André De Shields, Amber Gray, Patrick Page, Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang

Multimedia: Reeve Carney, André De Shields, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, Patrick Page and More in Sneak Peek of Anaïs Mitchell’s HADESTOWN at The McKittrick Hotel

Performances, Photography, Theater
The Club Car at the McKittrick Hotel in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The Club Car at the McKittrick Hotel in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Last week, the atmospheric and moody setting of the Club Car at the McKittrick Hotel in New York was the ideal backdrop for the intimate sneak peek of Hadestown, the new musical by celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, developed with innovative director and Tony Award nominee Rachel Chavkin. Preview performances for Hadestown begin Friday, March 22 ahead of a Wednesday, April 17 official opening night at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

André De Shields, Amber Gray, Patrick Page, Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Amber Gray, Patrick Page, Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang

Hadestown stars Reeve Carney stars as Orpheus, André De Shields as Hermes, Amber Gray as Persephone, Eva Noblezada as Eurydice and Patrick Page as Hades, fresh from the National Theatre production in London.

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Guests sipped on prosecco and Sidecar cocktails while the cast performed three songs from the show. – “Our Lady of the Underground” featuring Amber Gray, “All I’ve Ever Known” featuring Eva Noblezada and “Way Down Hadestown” featuring André De Shields, Amber Gray, Patrick Page, Eva Noblezada, Patrick Page and the entire company. In between numbers, composer Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin shared their collaborative process with  SiriusXM’s Julie James.

The cast also includes Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad as the Fates. The chorus of workers will be played by Afra Hines, Timothy Hughes, John Krause, Kimberly Marable and Ahmad Simmons. The full cast also include swings Malcolm Armwood, T. Oliver Reid, Jessie Shelton, and Khaila Wilcoxon.

Hadestown marks the first time in over a decade that a woman has been the solo author of a musical: writing the music, lyrics, and book, and is the fourth woman in Broadway history to accomplish this creative feat. The show originated as Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.

Following two intertwining love stories – that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone –Hadestown invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers, and singers, Hadestown delivers a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience.

The creative team for Broadway features Drama Desk Award nominee Rachel Hauck (set design), three-time Tony Award nominee Michael Krass (costume design), Tony Award winner Bradley King (lighting design), Tony Award nominee Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz (sound design), three-time Bessie Award® winner David Neumann (choreography), Liam Robinson (music direction and vocal arrangements), Michael Chorney, Todd Sickafoose (arrangements and orchestrations), Ken Cerniglia (dramaturgy), and Stewart/Whitley (casting).

HADESTOWN Director Rachel Chavkin, Music Director and Vocal Arranger Liam Robinson, Creator Anaïs Mitchell and Amber Gray. Photo by Lia Chang

HADESTOWN Director Rachel Chavkin, Music Director and Vocal Arranger Liam Robinson, Creator Anaïs Mitchell and Amber Gray. Photo by Lia Chang

Hadestown electrified audiences with its 2016 world premiere at New York Theatre Workshop before receiving its Canadian premiere at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre in 2017. This winter’s sold-out engagement at the National Theatre in London recently ended its run at the Olivier Theatre. Hadestown was developed with funding from the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center and was further developed by The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Hadestown was co-conceived by Ben t. Matchstick.

Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang

Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields and Eva Noblezada. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields and Eva Noblezada. Photo by Lia Chang

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Kay Trinidad and Jewelle Blackman. Photo by Lia Chang

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Kay Trinidad and Jewelle Blackman. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields and Eva Noblezada. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields and Eva Noblezada. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney and the Company of HADESTOWN. Photo by Lia Chang

The Hadestown live original cast recording is available in stores and digitally. For more information on where to get the album and to sign up for email updates for Hadestown, please visit www.hadestown.com.

Eva Noblezada, Anais Mitchell, André De Shields, Mara Isaacs, Patrick Page, Amber Gray and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang

Eva Noblezada, Anais Mitchell, André De Shields, Mara Isaacs, Patrick Page, Amber Gray and Reeve Carney. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields to Helm Duke Ellington’s SOPHISTICATED LADIES at NJPAC, March 21 – 24 

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award Winner Suzan-Lori Parks to Premiere WHITE NOISE at The Public in March

Awards, Events, Photography, Theater

The Public Theater is presenting the world premiere of White Noise, written by Public Theater Master Writer Chair and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Oskar Eustis directs this fierce new play about race, friendship, and our rapidly unraveling social contract starring Daveed Diggs, Sheria Irving, Thomas Sadoski and Zoë Winters.

