Tony Award-winning Broadway star Lea Salonga to guest star on CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” finale

Broadway World:

Lea Salonga broke the news on Facebook that she would be appearing in the season finale of the CW‘s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And of course, how could a Tony Award-winner join a musical show without singing? Don’t worry- her musical talents will be utilized.

Salonga wrote, “I guess the news is out!!! I’ll be appearing on the season finale of the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! And singing, too! How fun is that?!

No word yet on which role Salonga will be playing.

George Takei to star in Broadway musical about interned Japanese-Americans

NY Times: 

Allegiance,” a musical about Japanese-Americans in United States internment camps during World War II, will begin performances on Broadway in October at a Shubert Theater to be announced later, the show’s producers said Thursday. The musical, which will cost a relatively hefty $13 million to mount, will star George Takei, who is best known as Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” television series, and whose personal experiences in internment camps in Arkansas and California inspired “Allegiance.”

Mr. Takei, in a telephone interview, described the show as “very, very personal” and a tribute to his parents as well as the tens of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry – the majority of whom were American citizens – who were forcibly relocated to camps from 1942 to 1946 under an order by President Roosevelt. Mr. Takei said that he had invested a “substantial” amount of his own money in the musical, and that it features characters drawn from his family and life, including a grandfather character that Mr. Takei will portray in his Broadway debut.

I consider this my legacy project,” said Mr. Takei, who is 77 and spent about four years of his childhood in two camps. “This is the first time that this dark chapter of American history will be done on the Broadway stage.”

Mindful that theatergoers often skip Broadway musicals that are tagged (however unfairly) as ruminations on history, like “The Scottsboro Boys” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Mr. Takei highlighted the romantic subplots and centrality of baseball in “Allegiance,” as well as the overarching theme of family unity.

The show’s backdrop is the imprisonment of innocent Americans simply because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, but the story is universal – people falling in love, getting married, having a family,” Mr. Takei said. “The musical will find an audience because whether you are white, black, Latino, young or old, people can identify with the idea of family and the stresses put on a family, which in this case were enormous.”

Allegiance” had its world premiere in 2012 at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, receiving mixed reviews but drawing large and ethnically diverse audiences. Since then, Mr. Takei said, some scenes and dialogue have been tweaked but the show is essentially the same. The Old Globe cast included the Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Telly Leung (the 2011 Broadway revival of “Godspell”). Mr. Takei said Ms. Salonga and Mr. Leung were in negotiations to do “Allegiance” on Broadway but no casting beyond his was confirmed at this point.

The musical’s producers, Lorenzo Thione and Andrew Treagus, have been waiting for an available Broadway theater for about two years, but other shows – some more evidently commercial than “Allegiance,” and some flops – landed them first. “Allegiance” will arrive during a period of increasingly steady opportunities for Asian-American theater actors in New York: a Broadway revival of “The King & I” is set to open this spring, while the hit London revival of “Miss Saigon” looks likely to arrive on Broadway at some point, though probably not before the 2016-17 theater season.

Allegiance,” which has a book by Marc Acito and music and lyrics by Jay Kuo, will be directed by Stafford Arima (Off Broadway’s “Carrie,” “Altar Boyz”). Preview performances are scheduled to begin Oct. 6, with an opening night of Nov. 8.

The musical grew out of a chance encounter several years ago that Mr. Takei and his husband, Brad, had with Mr. Thione and Mr. Kuo at back-to-back theater outings in New York, after which Mr. Takei shared his childhood memories of the camps over dinner.

We talked for a long time about my childhood imprisonment, about my father’s anguish at being challenged over his loyalty to America – my dad was born in San Francisco and played baseball, my mother was born in Sacramento,” Mr. Takei said. “I’m a weeper, and when Jay emailed me a song after that, about my father and the idea of allegiance, I just gushed. I knew I had to do this.”

