watching KIM’S CONVENIENCE and CRAZY RICH ASIANS, because there has been some debate about that. We do not have to choose one over the other!

This is not like picking one kind of dumpling and staying with it for life! My goodness can you imagine if you were asked to pick ONLY one kind of dumpling?

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There is room for everyone at an AAPI Banquet Hall, and if you do not get in during the first 1,000 people sitting, you can certainly come back in two hours and get in the next round.

That is what entertainment is – food for the soul when you are hungry – and everyone gets hungry at different times!

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Ok, now we have to get to the bitter with the sweet…and this will be brief cuz Mama’s got a matinee…our beloved Ali Ewoldt, first APPI to do the role on Broadway,

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currently playing Christine in  PHANTOM OF THE OPERA recently got ‘trolled’, and here is what was said:

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Now, Ali did respond, quite graciously to this jealous, nasty woman…probably a 53% er..

Now TFP is going to weigh in – especially given that audiences do not seem to know how to be respectful anymore.

Here is the thing, Folks – you bought a ticket.

A ticket is an agreement that you would like to view the event, and that the performers would like to show you the event to the best of their ability. It is, in fact, a contract in which certain behaviors are, in common parlance, not acceptable.

TFP is going to list those behaviors right here – so we are all in, once again, agreement – and because your Parents did a crap job.

IN THE THEATER, AS AN AUDIENCE MEMBER, IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO:

  1. TOUCH YOUR PHONE EXCEPT TO TURN IT OFF BEFORE THE SHOW AND TURN IT ON AFTER THE SHOW
  2. MANSPREAD IN YOUR SEAT, OR ON THE AISLES w/your limbs or baggage!
  3. EXPRESS YOURSELF OTHER THAN BY CLAPPING or LAUGHING
  4. DEMAND THAT PERFORMERS SIGN EVERYTHING YOU BROUGHT WITH YOU AND THEN CHAT WITH YOU FOR TWENTY MINUTES REGARDLESS IF THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE THERE WAITING FOR THEM TO SIGN
  5. TAKE PHOTOS WITHOUT ASKING – asking for a photo is fine, taking one without permission is not.
  6. THE TAKING OF ANY VIDEO DURING THE SHOW IS ILLEGAL, AS ARE PHOTOS!
  7. DENIGRATE ANY ARTIST WHO HAS BEEN ON THE STAGE THAT EVENING

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If you did not like the show, that is on you – talk to your friends about it, fine. Have a beverage. You are cranky, ok – did you eat before the show? Did you have a bad day?

Guess what?

Even if those two scenarios happened, or dozens of others, it is not the ‘done thing’ to contribute MORE toxicity to a world that has to attach an office in front of a name that is linked to bankruptcy, fraud, extortion, non-payment of bills, kids in cages and white supremacy!

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What you do not do, is search down the Artist’s Promotional Social Media Page so that you can flagellate them with your ‘opinions’.

Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has them.

You, along with hundreds of other people, got the fulfillment of your ticket purchasing contract – you viewed Artists at the top of their game, your contract was fulfilled.

Go home. Look longingly at your Playbill. Dream of other shows you wish to see, or that you wish to be in.

Most of all, try kindness.

Because TFP is not here for your bullshit.

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TFP out.