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Lovelle Liquigan

Lovelle Liquigan as Annelle in “Steel Magnolias”

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

I play Annelle.  She is the new-kid-in-town that brings with her some baggage with secrets that she ultimately reveals at the end of the first scene.  I really dig the arch she goes through.  From being this timid, unsure but very talented girl, to emulating her boss’ style and gaining in confidence, then from becoming this born again Christian to developing a balance between her spirituality and her life.  It’s a pretty rad journey.  It’s amazing what a difference a community can make in one person’s life.  These five women show Annelle so much love that there is nothing for her to do but thrive and pulsate.  The family-life she has lacked has been created.  She has guts, even at the beginning, even though she is nervous.  It takes a lot of gumption to do what she has done.  To uproot herself at such a young age with no one to fall back on until Truvy opens up her shop/home and heart to her.

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

No one would EVER cast me in this role.  Honestly.  I believe only four people weren’t surprised that I got cast as Annelle: my Maid of Honor, my best friend, another close friend, and my fiancé!

During the week-end performance, there was a man that came in to help our wardrobe mistress out with hair (she is also assisting with some of the actresses hair because we are short-handed on Saturdays).  He turned to me while I was applying make-up, looked in my mirror and said, “So, you must be Julia Roberts.”  I told him, “No.  I’m Daryl Hannah.”  And he said, “Oh!!”

I typically wouldn’t be seen in this role.  I never thought when I was just beginning that I would play in comedies.  I was always so easy to tears that I naturally just wanted to do drama and never considered comedy.  Pretty lame to close the door on that.  I did have a Shakespeare teacher in college that told me I was a comedienne after I did a workshop scene of AS YOU LIKE IT.  I didn’t believe her, though.  I didn’t take her seriously because I don’t seek out to be funny.  I actually think I’m quite introverted and serious.

 Why do you think theater is important?

It brings people together.  When an ensemble truly has a beating heart, that beat will vibrate out to the audience creating a golden thread that will weave and connect each person together.  And if a show truly touches, that vibration will continue on even after the bows.  It’s a magical place.  A playground for kings.  A loving, accepting, bright, inspired family can be created through the theatre.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue acting?

Sometimes, you have to say, No.  As an artist, you must realize what you are worth and that you are in constant need of challenges and improvement, and wanting to dig deeper beyond the surface.  At the beginning of the year, I had to turn down a role because I didn’t think it would challenge me in the way I wanted and needed to be challenged.  It was heartbreak for me.  It wasn’t a matter of being offered a small role, it was about me wanting to be pushed so that I could better myself in my work.  I cried for about the first six months of the year.  Moral of the story, had I not said, No, I would have never been able to play in STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

It’s ok to be discouraged.  I feel that you can use that as fuel for your work.  I often don’t take my own advice but I find this one to be of value.  Just as long as you don’t stay discouraged and continue to accept every struggle as being part of your journey.  Every struggle will get you closer to something (who knows what that something is).  I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me to follow this piece of advice but I still offer it.

The following applies to anything from auditions, to the last day of rehearsal, to the closing performance, and so on: Always be prepared, because when you are, anything can be thrown at you and you will be able to take it in and go with it.  Come in with choices.  Be open and listen.  Always be full-hearted than half-assed.  Lead with your heart, and have an awareness and be thoughtful of mind.  Be curious.  Take big risks and play.  Steal from anyone and anything that inspires you.  Don’t lose your love and joy for what you say is your passion.  Never be afraid to fail or look like a fool.

Lastly, don’t ever EVER take yourself out of the game.  I was still pretty down from what had happened earlier in the year (pretty pitiful, I know), and strongly considered letting my acting dream die because I needed to move forward with my life the older I’m getting.  I debated with submitting and almost didn’t audition for STEEL MAGNOLIAS.  But, I was being offered a gift (that would not be denied) and had to go for it, no matter what.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am looking for representation!  Both theatrical and commercial.

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

My fiancé made a website for me: lovelleliquigan.com

Also, we started our own YouTube Channel – http://youtube.com/LovelyerCreations

Ruth Coughlin as Shelby

Ruth Coughlin as Shelby in “Steel Magnolias”

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

Shelby is all heart and joy for life. She loves with every part of her being and is generous with that love. Shelby is definitely the life of the party. She is constantly trying to help the people in her life be as happy as they can be. Shelby is also stubborn and wants things in her life the way she wants them. It seems like nothing can stop her – until life does. I admire her joie de vivre, her unabashed lust for life. I relate most to her care and love for her family and friends. I am very close with my two brothers and parents. I would do anything for them. My mother is Japanese, so I get having a mother who is as stubborn as I am. Love you, Mom! I also want a family of my own. If I found out that I wasn’t able to have that in my life, it would be devastating to me.

