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The Fairy Princess has not been blogging much, she’s been paying attention to world events that are too sad to reiterate here, though she has, of course, written at length, sadly,  in the past.

Image by Banksy

Image by Banksy

She hopes she never has to write about the slaughtering of young men again, she is hoping America will figure out how to come together and end senseless violence towards one another.

She hopes. Always, there is hope.

She also noted that two television shows starring Asian Americans were cancelled in the last weeks – SELFIE, starring, of course, the fantastic John Cho…

 

And TBS cancelled Sullivan and Son, with the always hilarious Jodi Long….

 

However….in every cloud there is a silver lining, so the saying goes, and here is one – HULU is going to be broadcasting the rest of the season of SELFIE, which means if you fell in love with John Cho as Henry, you are going to get some manner of resolution. And who knows? If the numbers are fantastic, maybe they will pick it up again – stranger things have happened.

Oh COME ON Rex Lee, The Entourage Movie happened!

Oh COME ON Rex Lee, The Entourage Movie happened!

Also, with Pilot season approaching in January, and perhaps sooner, it is likely that those Actors will book another show, The Fairy Princess is hoping the odds will be ever in their favor.

However, as TFP went about her day, she found a letter addressed to Playbill.com ‘s advice column, aka “Hey Johnny”. Every week “Hey Johnny’ is answered by a different person, so TFP is going to retype the letter here in case you have missed it.

Hey Johnny,

I go to a high school with a really great arts program (we do three shows a year) but I’ve noticed a problem. Our (white) director keeps making slightly racist comments towards the Asian students (during Avenue Q he referred to our Christmas Eve as “that Asian girl”). Even though a good number of Asian students auditioned for our next show, he didn’t even let most of them into the ensemble. We’re planning to do Miss Saigon in the spring and he’s been heavily implying that he’s going to cast white student in the leads, because that’s what they did last time they did it. It’s been like this all four years, and it’s really been making me and the other Asian students feel awful, and we’ve been doubting if we have a future in the theatre. I’ve tried to keep positive for us, but even I’ve fallen into a gloom. Please, what should we do?

Signed,

That Asian Kid

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Now, whoever answered that letter, that week, did a wonderful job responding to That Asian Kid, but did not seem to be Asian American. Who cares? Totally fine!  The response was thoughtful and caring, and one does not need to share a skin tone to have empathy or give encouragement or wisdom.

However, The Fairy Princess thought that That Asian Kid  and his classmates could use some words from someone who has ALSO been, ahem, That Asian Kid.

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Dear That Asian Kid,

That Director is out of line. The Fairy Princess could use many other words, but if she was in the room with him, this would be the mildest thing she could come up with:

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Here is what you are going to do, and you have to be brave. You have to be ok with whatever happens, because you are challenging the status quo and that is always, always difficult. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

Either way, it is ok, the Asian Americans of “The Broadway” have got your back.

The House of Xmas Eves...

The House of Xmas Eves…these are but of a  few of us

 

1. Gather a brief written (typed and signed) statement from any student, but particularly of course, the Asian American students, who have been addressed by only their race, or who have been recipients of racial toned remarks from this Director. I would imagine if he has said things to the Asian students, he has likely said things to the African American and Latino students as well, so ask around.

2. After you have these statements, you are to ask those who wrote them if they are willing to go to the Principal and present them with you. Some will, some won’t. I agree with “Hey Johnny”, that a multicultural group is best, do what you can. I would encourage you to take someone on the Student Council, and if you can, a member of the PTA to present these circumstances to your Principal. This is too big just for the ‘kids’, you need a Parent with some clout to back you up.

3. When you present to the Principal, tell he or she that should this issue not be dealt with in some manner, you are going to present the same statements at a local town government meeting, where minutes are recorded – so that it is on record that your school is choosing to ignore issues of microagression towards Asian Americans and racial bias.

That is what you are dealing with – microagressions from this Director.

You should outline your issues in one ‘master letter’, and you should also present in that letter, your concerns about the casting of the upcoming MISS SAIGON.

That should get the ball rolling…to say the least.

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Now, in terms of Casting, what you are dealing with, with this Director is called “White Washing”.

White Washing is very prevalent in our Society, and you are not the first to have suffered from it, and you will not be the last. It sucks. What it means is they take characters or stories that are linked to an ethnic group, and when they Cast the musical or the film or the television show – they cast Caucasian Actors.

That Asian Kid, this is Mickey Rooney as Mr. Miyagi in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's - awful, ain't it?

