Archives for posts with tag: Broadway

The Fairy Princess is pleased to announce that she will be Co-Hosting the charity event, CELEBRITY DOODLES, which is held annually in Palm Springs, and benefits Desert AIDS Project on APRIL 5th, 2014.

Here is the Doodle I did for them 2 years ago –

It raised $600 for Desert AIDS Project! WHAT? YES!

It raised $600 for Desert AIDS Project! WHAT? YES!

The Fairy Princess loves Palm Springs, and she is thrilled to have been asked – she began her love affair with Palm Springs 4 years ago with the SPARKLE Concerts produced by Scott Nevins and Mark Jones, and has made many wonderful friends and had a brilliant time each and every time, so – thank you Doodles for asking, see you in April!

The Fairy Princess has not been blogging that much, because well, everything has been depressing, right?

The last few weeks, in terms of the news, have been truly, truly awful – there’s people being attacked in Russia because of the way they were born…

 

Ireland decided to take away the right to use the word Homophobia from GLBT people and hand it back to actual Homophobes, because it’s defaming (Say WHAT?)

 

 

Science came under attack from people who like to…well, I guess, NOT read things and learn stuff…

 

 

and a wonderful Actor is no longer among us….

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

What this last one means, honestly, is that there are three young children who are no longer able to get a hug or anything else from their Dad, and this just about kills me – because The Fairy Princess has lost many people to addiction, and whatever your personal thoughts on the addict or the substance, to lose a person to addiction is a horrible, sad thing.

There has also been quite a lot of attention paid to Dylan Farrow, who came forward after years of silence, about abuse she suffered…and that has been an absolute HOTBED of debate on both the mainstream media, social networking, and print journalism fronts – and that, again, is horribly sad.

Because statistics…well…

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Which means, if your little girl or boy has a birthday party, and you invite 20 or so children over, statistically, more than one child in attendance at a party – in your own home, could have been sexually abused.

Which is pretty damn disgraceful, and even as rational voices have tried to be heard, the constant attacks on Ms. Farrow – both Sr. and Jr. -would likely guarantee that if there is a young child out there, being abused,  they are probably going to look at this and remain silent.

And THAT, America – is the wrong message to send – even if you like someone’s movies.

Statute of Limitations has gone by in this case, however the DA at the time,  Frank Maco stated that there was ‘probable cause‘ to move forward with a prosecution, but that his office chose not to. As a Lawyers Daughter myself, that ‘probable cause’ is telling, as is the Judge’s statement -which I have lifted from The Washington Post;     “1993: State Supreme Court Acting Justice Elliott Wilk denounces him as an inadequate, irresponsible and self-absorbed father. The judge says he doesn’t know if the molestation happened, but bars Allen from seeing Dylan for at least six months and limits visits with other children. He also criticizes the Connecticut investigation that found no abuse.”

And this is the last word on some of the facts from Vanity Fair (here)

So NOW we are going to focus on some GOOD things that happened this past week, HAPPY things that have to do with song and dance and all things not Olympian, Russian, Drug Related, blah, blah, blah – because we need it. Well, The Fairy Princess needs it.

1. REX LEE IS IN THE ENTOURAGE MOVIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Squeeeeeee!

WERK that headset, Rex!

WERK that headset, Rex!

 

2. The Book, NOTHING LIKE A DAME by Eddie Shapiro is NOW out!

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If you love Broadway, or you know someone who does – THIS is what you can get them for Valentine’s Day, Birthday, whatever holiday you claim in December, it is truly so candid and inspiring – and I am so grateful that I have a copy of my very own!

See, there's my copy in the left corner - don't get distracted....

See, there’s my copy in the left corner – don’t get distracted….

 

3. ALEC MAPA is on SWITCHED AT BIRTH (and yes, I separated those posts so you would not think that he is Rex or Rex is him, because that is truly ridiculous at this point, folks)

 

And what this means is that ABC Family is now reflecting MY Family, and The Fairy Princess LOVES that!

 

4. ANTHONY RAPP is back on The Broadway in a new musical called IF/THEN – and here is a clip of the great work we have all been missing – and yeah, that is Tom Kitt at the piano

 

 

5.  LILLIAS WHITE is doing a Valentine’s Day concert! Yes, click here for information! I was so happy to see her at the Book Launch of Nothing Like A Dame, and she wants everyone to come to her concert! Norm Lewis does too!

Lillias White & Norm Lewis

Lillias White & Norm Lewis

 

6. The Webseries SUBMISSIONS ONLY is back for Season 3, featuring people we all know from the Broadway stages – it’s got cameos from big stars and from your Broadway regulars (it could use a bit more racial diversity, honestly, I would be remiss not to point that out) – but to me, as a member of the Broadway community, it’s a great way to get to know the ridiculous side in a way that is obviously absurd, and not just SMASH absurd.

