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Joan Almedilla

Joan Almedilla as Florence Vassey in CHESS.

Tell us about the character you play, and how can you relate to him/her. Is there any part of CHESS that resonates with you as an actor, or personally?

My character’s name is Florence Vassy, who at first plays the assistant to Chess Champion Frederick Trumper, who then moves diagonally and finds herself at the other side of the board.  I play a woman who’s fearless, determined and continues to be success-driven in a male dominated society.

What challenges, if any, have you faced with playing your character?

It was vocally challenging for me or maybe it was just the process of repetition during rehearsals. So yes, the thing that I love about this role is the very thing that gave me that challenge. But I have no shame whatsoever when it comes to asking for help and coaching. I worked with a voice teacher who also studies acting and is brilliant in improvisational work. She taught me many things from maintaining healthy vocal chords to having a healthy diet.

What distinguishes this production or role you have compared to other characters you’ve played in the past?

What distinguishes the role from other productions is that we discover new nuances every performance. It’s like a chess game, the board is the same, the pieces are the same but the moves are different. They way the other players present themselves emotionally and physically has an influence on the way I deliver back.  What’s great about Tim’s direction is that he laid in the structure and allowed us to explore the characters internally.  The improvisational exercises gave me permission to find the subtle moments, the beats, the things not written on the script, the things not said that would actually connect and would become my character’s thread. There were times of fear and frustration that turned into favorite moments.

What made you want to pursue acting?

My acting coach, Allen Savage, inspired me to pursue acting. He gave me TRUTH about acting. That it is selfless and that it is about listening to the other person. Know the WHYs of your character. Don’t play interesting but BE interested. I was also inhibited as a result of my conservative upbringing and because of that I was guarded, I built walls. I was so stiff. Allen ruined me, tore me to pieces and brought me back up. He helped me tear the walls down and turned my vulnerability into an asset.

Have you ever faced adversity in your career, and if so, how?

This is something you can ask me on a daily basis because once I overcome one adversity I face a new one the next day. Rejection is constant, I have to say. I’ve been through the too-fat-too-thin/too-old-too-young phase and more. But being married to a producer/director, I have learned to appreciate the complexity of the casting process.

Any advice you’d give to actors just starting out?

Find a mentor. Find an acting coach that you can trust and build a lifelong friendship with. Someone who can tell you what you don’t want to hear. Someone who sees from a bird’s eye view of your career, one who is brutally honest. When you find something that interests you, whether or not it is acting related, dig deep into that subject and do more research. Find something that excites you and it will surely benefit you as an actor. As for the inside job, PRAYER and DISCIPLINE.

 What’s in store for you after CHESS?

I have mostly out of town projects lined up and a festival Award-Winning film touring the circuits right now. I just recently signed with a new agency here in Los Angeles and I’m very excited to be with them and focus on Film and TV so I can be home with my immediate family. Also, I was offered to teach Vacation Bible School this summer, one of the few things I’m very passionate about.

 Anything else you’d like to share?

READ the classics! The more acting jobs you get the more classes you take!

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

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Sir Tim Rice with the cast of CHESS.

Sir Tim Rice with the cast of CHESS.

FINAL PERFORMANCES! MUST CLOSE SUNDAY, JUNE 23!

Critics and audiences alike have been raving about CHESS! The LA Times calls the rarely produced musical an “…imaginative production…” and Sir Tim Rice (award-winning lyricist) said it was “…terrific!” Join us for the final performances: Wednesday 6/19 – Saturday 6/22 @ 8pm and Sunday 6/23 @ 2pm.

Buy 2 tickets for the price of one! Enter code CHESS241 for the Wednesday 6/19 and Thursday 6/20 performances only. The code can be used online or call Box Office at (213) 625-7000 x20.

CHESS is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Featuring: Joan Almedilla, Elijah Rock, Victor E. Chan, Carey Rebecca Brown, Ray A. Rochelle, Marc Oka, and Ryan Castellino with Cesar Cipriano, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Jasmine Ejan, Shay Louise, D.T. Matias, Maegan McConnell, Alex Sanchez, and Justin Vasquez. Learn more.

PERFORMANCE RUN
Wed-Thurs at 8pm Balcony $46/Orchestra $51
Fri-Sat at 8pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
Sun at 2pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
*$4 per ticket handling fee on all regular ticket purchases.

