East West Players Celebrates 50th Anniversary With An Extended Season

 

East West Players, the nation’s longest-running and most esteemed Asian American theater company, will celebrate its highly anticipated 50th anniversary with an extended season, titled “Golden,” that will take place over the next two years. “It’s not everyday that you get to celebrate a 50th anniversary,” says Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang, who has been with East West Players (EWP) since 1980. “We probably started thinking about and preparing for the 50th anniversary since 2011.”

It’s quite an achievement for the longest-running professional theater of color in the country, one whose stage has been graced by “nearly 4,000 Asian and Pacific Islander ac- tors,” says Dang, including the likes of John Cho, Lucy Liu, Kal Penn and Daniel Dae Kim.

Clearly, EWP has found a way to shape the talent of young artists and steer them in the right direction. Part of this has to do with the many programs offered by the company. “In addition to the award-winning productions that we do, we also have a great arts education program,” explains Dang. “We bring theater to a number of different schools, especially schools that don’t have a lot of funding for the arts. We also have a great professional enrichment program where we have classes here at East West Players.”

Of course, their work is hardly done. With the growing and changing demographic of Asian America, EWP strives to increase its scope of voices and perspectives. “Back in the mid-’60s, there were only a handful of cultures that really made up the Asian American community: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Korean,” Dang recalls. “These days, you have Indian, Pakistani, Malaysian, Indonesian and the Pacific Islander ethnic communities such as Samoan, Tahitian and Tongan. We find that the Asian American community is growing so large now, not only in its own diversity but in its numbers. East West Players has been challenged to try and represent all these voices.”

After years of preparation, eight productions have been chosen for the Golden Anniversary, including the West Coast premiere of the black comedy Takarazuka!!! by Audrey contributor and playwright Susan Soon He Stanton (which runs November 6 through December 7), Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph (September 4 – October 5), Washer/Dryer by Nandita Shenoy, Chinglish by David Henry Hwang, and an Asian production of the Tony Award-winning musical La Cage Aux Folles.

Details Fall 2014 – summer 2016, eastwestplayers.org.

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

 

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Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Now On Broadway

Story by Taylor Weik. 

It’s finally time for everyone’s favorite thief to take his turn under the flashing bulbs of Broadway. Disney’s Aladdin, the musical adaption of the 1992 Walt Disney film, officially debuts at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre on March 20. The musical features an all-star creative team, including Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin.

Of the 34-member cast, the two leads are both Asian American. Playing the title role of Aladdin is Adam Jacobs, whose mother is Filipina (Jacobs portrayed Marius in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Misérables), and biracial Thai American Courtney Reed, whose credits include In the Heights and Mamma Mia!, will play Princess Jasmine.

“It doesn’t feel real,” says Reed about the role. “She has always been my favorite Disney princess, and now I get to bring her to life. It’s a dream come true.”

The musical comedy promises a full score with brand new songs, though Disney fans can rest assured that five of them will be from the original film. “It may be cliché but ‘A Whole New World’ is just a classic,” says Reed. “The arrangement for the show is gorgeous, and I love singing with my co-star Adam.” The production will also introduce new characters, specifically Babkak, Kassim and Omar, Aladdin’s three sidekicks.

Even the classic Disney characters will have some new lines to work with. “In expanding the story for Broadway, we’ve been able to add a little more depth to [Jasmine], and she’s a bit more modern than you may remember her from the movie, so the audience will get a chance to see a more dimensional Jasmine,” says Reed. “I just have to trust myself and my director to stay true to the essence of the princess I watched on my screen every day growing up!”

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

Chinese Theater Accidentally Uses Fan-Made THOR Poster

A movie theater in China may have just made the best mistake ever.

The theater put up a poster of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his villainous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to promote the new Marvel film Thor: The Dark World. The mistake? Last we checked, we’ve never seen the brothers embrace like that.

Much to the delight of fans (many of whom had hoped for something like this) the Chinese theater had accidentally used a photoshopped image made by a fan. The original poster is one showing Thor clutching his girlfriend Jane who is played by Natalie Portman. We simply can’t decide which one we like better.

On the bright side, the mistake has gone viral and has done quite a spectacular job marketing the film. Be sure to catch the midnight premiere of this much anticipated film tonight!

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orig poster