The company on the stage of The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

2018 RED BUCKET FOLLIES’ FLOWER DRUM SONG Photo Diary

Awards, Benefits, Photography, Reunion, Theater

It was quite a thrill at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 4 when the audience leapt to their feet as Flower Drum Song stars from the 1958 Broadway production, 1961 movie and first road company, joined actors from the 2002 revival company and the first national touring company for a once-in-a-lifetime reunion onstage during the opening number of Red Bucket Follies.

The opening number of Red Bucket Follies, which celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Flower Drum Song and honored the legacy of Asian-Americans on Broadway, was produced by and benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The company on the stage of The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

The company on the stage of The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Paying tribute to the trailblazing productions of Flower Drum Song, the 9-minute segment also included Asian Americans currently on Broadway featured in excerpts from “A Hundred Million Miracles”, “You Are Beautiful”, “Grant Avenue”, I Enjoy Being a Girl”, and “Fan Tan Fannie”. The number was conceived by Lainie Sakakura and Telly Leung, and written by Lainie Sakakura, cast members from the 2002 David Henry Hwang revisal of Flower Drum Song.

Telly Leung, Alvin Ing and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Telly Leung, Alvin Ing and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Flower Drum Song has been in my life since I was a little girl,” shared Sakakura. “My Mother played Mei Li in a regional CA production with Jack Soo, Robert Ito, and Patrick Adiarte. I would watch the movie countless times, fascinated that my mother performed with these same actors.

In rehearsal with the 2002 FLOWER DRUM SONG Revival Company. Photo by Lia Chang

In rehearsal with the 2002 FLOWER DRUM SONG Revival Company. Photo by Lia Chang

In 2002, I had the opportunity to choose between the David Henry Hwang revival or a new Broadway show that I was already working on as an Associate Choreographer. The dance captain of Flower Drum Song said to me, “This revival is incredible. It is our West Side Story.” He was right. Our show would forever change me and our company would become my family in the truest sense. I wrote the 2018 Red Bucket Follies Opening Number to honor all those who came before us, to celebrate all those currently performing on Broadway, and to inspire the next generation of beautiful Asian American artists including my own daughters Avelina and Isabela.”

Alexander Sanchez, Isabella Sanchez, Avelina Sanchez and Laine Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

Alexander Sanchez, Isabela Sanchez, Avelina Sanchez and Laine Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

Leung and Sakakura pitched the concept of the opening to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ Producing Director Valerie Lau-Kee Lai in February 2018, and then to Lau-Kee Lai and Executive Director Tom Viola on March 15, 2018, where they were given the green light on the spot.

Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez, Sandra Allen, Joomin Hwang, Warren Yang and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez, Sandra Allen, Joomin Hwang, Warren Yang and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Alex Sanchez directed and choreographed the number.

Alex Sanchez, Sally Hong, Sandra Allen, Jodi Long, Telly Leung and Yuka Takara. Photo by Lia Chang

Alex Sanchez, Sally Hong, Sandra Allen, Jodi Long, Telly Leung and Yuka Takara. Photo by Lia Chang

“It was meaningful for me to direct and choreograph the Red Bucket Follies opening because it was important for me to be a part of celebrating the contribution, influence, and triumph of Asian actors in American Theater,” said Sanchez. “When Lainie Sakakura was in the 2002 Broadway Revival of Flower Drum Song, I saw the show ten times. Lainie and I married during the run and I became part of the family. We now have two daughters, and Flower Drum Song was the first musical they sang in our living room. Our opening  honors those who came before us, and reminds us that to know your future, you must first know your past. Having the opportunity to share these themes and work with the original 1958 Broadway company to share their story on Broadway, filled my heart with great joy.”

The Elders - Left to right Paula Chin, Victoria Racimo, Kumiko Nakagawa, Alvin Ing, Mae Wong, Carol Gordon Moora, Virginia Wing. Photo by Lia Chang

The Elders – Left to right Paula Chin, Victoria Racimo, Kumiko Nakagawa, Alvin Ing, Mae Wong, Carol Gordon Moora, Virginia Wing.. Photo by Lia Chang

Flower Drum Song features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, original Broadway revival choreography by Robert Longbottom, music direction by Ted Arthur, additional lyrics by Vanessa Brown, Lainie Sakakura, orchestrations by Adam Kaufman and costume design by Jeremy Bailey-Smith.