White Noise begins with a Joseph Papp Free Preview performance on Tuesday, March 5 in The Public’s Anspacher Theater and will run through Sunday, April 14, with an official press opening on Wednesday, March 20. Click here for tickets and more information.

Oskar Eustis and 2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

Oskar Eustis and 2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

I got a sneak peek of White Noise on December 3rd when The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust presented Ms. Parks with the 2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the 11th Annual “Mimi” Awards at Lincoln Center Theater in New York. The “Mimi” Awards are presented annually to honor the outstanding artistry and accomplishments of some of the most gifted American Playwrights. Check out photos of the celebration below, in honor of Black History Month.

2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award is presented biennially to honor and encourage the artistic excellence and achievement of an American playwright whose body of work has made significant contributions to the American theatre. The recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award receives a cash award of $200,000 and “The Mimi,” a statuette designed by David Rockwell, Tony Award-nominated scenic designer and architect.

Suzan-Lori Parks and Christian Konopka. Photo by Lia Chang

Suzan-Lori Parks and Christian Konopka. Photo by Lia Chang

Ms. Parks kicked off the program performing with her husband, Christian Konopka.

Brandon J. Dirden, Amari Cheatom, Crystal A. Dickinson and Roslyn Ruff performed excerpts from her plays.

1st Row: A guest, Suzan-Lori Parks and Lynn Nottage. 2rd Row: Crystal A. Dickinson, Jo Bonney, Zainab Jah, Mirirai Sithole, Gillian Glasco. 3rd Row: Reynaldo Piniella, Julian Rozzell, Jr., David Ryan Smith, Donovan Mitchell, J. Cameron Barnett, Russell G. Jones, Amelia Workman, Amari Cheatom, Alfonso Johnson, Brandon J. Dirden. Photo by Lia Chang

1st Row: A guest, Suzan-Lori Parks and Lynn Nottage. 2rd Row: Crystal A. Dickinson, Jo Bonney, Zainab Jah, Mirirai Sithole, Gillian Glasco. 3rd Row: Reynaldo Piniella, Julian Rozzell, Jr., David Ryan Smith, Donovan Mitchell, J. Cameron Barnett, Russell G. Jones, Amelia Workman, Amari Cheatom, Alfonso Johnson, Brandon J. Dirden. Photo by Lia Chang

The family of Michael and Joan Steinberg with honoree Suzan-Lori Parks at the 2018 Steinberg Playwright Awards at Lincoln Center Theater on December 3, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

The family of Michael and Joan Steinberg with honoree Suzan-Lori Parks at the 2018 Steinberg Playwright Awards at Lincoln Center Theater on December 3, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith, Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, Lincoln Center Theater Artistic Director André Bishop, Jim Steinberg, Carol Steinberg, Michael Steinberg, Carole Krumland, Ted Krumland, members of The Steinberg Family, Atlantic Theater’s Neil Pepe, Mary McCann and Jeffory Lawson, People’s Light Artistic Director Zak Berkman, Lynn Nottage, Jocelyn Bioh, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Martyna Majok, Jo Bonney, J.T. Rogers,  Zainab Jah, Mirirai Sithole, Gillian Glasco, Reynaldo Piniella, Julian Rozzell, Jr., David Ryan Smith, Donovan Mitchell, J. Cameron Barnett, Russell G. Jones, Amelia Workman, Amari Cheatom, Alfonso Johnson, Louis Cancelmi, Hannah Cabell, Garth Kravits and the playwright’s sister, Stephanie Parks were in the house for the celebration.

