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

  • April 2 - May 19: Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Conrad Ricamora, Kelvin Moon Loh and More Set for World Premiere of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love at The Public

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    Jose Llana (Ferdinand Marcos), Ruthie Ann Miles (Imelda Marcos), Renée Albulario (Ensemble), Melody Butiu (Ensemble), Natalie Cortez (Ensemble), Debralee Daco (Ensemble), Joshua Dela Cruz (Ensemble), Kelvin Moon Loh (Ensemble), Jeigh Madjus (Ensemble), Maria-Christina Oliveras (Ensemble), Conrad Ricamora (Aquino), Trevor Salter (Ensemble), and Janelle Velasquez (Ensemble) are featured in the cast of The Public Theater’s World Premiere ofHere Lies Love, with concept and lyrics by David Byrne, music by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, additional music by Tom Gandey and J Pardo, and choreography by Annie-B Parson.

    Jose Llana

    Within a pulsating dance club atmosphere, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim deconstruct the astonishing journey of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos, retracing her meteoric rise to power and subsequent descent into infamy and disgrace at the end of the People Power Revolution. Here Lies Love is neither a period piece nor a biography, neither a play nor a traditional musical but an immersive theatrical event combining songs influenced by four decades of dance music, adrenaline-fueled choreography, and a remarkable 360-degree scenic and video environment to go beyond Imelda’s near-mythic obsession with shoes and explore the tragic consequences of the abuse of power.

    Maria-Christina Oliveras

    Directed by Alex Timbers, Here Lies Love begins performances on Tuesday, April 2 and was originally scheduled to close on Sunday, May 5. It has been extended and will now run an additional two weeks through Sunday, May 19, 2013.

    Here Lies Love is described as an 85-minute theatrical experience, all filtered through the remarkable vision of David Byrne, one of the great American artists of the last half century. Set within a dance club atmosphere, audiences will stand and move with the actors. Comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended since the audience stands and moves with the actors. Dancing is encouraged.

    Kelvin Moon Loh

    With an audience...

  • May 9 - June 9: East West Players Presents Chess at the David Henry Hwang Theater

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    East West Players concludes its 47th Anniversary Season, themed Spirited Away, with the musical CHESS, book by Richard Nelson, lyrics by Sir Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Aida), and composed by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (ABBA, Mamma Mia!), at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, May 9 – June 9, 2013. CHESS will be directed by Tim Dang, with musical direction by Marc Macalintal and choreography by Marc Oka.The leading roles of the multicultural ensemble cast include Joan Almedilla as Florence (Miss Saigon and Les Miserables – Broadway), Elijah Rock as Anatoly (Ragtime, Smokey Joe’s Cafe), Victor E. Chan as Freddy (The Who’s Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show), Carey Rebecca Brown as Svetlana (Ragtime – Broadway Revival, Candide – New York City Opera), Ray A. Rochelle as Molokov (Evita, Miss Saigon), and Michael Alexander Henry as Walter de Courcey (The Lion King– Broadway). The rest of the ensemble are Cesar Cipriano (The King & I, Miss Saigon – National Tours), Stephanie Mieko Cohen (Les Miserables – Broadway), Jasmine Ejan (Peter Pan – National Tour), Shay Louise (Miss Saigon), D.T. Matias (A Chorus Line – International Tour), Domonique Paton (Hairspray – National Tour), Alex Sanchez (Hairspray), Armando Yearwood, Jr. (West Side Story – International Tour, In the Heights – National Tour).

    Previews are Thursday, May 9th – Saturday, May 11th at 8pm and Sunday, May 12th at 2pm. All preview seats are $26. Opening Night is Wednesday, May 15th at 8pm and includes a 7pm pre-performance cocktail reception, and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team. A special “Pay-What-You-Can” Performance is on Thursday, May 16th. Southern California Edison Community Night is Wednesday, May 22nd at 8pm. Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets to CHESS range from $51-$56, and may be purchased online at 

  • 13th Annual New York Indian Film Festival Opens with Feroz Abbas Khan’s Dekh Tamasha Dekh on April 30, Closes with Filmistaan on May 4,

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    The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) is presenting the 13th Annual New York Indian Film Festival, the oldest and most prestigious film festival for Indian cinema in North America, from Tuesday, April 30 to Saturday, May 4, 2013 in New York City.

    The New York Indian Film Festival will kick off its week-long festivities with a star-studded Opening Night red carpet premiere of Feroz Abbas Khan’s DEKH TAMASHA DEKH on April 30, 2013, which will take place at the Skirball Center for Performing Arts.

    L-R, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi and Satish Kaushik in Dekh Tamasha Dekh.

