Archives for posts with tag: Billy Porter

The Fairy Princess would just like, first, before anything else, to wish Queen Lesli Margherita a fond farewell from Matilda and excited squeals of joy as she heads to The Broadway in DAMES AT SEA.

TFP saw Ms. Margherita in MATILDA and she was fabulous, so if you missed her in that, you should definitely try and catch her in DAMES. Because there will be nothing like Ms. Margherita for quite some time, she is a force of nature, everyone should witness it at least once in a lifetime.

Likewise, Billy Porter is leaving KINKY BOOTS for his new Broadway show – SHUFFLE ALONG, and TFP is very thrilled that he is going to shine his beautiful light on a new work.

Moving on – TFP is sorry to miss WILD RICE, the Theater company from Singapore which is adding an appearance at the Brisbane Festival (A Festival, A FESTival...) to their repertoire…

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It’s the word “Festival”, TFP cannot help it.

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ANYWAY….WILD RICE is bringing it’s landmark production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST by OSCAR WILDE there this coming weekend – September 11, 12, and 13th, and one can find out all the relevant information here.

The show is being done with an All Male Cast, with stunning visuals and costuming – take a look:

Looks pretty great – and nice to see an All Asian Cast on the world stage.

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Randy Rainbow took on Kim Davis and her refusal to recognize the law in a hilarious musical theater send up –

TFP has a particular fondness for parodies of CHICAGO…they are, indeed, her jam.

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All right enough of theater for the moment – let’s move on to television…specifically ABC.

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Y’all ABC is winning at Diversity.

Winning in a an “in your face’ kind of ‘take that other networks’ kind of way.

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NOT ONLY did FRESH OFF THE BOAT get a Season 2 order…

They put THE MUPPETS on the same night!!! What does that mean? It means that when people of all colors tune in to see the amazingness that is the MUPPETS, on the same night, they will be seeing an Asian American Family acting just like any other family, and everything is copacetic. 

FOTB had an AMAZING first season – but this means ABC is not going to sit around and stand back and see how Season 2 does – it is throwing programming support behind it. It means that Tuesday nights on ABC is going to define Children’s Evening Viewing and that means that API’s are going to become part of the American consciousness in a larger way than ever before – at least on television – and that’s F***ING Awesome.

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But they did not stop there –

They have programmed the DR. KEN show for Friday Nights, again, showing Asian Americans as funny and smart in Prime Time hours on nights when young impressionable minds and their Parents, will be home – more APIs in the living room during Family time! YAY!

Not to MENTION – Not to MENTION…but TFP is OF COURSE going to mention this – for those later evening hour viewers, aka grown ups – they have cast in a LEAD ROLE – PRIYANKA CHOPRA!!!

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http://abc.go.com/shows/quantico/video/abc-new-drama-trailers/VDKA0_vlxaawyg

(Click the above link for the trailer.)

In fact, TFP points out that the very description of the show is “A diverse group of recruits has arrived at the FBI Quantico base for training.”

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TFP said “DIVERSE“…or rather, ABC said it, right in the description.

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ABC is getting it – getting it quicker and smarter than quite a lot of the other networks – maybe their Diversity Department is better than everyone else’s?

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I mean, actress Amy Okuda was ‘discovered‘ in ABC’s Diversity Showcase and is now going to have a recurring part on How To Get Away With Murder.

You cannot talk about Diversity without “Shonda Thursdays” (although…c’mon Ms. Rhimes…we need API season regulars in professions such as law, politics, and medicine set in cities like Washington D.C., Seattle, and Philadelphia), they are fantastic.

Great to hear about Amy Okuda!

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She joins Conrad Ricamora

JACK FALAHEE, CONRAD RICAMORA

and Tamlyn Tomita

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as a recurring on that show.

When was the last time you heard of someone going from a Diversity Showcase to a Network Show? In recent years?

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Seriously – have you?

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SIDEBAR:

Because having been a part of one of “A Network to be Unnamed”‘s Diversity Showcase, TFP can tell you the one she was in had some issues, but that may have been because that Head of Diversity told TFP, when TFP tried to give notes (written notes, handed in, not given to the Actors) that “Television is a Director’s Medium!” and “Writers do not give notes“.