Suzan-Lori Parks was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave,” and is the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog. She is a MacArthur “Genius Grant” prize recipient and she’s also received The Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts. Broadway credits include: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess which was awarded the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Topdog/Underdog, which starred Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def and was directed by George C. Wolfe. The play received a Tony Nomination and recently was named by the New York Times as the most important American play within the last 25 years. Other plays include: In The Blood (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Fucking A, The Death of The Last Black Man In The Whole Entire World aka The Negro Book Of The Dead and more recently Father Comes Home From The Wars (parts 1,2&3) (Pulitzer Prize Finalist). In 2003 Parks wrote a play a day culminating in 365 Days/365 Plays; the plays were produced globally in over 700 theatres, which, at the time, was said to be the largest theatrical grass-roots undertaking of its kind. More recently, to reflect on the current presidential administration Parks wrote 100 Plays For The First Hundred Days. Parks has authored a novel: Getting Mother’s Body which is published by Random House. Her screenplays include Girl6 (directed by Spike Lee); Their Eyes Were Watching God (produced by Oprah Winfrey); Anemone Me (produced by Christine Vachon and Todd Haynes) and she’s got two new screenplays in production: an adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son, (directed by Rashid Johnson) and The United States vs Billie Holiday, (directed by Lee Daniels.) She’s at work on a stage-musical adaptation of the film The Harder They Come and two new stage plays, one of them: White Noise which will receive its world premiere this coming season and will be directed by Oskar Eustis. Parks is The Public Theater’s Master Writer Chair, where she performs Watch Me Work, a weekly writing class free of charge and open to all. She also writes songs and fronts her band: Suzan-Lori Parks & The Band.

Suzan-Lori Parks, Christian Konopka and Deborah Martin. Photo by Lia Chang

Suzan-Lori Parks, Christian Konopka and Deborah Martin. Photo by Lia Chang

Suzan-Lori Parks and her sister Stephanie Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

Suzan-Lori Parks and her sister Stephanie Parks. Photo by Lia Chang

In 2008, the Board of Directors created an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to establish the awards criteria, nominate individual candidates and select each recipient.

Louis Cancelmi, Russell G. Jones, Elz Cuya Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks, Gillian Glasco and Alfonso Johnson. Photo by Lia Chang

Louis Cancelmi, Russell G. Jones, Elz Cuya Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks, Gillian Glasco and Alfonso Johnson. Photo by Lia Chang

The 2018 Advisory Committee is comprised of Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, Public Theater; Sarah Lunnie, Literary Director, Playwrights Horizons; Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director, Manhattan Theatre Club; Hana S. Sharif, Associate Artistic Director, Baltimore Center Stage; Molly Smith, Artistic Director, Arena Stage; Kent Thompson, Theatre Director, Producer and Author; and Les Waters, Theatre Director.

Russell G. Jones, Reynaldo Piniella, Amari Cheatom, Crystal A. Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Elz Cuya Jones and Gillian Glasco. Photo by Lia Chang

Russell G. Jones, Reynaldo Piniella, Amari Cheatom, Crystal A. Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Elz Cuya Jones and Gillian Glasco. Photo by Lia Chang

The Board of Directors of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is made up of Carole A. Krumland, James D. Steinberg, Michael A. Steinberg, Seth M. Weingarten, and William D. Zabel.

2018 Steinberg Playwright Awards at Lincoln Center Theater on December 3, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

2018 Steinberg Playwright Awards at Lincoln Center Theater on December 3, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Click below for an in-depth recap of the night.

The Undefeated: Suzan-Lori Parks collects the Steinberg prize for playwriting 

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Interview with THE KING AND I’s Jose Llana and All Access Pass to his American Songbook Concert and Party

Performances, Photography, Theater
Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

The King and I‘s Jose Llana dazzled in his return to Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Concert Series on February 1st, four years after his sold-out appearance at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse.

Jose Llana and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Renee Albulario, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus and Billy Bustamante with the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Renee Albulario, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus and Billy Bustamante with the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Renee Albulario, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus and Billy Bustamante with the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Renee Albulario, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus and Billy Bustamante with the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Renee Albulario, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Renee Albulario, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus and Billy Bustamante. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose’s glorious tenor filled The Appel Room, where he was accompanied by his Here Lies Love cast members Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus, Renee Albulario and  Billy Bustamante.

Kimberly Grigsby, Jose Llana, Pete Donovan on Bass, Jon Epcar on Drums. Photo by Lia Chang

Kimberly Grigsby, Jose Llana, Pete Donovan on Bass, Jon Epcar on Drums. Photo by Lia Chang

His 11-piece band featured Music Director Kimberly Grigsby on piano, Pete Donovan on bass, Jon Epcar on drums,  Aaron Heick on reeds, Sean Driscoll on guitar, Randy Andos on trombone, Matt Owens on trumpet, Entcho Todorov on violin, Hiroko Taguchi on violin, Chris Cardona on viola and Clarice Jensen on cello.