‘Big Hero 6′ shows that an Asian American cast can top the box office

Big Hero 6 stars (L to R): Hiro Hamada, Baymax & GoGo Tomago. Source: disney.wikia.com

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American:

 

This past weekend’s box office numbers are in, and Disney’s latest project Big Hero 6 stands soundly on top. This might not come as a big surprise, considering that Frozen-fever is still holding every auntie’s TV hostage – but the film still breaks ground, especially in the scope of Asian Americans in cinema. And Hollywood should take note.

 

Daneil Henney (left) and Ryan Potter (right), co-stars of Big Hero 6. Source: sanfransokyo-bae.tumblr.com (yes, that's a real URL)

Daniel Henney (left) and Ryan Potter (right), co-stars of Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 is a robotic sci-fi tale that revolves around Hiro Hamada,  Disney’s first explicitly mixed-heritage protagonist. Hamada is voiced by Ryan Potter, who is of Japanese and Caucasian descent himself. In fact, the entire film is placed in a “Hapa environment” of sorts, set in San Fransokyo, an architectural and cultural hybrid of the cities the name references.

Casting Asian Americans isn’t new to Disney, whose Mulan in 1998 was voiced by Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong and George Takei, among others.  Still, the studio has been inconsistent when it comes to this matter – the lead role in Lilo & Stitch wasn’t voiced by a Hawaiian (or an Asian Pacific American, for that matter), and we’d have to go as far back as Aladdin or even The Jungle Book to locate another Disney animation starring characters from a broader Asian origin (let’s pretend the Siamese Cats from Lady and the Tramp never happened).

Among those mentioned films, the only voice actor of Asian descent was Lea Salonga for Princess Jasmine’s singing parts. So while Big Hero 6 is a fictitious metropolis which never reveals what country it’s actually in, its cultural mash-up of settings, characters and themes means it could very well be Disney’s first Asian/American film that actually stars Asian American actors.

Hollywood’s reputation for placing white actors in Asian roles is a tale as old as time – from Goku in Dragonball: Evolution to Aang in The Last Airbender, glossing over the past century of Asian roles in American film would show little progress since Paul Muni and Luise Rainer donned yellowface in 1937’s The Good Earth. The track record for animation hasn’t been fantastic either, with white actors playing the lead roles in both Avatar series’ and the English dubs for Dragonball Z and Pokemon (I just ruined my childhood going through those links, BTW. You’re welcome).

 

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’m not the only one who has been griped by this cinematic phenomenon. When 2010’s The Last Airbender revealed an all-white cast (minus Dev Patel as the villain, of course), it caused such an uproar that an entire website called Racebending was launched against the production, and multiple petitions continue to call for a reboot of the franchise. Director M. Night Shyamalan, who’s Indian American himself, seemed aloof about the matter, insisting that the diversity of the cast and crew was on par with the United Nations. Those who have tried to actually find logic in prioritizing white actors in these roles have eluded to Asian and Asian American actors having less audience appeal than white actors, despite the fact that these films have failed among critics and fans alike.

Enter Big Hero 6, adapted from an obscure Marvel series about a Japanese counterpart to the Avengers. Unlike other Marvel titles like X-Men – which has an existing fanbase, or other Disney films like Maleficent – which is based on a childhood classic, Big Hero 6 relies on Disney’s promotion engine and, more importantly, its characters and storyline. Merely being a Disney film hasn’t always been a shoe-in (anyone watching The Rescuers: Down Under tonight?), but critics and audiences have been singing this one’s praises since it opened at the Tokyo International Film Festival late last month.

 

A night view of San Fransokyo, the make-believe home of the Big Hero 6. Source: disney.wikia.com

 

Debuting an awesome cartoon about Asians in the land known for cranking out awesome cartoons about Asians is a tough job for anyone, but Big Hero 6‘s ability to exhibit cultural tropes between America and Japan without being overly cheesy or offensive was impressive even to a cinema Grinch like me. Sure, I scoffed a bit at the pagoda-topped Golden Gate Bridge, but I also couldn’t help but feel validated to hear someone on the big screen say “red bean paste” as casually as one would say “hot dog.” The cast is diverse enough to make me suspect at least one member of the talent scout was a former member of the Third World Liberation Front – Potter, along with Daniel Henney, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr. and Génesis Rodríguez make T.J. Miller and Scott Adsit’s roles the only two not filled by an actor of color.