(Cuz SMASH was totally absurd)

 

7. Canada made a protest video for the Olympics and it features a song by Human League!

 

Well played, Canada, well played…

 

8. PAGEANT, the musical has added a show to it’s existing 4, because they were SRO! What a great thing for Broadway Cares/EFA – do not wait to get tickets to the show added on the 24th, because they are going quickly

Oh Marty Thomas, how I love thee

Oh Marty Thomas, how I love thee

 

9. JUSTIN LIN is directing a new Pilot (this is not so much singing and dancing, but it’s diversity) for CBS called “Scorpion” (and no, it’s not about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in a speedo – we can’t get THAT lucky). It’s about a Super Brainy Guy that becomes a “real life Professor X”. Anyway, Geeks inherit the Universe and save it at the same time is what I am getting. Congratulations Justin Lin!

10. The David Henry Hwang play, KUNG FU, is in previews at The Signature Theater in NYC – and it looks AMAZING! WOW!

 

 

So if you are a Bruce Lee fanatic, or a DHH fanatic, or if you just want to see some Asian Americans on stage acting in what looks to be a great piece – check it out.

There you go – ten things that have helped me make it through the past few weeks, and I hope they help you and give you something to look forward to. Normally, The Fairy Princess is not so rah-rah, but…it has been an AWFUL few weeks, I have just been gobsmacked.

If I had my druthers, I would grab a mug of hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, and go vacation, well….HERE:

The Fairy Princess has been doing a lot of reading lately….for example she is absolutely obsessed with this book

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SO obsessed with it that she has done her OWN Casting Breakdown for it, in case, you know, big Hollywood Producers who changed Katniss into a Caucasian should get confused and need some help remembering that ASIAN in in the title of the book, and that it is not supposed to be a book about whatever K-Pop star is hot right now, it is supposed to be a book about 30-somethings and their Parents, in SINGAPORE!

Dear Hollywood Producers should you get STUCK and think this would be a way better film called CRAZY, RICH because you think it is going to be too hard to cast – I double dog dare you to call The Fairy Princess -she will have the Casting Breakdown and options at the ready!

(OMG Hollywood Producers, you should TOTALLY call me – I would knock that Casting OUT OF THE PARK!)

(And when I say PARK, I’m not saying it in a “that is one of the very popular surnames for Korean Americans, way)

Crazy, Rich Asians has provided COPIOUS amounts of hilarity for The Fairy Princess, and she is pretty sure that she and Kevin Kwan should have Kiki’s on a regular basis, because HER OWN GRANDMA was actually a part of this kind of Social Circle in China, and actually gave The Fairy Princess her middle name, after one of the SOONG Sisters. (Kevin Kwan will know what that means).

The Fairy Princess and Kevin Kwan could totes be BFF’s! Or at LEAST we could go some piano bar in the Village and have too many drinks and sing too many showtunes – he mentioned karaoke in the book, Dear Mr. Kwan…The Fairy Princess will ROCK your WORLD with her MAD Karaoke skillz….

But that was not the ONLY thing that she read this week – and now, we are going to get into what is putting a dent in her wand….let’s digress…

As you may know, The Fairy Princess has done the show, FLOWER DRUM SONG.

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Now, in FLOWER DRUM SONG there is a nightclub and it is based on a real nightclub that was in San Francisco where the only performers were Asian and the Customers were…well, they were mainly Caucasian. It was called…The Forbidden City, and it was owned by a businessman, Charlie Low.

1938_Forbidden_City

 

And they had ‘Superstars”

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And they had Fan Dancers….like Noel Toy

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And in general, they were kind of kick ass….and once The Fairy Princess found out about The Forbidden City when she was younger, she found out it was like the Chinese West Coast version of The Cotton Club, she became equally obsessed with both nightclubs. But the Asian performers from The Forbidden City could never seem to jump to any sort of mainstream recognition – even though the novel about the nightclub by C.Y. Lee did very well – the performers themselves did not seem to continue on and get work or recognition in mainstream America.

The Forbidden City was not The Cotton Club.

The Cotton Club began in 1923, during The Harlem Renaissance. (Oh sure, I know ALL about it, I told you I was obsessed!) It was where, as my great friend who has now passed, Anderson Jones, used to tell me, “The 1920’s was where Black Men invented Men’s Fashion, Erin Quill”

Zoot suits and jazz and well…The Cotton Club.

