Entertainment Spotlight

  • Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’
    By Ben Fong-Torres It’s short shrift time. I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating. I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone...

Backstage Pass Articles

  • Mu Performing Arts’ Artistic Director Rick Shiomi takes home Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Kudos to Rick Shiomi, an award-winning Japanese Canadian playwright, director and the Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts, for receiving the 2012 Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement, at the 8th annual Ivey Awards, which were held at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, MN on Monday, September 24, 2012.

    Mu Performing Arts’ Artistic director Rick Shiomi, the 2012 Ivey Award recipient for Lifetime Achievement at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. on Monday, September 24, 2012. Photo by Kurt Moses

    “This award is truly a recognition of the talented performers, writers and directors that have gathered at Mu. It’s only through many wonderful Mu productions such as Into The Woods, Little Shop of Horrors, Yellow Face,Asiamnesia and Flower Drum Song that a company such as Mu Performing Arts can have the impact warranting such recognition,” said Shiomi.

    Mu Performing Arts Artistic Director Rick Shiomi shares his 2012 Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement with his Mu Performing Arts family backstage at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. on September 24, 2012. Photo by Kurt Moses

    There are no set categories for the Iveys, the Twin Cities’ annual celebration which honors and showcases the work of professional theater companies and artists over the past year. The Lifetime Achievement Award for Shiomi and the Emerging Artist Award, which was presented to Isabel Nelson, a performer, director, and theatre creator, are the only predetermined awards.

    Mu Performing Arts Artistic Director Rick Shiomi, the 2012 Ivey Award recipient for Lifetime Achievement, gets a congratulatory hug from Don Eitel, his managing director of Mu, backstage at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. on September 24, 2012. Photo by Kurt Moses

    The four productions and six individuals who were also recognized with 2012 Iveys were chosen based on evaluations completed by the more than 150 volunteer theater evaluators who saw more than 1,000 performances in the Minneapolis-St....

  • Oct. 23 - Dec. 2: David Henry Hwang’s award-winning Golden Child to open in New York

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Playwright David Henry Hwang and Actress Jennifer Lim Photo by Lia Chang

    David Henry Hwang and Jennifer Lim Photo by Lia Chang

    David Henry Hwang’s 1997 Obie Award-winning and 1998 Tony nominated Golden Child is set to open Off-Broadway in New York City this Fall. 

    Leigh Silverman will direct the Tony award-winning playwright's Golden Child, which  is the first show in Signature Theatre’s Residency One: David Henry Hwang Series, with performances from October 23 through December 2, 2012 in The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues) in New York.  A new production of his play The Dance and the Railroad, directed by May Adrales, and the new play KUNG FU, directed by Leigh Silverman, will also be part of this series.

    Inspired by his own family history, Hwang's Golden Child explores the often-painful process through which change comes to people and cultures.

    Greg Watanabe (MyNetworkTv's "Watch Over Me") leads the cast as Eng Tieng Bin, a Chinese businessman, who after three years working abroad, returns home and sets off a dangerous power struggle in his polygamous Chinese household among his three wives.

    Greg WatanabeGreg Watanabe (MyNetworkTV’s “Watch Over Me”) leads the cast as Eng Tieng Bin, a Chinese businessman, who after three years working abroad, returns home and sets off a dangerous power struggle in his polygamous Chinese household.

    Julyana Soelistyo, a Tony award nominee for her magical turn playing Eng Ahn and the daughter in the original Golden Child Broadway cast, plays first wife Eng Siu-Young.

    Jennifer Lim of Broadway’s Chinglish plays second wife Eng Luan, and Lesley Hu makes her off-Broadway debut as third wife Eng Eling.

    Also featured are Annie Q (”Are We There Yet?”) as Eng Ahn / daughter, Matthew Maher (CSC’s The School for Lies) as Reverend Baines, Tina Chilip (Leviathan Lab’sTwelfth Night) as Servant / Ghost, and Nadia Gan (Mirror Rep’s The Shanghai Gesture) as Servant / Ghost.

     

    David...

  • Oct. 26-Dec. 2: Raul Aranas is in all-star cast for New York Premiere of GIANT at The Public Theater

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Raul Aranas is in all-star cast of New York premiere of GIANT Photo by Lia Chang

    Raul Aranas is in all-star cast for GIANT at New York's Public TheaterRaul Aranas, Kate Baldwin, Brian d’Arcy James, P.J. Griffith, Bobby Steggert and Michele Pawk are set for the New York Premiere of GIANT, an epic love story with book by Sybille Pearson and music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa.

    GIANT is a co-production of The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Executive Director Patrick Willingham) and the Dallas Theater Center. 

    Brian d’Arcy James (Photo by Lia Chang)Directed by Michael Greif, GIANT begins previews Friday, October 26 in The Public’s Newman Theater at its Astor Place home and will run through Sunday, December 2, with an official press opening on Tuesday, November 13. Single tickets, beginning at $75, are on sale now. Click here to purchase tickets.

    Directed by Michael Greif, GIANT begins previews Friday, October 26 in The Public’s Newman Theater at its Astor Place home and will run through Sunday, December 2, with an official press opening on Tuesday, November 13. Single tickets, beginning at $75, are on sale now. Click here to purchase tickets.