Student and Senior Discounts $5 off regular ticket price.
Special Group Rates available for ten (10) or more. Call Alison De La Cruz at (213) 625-7000 x 20 for details.

SAVE THE DATES
Wine Down Fridays
Complimentary glasses of red or white wine before the show, during the regular performance run. (Must be 21+ years of age.)

PURCHASE TICKETS AT https://eastwestplayers.secure.force.com/ticket

 

“You were all terrific!” Sir Tim Rice shared with the cast, band and crew of Chess this past weekend in an intimate post-show meet and greet. The cast was requested to convene promptly onstage after the show to meet someone, but were not informed with whom.

“Knowing Sir Rice is based in London, it was a complete surprise and an honor to have him attend our production of Chess in Los Angeles.” Says Tim Dang, EWP’s Producing Artistic Director. “He was so gracious in speaking with everyone and taking photos.”

Prolific lyricist and author Sir Tim Rice penned Chess with ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Sir Rice also collaborated with our theater’s namesake, David Henry Hwang on the Tony Award winning Aida. The Tony, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe-award winning lyricist is also known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita) and Elton John (The Lion King, Aida) and Alan Menken for Disney (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast).

This Thursday (6/6/13) ONLY! East West Players is offering a special “Buy One Get One” ticket to the Thursday evening performance of Chess. Enter code CHESS241 when purchasing online and mention the code when ordering tickets at Box Office at (213) 625-7000 x20.

CHESS is playing now through June 23rd at East West Players. All performances are staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213)625-7000. Regular tickets range from $51-$56. Student and Senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

Photo Credit: Mike Nailat

Vidoe Credit: Oishi Media

Audiences Love CHESS! (VIDEO)

WHAT CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT…

“…imaginative production…” Los Angeles Times

“Dang chooses the through-sung U.K. version of the show, which heavily features his soloists, all of whom have great pipes. Joan Almedilla (Florence) soars, Elijah Rock (Anatoly) belts with gusto…and Carey Rebecca Brown (Svetlana) showcases delicate power. Victor E. Chan (Freddie) has moxie…while Ray A. Rochelle (Molokov) brings Bond-villain fun to the show.” – LA Weekly

“…for a show that rarely gets produced, Dang should be commended for tackling the challenge — and in doing so, exceeding expectations. Well done.” Edge Magazine

“Wikipedia writes that “no major revival production of the musical has yet been attempted either on West End or Broadway,” and it may be the case that Chess simply doesn’t have what it takes to become the blockbuster that sung-through musicals like Evita, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Miss Saigon have become. Still, with Dang and company’s creative juices at full boil, East West Players’ revival comes darned close.” Stage Scene LA

WHAT AUDIENCES ARE SAYING…

“Don’t walk. Run to get your ticket (to CHESS)” – Reggie Lee, Actor (Grimm, Fast and the Furious)

“This is a phenomenal production of an extremely complex play. The singers are especially remarkable.” Larry M.

“I saw the original show in London and in New York. This was the best of all – so powerful! So exciting – such voices!” – Charlie M.

“Talent knows no color.” – Melanie R.

“Incredible performances – better than London’s original production.” – Patron

“Florence and Svetlana were electric on stage!” – Patron

EXTENDED THRU JUNE 23! NOW PLAYING!

East West Players has extended the run of CHESS, now through June 23rd, 2013. All performances are staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

Book by Richard Nelson, lyrics by Sir Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Aida), and composed by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (ABBA, Mamma Mia!). CHESS is directed by Tim Dang, musical directed by Marc Macalintal and choreographed by Marc Oka.

CHESS is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Featuring: Joan Almedilla, Elijah Rock, Victor E. Chan, Carey Rebecca Brown, Ray A. Rochelle, Michael Alexander Henry, and Ryan Castellino with Cesar Cipriano, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Jasmine Ejan, Shay Louise, D.T. Matias, Maegan McConnell, Alex Sanchez, and Justin Vasquez. Learn more.

Running Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, which includes a 15 minute intermission.

PERFORMANCE RUN

Wed-Thurs at 8pm Balcony $46/Orchestra $51
Fri-Sat at 8pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
Sun at 2pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
*$4 per ticket handling fee on all regular ticket purchases.