Telly Leung, Alvin Ing, Jodi Long and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Telly Leung, Alvin Ing, Jodi Long and Jose Llana. Photo by Lia Chang

Performers: Aaron J. Albano, Sandra Allen, Susan Ancheta, Alan Ariano, Paula Chin, Marcus Choi, Adrianne Chu, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Ali Ewoldt, Takayo Fischer, Lydia Gaston, Sally Hong, Joomin Hwang, Jason Garcia Ignacio, Sabrina Imamura, Miho Imoto, Alvin Ing, Nina Zoie Lam, Telly Leung, Jose Llana, Baayork Lee, Jodi Long, J. Elaine Marcos, Paul HeeSang Miller, Carol Gordon Morra, Kumiko Nakagawa, Ashley Park, Victoria Racimo, Catherine Ricafort, Lainie Sakakura, Rommy Sandhu, Herman Sebek, Riza Takahashi, Yuka Takara, Robert Tatad, Virginia Wing, Mae Wong, Ericka Yang, Warren Yang, Kelli Youngman, Lisa Yuen and Minami Yusui.

Downstage right and clockwise) - Aaron J. Albano, Minami Yusui, Yuka Takara, Jason Ignacio Garcia, Riza Takahashi, Joomin Hwang, Warren Yang, Kelli Youngman, Paul HeeSang Miller, Adrianne Chu, Sabrina Imamura, Telly Leung, Center - Ericka Hunter. Photo by Lia Chang

Downstage right and clockwise – Aaron J. Albano, Minami Yusui, Yuka Takara, Jason Garcia Ignacio, Riza Takahashi, Joomin Hwang, Warren Yang, Kelli Youngman, Paul HeeSang Miller, Adrianne Chu, Sabrina Imamura, Telly Leung, Center – Ericka Hunter. Photo by Lia Chang

Legacy Robe recipients: Aaron J. Albano, Nina Zoie Lam, Lydia Gaston, Catherine Ricafort, J. Elaine Marcos, Lainie Sakakura, Alan Ariano, (not pictured: Baayork Lee) Rommy Sandhu. Photo by Lia Chang

Legacy Robe recipients: Aaron J. Albano, Nina Zoie Lam, Lydia Gaston, Catherine Ricafort, J. Elaine Marcos, Lainie Sakakura, Rommy Sandhu, Alan Ariano, (not pictured: Baayork Lee). Photo by Lia Chang

The RED BUCKET FOLLIES' FLOWER DRUM SONG company in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

The RED BUCKET FOLLIES’ FLOWER DRUM SONG company in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Erika Hunter and Telly Leung. Photo by Lainie Sakakura

Erika Hunter and Telly Leung. Photo by Lainie Sakakura

Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Yuka Takara, Alvin Ing, Robert Longbottom, Sally Hong and J. Elaine Marcos.

Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Yuka Takara, Alvin Ing, Robert Longbottom, Sally Hong and J. Elaine Marcos.

"Fan Tan Fannie" - ront line L to R Warren Yang, Sabrina Imamura, Riza Takahashi, Kelli Youngman, Adrianne Chu 2nd line J. Elaine Marcos, Yuka Takara, Minami Yusui, Sally Hong, Joomin Hwang, Lainie Sakakura 3rd line Alvin Ing, Telly, Bobby Longbottom, Adam Rogers, Alex Sanchez

“Fan Tan Fannie” – front line L to R Warren Yang, Sabrina Imamura, Riza Takahashi, Kelli Youngman, Adrianne Chu; 2nd line J. Elaine Marcos, Yuka Takara, Minami Yusui, Sally Hong, Joomin Hwang, Lainie Sakakura; 3rd line Alvin Ing, Telly, Bobby Longbottom, Adam Rogers, Alex Sanchez

On Sunday morning, December 2, 2018, I joined the company in rehearsal at Pearl Studios in New York.

Warren Yang, Ashley Park, Joomin Hwang, Jason Garcia Ignacio and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Warren Yang, Ashley Park, Joomin Hwang, Jason Garcia Ignacio and Paul HeeSang Miller. Photo by Lia Chang

Ashley Park and Sandra Allen. Photo by Lia Chang

Ashley Park and Sandra Allen. Photo by Lia Chang

Sally Hong, Jodi Long, Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Robert Tatad, Susan Ancheta and Ma-Anne Dionisio. Photo by Lia Chang

Sally Hong, Jodi Long, Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Robert Tatad, Susan Ancheta and Ma-Anne Dionisio. Photo by Lia Chang