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It predated The Forbidden City and actually launched a heck of a lot of performers whose work we still, to this day, sing, hum, and generally think of when we see a beaded gown. People like…well….

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Count_Basie_West_coast_tour_poster_1938

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And who can forget….Ms. Lena Horne? Or Cab Calloway? Or any of the other breathtaking performers that got their start, or made their careers bigger, by singing in The Cotton Club?

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Now, The Fairy Princess does not condone the segregation that either The Forbidden City or The Cotton Club practiced, in terms of it’s audience being Caucasian and it’s performers being…ummmm…non-Caucasian. Because…let’s face it, it was racist. It was clearly racism, and it was clearly…not kosher. Not by today’s standards, but it is part of the history of America, and part of the history of the music of that era.

The best thing that came out of The Cotton Club was the music and the launching of careers for people who became the “game changers’. They became trailblazers – being on stage at The Cotton Club is what helped a lot of people become the legends they are today.

So The Fairy Princess was really, really excited to hear about the NEW Broadway show – AFTER MIDNIGHT – which IS, according to it’s website..

“This thrilling experience puts you at the center of one of Harlem’s legendary nightclubs, in a hotbed of Jazz–its intoxicating rhythms, its innovative style, its unpredictable danger and fun. Award-winning fashion designer Isabel Toledo reinvents the distinctive looks of the era with dazzling, one-of-a-kind costumes. And, as directed and choreographed by Warren CarlyleAFTER MIDNIGHT blurs the line between past and present to prove that Jazz is more than music–it’s a state of mind.”

Well…I mean, they are talking about THE COTTON CLUB! The music OF The Cotton Club!

Oh. Mah. Goodness, The Fairy Princess is BEYOND excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because the Cotton Club was a launching pad for all kinds of talented folks, and she is hoping that After Midnight will give us a whole new bunch of folks to sing along with and look up to….some we have been missing a bit on The Broadway….like Adriane Lenox…

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Or people we might know more from television at this point in their careers…like Dule Hill

He's going to be The Host

He’s going to be The Host

And, as The Fairy Princess said….people whose work she is excited to get to know, like…let’s look at the cast list:

artist_1260214675_43_l

This is Monique Smith, she seems nice. Actually there is a whole BUNCH of people in this show whose work The Fairy Princess does not know, and THAT is exciting, because THAT is Broadway…it’s discovering new people!

AND in KEEPING with the tradition OF The Cotton Club, they are going to rotate ‘Celebrities!” What a great gimmick. OK, so the FIRST Celebrity is….

Awesome! How great was she in The Color Purple, the musical?

Awesome! How great was she in The Color Purple, the musical?

But of course, Fantasia has other commitments too, she can’t be the “Celebrity” all the time! I wonder WHO they are going to get to replace her,  you know in case she goes on vacation….Who, could it be? Oh you KNOW who would be GREAT?

Who doesn't love a legend?

Who doesn’t love a legend?

 

Who else could they get? Wait….Toni Braxton has done Broadway –

 

0078 Aida signed toni braxton

Who else…who ELSE is like, SUPER Famous and has done Broadway…..

 

Ushh Usshhh USHER - and he would bring the Kids

Ushh Usshhh USHER – and he would bring the Kids

 

Or you…oh WAIT A MINUTE, THIS would be RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!!

 

She's even PLAYED Billie Holiday!!!!!!!

She’s even PLAYED Billie Holiday!!!!!!!

But here’s what was just announced….

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Is this when The Fairy Princess yells “Stop the world, I want to get off?”

The Country Singer, KD Lang is going to be in AFTER MIDNIGHT?

Now, granted, there were Caucasian performers who DID perform, as Celebrity Guests on Celebrity Nights, and a small list would include : Jimmy Durante, George Gershwin, Sophie TuckerAl Jolson, Mae West, Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Langston Hughes, Judy Garland, Moss Hart, and New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker, among others.

But it was only for a night….it was never, you know….an extended run in a show that celebrates the music of The Harlem Renaissance.

So that is not, technically, in the tradition of “The Celebrity Guest” night now, is it?

I don’t know, I’m guessing The Nicholas Brothers are probably breaking a hip in Heaven about this one….

What would Billie Holiday sing about this particular choice, I wonder –

You know that The Fairy Princess is all for Equality in Casting, but this seems wrong.

It seems wrong to put a Caucasian in this show and here’s why…because it is a celebration of the music and the people of The Cotton Club.

We can all agree to disagree, but WHO WERE the people OF The Cotton Club…..NOT THE AUDIENCE...THE PEOPLE?

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I see.

Of course there WERE Caucasians IN The Cotton Club….you can see them RIGHT THERE….