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Llana’s very personal set list encompassing his career and his recent marriage included Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today” and “Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing,” Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Getting to Know You” (King & I) and “Like A God” (Flower Drum Song), Mike Reid’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Adam Guettel’s “Build a Bridge” and “Life is But A Dream,” Shaina Taub’s “Tell Her (I Want You)” (Twelfth Night-Public Works), Stephen Sondheim’s “Marry Me A Little,” The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” Madonna’s “Crazy For You,” David Byrne’s “Sugartime Baby,”  Bill Finn’s “Anytime,” Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” and rousing rendition of Toto’s “Africa,” a nod to the destination of his planned honeymoon with husband Erik Rose.

Toto's Africa - Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madgus, Jaygee Macapugay, Jose Llana and John Clancy. Photo by Lia Chang

Toto’s Africa – Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madgus, Jaygee Macapugay, Jose Llana and John Clancy. Photo by Lia Chang

For the encore, Here Lies Love cast members from the New York and Seattle tour – Carol Angeli, Julian Leong, Diane Phelan, Belinda Allyn, Jordan DeLeon, Shea Renne and Geena Quintos- came dancing down the aisles for David Byrne’s “Eleven Days.”

David Byrne's Eleven Days. Photo by Lia Chang

David Byrne’s Eleven Days. Photo by Lia Chang

Front Row: Diane Phelan, Julian Leong, Carol Angeli, Geena Quintos, Shea Renne, Jordan DeLeon and Belinda Allyn. Back Row: Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay, Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Front Row: Diane Phelan, Julian Leong, Carol Angeli, Geena Quintos, Shea Renne, Jordan DeLeon and Belinda Allyn. Back Row: Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay, Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Front Row: Diane Phelan, Julian Leong, Carol Angeli, Geena Quintos, Shea Renne, Jordan DeLeon and Belinda Allyn. Back Row: Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay, Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Front Row: Diane Phelan, Julian Leong, Carol Angeli, Geena Quintos, Shea Renne, Jordan DeLeon and Belinda Allyn. Back Row: Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay, Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team also included Tony nominated orchestrator John Clancy (Mean Girls, Fun Home), Tony Award-winning orchestrator Michael Starobin. (Next To Normal, Assassins) and Matt Stine (Music Track Editor).

Matt Stine and Justin Levine. Photo by Lia Chang

Matt Stine and Justin Levine. Photo by Lia Chang

Annalene Beechey as Anna and Jose Llana as The King.

Annalene Beechey as Anna and Jose Llana as The King.

In 2015 Llana returned to his Broadway roots, taking over the role of the King of Siam in Bartlett Sher’s Tony Award–winning revival of The King and I at Lincoln Center Theater and its subsequent touring production.

In Spring 2019, Mr. Llana will lead the UK tour of The King and I as The King, with Annalene Beechey as Anna, fresh from her West End success at the London Palladium. The pair are set to open the UK Tour and are scheduled for the first three cities – Manchester, Dublin and Sunderland. Click here for the touring schedule and to book tickets.

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Billy Bustamante, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Jaygee Macapugay and Renee Albulario and the band. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose was headed to London to do pre-press for the tour but answered a few questions en route about the concert and the UK tour. 

The Appel Room. Photo by Chang

The Appel Room. Photo by Chang

Lia: How did you craft your set list and choose your orchestrators?
Jose: The first questions you ask: ‘What do I want to say? And what songs can I sing to say it in the best possible way?’  My first Songbook concert 4 years ago was a little easier to put together because the goal in that concert was to celebrate my 20 year career up to that point.  But this time around, I had more room to play which at first sounded fun but was actually terrifying. I knew the concert had to be about what had happened to me in the past 4 years since my last concert: The King & I at Lincoln Center, taking that show on Tour for 2 years and then getting married. Once I knew those were the things I wanted to talk about and celebrate, it became about finding the right songs to tell those stories.

Jose Llana, Regina Tolentino Newport and Erik Rose. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana, Regina Tolentino Newport and Erik Rose. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: You’ve worked with Kimberly a few times and the working relationship seems very symbiotic. Can you elaborate?
Jose: Kimberly and I first met in college at The Manhattan School of Music. We were the musical theater loving geeks in a classical training school. I was lucky enough to get reconnected with her professionally when we worked on Here Lies Love. It goes without saying that Kimberly is just so incredibly smart and the best at what she does.  We’re also good enough friends where she knows exactly what to say to me to get me to be the best performer I can be.  There’s enormous trust in the collaboration.  She can smell bull$hit from a mile away and tells me so if I try any of that with her.