Student and Senior Discounts $5 off regular ticket price.
Special Group Rates available for ten (10) or more. Call Alison De La Cruz at (213) 625-7000 x 20 for details.

SAVE THE DATES

Wine Down Fridays
Complimentary glasses of red or white wine before the show, during the regular performance run. (Must be 21+ years of age.)

PURCHASE TICKETS AT https://eastwestplayers.secure.force.com/ticket.

Watch a sneak peek of the rarely produced musical production CHESS, now playing at East West Players, with Director Tim Dang. The Los Angeles Times calls it “…an imaginative production…” and the run has been extended to Sunday, June 23. For tickets, call (213) 625-7000 or visit http://www.eastwestplayers.org.

Video courtesy of Oishi Media.

600x222-chess-b

East West Players has extended the run of CHESS, now through June 23rd, 2013. All performances are staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

Book by Richard Nelson, lyrics by Sir Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Aida), and composed by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (ABBA, Mamma Mia!). CHESS is directed by Tim Dang, musical directed by Marc Macalintal and choreographed by Marc Oka.

“Audiences who are CHESS aficionados or only acquainted with the concert version, are elated to see a full production in Los Angeles,” said Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of East West Players. “One couple  waited almost 25 years to see a production in this area and are coming back again with friends. We are happy to present them with a stylish production with a most talented cast.”

The leading roles of the multicultural ensemble cast include Joan Almedilla as Florence (Miss Saigon and Les Miserables – Broadway), Elijah Rock as Anatoly (Ragtime, Smokey Joe’s Cafe), Victor E. Chan as Freddy (The Who’s Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show), Carey Rebecca Brown as Svetlana (Ragtime – Broadway Revival, Candide – New York City Opera), Ray A. Rochelle as Molokov (Evita, Miss Saigon), and Michael Alexander Henry as Walter de Courcey (The Lion King – Broadway), and Ryan Castellino (Miss Saigon and Life Could Be A Dream). The rest of the ensemble are Cesar Cipriano (The King & I, Miss Saigon – National Tours), Stephanie Mieko Cohen (Les Miserables – Broadway), Jasmine Ejan (Peter Pan – National Tour), Shay Louise (Miss Saigon), D.T. Matias (A Chorus Line – International Tour), Maegan McConnell (EWP’s  Pippin and A Little Night Music), and Alex Sanchez (Hairspray).

CHESS the musical involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players – an American and a Russian – and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. All of this takes place within the context of the Cold War, as both countries vie for international chess victories for propaganda purposes. CHESS may be best known for its 1980s pop-rock soundtrack that Time Magazine called “one of the best rock scores ever produced,” featuring hits as “One Night in Bangkok,” “I Know Him So Well,” “Anthem” and more. CHESS is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players. All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling 213.625.7000. Regular tickets range from $51-$56. Student and Senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

EWP Chess_Ensemble

The Story of CHESS scene in the East West Players production of CHESS (L-R): Cesar Cipriano, Justin Vasquez, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Maegan McConnell, DT Matias, Alex Sanchez, Shay Louise, Michael A. Henry. Photo by Michael Lamont.

East West Players reports an overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response with preview audiences for the musical CHESS. EWP is producing the UK Version of the cult-favorite musical.

“Our surveys and informal conversations with audience members, subscribers and donors are telling me that America is multi-racial, and all theatres should recognize our evolving environment and reflect it on stage,” says Tim Dang, EWP Producing Artistic Director and CHESS director. “If other theaters think that diversity onstage will lose audiences, they are wrong. In fact, we are experiencing an incredible amount of first timers to our theater – that translates to new audiences.

If other theaters think that diversity will lower the caliber of artistic talent, they are absolutely wrong. Audiences are raving about the incredible performers onstage. Talent exists in all communities if you give them access to auditions. From our recent auditions for CHESS for a multi-cultural cast, the talent was phenomenal. Audiences are also excited to experience CHESS, since it is so rarely done in full theatrical form.”

Book by Richard Nelson, lyrics by Sir Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Aida), and composed by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (ABBA, Mamma Mia!). CHESS is directed by Tim Dang, musical directed by Marc Macalintal and choreographed by Marc Oka.

