It was a Flower Drum Song reunion onstage and offstage at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre on May 23rd, when stage, film and television veteran Alvin Ing celebrated his 84th birthday with his new cabaret show – GOT A LOT OF LIVIN’ TO DO – written, produced and directed by Lainie Sakakura.
Mr. Ing was joined onstage by former castmates Jose Llana (Flower Drum Song-revival) Virginia Wing (Flower Drum Song-Summer Stock), Darren Lee and Hazel Anne Raymundo (Pacific Overtures-revival). The show featured musical direction by Thomas Conroy, with Vince Fay on Bass.
The Set List
1) “Run Run Run”
2) “New Friends”
3) “Nature Boy”
4) “Who Can I Turn To” from The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd
6) “Cockeyed Optimist” from South Pacific – Alvin w/Virgina Wing
7) “You Can Get A Man With A Gun” from Annie Get Your Gun
8) “We Kiss In The Shadow” from The King and I
9) “My Best Love” from Flower Drum Song
10) “You Are Beautiful” from Flower Drum Song – Jose Llana & Virginia Wing
11) Like A God from Flower Drum Song– Alvin w/Jose Llana
12) “There Is No Other Way” from Pacific Overtures – Alvin w/Darren Lee
13) “Chrysanthemum Tea” from Pacific Overtures – Alvin w/Darren Lee & Hazel Anne Raymundo
14) “I’ll Go My Way By Myself”
15) “I’ve Got A Lot Of Livin To Do” from Bye, Bye Birdie – Entire Company
16) Grant Avenue from Flower Drum Song – Entire Company
The packed house included Bobby Longbottom, his director from the 2002 Broadway revival; cast members Jodi Long and Marcus Choi; and Jose Ahumada and Paula Chin, who appeared in the Original Broadway production of Flower Drum Song in 1958. Lainie Sakakura, the writer, director and producer of GOT A LOT OF LIVIN’ TO DO, also appeared in the 2002 revival of Flower Drum Song.
After the show, we sang happy birthday to Alvin and noshed on cupcakes baked by Lainie, and a chocolate cake from my favorite bakery, Two Little Red Hens.
During the course of the evening, Mr. Ing shared his funny, heartbreaking, and inspiring story of his extremely long journey to come out and his struggles (and triumphs) as an Asian American actor.
Born in Hawaii, Mr. Ing matriculated at the U of Hawaii and Columbia University in New York with a Bachelor and a Master’s in Music Education. He began his singing and acting career in summer stock (South Pacific, Song of Norway, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun), and landed his first principal role in stock as Lun Tha in The King and I. He has performed in five national tours, including The World of Suzie Wong, Two Gentlemen of Verona and City of Angels. Mr. Ing portrayed the Shogun’s Mother in the original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures in 1976, and reprised the role 28 years later in the 2004 revival. Mr. Ing toured with Flower Drum Song and has performed in more productions of FDS in the role of Wang Ta than any other actor. He starred as Chin in David Henry Hwang’s 2002 revisal of the Flower Drum Song on Broadway and at the Mark Taper Forum.
Mr. Ing’s TV credits include “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Third Watch,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Dynasty,” “Dallas,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Fantasy Island,” “Falcon Crest” and “All American Girl”. He has appeared in numerous films including Final Countdown, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, and the 2014 release of The Gambler opposite Mark Wahlberg as Mister Lee, a Korean casino owner. Mr. Ing released a CD, Swing with Ing in 2010, and competed on “The X Factor” in 2013. Mr. Ing resides in Los Angeles.
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 Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.