That's Mary Lou Williams on the ivories

Mary Lou Williams on the ivories

But since I cannot find any photos from those Celebrity Guest Nights….I’m guessing that Caucasians on the stage was not actually the draw AT The Cotton Club.

I’m guessing.

The Fairy Princess finds it….an odd choice.She also finds it a bit insensitive and well…while she respects that KD Lang is a wonderful performer, she is not the type of performer who would have been seen regularly in The Cotton Club.

I mean, it would be different if the entire cast was mixed and it was all peoples performing the music of The Cotton Club – but it’s not.

As The Fairy Princess has said before, multi-racial casting is not supposed to be used because people do not want to expend the effort to cast it in the manner which is most respectful of the struggle and the time period and the tone of the show.

Choosing KD Lang for some reason, (not her talent), is, to me, a ‘low-percentage choice”.

The Fairy Princess is not African American….and she’s not trying to co-opt that experience, but IF I WERE, I would take a video clip that I like to use a lot and tell the Producers of this show that casting KD Lang to represent the music and times of The Cotton Club is wrong and that they should….KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!!!!!!!!!!!

The Fairy Princess has watched the news in abject horror the past few weeks – I mean, I know ‘Haters gonna hate‘ but they seem to be going for the Gold Medal.

Ok, there is a place to start – Russia.

Russia hates LGBT people. (Article)

Hold on a minute, Russia….just so we are clear….this is what you are famous for….(Artistically famous, not, you know, bombs and torture, killing the Tsar & his family, and cold war ‘cross my line and I blow crap up‘ famous)

Ballet.

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Architecture

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And Literature….

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Writer: Nikolai Gogol (Bio)

But Russia hates Gay People. I see. (Article)

Dear Russia – wake up and smell the caviar…you stink. And if you don’t take my word for it – you have been condemned by GERMANY! (Article)

GERMANY is looking down on you!

Germany, who is never ever going to be able to stop apologizing for THIS guy….

Ain’t NOBODY got time for that – Right, Sweet Brown?

The Fairy Princess can no longer indulge in a dirty martini! She could, yes, switch to gin – but she has seen the crazed orgy scene in The Wild Party too many times for that!

Oh well….back to whiskey….grrr.

This whole thing is ridiculous and tilted her tiara.

So The Fairy Princess is going to write about some GOOD THINGS that happened the last few weeks….get ready!

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1. AVENUE Q celebrated it’s 10th year of running on a stage in Manhattan. It should be stated that from an Asian American perspective, Avenue Q provided the only ‘new’ Asian American character our Broadway stages have seen since…ummmm…Throughly Modern Millie in 2002 and since then there has been….ummmm….NEVERMINDGOOD THINGS!

HERE are some of the lovelies that have played the part of Christmas Eve –

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L-R: Lisa Helmi Johansen, Sala Iwamatsu, Ann Harada, Erin Quill, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Ruthie Anne Miles

And…as Creator Bobby Lopez said about this photo “The scary thing is that there are so many more

So Congrats to the Creators, Producers, Crew and Cast Members of Avenue Q – The Fairy Princess was very proud to ‘live’ there as part of the Original Broadway Company and just so’s ya know…July 31st was declared AVENUE Q DAY by the City of New York!

2. The FuManchu Complex which will run in London at The Oval House from Oct 1-19th, 2013 has been fully funded through Kickstarter!

Normally, The Fairy Princess DOES NOT give to Kickstarter – and here is why – and ARTISTS, I want you to pay special attention to WHY I normally do NOT give to Kickstarter and why I DID give to this one.

The Fairy Princess believes that if you want her to invest in a film, or play, or project of any sort, then present me with an investment package. I want to see that if I am an investor in your project, then there is some small hope of return on said investment. (The Fairy Princess is not DELUSIONAL, she KNOWS that there is little to no hope of return on investments in Artistic projects, but let’s have RESPECT for the investor)

I do not believe in, in general, asking people to just give money for artistic endeavors because, in the olden days, when I started – if you wanted to fund your own work….you got a job and saved money.

You produced your show yourself, you saved, you borrowed, however you wanted to do it, but you did not expect your friends to pony up money so that you could be saved the hassle of saving.

Then you invited people to buy tickets to your show.

THAT was how friends showed support. They bought tickets. They bought CDs. They came to see the project when completed.

The Fairy Princess is NOT a fan of ‘oh this will be good for my career, and I have fans or friends…I’m just going to ASK them for it, but I will reap any and all benefits and then I will not have to pay back anyone“.

NOT a fan.

I have seen too many Kickstarter funded projects that wound up not actually coming to fruition, and the money – which has no ‘if the project is not completed this money is returned to you‘ clause – went to pay someone’s credit card bill or for a fancy trip abroad.