The leading roles of the multicultural ensemble cast include Joan Almedilla as Florence (Miss Saigon and Les Miserables – Broadway), Elijah Rock as Anatoly (Ragtime, Smokey Joe’s Cafe), Victor E. Chan as Freddy (The Who’s Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show), Carey Rebecca Brown as Svetlana (Ragtime – Broadway Revival, Candide – New York City Opera), Ray A. Rochelle as Molokov (Evita, Miss Saigon), and Michael Alexander Henry as Walter de Courcey (The Lion King – Broadway), and Ryan Castellino (Miss Saigon and Life Could Be A Dream). The rest of the ensemble are Cesar Cipriano (The King & I, Miss Saigon – National Tours), Stephanie Mieko Cohen (Les Miserables – Broadway), Jasmine Ejan (Peter Pan – National Tour), Shay Louise (Miss Saigon), D.T. Matias (A Chorus Line – International Tour), Maegan McConnell (EWP’s  Pippin and A Little Night Music), and Alex Sanchez (Hairspray).

CHESS the musical involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players – an American and a Russian – and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. All of this takes place within the context of the Cold War, as both countries vie for international chess victories for propaganda purposes. CHESS may be best known for its 1980s pop-rock soundtrack that Time Magazine called “one of the best rock scores ever produced,” featuring hits as “One Night in Bangkok,” “I Know Him So Well,” “Anthem” and more. CHESS is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

CHESS

East West Players concludes its 47th Anniversary Season, themed Spirited Away, with the musical CHESS, book by Richard Nelson, lyrics by Sir Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Aida), and composed by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (ABBA, Mamma Mia!). CHESS will be directed by Tim Dang, musical direction by Marc Macalintal and choreographed by Marc Oka.

The leading roles of the multicultural ensemble cast include Joan Almedilla as Florence (Miss Saigon and Les Miserables – Broadway), Elijah Rock as Anatoly (Ragtime, Smokey Joe’s Cafe), Victor E. Chan as Freddy (The Who’s Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show), Carey Rebecca Brown as Svetlana (Ragtime – Broadway Revival, Candide – New York City Opera), Ray A. Rochelle as Molokov (Evita, Miss Saigon), and Michael Alexander Henry as Walter de Courcey (The Lion King – Broadway). The rest of the ensemble are Cesar Cipriano (The King & I, Miss Saigon – National Tours), Stephanie Mieko Cohen (Les Miserables – Broadway), Jasmine Ejan (Peter Pan – National Tour), Shay Louise (Miss Saigon), D.T. Matias (A Chorus Line – International Tour), Domonique Paton (Hairspray – National Tour), Alex Sanchez (Hairspray), Armando Yearwood, Jr. (West Side Story – International Tour, In the Heights – National Tour).

“CHESS is a musical with international themes of breaking down barriers between nations, and having a multicultural ensemble enhances its message for the 21st Century,” says Tim Dang, EWP Producing Artistic Director. “In addition, EWP is also showing how multicultural casting breaks down other barriers in light of recent casting controversies across the nation. It enriches our theatre going experience, reflects the community in which we live, and offers opportunities to talented artists of color who might not have access to these roles elsewhere. CHESS is usually performed as a concert focusing on its music and is rarely done as a full theatrical production. EWP dares to tackle this large scale musical much like it tackled Sweeney Todd in its 1994 and 2006 productions: with creativity and ingenuity in its story-telling. Our audience is not likely to have seen a version of CHESS like this previously and may never see anything like this in the near future.”

From the lyricist of Jesus Christ Superstar and the composers of Mamma Mia!, CHESS the musical involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players – an American and a Russian – and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. All of this takes place within the context of the Cold War, as both countries vie for international chess victories for propaganda purposes. CHESS may be best known for its 1980s pop-rock soundtrack that Time Magazine called “one of the best rock scores ever produced,” featuring hits as “One Night in Bangkok,” “I Know Him So Well,” “Anthem” and more. CHESS is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

The multicultural nature of the production also extends to the design/technical team and musician ensemble.

The design team includes set and projections by Adam Flemming, costumes by Anthony Tran, lighting by Dan Weingarten and props by Ken Takemoto. The stage manager is Ondina V. Dominguez and assistant stage manager is VIVIS.