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

It takes a lot of emotional energy to perform this play over and over. It’s hilarious, but heart wrenching. The challenge in this is to stay open and be present in those moments of chaos. Our bodies are designed to run away from those moments. If I do my job well, then the audience will be able to experience it with us, and it’s worth any emotional sacrifice to have even one audience member experience a moment of recognition or catharsis. It’s my job and I look forward to the challenge of inhabiting Shelby for 2+ hours each night.

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

Shelby is definitely the most fun character I’ve ever played. It’s also been inspiring to work with so many talented and empowered women. I’ve never been in a cast of all women, directed by a woman. Each one of them has brought themselves 110% to this process and it has been a dream to play with them all.

Our earth-mother of a director, Laurie Woolery, told us on the first day of rehearsals that producing and performing in this play, as women of color, is an act of revolution. I love that. Viva la revolution!

Why do you think theater is important?

Theatre is where an audience can experience a story come alive. The sound vibrations of the words come from the actors and enter into the audience member’s body. We are made of nearly 90% water. When your molecules are moved enough, that’s where laughter and tears come – the water overflows. Theatre is an experience unlike any other art form because we – the audience, the actors, the crew – are all creating this story in the moment.

I’ve thought about this question a lot because I need to understand what I am contributing to this world by doing this work. True, the theatre doesn’t feed the hungry, but it does feed the soul. My life, my humanity has been changed by going to and performing in the theater. Experiencing the lives of so many with empathy and recognition (either of my conscious self or my lizard brain!) – I have found myself and learned about the world within the darkness of a theater seat and under the glare of lights.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue acting?

If you want to be an actor and there is nothing else that will bring you joy in life – GO FOR IT! Do not wait. That will only make you depressed and bitter. READ PLAYS – know the classics. There is a a depth of life to learn from in those pages. Go see as much theatre, dance, opera, movies, TV, improv as possible – I have learned so much from watching some of the best and worst shows ever. Be an observer of life. Get training – talent is one thing, but technique and the ability to be a professional is something to learn from your elders. Be courageous and generous in your work. Keep finding and fueling that joy that inspired you to pursue this in the first place. It’s an absolutely insane dream to be an actor. Warning. We are all crazy.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We are performing a play I never dreamed I would be in and on a stage I’ve wanted to perform on for so long. The play and the movie are fantastic and iconic. But I didn’t think an all Asian cast could or would exist. Thanks to the bravery of Tim Dang’s programming – I can play this joyful and strong character. I’ve wanted to perform at East West Players since I was a kid in High School, far away on the East Coast. I can’t express with words how grateful I am for the chance to be in this show with this amazing director, cast and crew. I look forward to sharing this story with the community and can’t wait for our first audiences!

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

Follow me on Twitter  @Ruth_Coughlin and Website – RuthCoughlin@gmail.com

 

Now playing at East West Players, “Steel Magnolias” opens East West Players’ 48th Season “Making Light.” Written by Robert Harling, this is a classic comedy-drama play that later became a popular film about the bond among a group of Southern women. The action centers on Truvy’s beauty parlor and the women who regularly gather there. The cast features Hiwa Bourne, Ruth Coughlin, Karen Huie, Dian Kobayashi, Lovelle Liquigan, and Patti Yasutake.

 

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NISEI WIDOWS CLUB Casting Breakdown

East West Players, the longest running theater of color in the US is casting Asian, Pacific Islander, multi-racial Asian performers for THE NISEI WIDOWS CLUB: HOW TOMI GOT HER GROOVE BACK by Betty Tokudani. Directed by Amy Hill. Rehearsals begin October  8, 2013. Previews begin November 7, opening Wednesday November 13 for four week run (5 performances a week) through December 8, 2013. Find out more about East West Players at www.eastwestplayers.org. AEA LOA-BAT Contract ($358 per week).

Casting:

Patrick and Kimo Ikaikakane – to be played by one actor – they are step-brothers. Patrick Ikaikakane is a yoga instructor living in Los Angeles 35 – 45 years old, into Buddhism, kind of cosmic new age type of person, very gentle with dreadlocks. His appearance is “what you see is what you get” and may look a little disheveled, pudgy and a bit of a fashion misfit. A hippie throwback. Kimo Ikaikakane is a bit younger, very fit and in fact is very body conscious – a great body and a beautiful hula dancer into the deep philosophy of Hawaii and the dance. Both are the epitome of ‘aloha’ but in their own special way. Must have good comic timing, be able to dance hula well, able to do yoga poses and speak pidgin English dialect of the Hawaiian islands.

All other roles are cast.

Agent and Personal submissions through Actors Access and Breakdown Services.