Jonathan Pryce, The Engineer from the Original Bway Cast of MISS SAIGON

Jonathan Pryce, The Engineer from the Original Bway Cast of MISS SAIGON

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

 

However, casting a Caucasian Actress as Kim in MISS SAIGON would be a serious breach of theatrical ethics, as well as horribly bad historical rewriting. The part of Kim is, as everyone knows,  a young woman coming of age in Vietnam.

 

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Even though Cameron MacIntosh did allow Mr. Pryce to play the Engineer (a character that is written as a Eurasian man), he drew the line at casting a Caucasian woman to play the part of Kim. Which gave us our only female Asian TONY Winner, in point of fact. Casting a non-Asian Kim is not acceptable – ever. And over time, casting a Non-Asian Performer as The Engineer has become a theatrical no-no, which is wonderful progress.

Which brings us to “Yellowface“, which is what will happen in your school if Kim is cast as a Caucasian.

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Yellowface is not acceptable in our mainstream and certainly not in a high school production. If your Principal does not understand this, explain to her/him that to Asian Americans, it is the same as blackface.

Yeah, this is totally offensive and I hate posting it, but if you have never seen it, you need a visual. An awful and offensive visual. Apologies.

This is totally offensive  but if you have never seen it, you need a visual. An awful and offensive visual. Apologies.

(The Fairy Princess is choosing not to comment on why a high school would be doing MISS SAIGON, but…

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she has some thoughts about the appropriateness of it.)

The simple truth is that this Director should not even have suggested MISS SAIGON if he felt that he would be unable to cast Kim or The Engineer with Asian American students. Not in this day and age, and if that has been his intention, then he should be released from his duties as an Educator.

Would he cast DREAMGIRLS with a non-African American cast? No. He likely would not dare, and it would be the same thing.

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Meaning that even if you truly love a show, you cannot take an ethnic based story and erase the ethnic faces from that story. It is illogical and ignorant. A point which, btw, you should make both to your Principal and that Director.

Whatever happens with that, TFP wishes you much luck with it, and hopes you have success. You may not, because it is high school, and because no one likes to rock the boat, and they will call you ‘oversensitive’ or accuse you of ‘making it up’ – those things can happen.

But….TFP thinks you may prevail if you all come at it with purpose. (Which is that little thing that lights a fire under your ass)

Finally, That Asian Kid, TFP wants to let you know that you are not the only Asian Kid that has ever had a dream of being on the stage and perhaps eventually, Broadway.

For example, this guy:

BD Wong, TONY Winner

BD Wong, TONY Winner

And this guy:

R.I.P. Kevin Gray

R.I.P. Kevin Gray

And not only did they make it to Broadway, some sang in Six Languages….

Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Graig

Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Graig

Or became renown solo entertainers and do copious amounts of television roles….

America's Gaysian Sweetheart, Alec Mapa

America’s Gaysian Sweetheart, Alec Mapa

Or work, work, work in every medium….

OBIE Winner and Drama Desk Nominee, Francis Jue

OBIE Winner and Drama Desk Nominee, Francis Jue

Some go from one show to the next…..

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles - Ruthie Ann is the new Lady Thiang in the King and I revival starring Ken Watanabe

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles – Ruthie Ann is the new Lady Thiang in the King and I revival starring Ken Watanabe

Some were the headliners in their show and went West to try out Hollywoodland

Manu Narayan, star of Bombay Dreams, pictured in award winning production of Glengarry Glenn Ross

Manu Narayan, star of Bombay Dreams, pictured in award winning production of Glengarry Glenn Ross

Some have not been to Broadway yet, but are on their way…

Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently starring in GIGI, the musical, which has announced it's intention to go to Broadway

Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently starring in GIGI, the musical, which has announced it’s intention to go to Broadway

Or working on new musicals they hope will head to Broadway

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe - they had hella nominations, y'all

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe – they had hella nominations, y’all

Or got started in musicals and made it to Portland….

Reggie Lee from NBC's GRIMM, who has also been in a ton of feature films

Reggie Lee from NBC’s GRIMM, who has also been in a ton of feature films

Or started on Broadway and then got eaten by Hannibal

Hettienne Park was 'discovered' by Creator of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller, in a play on Broadway

Hettienne Park was ‘discovered’ by Creator of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller, in a play on Broadway

Some are singing their tushes off in the Broadway show IF/Then

IF/Then Cast Members Marc DelaCruz, Pearl Sun, and Charles Hagerty

IF/Then Cast Members Marc DelaCruz, Pearl Sun, and Charles Hagerty

Some have had long, extensive Broadway careers like Joseph Anthony Foronda….