Now that celebrities are using the fans to pay for projects that they could have found funding for on their own, because they ARE Celebrities with fans…The Fairy Princess was ‘stick a fork in Zach Braff done‘ DONE with Kickstarter.

The NY Times agrees with The Fairy Princess – celebrities using Kickstarter is not quite ethical…(Article)

EXCEPT for FuManchu Complex and HERE is why –

They needed two thousand pounds.

To put up a PLAY.

For 19 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I gave them money because I know – I KNOW that they are not going to run and pay an old bill, they are not going to go on a fancy trip – they are renting a space and they are building a set. Obviously, no one is getting paid- they are doing it for themselves but they are ALSO doing it to help keep alive the British East Asian Theater presence and so…I chose to give them money, even AFTER they reached their goal…because you know what?

The Fairy Princess is unable to attend the show due to it being in another country – so she cannot buy a ticket – Kickstarter, in this instance, was the way she chose to raise a glass and salute them. Bon chance, you feisty British East Asians!

And if anyone reading this would like to also send them some $$$ so they can perhaps go to the pub after opening night – here is the link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/321216033/the-fu-manchu-complex-at-ovalhouse-1-19-october-20?ref=email

And Bless your hearts if you do! All Hail Daniel York and his buddies for continuing to rail against the dying of the light…it’s a damn hard thing to do.

UPDATE FROM DANIEL YORK:

‘One thing I should point out though is that the actors (five East Asians) WILL get paid the Equity rate and that’s one of the things we needed the money for because the Arts Council would only fund us if we raised a certain amount ourselves, the £2000 is barely 5% of the budget but it’s crucial in that sense. I have, however, waived my writer’s fee completely because I want the play to go on and I want East Asian actors on stage in work by an East Asian writer because I want us to have our own foundation rather be relying on the mainstream to chuck us a bone when they wanna put on a China play PLUS the cast we have is just about the most diverse group of Asians ever and we need to be seen as that. Diverse.’

OK – ACTORS GET PAID!!!!!!!!!!! That is even MORE awesome! Well then I’m glad I gave money to such a great cause and The Fairy Princess wishes she could be there to see it. BRAVO ahead of time, you British East Asians!

3. Kristina Wong is the next great thing that happened in the past couple of weeks, because she took on that hideous offensive mess that was the video Asian Girlz and she answered it back with a witty video of her own:

Kristina Wong is a Performance Artist that The Fairy Princess is glad to see on the great wide Interweb. How wonderful that a strong Asian American Woman took a stand against racism, sexism, and stupidity- this is a fabulous thing.

Let’s all get excited about this and watch the video more than a few times and tweet it etc, so that she might get paid the literally hundred of dollars (no, not a typo) that you can make on YouTube if your video is viral.

She is a Performance Artist….she needs the $$$!

4. Kevin Burrows is the next great thing to happen in the past week.

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You might not know Kevin and his work if you are not a Broadway afficianado, but Playbill.com certainly should have when they decided to highlight Broadway ‘show-mances’ that lasted and lasted. You see, Playbill.com decided to highlight more than a few of them, but failed to include any LGBT Broadway couples. (Article)

Say what?

Ummmmm, is Playbill.com under the misapprehension that theater in New York City is only inhabited by ‘straight’ people?

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One assumes that Playbill.com has actually BEEN to a Broadway show or two or twenty and has done only approximately thousands of interviews WITH Broadway people…where they may have noticed some LGBT couples.

But…when you assume…oh FELIX UNGER…..

Anyway, Kevin read the article, got fired up, and responded with his OWN article entitled “Till There Was US” on The Huffington Post. (Article)

Here is why this is awesome – because Mr. Burrows took on what is, really, institutional prejudice, and won with placement of his own article in the NATIONAL press.

Well played, Mr. Burrows, well played. A righteous parry & thrust!

Playbill.com is, of course, designed to help sell Broadway shows – therefore, they may have decided that the people reading Playbill.com tended to be consumers more than theater practitioners. They may even be right.

However, just because facts may upset someone who has an ability to buy a ticket, but an inability to acknowledge the right to live and love whom you want, as any consenting adult should be able to do – does not make it right to leave out couples who are part of the very reason there are tickets to sell in the FIRST place!

THIS. IS. NEW. YORK. CITY. and to leave OUT LGBT Couples who make UP a huge part of the Broadway Community is flat out, dead WRONG to do.

‘Mad props’ to Kevin Burrows for standing up for his own relationship, and the visibility of LGBT relationships in the Broadway community!

Encore! Encore!