Kimberly is also the person who introduced me to John Clancy who, along with Michael Starobin, did an incredible job with my arrangements and orchestrations.  Michael and I had worked together before on Spelling Bee but I had never met Clancy. Because my set list varied so much from Broadway to Pop music, it felt right to lend two different voices to the arrangements.  And if those two voices are Clancy and Starobin, I would say you are the luckiest person in the world.

Orchestrator John Clancy, Jose Llana and his music director Kimberly Grigsby. Photo by Lia Chang

Orchestrator John Clancy, Jose Llana and his music director Kimberly Grigsby. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How did you choose to include the HLL dancers?
Jose: I knew HLL would have a strong presence in my concert. The show has been such a huge influence on my career. And I decided very early on that I wanted to end the concert with “Eleven Days” since it’s a great song and it tied very nicely into the wedding theme of the concert.  Once I realized the best way to bring the energy of the show was to have dancers in the aisles close it out, there was no turning back.

HERE LIES LOVE reunion with Justin Levine, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Matt Stine, Jaygee Macapugay, Shea Renne, Alex Timbers, Renee Albulario, Julian Leong, Belinda Allyn. Photo by Lia Chang

HERE LIES LOVE reunion with Justin Levine, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Matt Stine, Jaygee Macapugay, Shea Renne, Alex Timbers, Renee Albulario, Julian Leong, Belinda Allyn. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: I heard from the cast members that you were a superb leader while touring and starring in The King & I.  How has the experience changed you as an artist?
Jose: That is very kind.  I hope I was. I know I tried to be and surely failed at times, but I really tried to be.  Lou Diamond Philips was one my first mentor in the industry when he was my KING back on Broadway in 1996.  He led that company with kindness, humor and charisma. It defined that experience.

Shea Renne, Belinda Allyn, Renee Albulario, Jose Llana, Geena Quintos, Carol Angeli and Jaygee Macapugay. Photo by Lia Chang

Shea Renne, Belinda Allyn, Renee Albulario, Jose Llana, Geena Quintos, Carol Angeli and Jaygee Macapugay. Photo by Lia Chang

When you are lucky enough to be put in a position of power where you have some influence, your only responsibility is to try to step up.  The show will be better for it. You will be better for it.  And, hopefully, everyone around you will be better for it.

The Company. Photo by Lia Chang

The Company. Photo by Lia Chang

Putting on a concert is the same thing. My job was to gather the best people I could to be in one place to make some great music.  Hopefully, the time we spent together was filled with fun, kindness and great collaboration.

Newlyweds Erik Rose and Jose Llana with his KING AND I leading lady Elena Shaddow. Photo by Lia Chang

Newlyweds Erik Rose and Jose Llana with his KING AND I leading lady Elena Shaddow. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: You recently got married to Erik and talked about your relationship in the show. Where are you headed on your honeymoon?

Jose: We are headed to Africa!  Kenya and Cape Town to be exact.  That was how I picked the second to last song in the concert.  And who doesn’t get excited about singing Toto at Lincoln Center?

Toto's Africa - Jose Llana and John Clancy. Photo by Lia Chang

Toto’s Africa – Jose Llana and John Clancy. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What excites you most about heading out as the KING in the upcoming cities?
Jose: I’ve never worked in Europe.  That was a big deciding factor in accepting the job to open and lead the UK Tour of the King & I.  And my family, including Erik, my sister and her kids, are all going to use the Tour as an excuse to visit me in London and Dublin.  How great is that?  I get to take this incredible production around Europe and my family gets a fun vacation out of it.

Lia: You are very at home on the concert stage. Any plans to perform this set in other cities?
Jose: No plans as of yet, but you never know. I now have arrangements from this concert and my Songbook concert from 4 years ago. Plenty of music to choose from and plenty of places to go to share some great stories!

Check out the reception and party photos at Ascent Lounge below.

The Appel Room. Photo by Lia Chang

The Appel Room. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Asian American pioneers Baayork Lee, Pat Suzuki, Alvin Ing, Virginia Wing and Lori Tan Chinn. Photo by Lia Chang

Alvin Ing and Yuriko Kikuchi Honored at NAAP Gala Celebrating 60th Anniversary of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG

Awards, Benefits, Photography, Reunion, Theater

National Asian Artists Project (NAAP) held their inaugural Gala entitled “The Corner of Chinatown and Broadway” on December 2nd at The Golden Unicorn in New York’s Chinatown in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, and to honor Alvin Ing and Yuriko Kikuchi.