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TFP has to apologize to API Actresses in New York, because after that contretemps, her scene was pulled from consideration for the New York showcase – a scene that was specifically written FOR an API female. It was pulled because TFP gave notes and did ‘not seem grateful enough’ to the people in charge. TFP was also j’accused of quite a few things which include but are not limited to homophobia, racism, sexism…(there were a LOT of isms in there), for not knowing the difference between theater and television and best of all…this all occurred at the reception, in full view of about 100 people.

Awesome.

TFP had been under the assumption that it was a showcase for her as well, something that was later pointed out by a colleague to be untrue – it was not, actually a showcase for the writers per se, it could not be- because the shows were already staffed up by the time the showcase was presented. Thus it is truly a showcase for the Actors, which is great, but…let’s be honest about it, oh Unnamed Network. If a writer’s response was not wanted, then invitations to rehearsals should not have been issued. According to the Director of the scene, the scene was about collaboration – but only that between Director and Actors and TFP should ‘lower your expectations, in fact, you should have no expectations in a showcase, I don’t.”

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TFP has to apologize to all the Actresses who submitted with that scene – if you were not in the NY Showcase of a specific Network, if you looked to that scene and it gave you hope, TFP is very sorry. She did ask the Head of Diversity to not yank it for all APIs just because that Head of Diversity did not like the API that wrote it. TFP even said that if they found the right actress for it – while she would appreciate them letting her know, she would not attend (in case her notes again were found to be too out of bounds of a writer’s purview) – but that has NOT been the case.

TFP apologizes.

SIDEBAR CONCLUDED:

So TFP would like to give ABC some fist pumps…

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ABC…you are KILLIN’ IT!

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Keep it going, keep it going, keep it going….

It’s about representation, everyone – not representation everyone is comfortable with – just Actors being able to tell interesting stories – and in television, you vote with your remote…hope you click it to the above mentioned shows and keep this trend going, for in television, where those who make money succeed, others are sure to follow.

These are but a few shows TFP mentioned, there are more, but we gotta keep the Networks on their toes, so we’ll get to the other stuff soon enough.

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TFP out.

Sometimes when blogging, the world seems to be a negative place, filled with Monsters from your closet who would like nothing better than to ruin your day, consistently with some nasty stuff.

Whether you are trying to sell a cereal,

cheerios-memeor sing the National Anthem,

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San Antonia, AMERICA!

or star in a tv show in a role traditionally given to a man – haters gonna hate.

Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson in Elementary

Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson in Elementary

Sometimes it seems, that no matter HOW you are trying to spin it, it’s gonna be a bad day….wait a minute, WAIT A MINUTE!

To Quote James Thunder Early from DREAMGIRLS “THERE HAVE GOT TO BE SOME GOOD TIMES!!!!”

Let’s shake it off –

(Who DOESN’T love to tell people what they really, REALLY want?)

READY – DANCE BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel better. How do you feel? Some things lately have been awesome…and I’m going to tell you some of them RIGHT NOW!!!!!

(I KNOW, THIS IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT, RIGHT?) (Don’t be scared)

It was TOTALLY AWESOME that several days ago THIS happened:

2013 TONY Winners - BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL - PATINA MILLER (Pippin) and BILLY PORTER (Kinky Boots)

2013 TONY Winners – BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL – PATINA MILLER (Pippin) and BILLY PORTER (Kinky Boots)

How was it awesome? Let me count the ways….ok, I hate math, nevermind counting – and don’t judge my math. Several weeks ago, I gave a speech at LA Stage Day.

They had a Graphic Artist do a rendering of my speech as it was occurring, isn't it fabulous? I think so!

They had a Graphic Artist do a rendering of my speech as it was occurring, isn’t it fabulous?

In it, I stated that Diversity means Awards and Dollars that make you holler! So let us just take a gander at what kind of musical KINKY BOOTS is – It is a musical written by a Heterosexual woman and a Gay Man, where the story involves a friendship and a mutual respect between a Straight man and a Gay man, who also happens to be a Drag Queen.

(In a nutshell….. In a nutshell enclosed in six inch stiletto thigh high boots)

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity.

This show makes me cheer – it did in the audience and it still does now – because it is the personification of what I was talking about. You can say similar things about PIPPIN – it’s a diverse cast, it has a female Director who took the role of “Lead Player” and changed the space time compendium and made the part that had traditionally gone to a man, go to a woman. BAM – TONY AWARDS!