5. HERE LIES LOVE is looking to transfer to Broadway! (Article)

The Fairy Princess saw this musical by David Byrne & Fat Boy Slim down at The Public Theater and truly, truly enjoyed it. This may be the first ‘new’ All Asian American musical to make it to Broadway in the next year, so this blog in particular, wishes the show well

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And THOSE are FIVE things that were kinda awesome the past few weeks….and they are a reminder that even though you can feel like you are stuck in a Sh*t storm without an umbrella……

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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!

Prospect-Theater-Companys-WORKING-at-59E59_Poster

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.

grinch

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…

MED12_andy

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!

The Fairy Princess has been lax – and I admit it. I have not been blogging because there has been a new addition to the family.  My Niece arrived on December 28, adding to the fun of my having a now, 8 month old, and my first niece who is nearing her second annum. So…blogging came a very distant second, third, fifth to the holidays and the naming days and actually all other days that could possibly have a name. I apologize, my wings were trying to beat quickly, but there was just SO MUCH happening I could not get a clear thought in my head.

Until I saw this.

What is that? Ceylonese Arm Wrestling?

What is that? Ceylonese Arm Wrestling?

Was ist das?

You may ask – and you may ask it in German, as I have just done. German would be the way to address this issue because, this issue cannot be addressed properly in English. It should have been able to be addressed in Sinhala or Tamil, but that would assume one has familiarity with the languages of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon,  and one cannot assume, as Felix Unger warned us so many years ago.

If you have not been flap ball changing around The Broadway, you may not know that there is currently a revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood playing at The Roundabout Theater. The premise of Drood, which was a novel that was never finished by Charles Dickens, is that we are watching a ‘show within a show’. Meaning we have been transported back in time to Victorian England to watch a show done by a Thespian troupe, who are giving us a show about a book that was never finished.

The musical has no ‘definitive’ ending. All we really have is the setup, and then after poor old Edwin has been ‘whacked’ every which way but Sunday, the audience gets to vote on who ‘did it’. Much merriment ensues. Technically you have to see the show several times to see all the different ways in which Old Edwin bites the dust. Therefore not only is it a show within in a show, it’s a moneymaker within a moneymaker. If you love it, you will go back to see it over and over until you are satisfied that you have exhausted every possible motive everyone could have possibly have had, and you will bask in the knowledge that you, good Sir, are a bona fide fan.

It is all very good to want to place things in Victorian England, I wouldn’t mind a place there myself – next to the Dowager Countess of Grantham if possible – but this is impossible because we live in 2013.

Yes, hard as it is to believe it, The Fairy Princess is beating her wings after the Mayan Calendar told us that life as we knew would end. (They did not predict the end of the world, the History Channel has been very clear on that matter, don’t get it twisted). And the Fairy Princess knew that two of the characters in the musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, are supposed to be from Ceylon. Which is now the country of Sri Lanka. But in 1870- something was Ceylon.

So when there was an announcement that Drood was coming back to Broadway, I was eager to see who would be cast as Helena and Neville Landless. All I knew was that they were both to have been from Ceylon. I have never been to Ceylon now Sri Lanka, guess where it is?

lkas

Oh.  Sri Lanka borders Asia, The Middle East, and the Indian Ocean. If one were to own property in Sri Lanka, one could probably even see parts of Africa from their backyard. (Which would make Sarah Palin happy – she likes land masses viewable from backyards). The Fairy Princess loves research though, so she thought since she now knows WHERE Sri Lanka is, she would take a look at the people of Sri Lanka.

What do people of Sri Lanka look like? I thought I would take a look – Sri Lankan people in 1870…go!

Ceylonese Man Circa 1870

Ceylonese Man Circa 1870

If I were casting the character of Neville Landless in Drood, I imagine that I would look to people who have appeared in musicals, on Broadway or National Tour, who may have South Asian heritage. (Actually you could go a lot of different ways with this, given where Sri Lanka is, but let’s go with the supremely easy choice of South Asian).

It would be refreshing to have that Diversity in the Cast of a Broadway show. It would also fit with the storyline – in fact, it is WRITTEN IN the storyline, and…there are lots of people to bring in and sing for it. After all, since the Original Drood hit Broadway, we have had a whole crop of South Asian Broadway performers setting new standards. It is awesome! So…who would I call?

I might go with Aasif Mandvi, who played Ali Hakim in the last Broadway Revival of OKLAHOMA! (And yes, I had to sing it to spell it)

Or…I mean, you could go with Dev Janki,

Dev Janki - Recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Choreography

Dev Janki – Recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Choreography

Or certainly, without a doubt I would call the star of the only South Asian Broadway show, BOMBAY DREAMS, the one and only Manu Narayan Here’s a clip of him (pay no attention to Mike Meyers or Jessica Alba, you can DO it!)