    Festival screenings will take place throughout the week at Tribeca Cinemas, with Nitin Kakkar’s FILMISTAAN on May 4, 2013, the Closing Night selection to be followed by the annual awards ceremony and after-party at the Skirball Center for Performing Arts. This year marks the launch of a new award at the 2013 Festival that honors student-created short films (five minute or less). Through open, no-fee submissions from film schools, one student will be selected to receive a special award at the Closing Night Award Ceremony

    Lyrically interwoven, DEKH TAMASHA DEKH is a social and political satire that cuts deep to the heart of many current issues, a true story based off true events. Written by renowned marathi playwright Shafaat Khan, who creates finely nuanced characters with depth and dimensions and sets them against a lush visual backdrop of a small village in India. The cast features Satish Kaushik, Tanvi Azmi, Vinay Jain, Sharad Ponkshe, Ganesh Yadav, Apoorva Arora and Alok Rajwade. Director Feroz Abbas Khan has directed some of India’s finest acting talent during his career of over two decades and he is at the forefront of Indian theatre today. His debut Film “Gandhi My Father” received rave reviews and won several national and international awards. He now showcases his new cinematic vision as the opening night film for the festival.

    “IAAC has an imagination that has expanded to...

  • April 10: NYIFF 2013 Presents Screening of Midnight's Children, Deepa Mehta, Salman Rushdie, Sarita Choudhury, Samrat Chakrabarti & More to Attend

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    The 13th Annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) is presenting an exclusive kick-off screening of Midnight’s Children followed by a special Q&A on April 10, 2013. In attendance will be the film’s acclaimed director Deepa Mehta, award-winning writer of the novel Salman Rushdie who also adapted the screenplay, producer David Hamilton, cast members Sarita Choudhury and Samrat Chakrabarti, plus other special guests. Paladin and 108 Media will be officially releasing Midnight’s Children in major U.S. cities starting in New York City on April 26.

    (L-R) Author and Screenwriter Salman Rushdie and Director Deepa Mehta

    Deepa Mehta returns to NYIFF after her Oscar-nominated film WATERopened the film festival in 2005. “We have had a very long and creatively fruitful relationship with NYIFF. FIRE, the very first film in the elemental Trilogy was shown there and almost every film I have made since,” says Mehta. “Aroon Shivdasani was in fact responsible for the creation ofMidnight’s Children. She brought Salman to the premiere screening ofWATER in New York and that began a close relationship with Salman, which culminated in the very first film adaptation of any of his novels. It is enormously pleasing for me to be once again collaborating with NYIFF and bringing to their extremely discerning audience Midnight’s Children, a film that I have been dreaming of doing since I first read the book over 30 years ago.”With this latest masterpiece,Midnight’s Children, Mehta tantalizes audiences with lush visuals and a magical, wide-spanning story. Two babies, born within moments of India proclaiming Independence from Britain, are switched at birth and are forever marked by history.

    Long-time supporter of NYIFF, Salman Rushdie also narrates the film. “I’m delighted the film of MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN is to be given this preview screening in New York by my old friends at NYIFF,” says Rushdie. “I look forward to a great evening with you...

  • April 4-28: Chay Yew Directs A.C.T.’s World Premiere of Stuck Elevator

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    American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is presenting the world premiere ofStuck Elevator at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco), April 4–28, 2013. Press night is Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Tickets (starting at $20) are on sale now and may be purchased online at act-sf.org or by calling 415.749.2228.

    Stuck Elevator is a visionary musical work based on the true story of Guāng (光), a Chinese deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. Sounding the alarm will open the doors to freedom, but calling for help also means calling for attention—with dire consequences for this undocumented immigrant. Suspended between the upward mobility of the American dream and the downward plunge into an empty abyss, Guāng delves into memories of his past and into nightmares of present predicament, all within the confines of a 4′ by 6′ by 8′ metal box.

    Chay Yew. Photo by Lia Chang

    Inventively staged by internationally acclaimed artist Chay Yew—and introducing the prodigious work of composer Byron Au Yong and librettist Aaron Jafferis—Stuck Elevator unleashes an evocative collision of stories, sounds, instruments, and ideas.

    Featuring a hybrid of musical theater, opera, and solo performance, Stuck Elevator will feature Julius Ahn (Madame Butterfly at Nashville Opera; Turandot at Seattle Opera) in the tour-de-force role of Guāng. He is joined by an extraordinary ensemble of performers—all of whom play multiple roles—including Raymond J. Lee (Anything Goes and Mamma Mia! on Broadway) as Wáng Yuè (王越), Guāng’s 8-year-old son; Marie-France Arcilla (Working at Off-Broadways’ 59E59 Theaters; Sondheim on Sondheim at the Cleveland Playhouse) as Míng (明), Guāng’s wife; Joel Perez (In the Heights , 1st national tour; Fun Home at the Public Theater) as Marco, the wisecracking Mexican deliveryman; and Joseph Anthony Foronda (Pacific Overtures and Miss Saigon on Broadway) as Zhōng Yi (忠佚), Guāng’s...