Susan Kikuchi, who accepted the award for her mother Yuriko Kikuchi and honoree Alvin Ing. Photo by Lia Chang

Susan Kikuchi, who accepted the award for her mother Yuriko Kikuchi and honoree Alvin Ing. Photo by Lia Chang

Directed by Richard Jay-Alexander, the evening featured performances by honoree Alvin Ing, Broadway’s Jose Llana (The King and I) and Yuka Takara (A Chorus Line), the award-winning Theatre Club from P.S. 124, alumni and NAAP kids, the NAAP Broadway Community Chorus, and members from the original casts of the Broadway and 2002 revival productions of Flower Drum Song.

Ted Chapin, Richard Jay Alexander, Baayork Lee and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Ted Chapin, Richard Jay Alexander, Baayork Lee and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) was the Honorary Chairman of the evening with Viet Vo, a longtime NAAP member and the President of the NAAP Community Chorus,  serving as emcee for the evening and Yan Li as Musical Director. Möet-Hennessy was the Official Sponsor of the Gala.

National Asian Artists Project (NAAP) is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders, and professionals. It is a not-for-profit organization that recognizes the need to build bridges between the work of artists of Asian descent, and the many communities that the work can serve, from underserved primary school students to seasoned arts patrons.

Click here for Richie Ridge’s excellent coverage of the night’s festivities and exclusive interviews.

NAAP co-founders Nina Zoie Lam, Baayork Lee and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

NAAP co-founders Nina Zoie Lam, Baayork Lee and Steven Eng. Photo by Lia Chang

Honoree Alvin Ing was one of the performers in Flower Drum Song. His work in the theatre, film and television industries pushed social and racial boundaries for the Asian American community. Since the 1970’s, he has advocated for increased Asian American representation in the arts, protested against Asian caricatures, stereotypes and practices such as yellow face, raising the consciousness of many.

Alvin Ing, Baayork Lee, David Henry Hwang and Yuka Takara. Photo by Lia Chang

Alvin Ing, Baayork Lee, David Henry Hwang and Yuka Takara. Photo by Lia Chang

Honoree Yuriko Kikuchi is an American Japanese pioneer of modern dance. She danced the lead role of ‘Mei Li’ in the original production of Flower Drum Song, and originated the iconic dance role of ‘Eliza’ in Jerome Robbins’ ballet, Small House of Uncle Thomas in the original company of The King and I. During WWII, she taught modern dance to children even as she was interned alongside other Japanese Americans in a relocation camp. In 1943, she moved to New York City and joined the Martha Graham Dance Company where she danced, choreographed, directed and taught for 50 years.

Lori Tan Chinn, Donna McKechnie, Adam Jacobs, Yuka Takara, Alvin Ing, Raymond J. Lee, Baayork Lee, Ali Ewoldt, Jose Llana and Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang

Lori Tan Chinn, Donna McKechnie, Adam Jacobs, Yuka Takara, Alvin Ing, Raymond J. Lee, Baayork Lee, Ali Ewoldt, Jose Llana and Karl Josef Co. Photo by Lia Chang

Baayork Lee, Pat Suzuki, Alvin Ing, Virginia Wing and Lori Tan Chinn. Photo by Lia Chang

Baayork Lee, Pat Suzuki, Alvin Ing, Virginia Wing and Lori Tan Chinn. Photo by Lia Chang

Stage Door Records Releases Pat Suzuki: ‘The Complete Album Series’ and ‘Singles And Rarities 1958-1967’ 

Lisa Yuen, Jodi Long, Miho Imoto, Lainie Sakakura, Rich Ceraulo, Robert Tadad, Sally Hong. Photo by Lia Chang

Lisa Yuen, Jodi Long, Miho Imoto, Lainie Sakakura, Rich Ceraulo, Robert Tatad, Sally Hong. Photo by Lia Chang

Alvin Ing, Yuka Takara, Virginia Wing and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Alvin Ing, Yuka Takara, Virginia Wing and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Donna McKechnie, Robert Longbottom, Susan Kikuchi, Lainie Sakakura and David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