Yep, any of the aforementioned Dudes would have done a great job of representing a Native of Ceylon, and they have the chops to sing it, dance it, and have been on Broadway stages previously. Easy peasy. I was able to cast that part in two minutes.

But let’s see who Director, Scott Ellis went with:

Andy Karl, Native of Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka)

Andy Karl, Native of Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka)

Now, Wikipedia tells us that it is not actually clear to what extent Helena and Neville Landless are Ceylonese, or Sri Lankan. Perhaps the choice was that Neville Landless is NOT a Native of Ceylon, perhaps he is a British Ex-Pat, who just lived there and got some sun….

I could have gone with that, till  the NY Times pointed out, “silly imitation exoticism‘ and “...absurd burnt umber makeup‘. Which seems to imply that the Director, Scott Ellis, is actually meaning to have a Caucasian Man put on “Brownface’ and dance around in an imitation of what is South Asian traditional dance.

No!

Who would DO that?

THE MYSTERY! OF! BROADWAY BROWN!

THE MYSTERY! OF! BROADWAY BROWN!

Ok, perhaps the part of Neville has been cast with what the NY Times calls ‘absurd burnt umber’ leanings, but let’s turn to the part of Helena. After all, brothers and sisters don’t always look alike.

I mean, in my Family, which is Eurasian, we all look completely different. I decided I would try again – given that Neville has been painted in shades of Umber, I guess that the Director was going for a “Native” look – so I took a Google walk, and here is what a Native Girl from Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka) looked like in the 1870’s.

A Native Girl of Ceylon circa 1870

A Native Girl of Ceylon circa 1870

And here is how Director, Scott Ellis saw the role:

Jessie Mueller, Native of Ceylon circa 1870

Jessie Mueller, Native of Ceylon circa 1870

Well.

How awkward.

This is as bad as a white guy playing the King of Siam…oh wait…yeah, see – that rarely happens anymore. This is as bad as the Engineer being played by Jonathan Pryce!

Yeah, ummm, Broadway doesn't DO this anymore, right?

Yeah, ummm, Broadway doesn’t DO this anymore, right?

The issue is not whether or not Helena and Neville are technically Ex-Pats of England brought up in Ceylon, or that this is a show within a show and they are portraying actors from Victorian England who would have portrayed natives of Ceylon in burnt umber makeup – the issue is – why?

Why would you, in the year 2013, find it a strong directorial choice to have two Caucasian actors put on makeup and ‘exoticism’?

If they are English ex-Pats, wouldn’t they be as Caucasian as they both are, but just wear the Native dress and perhaps have an accent? OR…here is a thought – if you are to make the determination that the characters are Native Ceylonese, maybe cast some Actors who look like they could be from that area?

I mean, why Cast this way in the year 2013?

This just does not make any sense!

This is like telling me that Julie Taymor and Bono hang out and go for long walks together! This is like saying that Porgy & Bess should have had an All Asian American Cast! This is like saying that The M*therf*cker with the Hat should be cast with all White Peo…oh wait, didn’t they do that in Connecticut? Nevermind. It’s Connecticut. The point is – all those thing are ridiculous!

I mean, if Neville and Helena were from Africa – which, as you can tell on the map, is just right across the sea from Sri Lanka, and NOT implausible, would you allow Caucasian actors to put on Blackface? They damn well wouldn’t. And THAT is actually Equality – if you would not do it to one Minority, you do not to it to the Others. Even Steven in this case, works just fine.

But wait, they will probably say that they looked, but could not find any South Asian Actors. Yes, yes, we hear this all the time – no Asian actors to be found, thus we were FORCED to use Caucasians in the role.

Really? Couldn’t find any South Asian Actors and Actresses….I see….what? They were all off working for the Wachowskis on their next Sci Fi movie because Tom Hanks is now going to do Broadway and there was an Opening? Right. Nice try.

I mean, is the whole cast of the Bombay Dreams busy? 

The Fairy Princess is astounded. Here is a show which is written to include South Asian characters, and they were erased in favor of a what? In favor of a Mikado-esque depiction of the Natives of Ceylon now Sri Lanka!

(Before we get too crazy, please note: Actors are hired, directed, and give the performances that the Creative Team wishes them to give. So no hating on Andy Karl and Jessie Mueller – they are both very talented Broadway performers. All my Caucasian friends who have seen the show have raved about it. As for the rest, the Fairy Princess is reasonably assured you would understand their feelings.)