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity!

Congrats to the three Carnegie Mellon grads who garnered TONY Awards – (in the order in which they were received) Judith Light, Billy Porter, and Patina Miller. Bravo!

Now you MAY ask yourself…HOW did the Fairy Princess get here – and you may ask yourself….nevermind, this is getting long and I have some things to say….

When watching the TONY Awards, I was asked a question by my Mother “Do you think there will ever be an Asian American winners for Best Lead Performance in a Musical, both a man and a woman in the same year?”

Proving indeed that she is MY Mother…and my answer was….drumroll please….

“I don’t know.

Seriously, I have no idea

Seriously, I have no idea.

Because there are a LOT of things that go into winning an award like that as a performer and the first rule is – YOU NEED A PART. Yes, you need a role that you can play to the best of your ability that helps people see past the color of your skin. So that answer begins with the writers out there – the composers, the lyricists – but who knows? Maybe it will happen. It has happened…once before in a musical..

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But let’s see what OTHER good things happened this week:

Joel Grey selected Raymond J. Lee for the 2013 Theater Hall of Fame Fellowship for Emerging Artists! That is VERY cool! Ray has been on Broadway in Mamma Mia and Anything Goes, he just finished ACT’s production of Stuck Elevator in San Francisco and he is heading off to do a show that will be at The Papermill Playhouse – Honeymoon in Vegas, by composer Jason Robert Brown, but anyway THAT is TOTALLY AWESOME THING NUMBER 2

Back to Mom’s question and my answer – it begins with the writers – so I was very ‘chuffed’ to hear that Chicago Actor/Writer, Danny Bernardo, has written a new play that is being mounted at The Baliwick Theater, MAHAL – a story about a Filipino family trying to come to grips with the loss of it’s Matriarch. It deals with cultural identity, assimilation, homophobia, inter-racial relationships, and inter-generational relationships which leads to realizing what it means to be an American Family.

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TOTALLY AWESOME THING 3!!!!!!!! (Look, my math is holding up!) And there is my pal from Flower Drum Song, Joseph Anthony Foronda playing the Patriarch! That is pretty awesome too! Congratulations to Danny, who wrote this play, in part, to come to terms with the loss of his own Father – having dealt with that the last year, and tomorrow being Father’s Day, I think it is a wonderful tribute and one his Dad would be very proud of, on so many levels.

AND….in terms of Diversity, Diversity, Diversity – it’s a WIN!

Speaking of plays…and I do, often – I wanted to share a HUGE Diversity Win with everyone – the FIRST PLAY ON THE INTERNET – specifically, YouTube and it is David Henry Hwang’s play Yellowface. Many congratulations to the YOMYOMF on this huge accomplishment!!!! Particular ‘shout out’ to Philip Chung, Jeff Liu, Justin Lin and my fellow cast member from The Mikado Project, Ryun Yu who stars at DHH

AWESOME THING NUMBER 4!!!!!!

Finally – again in Chicago – there was a kerfuffle this last week, in regards to The Jungle Book – which is being adapted by the Goodman Theater – here is a piece of what they are going for:

In a nutshell, Mary Zimmerman gave an interview in which her answers seem…well, they don’t seem cool. Here is the Chicago Tribune article about the situation, HERE. And here is the interview with Chicago Magazine that started this situation –HERE.

Which prompted THIS response from Silk Road Rising Theatre Company‘s AD, Jamil Khoury to take to his blog about the situation. (Read his first post HERE)

This was exciting to The Fairy Princess, because Mr. Khoury’s blog post began with “For years I have bit my tongue…” and that, to The Fairy Princess meant “Some SHIZ is going down…and you are gonna be sari…” because nothing says ‘prepare for total domination…’ like starting with how long you have held it in!

How long? YEARS! Grab an umbrella, ella, ella! There’s a fight coming and for ONCE…I didn’t have to start it. The Fairy Princess’s tiara was starting to get dented from all the knocks she had taken in this whole thing, and thank heavens Mr. Khoury was going to go fight the windmill.

Right, Mapa?

"Oh no he DIDN'T?"

“GURL….and THEN what?”

Anyway, Mr. Khoury – who no, I do not know – spoke up! He said what he had to say, and YEAH, he said it like THAT and you know what it led to?