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen in MISS SAIGON at La Mirada

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen in MISS SAIGON at La Mirada

And Alvin Ing…

 

Like Lainie Sakakura, who also choreographs….

 

And of course, you would know this guy from GLEE…

 

Some are in new Broadway Shows like Raymond J. Lee….

The Flying Elvises from HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

The Flying Elvises from HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

Or cool shows that have ‘buzz’

That is Orville Mendoza with the cast of FOUND

That is Orville Mendoza with the cast of FOUND

The Fairy Princess’s point is, oh dear That Asian Kid, is that we have all felt, at one point or another, just as you are feeling now, frustrated, indignant, and powerless because someone somewhere has referred to us only by ethnicity, or categorized us only by ethnicity, or tried to limit what we could do because of our ethnicity – and, That Asian Kid….they failed.

We are ok.

Yes, there could and should be more of us working, particularly in television which is supposed to ‘reflect the American scene’, but there has been progress, and we are OK.

Asian Americans are not being silent about casting and representation.

We protest when things are wrong –

Yes, that is Tamlyn Tomita rallying at East West Players

Yes, that is Tamlyn Tomita rallying at East West Players

We are voices of change.

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…

We give speeches…

 

Those of us who are ‘coming before you’ are working on a lot of stuff.

Actor/Producer Pun Bandhu at the RepresentAsian Conference

Actor/Producer Pun Bandhu at the RepresentAsian Conference

So you worry about school.

We got this.

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Do NOT give up because of this Director, That Asian Kid,  he is ONE guy and eventually, high school ends, and you graduate. You get to leave. And when you go to college, you can study whatever you want.

Happy Dance!

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Finally, as someone who was in AVENUE Q, to clarify – the point of  “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” is not to identify everyone by their ethnicity, it’s really to show that whatever prejudices we have, we are all the same underneath.

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets - Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd - all part of the Original Broadway Company

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets – Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd – all part of the Original Broadway Company

The point of the show is ‘when you help others, you are really helping yourself”, whether it is opening a school for Monsters, or speaking up when something is as far out of line as this situation seems to be from your letter.

The Fairy Princess wishes you and your fellow students much luck in surviving the rest of high school, she was not particularly fond of high school when she went through it herself, but as we say at the Q…

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Break a leg, That Asian Kid – and if he still gives you a problem, tell him to

KISS YOUR FAN TAN FANNIE…

 

The Fairy Princess had a Broadway day the other day- dinner and a show. Magical, yes?

Actually, yes it was – she went to see IF/THEN and if one was looking for any indication of PTTS (Post Traumatic TONY Syndrome), you could not find it at this viewing. The audience gave standing ovations to the entire company, and no, jaded theater critics, the house was not full of 14 year old fans of FROZEN, it was an adult audience.

Because it’s written for adults. Adults who used to worry about rent, but who now worry about a lot more…like being alone.

 

Maybe the kids went to the matinee? Who cares? Let’s let it go.

When you see jaded New Yorkers overcome by a show, and hear them ‘ugly cry’ during some dramatic scenes in Act 2, and then seen what looked to be over 100 people waiting at the stage door for the leads, it makes it hard to walk away not feeling confused, given what happened this past awards show.

Though Hugh Jackman was ‘hopping’ as a host, and The Fairy Princess liked all the musical numbers coming where they did,

 

there seemed to be underlying tension throughout. If one did not follow the show on Twitter, one may not have known that there were some very cool things going on – people winning awards for the first time,

 

or for the second, or third because you were not seeing it on the small screen. There were oddly made decisions as to who warranted small screen time that made the show at times seem, well… petty.

Not to mention odd choices for ‘entertainment’

 

Meredith Wilson garnering accolades for being a rap composer, when they refused to televise the composer who won for a musical that was actually on Broadway this season was a time suck that The Fairy Princess could have done without.

Yes, BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY closed, we all knew that – but why wouldn’t BEST ORIGINAL SCORE or BEST ORCHESTRATION be televised?  Aren’t BEST ORIGINAL SCORE and BEST ORCHESTRATION the cornerstones of Musical Theater?

Who can do a musical without scores or orchestrations?

No one.

Plus, Jason Robert Brown gave good speech:

 

While JRB was ‘shouting out’ to women and acknowledging the relatively small number of women on Broadway in all the different aspects, The Fairy Princess would like to ‘shout out’ to him, that she appreciates that in what must have been a very bittersweet moment – accepting individual awards when your show has already closed – he took time to speak on the issue of representation and diversity.