The musicians will include Marc Macalintal (conductor/ keyboards), Jenny Chaney (keyboards), Stuart Espinoza (drums), Khris Kempis (bass), Vincent Reyes (guitar), and  Austin Yancey (woodwinds).

Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players. Additional support is provided by the California Community Foundation, Shubert Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Tickets to CHESS are now on sale!  Regular tickets range from $51-$56. Student and Senior discounts available.

All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

  • Previews are Thursday May 9-Saturday May 11 at 8pm and Sunday May 12 at 2pm. All preview seats are $26.
  • Opening Night for CHESS THE MUSICAL is Wednesday, May 15th at 8pm and includes a 7pm pre-performance cocktail reception, and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team (call theater for ticket price and availability).
  • A special “Pay-What-You-Can” Performance is on Thursday, May 16th. Southern California Edison Community Night is Wednesday, May 22nd at 8pm.

Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling 213.625.7000. CHESS closes on June 9th.  Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

The alumni cast from multiple productions of TEA over the past 25 years gathered and celebrated the Opening Night of TEA, WITH MUSIC at East West Players.
In the front row is the cast of the current production, (from left) Janet Song, Yumi Iwama, Jennie Kwan, Joan Almedilla and Tiffany-Marie Austin. Second row: Natsuko Ohama, Marilyn Tokuda, Haruye Ioka, Takayo Fischer, Velina Houston, Gerrielani Miyazaki, June Angela, Ren Hanami, Shuko Akune. Back row: Sharon Omi, Kimiko Gelman, Esther Chae, June Kyoku Lu (obscured), Amy Hill, Diane Tanaka (obscured), Momo Yashima, Leilani Chan, Dian Kobayashi, and Sakiko Taoka Flower. (Photo by Michael Palma/MPalma Photography)

“PICK OF THE WEEK!” – LA Weekly

 

WATCH THE LATEST VIDEOS:
Actors George Takei and Takayo Fischer Love TEA, WITH MUSIC! http://youtu.be/y95gRDhuQeE
Time for TEA, WITH MUSIC: A Talk with Velina Hasu Houston and Jon Lawrence Rivera http://youtu.be/o9AltnHXjDI

JOIN US FOR THE CLOSING WEEK — ends Sunday, December 9, 2012! 
PURCHASE TICKETS AT https://eastwestplayers.secure.force.com/ticket

East West Players Presents With Generous Support from the
S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players
TEA, WITH MUSIC
Book and Lyrics by Velina Hasu Houston
Composed by Nathan Wang
Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera
Choreographed by Giovanni Ortega

TEA, WITH MUSIC is about a group of Japanese war brides from World War II, now living in Kansas, who gather for a farewell tea ceremony for one of their friends who has mysteriously passed away. In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the seminal play TEA by critically-acclaimed playwright Velina Hasu Houston, East West Players dares to present this story as a new musical.

Featuring:
Joan Almedilla, Tiffany-Marie Austin, Yumi Iwama, Jennie Kwan, and Janet Song.

In community sponsorship with Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

Performance Run:
Wed-Thurs at 8pm Balcony $31/Orchestra $36
Fri-Sat at 8pm Balcony $36/Orchestra $41
Sun at 2pm Balcony $36/Orchestra $41
*$4 per ticket handling fee on all regular ticket purchases.

Student and Senior Discounts $5 off regular ticket price.
Special Group Rates available for ten (10) or more. Call (213) 625-7000 x 20 for details.

SAVE THE DATES
Wine Down Fridays Complimentary glasses of red or white wine before the Friday evening show, during the regular performance run. (Must be 21+ years of age.)

To volunteer as an usher, fill out and submit this form: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGl1X1VVOENDVjFZRHhoQzZmY3BBSlE6MQ#gid=0

Check out IdeateTV as they interview the ladies on the Opening Night of TEA, WITH MUSIC at East West Players.

Joan Almedilla as ” Himiko Hamilton”

Tiffany-Marie Austin as “Atsuko Yamamoto”

Yumi Iwama as ” Setsuko Banks”

Jennie Kwan as “Teruko Mackenzie”

Janet Song as “Chizuye Juarez/Mieko”

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