A conversation. A conversation with Mary Zimmerman. (Read about it HERE) and there came a meeting of the minds, and there came…peace. And just like that, an understanding bloomed in Chicago – and things are going to change.

Things are going to change because Silk Road Rising had had enough, and they demanded clarity and they demanded response – AND THEY GOT IT.

So the next time someone tells you to just suck it up and go about your business, when you know you should say something, when you KNOW in your GUT that something is not kosher – I want you to think about the tremendous risk that Mr. Khoury took, and that it led to resolution.

And THAT is AWESOME THING NUMBER 5 ABOUT THE PAST TWO WEEKS….

Which means that my answer to my Mother will perhaps change to “Absolutely’

 

Drop the Mic, Ms. Audra McDonald – and take us home…..

The Fairy Princess is pleased to announce that she will be a Keynote Speaker at the LA Stage Alliance’s Stage Day Conference on May 18, 2013!

Wait, I have to do a speech? Awww nuts....

Wait, I have to do a speech? Awww nuts….

This is SO exciting! I mean, we will get to shoot the breeze and talk about all those silly kerfuffles that happened with Asian American representation in Theater over the last year, and oh MY will we laugh because it was all so….

Sorry, wait a minute – what’s that you have there?

Ah yes, Drama Desk nominations – so exciting, The Fairy Princess knows so many on this list, let’s take a look:

Billy Porter for KINKY BOOTS – well, naturally – he is amazing in that show. Christiane Noll for CHAPLIN – she’s so talented, remember her turn in RAGTIME as Mother? Oh, I loved it so much…

The Cast of WORKING is getting recognized! Nice!

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Oh look, HERE LIES LOVE which is now at The Public is getting quite a few nods – Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Director of a Musical, Outstanding Lighting Design, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music – oh they must be so pleased!

Yeah, they look pretty happy

Yeah, they look pretty happy

Ok, going down the list and going down the list and….ummmm – hold please….let me look at this list for Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical….oh dear.

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NO!

NO!

THIS CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN!!!!!!!

I thought we agreed!

I mean AAPAC made a statement!

The Roundabout Theater agreed to a close door meeting to discuss this…this…the…’Brownface’ and the faux Bollywood accents and the…I feel like I am Foghorn Leghorn and all the Award Committees are trying to prove they are chicken hawks!

Lemme get this straight Drama Desk Awards – in a musical about Asians, played by Asian Americans, there are no Individual Nominations (And btw, that is totally fine and happens a lot and it is not the reason for the following outburst).

But the people wearing heavy makeup and using crazy Bollywood gestures have Nominations for Best Featured Actor and Actress in A Musical!

For being directed to inhabit their roles with what the The New York Times said was “…silly imitation exoticism …in absurd burnt-umber makeup”

(The Fairy Princess wants to be quite clear, that no Actor or Actress takes the stage and gives any sort of performance in a Broadway revival without direction, so she is fairly certain that the choices made to portray Neville and Helena Landless were not from the Actors. This is not about the talent or a personal attack on these particular actors)

(Obviously the Actors do not go around their daily lives striking these kinds of poses – that would be RIDICULOUS)

THE MYSTERY! OF! BROADWAY BROWN!

Those two have the nominations, not these two…

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles

Again, so we are clear…these two

Rather unfortunate photo

Hmm, -Rather unfortunate photo

And NOT any of the people pictured here

HERE LIES LOVE...and Asian Americans...er...Asian American Love

HERE LIES LOVE…and Asian Americans…er…Asian American Love

The Fairy Princess has a question for the Drama Desk Nominating Committee – If you nominate Caucasians made up to resemble what is a stereotype of an Asian person, isn’t that, well…endorsing the use of stuff like….oh, I don’t know….

THIS?

THIS?

Or, well….

THIS?

THIS?

Oh Drama Desk Committee, you have many, many things to worry about, so I will give you the answer…it’s not B.

THE ANSWER IS YES!

Because you see, the makeup is only a few kick ball changes away from..(.and I so hesitate to use this photo because, well, it’s AWFUL), but you see, by endorsing those kinds of performances with such a distinguished award, oh Drama Desk Nominating Committee, you are only a few shades away from endorsing…uh…THIS

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

Aha! THIS is the part where everyone is going to get mad, and argue that using Brownface or Yellowface is fairly standard in our industry – alive and well since the 1800’s, and that Caucasians wearing exaggerated makeup to resemble Asians is, in no way, comparable to Minstrel performances that characterized and dehumanized African Americans shamefully in this country.