Most would ask why, Fairy Princess? Why does this tilt your tiara?  It is a limited run, and who is this really going to hurt? I mean really?

What effect can one show have on an under represented group?

Well, l received a Casting Breakdown from a new show that the Acorn Theater is presenting, it’s called BUNTY BERMAN PRESENTS -It is a show about Bollywood. It is written for an entire Indian Cast by a writer from England named Ayub Khan Din.

Here is the first line of the Breakdown:

NOTE: We are open to seeing Actors who are Non Indian, but who can believably play Indian Characters.

I mean, if South Asian people don’t get to play South Asian on Broadway – why should they get to play themselves Regionally? Why, when it is so FUN for Caucasians to put on thick makeup and accents and have a rip roaring, R and L dropping, Sari wearing heck of a time?

The Fairy Princess has no answer for this. The Fairy Princess finds this very sad.

So five smacks of the wand to The Roundabout Theater and Director Scott Ellis – you had a chance to be a leader, and embrace Diversity in a show where it is part of the plot, and you chose not to. And if you still do not see what effect the casting of a Broadway show can have, what the trickle down is, then please go and re-read that line from the Bunty Berman Presents Breakdown.

And you know what?

KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

A Statement just released by AAPAC:

Visit our website: http://www.AAPACnyc.org

AAPAC Opposes Brownface in Roundabout Broadway Production

After seeing The Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and receiving numerous complaints about the use of brownface in the production, AAPAC feels it is necessary to release the following public statement:

We were deeply disappointed to see white actors impersonating characters of South Asian descent complete with brown grease paint, appropriation of costumes and dance movements and relying on stereotypes in place of characterization.  The obvious talents of the actors notwithstanding, the use of brownface had the effect of being extremely surreal and alienating, as if a joke was being told that was not intended for the Asian American community to hear.

We understand that the racism inherent in this musical is a reflection of the social mores within 19th century British panto and Music Hall traditions.  Director Scott Ellis was being true to tradition, historical precedent, and to the story itself.

However, we would assert that if these characters came from the British colonies of Jamaica or Cameroon, and not the British colony of Ceylon (now present day Sri Lanka), blackface would never have been utilized in the same casual way.  Today, you would never see a white actor in blackface playing the title role in “Othello” with the excuse of, “oh, well, that’s what was done in Shakespeare’s day.”  We wonder why minstrelsy is acceptable when it comes to Asians?

The Roundabout production seems to show little awareness of the long history of Asian impersonation we are trying to put behind us or how racial politics and demographics have changed even in the 28 years since this show first premiered.  There were a myriad of ways Mr. Ellis could have handled this issue with more sensitivity.  For one, he could have hired actors of actual South Asian descent.  Or, if he wanted to preserve white actors in these roles, the use of brownface would have been more ironic or satirical had the entire ensemble been cast multi-culturally.  This would have been particularly effective since Hispanic-American star Chita Rivera was already in the cast.  However, we have heard from quite a few members of the Asian acting community, including those with major Broadway credits, that requests from their representatives to secure an audition were denied.

The Roundabout Theatre Company does not have a good record when it comes to inclusive casting.  Last year, we released a report looking at the percentages of actors of color hired at 16 of the top not-for-profit theatre companies in New York City over a five year span.  The Roundabout made our list of the five theatre companies least likely to hire actors of color.  In fact, they ranked second to lowest.

We are reaching out to the Roundabout to engage in closed-door discussions about these issues and are hopeful that they will accept our invitation.  We are certain that their record does not reflect a conscious policy of exclusion and we hope that by bringing these issues to a more conscious level, the Roundabout can become an ally in an industry-wide commitment to more inclusive casting.

In the meantime, if you feel as strongly as we do, it would be very helpful if you take two minutes to send Artistic Director Todd Haimes a short missive via their FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/RoundaboutTheatreCompany.

Until there is conscious attention given to these issues throughout the industry, opportunities for American actors of Asian descent–and all actors of color– will never be truly equal.

Yours in Solidarity,

The AAPAC Steering Committee

Pun Bandhu, Cindy Cheung, Kimiye Corwin, Angel Desai, Siho Ellsmore, Christine Toy Johnson, Peter Kim, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Nancy Kim Parsons, Kenneth Lee, Allan Mangaser, Eileen Rivera

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UPDATE FROM THE ROUNDABOUT THEATER COMPANY PAGE:

Thank you for your post. Listening to our audiences is at the core of Roundabout’s values, so we appreciate all feedback and take it very seriously.

Roundabout’s leadership team is planning to meet with Asian American Performers Action Coalition to discuss their concerns. In the meantime, we will refrain from further comment here on Facebook, and look forward to a constructive meeting.