    Two-time Tony Award-nominee Brian d’Arcy James (Sweet Smell of Success, Shrek, “Smash”) stars as Texas cattleman Bick Benedict. Brian d’Arcy James has also appeared on Broadway in Next to Normal, Time Stands Still, The Apple Tree, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Titanic, Carousel, Blood Brothersand Les Miserables. His film and TV credits include Game Change, Friends with Kids, Ghost Town, G, Neurotica, Sax and Violins, Victoria Pool, The Exiles, Tina and Lance, Call of the Wylie, “The Big C,” “Person of Interest,” “Cashmere Mafia,” “Rscue Me,” and “The Education of Max Bickford.”

    Kate Baldwin Photo by Peter Hurley

    Kate Baldwin, a Tony Award nominee for Finian’s Rainbow, plays his socialite wife Leslie Benedict. Baldwin has appeared on Broadway in The Full Monty,Thoroughly Modern Millie and Wonderful Town, and...

  • 4 Wedding Planners’ Director Michael Kang at Screen Actors Guild panel in New York

    Posted by Lia Chang

    4 Wedding Planners Director Michael Kang speaks at Screen Actors Guild panel in New York Photo by Lia Chang

    4 Wedding Planners (formerly Knots), written by and starring Kimberly-Rose Wolter, and directed by Michael Kang, has been a fan favorite at film festivals across the country, and is now available on Video on Demand, Digital Download, amazon.com and Itunes. (See below for a full list of providers.)

    Island Film Group's 4 Wedding Planners, a charming “UN-romantic comedy”, is a witty take on the lives and loves of a family of Honolulu wedding planners. 

    Kimberly-Rose Wolter and Sung Kang in Knots. Photo courtesy of Island Film Group/Knots Production

    The film also features Illeana Douglas (Cape Fear, “Entourage”), Sung Kang (The Fast & The Furious, Better Luck Tomorrow), Mia Riverton (Red Doors), Janel Parrish (Bratz: The Movie, “Pretty Little Liars”), Christopher Taloa, Henry Dittman and Cathy Foy (Battleship, “Lost”, “Hawaii 5-0”).

    Cathy Foy-Mahi and Kimberly-Rose Wolter in Knots. Photo courtesy of Island Film Group

    In 4 Wedding Planners, Kimberly-Rose Wolter tells the story of thrice divorced matriarch Miriam (Illeana Douglas), with one daughter born from each husband. What ensues is a recipe for comical family strife as the daughters finally reach the breaking point of addressing feelings repressed thanks to mom’s poor choices in men.

    Michael Kang, Illeana Douglas, Nick Sakai and Kimberly-Rose Wolter. photo by Lia Chang

    When eldest daughter Lily (Kimberly Rose-Wolter) rejects her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, she decides to return home to Hawaii for family support. It turns out the family is having troubles of their own – their wedding planning business is being run into the ground by Lily’s two half-sisters Twinny (Mia Riverton) and Hoku (Janel Parrish). It’s left to Lily to get things on the right track. If things couldn’t get worse, Lily’s ex-boyfriend Kai (Sung Kang) enters the picture, as does a surprise reveal that makes reconciliation no easy matter. Click here for the trailer.

    Michael Kang, Nick...

  • Video: Academy Award Winner Chris Tashima Talks with Lia Chang About His Roles in Lily Mariye’s Model Minority and Lil Tokyo Reporter

    Posted by Admin

    Filmmaker and Actor Chris Tashima Photo by Lia Chang

    By Lia Chang

    Academy award winning director and actor Chris Tashima can currently be seen in three very different films.

    He is in Jeffrey Gee Chin’s narrative short Lil Tokyo Reporter as Sei Fujii, an immigrant pioneer, leader and publisher.

    In Lily Mariye’s impressive directorial debut feature Model Minority, Chris gives a rich multi-layered performance as the Sansei alcoholic father.

    And in Eric Byler’s Americanese he plays the romantic lead opposite Joan Chen, which won a Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble Cast at the South by Southwest Film Festival.

    Chris Tashima and Joan Chen in Eric Byler’s Americanese. Photo courtesy Eric Byler

    He has appeared in several noted independent features including Rea Tajiri’s Strawberry Fields, starring Suzy Nakamura, and Sherwood X. Hu’s Lani Loa -The Passage (from executive producers Francis Ford Coppola and Wayne Wang), as well as Hu’s ensemble drama, On the Roof.

    Tashima received an Academy Award® for the dramatic short film, Visas and Virtue, which he directed, co-wrote and starred as Holocaust rescuer Chiune Sugihara. For television, he directed, co-wrote and acted in the PBS Special, Day of Independence, receiving an EMMY® nomination. Visas and Virtue and Day of Independence is available on DVD and can be found here.

    Directorial stage credits include world premiere’s of Dan Kwong’s Be Like Water at EWP, and Nihonmachi: The Place to Be, a musical tribute to the history of Japantowns, produced by the Grateful Crane Ensemble.

    The Los Angeles based Tashima was in New York in August to promote Lily Mariye’s Model Minority at the Asian American International Film Festival.

    Lily Mariye’s Model Minority (photo courtesy of Nice Girl Films)

    The film stars Nichole Bloom as Kayla, an underprivileged Japanese American girl with a drug addict mom (Jessica Tuck) and an alcoholic dad (Tashima), who endangers her promising future as an artist when she becomes involved with a drug...