Entertainment Spotlight

  • Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    By Ben Fong-Torres It’s short shrift time. I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating. I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone...

Backstage Pass Articles

  • Aug. 20-Sept. 29: Michi Barall, Teagle Bougere, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Carl Lumbly set for Signature's World Premiere of stop. reset. by Regina Taylor in The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre

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    Signature Theatre presents the world premiere of stop. reset., written and directed by Regina Taylor, August 20 through September 29, 2013 with a September 8 opening night in The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues).

    The cast includes Michi Barall (Signature’s Queens Boulevard, An Oresteia) as Deb, Teagle Bougere (Wings, A Raisin in the Sun) as Chris, Ismael Cruz Cordova (“The Good Wife”) as J., LaTanya Richardson Jackson (The Fighting Temptations) as Jan, Carl Lumbly (Jitney, “Alias”) as Alex Ames and Donald Sage MacKay (“Scrubs”) as Tim.

    LaTanya Richardson Jackson

    As e-books outsell printed books, Alex Ames, the owner of Chicago’s oldest African American book publishing company, must question each of his employees to determine who is still relevant in a rapidly changing world. When he meets J, a mysterious youth plugged into the future, Mr. Ames is forced to discover just how far he will go to survive. A new play from Residency Five playwright Regina Taylor, stop. reset.asks powerful questions of legacy, identity and survival in a world where the real and the virtual are more closely tied than we think.

    The design team includes Neil Patel (Scenic Design), Karen Perry (Costume Design), Lap Chi Chu (Lighting Design), Robert Kaplowitz (Sound Design), Shawn Sagady (Projection Design), Valerie Gladstone (Hair & Make-up Design), Rick Sordelet (Fight Direction) and Stephen Gabis (Vocal and Dialect Coach). Casting by TELSEY + COMPANY, William Cantler CSA. Gwen Gilliam is Production Stage Manager.

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    Lia Chang. Photo by Thom Sesma

    Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes,...

  • Thom Sesma's Summer in Bangkok, Star of Signature’s Miss Saigon

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    Arlington, VA

    This summer, Broadway vet Thom Sesma (Titanic, The Times They Are A’Changin’) is busy appearing in three shows all hailing from Thailand. In July, he appeared as The King in the critically acclaimed Music Theatre of Wichita’s new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic The King and I.

    Kim Huber and Thom Sesma. Photo by Christopher Clark, Music Theatre of Wichita

    Production Photos: Music Theatre of Wichita’s The King and I Starring Thom Sesma, Kim Huber, Alan Ariano, Karl Josef Co, Kay Trinidad, Tami Swartz at Century II Performing Arts Center through July 14, 2013 

    Thom Sesma as The Engineer in Miss Saigon. Photo by Christopher Mueller

    Tonight, Sesma revisits the role of The Engineer for the first time since leaving the Second National Tour of the Tony Award-winning musical Miss Saigon in 1997, in Signature’s production of Miss Saigon, directed by Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer at the MAX Theatre, 4200 Campbell Avenue in Arlington, VA., August 16- September 22, 2013.

    The day after Miss Saigon closes, he begins a 29 hour reading of a musical called Behind The Painting, which hails from Thailand. It stars Thai pop sensation “Bie”, and was presented in Bangkok by Broadway producer Thakonkiat Veerawan. The American adaptation is by Richard Maltby (with whom Sesma worked with on Broadway’s Nick and Nora) and David Shire in collaboration with Thakonkiat (“Tak”) and is being produced by Tak and Jack Dalgliesh.

    Signature’s production of Miss Saigon kicks off the 2013/2014 and also stars Signature newcomers Diana Huey as the Vietnamese bar girl Kim, Jason Michael Evans as the American GI Chris. They are joined by many of Signature’s most well-known actors, including Erin Driscoll (Spin, Company) as Ellen, Chris Sizemore (Chess, Sweeney Todd) as John, and Christopher Mueller (Spin, Brother Russia) as Thuy.

    Cheryl Daro will play Gigi. Stephen Gregory Smith, James Gardiner, Gannon O’Brien, Vincent...

  • Aug. 15-Sept. 8: NAATCO Presents All Asian American Cast of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing at Walker Space

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    The OBIE Award-winning NAATCO, National Asian American Theater Company kicks off their 24th season with Clifford Odets’s Awake & Sing!Stephen Fried directs an all-Asian American cast that includes Sanjit De Silva, Mel Duane Gionson, Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte, Mia Katigbak, Teresa Avia Lim, Jon Norman Schneider, David Shih, Alok Tewari, and Henry Yuk. This Off-Broadway limited engagement begins performances on August 16th at Walker Space (46 Walker Street) in New York, and continues through September 8th. Opening Night is set for August 21st (8pm).Considered Odets’s finest play, Awake and Sing! premiered on Broadway in 1935, performed by the Group Theater. It is the story of the Bergers, a lower middle class, three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Depression. Odets described it as “a struggle for life amid petty conditions,” capturing the frenetic, pressured existence in this crowded dwelling with robust authenticity.

    Awake and Sing! recalls that this country was founded as the land of opportunity for immigrants who came to its cities and towns with an enduring belief in the American dream. Odets’s characters are all the parents, grandparents, and children who sought refuge and forged new lives. Families like these from around the world continue to make their way here every day, making Awake & Sing! as timely today as it was when it was written.

    Clifford Odets helped found The Group Theatre in 1933, the legendary theatre company. After briefly trying acting, Odets became The Group Theatre’s first original playwright. In 1935, he wrote Awake and Sing! Although it was only his first play, it is considered his masterpiece. Because of misgivings from Group leader Lee Strasberg, Awake and Sing!was not produced right away. Odets’ first play to actually be produced was the one-act play Waiting for Lefty. That same year, he also wrote the first anti-Nazi played produced in the United States, Till the Day I Die. His next...

  • Lia Chang Stars in "Power Play" by Lorey Hayes July 31-August 1, 2013

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    July 26, 2013

    Actress Lia Chang stars in the award-winning play "Power Play"  by playwright/actress Lorey Hayes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina July 31-August 1. 

    We are proud to take over Lia's "Backstage Pass" column this month to congratulate her on her upcoming performance in "Power Play."

    Lia stars with Pauletta Pearson Washington, aka Mrs. Denzel Washington ("The Watsons Go to Birningham"), Lorey Hayes ("Dreamgirls)", Roscoe Orman ("Sesame Street"), Marcus Naylor ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)", and Phynjuar ("Meet the Browns"). Photo credit courtesy by Wiliam J. Chang (L to R) Pauletta Pearson Washington, Lia Chang, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes.

    The actors will perform the play in a staged reading at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    “Power Play” by Lorey Hayes 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 p.m. July 31 and Aug. 1 Shirley Recital Hall, Salem College, 500 E. Salem Ave., Winston-Salem Tickets: $25 Information: 723-7907, www.nbtf.org. Tickets also are available from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the N.C. Black Repertory Company office, 610 Coliseum Drive, Winston-Salem. Starting Tuesday, tickets may be purchased from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily at Benton Convention Center, 301 W. Fifth St., Winston-Salem.

    About "Power Play": Roscoe Orman's Franklin Wright has been propelled to political stardom by his Asian American campaign manager, played by Lia Chang.Just three days before the election, hoping to become California’s first African American governor he finds himself in a scandal that threatens his career and marriage — a scandal based on a secret that his wife, played by Paulette Pearson Washington, has harbored for years.  

    Related:

    National Black Theatre Festival: N.C. natives bring ‘Power Play’ to Festival by Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane News-Record.com

    Lia Chang is an actor, a professional photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.  She is the author of