Award-winning Theatre Club from P.S. 124, alumni and NAAP kids. Photo by Lia Chang

Award-winning Theatre Club from P.S. 124, alumni and NAAP kids. Photo by Lia Chang

Karen Huie, Jose Llana, Yuka Takara, Ali Ewoldt, Alvin Ing, Virginia Wing, Adam Jacobs. Photo by Lia Chang

Karen Huie, Jose Llana, Yuka Takara, Ali Ewoldt, Alvin Ing, Virginia Wing, Adam Jacobs. Photo by Lia Chang

Alvin Ing and Yuriko Kikuchi to be Honored at NAAP Gala 2018 Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of FLOWER DRUM SONG on December 2 

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films with Garth Kravits, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Laura Wilson, Brittany Bellizeare, Brandon J. Dirden, Elain Graham, Brian D. Coats, Charlie Hudson III, Harvy Blanks and Blake Morris. Photo by Lia Chang

All Access Pass to August Wilson’s KING HEDLEY II at Two River Theater

Photography, Theater

I had an all access pass to Two River Theater’s critically-acclaimed production of August Wilson’s King Hedley II, directed by Brandon J. Dirden. Check out the photos from rehearsal in November to the closing night performance of the extended run on December 16, 2018.

Blake Morris, Elain Graham, Harvy Blanks, Brittany Bellizeare, Charlie Hudson III and Brian D. Coats take a break from rehearsal on November 4, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

Blake Morris, Elain Graham, Harvy Blanks, Brittany Bellizeare, Charlie Hudson III and Brian D. Coats take a break from rehearsal on November 4, 2018. Photo by Lia Chang

Mr. Dirden, the award-winning actor/director who has appeared in five Two River productions, including, most recently, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and A Raisin in the Sun-directs this sequel to Seven Guitars, which was produced under his direction at Two River in 2015.

Brandon J. Dirden. Photo by Lia Chang

Brandon J. Dirden. Photo by Lia Chang

King Hedley II picks up the stories of Ruby and Canewell (known here as Stool Pigeon) from the earlier drama, which is set in the 1940s.

The year is 1985 and Pittsburgh’s Hill District has been ravaged by violence, unemployment, and Urban Blight. King Hedley II returns to his home after a seven-year prison term looking to re-build his life, save some money, and start a family. However, both he and those around him quickly find that in 1980s America, the rules have changed.

The cast of King Hedley II includes Brittany Bellizeare (Tonya), Harvy Blanks (Elmore), Brian D. Coats (Stool Pigeon), Elain Graham (Ruby), Charlie Hudson III (Mister), and Blake Morris (King Hedley II).

Harvy Blanks, Charlie Hudson III, Elain Graham, Blake Morris, Brittany Bellizeare and Brian D. Coats. Photo by Lia Chang

Harvy Blanks, Charlie Hudson III, Elain Graham, Blake Morris, Brittany Bellizeare and Brian D. Coats. Photo by Lia Chang

L to R: Brandon J. Dirden, Jackie Romeo, John Dias, Harvy Blanks, Charlie Hudson III, Joaquin Gomez, Blake Morris, Elain Graham, Brittany Bellizeare, Brian D. Coats, Laura Wilson, Kathy Perkins, Brian Eckert. Photo by Lia Chang

L to R: Brandon J. Dirden, Jackie Romeo, John Dias, Harvy Blanks, Charlie Hudson III, Joaquin Gomez, Blake Morris, Elain Graham, Brittany Bellizeare, Brian D. Coats, Laura Wilson, Kathy Perkins, Brian Eckert. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team includes scenic designer Michael Carnahan, costume designer Karen Perry, lighting designer Kathy A. Perkins, sound designer Kay Richardson, and wigs designer Erin Hicks. The fight direction is by UnkleDave’s Fight-House, the casting is by Heidi Griffiths & Kate Murray, and the stage manager is Laura Wilson.

August Wilson is the 10th most produced playwright of the current season in the United States, according to American Theater magazine. This production marks the halfway point in Two River Theater’s commitment to present all 10 plays of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle.

Set design by Michael Carnahan. Photo by Lia Chang

Set design by Michael Carnahan. Photo by Lia Chang

2:15pm – Fight Call

Fight call: Elain Graham, Harvy Blanks and Blake Morris. Photo by Lia Chang

Fight call: Elain Graham, Harvy Blanks and Blake Morris. Photo by Lia Chang