That was classy.

However, having viewed JRB’s speech, and now seen IF/THEN, The Fairy Princess is truly wondering why some potential nominees were all but shut out of the process?

Mathematically, yes, it is explainable – there are 50 members on the Nominating Committee.

They have to see everything and then, of course, they vote. Their votes are tallied and  then get turned over to the general TONY voting population of just under 900 people. Those under 900 vote by another secret ballot, which is how we get our winners.

They have, the Nominating Committee, certain instructions in the category of Best Show:

1. Where there are are 9 or more potential nominees, the NC must vote for 4 shows, and the 4 shows with the most votes are automatically in the BEST SHOW category.

2. If there are 5 or FEWER shows in the category, the NC must vote for 3 shows, and nominations are awarded accordingly.

Now HOW and WHO decides if there should be a FIFTH nomination? Or a FOURTH nomination in a year with less choices?

An Accounting firm.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

OH. Ohhhhhhhh.

The Accounting Firm that counts the secret ballots is the one who gets to decide – and there must be a difference of only 3 votes from the lowest ranking of the nominees.

It is not an Artistic Decision, which seems odd given that these awards are given to and given by Artistic People.

The Fairy Princess is not disagreeing with any of the Nominations, but what she is disagreeing with is that there is no ability for the Nominating Committee – not to take away, but to add, or for them to debate the use of that 5th spot.

Perhaps it is adding an additional level that the TONYS does not want to be bothered with, but in a season packed to the gills with talented people in excellent musicals – and with the amount of money a show brings to the New York economy, why could not there be an addendum vote?

Isn’t there room for an Executive Decision – not as to what show to put IN that last spot, but an Executive Decision to say yes, that last one should be used let’s keep our top four, and let’s vote again for the last one?

There was an additional spot open in the BEST MUSICAL category, and if only for the good of the New York Economy (and yes, there are plenty of other reasons), it should be filled if at all possible.

A BEST MUSICAL nomination can keep the doors open and keep people employed – and not just “people who need people‘  – there are dozens of people who make every Broadway show work every night from the ticket takers to the Teamsters, who,  when they are working, are adding to the general prosperity of the theater district as well as pulling in a paycheck themselves. Broadway and it’s denizens contributed $11.9 BILLION to the New York economy and 87,000 jobs.

87,000 jobs!

A TONY Nomination all but screams “IF YOU LOVE THEATER BUY A TICKET”.

Every day someone walks up to a ticket window who has never been to a Broadway show, and they buy their first ticket, and what usually makes them ‘jump’ to do so is the number of TONY Nominations or Wins a show has. Likewise when the show goes on an AEA Tour, the amount of Nominations or Awards helps with the pre-sale. Which one could argue, might have an impact in keeping shows on AEA Contracts? Worth a thought.

We of the theater should be invested in that theatergoer, because it is a cyclical thing – they have to love us to keep coming back. Giving them, as Sondheim once wrote “More to see….“, is a better business plan. Strict adherence to numbers – in short, strict counting of 50 votes, is limiting their ability to ‘fall in love’ with a new show.

The Tony Nominating Committee did their jobs, they voted – the numbers just did not add up, and now, shows are closing. Shows  have closed.

Maybe a nomination would have made a difference to a particular shows fate? It is worth thinking about.

The Fairy Princess loved, loved, loved A GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, and she was thrilled when it won BEST MUSICAL,  but she also would have been thrilled to have seen the fifth spot used.

The choice to not revisit if the fifth spot should be used left Broadway with Casts feeling, oh HOW did Julie Andrews put it?

 

The Fairy Princess knows that ‘rules are rules’ and they are drafted for a reason, but this year was a very odd year, a very odd year, and she did not want to let it go by without remarking upon it.

It was damn passing strange. (Some people will get that joke)

In short, if Broadway is worth $11.9 Billion Dollars, but the Accountants do not ‘get’ that it is worth it to consider a fifth nomination….well, the idea of that makes The Fairy Princess as jumpy as a puppet on a string – and she knows from puppets.

GYPSY OF THE YEAR Performance - Jodi Eichelberger, Aymee Garcia, Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

GYPSY OF THE YEAR – Jodi Eichelberger, Aymee Garcia, Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

They may be great at counting, but they seem not to see ‘value’, and in the musical theater, we like things…how shall I say, on an angle?

 

The Fairy Princess LOVES The Tony Awards – this is not a crack at the Awards themselves, but the process seemed…well anyway, NEXT year…she wants it BIGGER….apologies to Hugh….