 

"Big Hero 6" © 2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

 

I must say that I left the film with a bittersweet feeling, as I was disappointed when I didn’t see any Asian American names in the credits among the top-level crew – this is a testament to the fact that much progress is yet to be made. But where Big Hero 6 does succeed is that it actually tried what many of us knew would work all along – make characters that reflect the audience, and hire actors who reflect those characters. So if anyone else in Hollywood is still wondering if our audiences are ready to see more Asian Pacific Americans in the big screen, I’ll leave you with yet another box office dominator:

therock

 

Link

Filipino-American producer Jhett Tolentino makes Broadway history, wins 2 Tonys

 

GMA Network:
Theater producer Jhett Tolentino won two Tony Awards for two different plays in this year’s awards show, reports GMA.

One of three Filipinos ever recognized with a Tony, Tolentino won for A Raisin in the Sun, which stars Denzel Washington, for Best Revival of a Play and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder for Best Musical.

It’s the second straight year Tolentino has won the coveted prize. Last year he took home the trophy for best play for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The 68th Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards held at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 8.

Tolentino, who has an accounting degree from his hometown Iloilo City, Philippines, is actually the third Filipino to receive a Tony following Lea Salonga (Best Actress for the musical “Miss Saigon”) and Robert “Bobby” Lopez (Best Original Score for “Avenue Q”).“Just got home from the Tony Awards bliss,” Tolentino wrote on his Facebook following the ceremony hosted by Hugh Jackman.

Going through over 100 e-mails, 600 text messages and voicemails, 1,100+ Facebook notifications, likes, friend requests, tags, mentions, comments and private messages. I have never felt so loved by this community, family and friends. My eternal gratitude to the company of ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ and ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ Long live the theater!

A Raisin in the Sun” also won Best Direction of a Play for Kenny Leon, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Sophie Okonedo.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” was also honored with Best Book of a Musical (Robert L. Friedman), Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak) and Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho).

Check out this link:
Link

Lea Salonga, Charice, apl.de.ap to lead Kennedy Center concert for Typhoon Haiyan survivors

 

 

Lea Salonga, Charice, and apl.de.ap will lead a star-studded concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC on June 15 to raise funds for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) that devastated central Philippines last year.

The Washington-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) in an e-mail to the Philippines News Agency on Saturday said the concert is an initiative of the Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia.

Grace Valera, MHC co-director, said other Filipino groups such as Philippine Humanitarian Coalition and the US Philippines Society are coordinating activities related to the event to ensure the success of the concert.

Hollywood star Lou Diamond Phillips, whose mother is a Filipino, will also be part of the concert.

In a statement, Valera said: “Every ticket counts as the funds raised will go to typhoon relief programs in the Philippines. This is our opportunity, as a united community in the Capital Region (Washington), to show our continued support.

“Please take a moment to remember that so many Filipinos lost their lives and millions were displaced as a result of typhoon Haiyan. We all know there is a lot of work to do. But, in order to continue the progress that has already been made, we need to find it in our hearts to continue to give what we can. It is a sacrifice on our part, but it is worth it to help improve the livelihood of our brothers and sisters in need. Their current struggle is something that many of us can’t even imagine,” Valera added.

Typhoon Yolanda was the world’s strongest to hit landfall in over 100 years that devastated the islands of Samar and Leyte, particularly Tacloban City, on November 8, 2013, killing over 7,000 people. Other areas in central Visayas were also devastated.

Seven months after, thousands of survivors are still without homes.

The Philippine government with the help of the international community has launched a massive rehabilitation effort.

 

Check out this link:

Lea Salonga, Charice, apl.de.ap to lead concert for Typhoon Haiyan survivors