Because… let’s face it – everyone did The Mikado in High School, and they LOVED wearing the Yellowface, they thought it was fun! They did not, and do not think absurd shuffling, and forgetting consonants and wearing eyeliner from the corner of their eye till it nearly touches their ear was bad! They had a good time!…. And then they went and lost their virginity at the Cast Party afterwards – and yeah, they were probably still wearing the makeup because…’that’s hot’.

Cuz to us….

Cindy Cheung & Christine Toy Johnson at La Jolla's talkback...they look so pissed off I feel like I need to go practice piano and bring home an A plus.  TIGER ACTRESSES! RRROOOOWWRRR

Cindy Cheung & Christine Toy Johnson
at La Jolla’s talkback…they look pissed, huh?

Yellowface or Brownface is the SAME as Blackface.

It really, really is.

Because what it says is – and think about this just a bit before everyone flies off the handle and starts bashing me on Broadwayworld.com – (and yes, I have seen the posts – nice grammar, Crackpots) – when you erase Asian faces from roles where they are possible, have them played in heavy makeup by Caucasians whose very portrayals mock their heritage, and then endorse those portrayals with an AWARD, it tells us one thing – loud and clear.

It tells us we don’t count.

And here’s the thing…if there is one thing we are known for, it’s being able to count.

It says “We are so used to not seeing you, that when we do see you, well…you are not as we had imagined, so we’d rather just forget the you that is you, and you know…make it up.”

Etcetera, Etcetera, Etectera….

I mean, if you can see this from space….

FROM SPACE

FROM SPACE

But when you go to the theater where there is a South Asian character and you don’t see this…

Manu-Narayan-03

You see this…

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Something is rotten, and we are nowhere near Denmark.

What are ‘we’ supposed to think? What would YOU think?

The Fairy Princess is NOT calling The Drama Desk Awards racist, because that would be absurd!

There have been many past winners of the Drama Desk Awards who are, in fact, Asian American – Francis Jue for David Henry Hwang’s YELLOWFACE

220px-FrancisJue1

(In context, a title disturbingly appropriate.)

Deborah S. Craig won for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for her breakthrough performance as Marcy Park.MV5BMjI4MTA4MDU1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTExNzQ3Ng@@._V1._SX467_SY700_

So it is NOT that The Drama Desk Awards are racist – and let’s stop throwing that word around like a frisbee – it is that…it is that they are so used to seeing Caucasians play Asian, that it didn’t mean a damn thing to them. And that is the saddest part of all.

Theater is supposed to break the stereotypes, not endorse them.

It’s supposed to lift you up, and by ‘you’, I mean everyone.

The Drama Desk Awards DO have 3 Nominations this year for Asian Americans –

Joel de la Fuente: OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE – Hold These Truths

Jane Wang – OUTSTANDING MUSIC IN A PLAY – Strange Tales of Liaozhai

Eugene Ma – OUTSTANDING MUSIC IN A PLAY – The Man who Laughs

The Fairy Princess wishes them well. She actually wishes everyone well – but truthfully what would be great is if the cast of HERE LIES LOVE sits right in front, so no matter WHO wins, they are seen.

We. Are. Seen.

And, scene.

Finally, for all the people who comment, who are sooooo threatened by the ability to see something a different way, I just ask you – why do you like theater? Do you like it because you learn something when you go? Do you like it because it can make the world brighter? Or, do you just like calling me a bitch?

Because the reason I write this is not because I ‘like’ theater, it is because I love theater. I have devoted my life to it. I just want it to be better, for everyone. I want people of all races to be able to GO to the theater and see themselves.

Seeing yourself is powerful. Seeing yourself is empowering. Seeing yourself is halfway to becoming the person you want to be.

I had a friend who is unfortunately gone now, and what he always used to say is “If they knew better, they would do better” – and this blog is to point out that sometimes people do not know, and I just try to explain to them that they need to do better. So simple. I just say it…well….

In a really snarky way.

Because…that’s me.

Anyway, this is a thrilling awards season, and I wish all the Nominees of everything well, besides….

Werd!

Werd!