Lainie Sakakura, Robert Tatad, Susan Ancheta, Vicki Racimo, Mae Wong, Carol Gordon Morra and Takayo Fischer. Photo by Lia Chang

Lainie Sakakura, Robert Tatad, Susan Ancheta, Vicki Racimo, Mae Wong, Carol Gordon Morra and Takayo Fischer. Photo by Lia Chang

Front Row: Paula Chin, Alvin Ing, Telly Leung, Vicki Racimo, Mae Wong, Carol Gordon Morra. Photo by Lia Chang

Front Row: Paula Chin, Alvin Ing, Telly Leung, Vicki Racimo, Mae Wong, Carol Gordon Morra. Photo by Lia Chang

Later that evening, many of us reconvened at the NAAP gala celebrating Alvin Ing and Yuriko at Golden Unicorn in Chinatown.

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

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

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

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

Ted Chapin, Baayork Lee and David Henry Hwang. 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

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

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

December 3, 2018 – A FLOWER DRUM SONG reunion party at Spoonfed after the first RED BUCKET FOLLIES performance. Randy Witherspoon, the proprietor of Spoonfed, was one of the dressers on Flower Drum Song.

Backstage at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 3, 2018 - Susan Ancheta, Adrianne Chu, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Lydia Gaston, Sally Hong, Sabrina Imamura, Miho Imoto, Nina Zoie Lam, J. Elaine Marcos, Catherine Ricafort, Riza Takahashi, Ericka Yang, Kelli Youngman, Lisa Yuen, Minami Yusui.

Backstage at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 3, 2018 – Susan Ancheta, Adrianne Chu, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Lydia Gaston, Sally Hong, Sabrina Imamura, Miho Imoto, Nina Zoie Lam, J. Elaine Marcos, Catherine Ricafort, Riza Takahashi, Ericka Yang, Kelli Youngman, Lisa Yuen, Minami Yusui.

Red Bucket Follies raised $6,113,301 for Broadway Cares, the highest fall fundraising total in Broadway Cares’ 30-year history. The show celebrated six weeks of enthusiastic fundraising by 67 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring shows for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The Flower Drum Song company, family and friends. Photo by Lia Chang

The Flower Drum Song company, family and friends. Photo by Lia Chang

Red Bucket Follies was directed by Jason Trubitt with Matthew Kurtis Lutz serving as production stage manager, leading a team of 11 accomplished stage managers. Ben Cohn was music supervisor, and Ted Arthur was music director. Lighting design was by Joel Shier with sound by Marie Renee Foucher and Kurt Fischer.

1st row-Jodi Long, Erika Yang, Sandra Allen, Alvin Ing and Lainie Sakakura. 2nd row: Jose Llana, Robert Tatad, J. Elaine Marcos, Yuka Takara and Marcus Choi. Photo by Lia Chang

1st row-Jodi Long, Erika Yang, Sandra Allen, Alvin Ing and Lainie Sakakura. 2nd row: Jose Llana, Robert Tatad, J. Elaine Marcos, Yuka Takara and Marcus Choi. Photo by Lia Chang

Red Bucket Follies builds on the 29-year legacy of the Gypsy of the Year Competition. Since 1989,Gypsy of the Year raised $76 million to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Red Bucket Folliesbrings that total to $82 million.

Alan Ariano, Kumiko Nakagawa, Alvin Ing, Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Emily Hsu, Yuka Takara, Sally Hong, Miho Imoto. Photo by Lia Chang

Alan Ariano, Kumiko Nakagawa, Alvin Ing, Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Emily Hsu, Yuka Takara, Sally Hong, Miho Imoto. Photo by Lia Chang

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources, and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Alvin Ing, Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Yuka Takara and Sally Hong. Photo by Lia Chang

Alvin Ing, Telly Leung, Lainie Sakakura, Yuka Takara and Sally Hong show off their ‘dream job’ cards. Photo by Lia Chang

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts. Broadway Cares also awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., providing lifesaving medication, healthy meals, counseling and emergency assistance.

For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at broadwaycares.org.

Yuka Takara. Photo by Lia Chang

Yuka Takara. Photo by Lia Chang

BC/EFA’s RED BUCKET FOLLIES Celebrates Asian Americans on Broadway and the 60th Anniversary of FLOWER DRUM SONG 

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

Lori Tan Chinn, Virginia Wing, David Henry Hwang and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lori Tan Chinn, Virginia Wing, David Henry Hwang and Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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.

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