Electronic submissions with role to be considered for to casting@eastwestplayers.org

Or send via postal mail your picture, resume, and role to be considered for:

Casting: NISEI WIDOWS CLUB
East West Players
120 Judge John Aiso Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Submissions received August 30 – September 13, 2013.

PLEASE no telephone calls or personal deliveries.

THE NISEI WIDOWS CLUB: HOW TOMI GOT HER GROOVE BACK

The third installment of a comic trilogy following the lives of a group of widowed Nisei women who only have each other in the face of loss and the search for love in their golden years. Tomi loses her only son to a heart attack at the early age of 45 and the other widows gather around her during this time of grief. Hilarity ensues when they embark on an unforgettable trip to Hawaii unleashing the cougar in all of them at a hula retreat.

View PDF.

Karen Huie as Ouiser

Karen Huie as Ouiser in “Steel Magnolias”

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

Ouiser Boudreaux got no thanks for opening her heart and womb, so they snapped shut. But she forges on, doing what she thinks is right. I ran away from home when I was 15. Yes, a very bold thing for an Asian American girl to do. Strangers took me in, fed me, gave me money, solace and friendship during that time. From then on, it never occurred to me to be anything but open and generous to others. I’ve shared my home, heart, friendship and helped many people get work. For that, some never thanked me and worse yet, stabbed me in the back. Many times. I would have been justified in slamming my door shut. But I didn’t want the bad behavior of others to cause me to slam my door shut.

This is where I identify with Ouiser. She did everything right, only to have it turn out wrong. But she hangs onto her values, even if it’s a struggle to live through each day. Then the universe rewards her, by giving her love in the form of Owen Jenkins, “a blast from the past”.

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

I trained at HB Studio in NY many years ago. I continue to take all kinds of classes because I love learning. During the summer, I was in a seven-week full-time musical theatre intensive at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York. I have been an actor most of my life and am now a different person than I was at 20. I wanted to really dig deep to discover and explore those changes. Alan Langdon, one of the acting teachers in the program (who was Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s acting teacher), talked of doing scenes and shows as “a journey to yourself.” And if our work is fruitful and we are brave enough, we can share that revelation with audiences. As our wonderful director Laurie Woolery says, “It’s about bringing our humanity to these roles and relationships.”

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

I enjoy doing comedy and always thought it was something I did well. Surprisingly, I’ve done very few sitcoms or comedies on stage. I even wrote a comedy that became a sitcom pilot but for some reason, rarely got the chance to do much comedy.

I finally made a webisode called, “Miss Mah Poo,” a take off on Miss Marple, so I could do some comedy.The three other shows I’ve done at East West Players were “The Chairman’s Wife,” by Wakako Yamauchi, where I played Madame Mao Tse Tung; “The Joy Luck Club,” by Amy Tan; and “A Little Night Music,” by Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim. I think doing all-female productions have a different energy. It’s cozy and relaxed. “The Joy Luck Club” was mostly women and “The House of Bernarda Alba,” which I did at the Mark Taper Forum, was 16 women, with the fabulous Chita Rivera at the helm.

Why do you think theater is important?

Theater is an intimate experience. It’s like getting to witness a shared humanity in person. The people aren’t bigger than life, there’s nobody there to cut to an establishing shot. You’re right in their living room, in their neighborhood or in the beauty shop they go to every Saturday. It’s like spending an evening feeling your feelings with the characters who are living them on stage. The characters in plays are regular people in regular circumstances that become extraordinary. They are you and I. I go to theater a lot. If it’s 7:00 and I don’t have anything I have to do, I look for a show to see. With the time limits of when I’m in NY, I might see five shows in one weekend. I just love the feeling of the lights going down and come up on the Petri dish we are going to examine that night. It’s fascinating and I never tire of it.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue acting?

If acting is something that calls to you, follow it. Follow whatever calls to you. Don’t let logic or external advice stand in your way. It’s a tough road, but it will call upon you to examine your own humanity. It will call upon you to train and continue training to not only hone your skills—acting, singing, dance, study of literature, art, music—but to learn anything you can, so you’ll have things to express. Imagine training as a violinist with no music you’re inspired to play! Stick your ego in your back pocket and throw yourself into learning, rather than looking for praise.

Anything else you’d like to share?

In a recent conversation with our wonderful voice and dialect teacher Leslie Ishii for “Steel Magnolias,” I said other theatres have created “labs” for minorities to develop plays. However, most of those never make it to the main stage. This reinforces the idea that people will foster your ideas and creativity but underscore the fact that it’s not good enough to be put on the main stage. This is where the existence of theatres that cast and do Asian or Asian Pacific Islander material is vital. It allows us to stand up and be seen and valued.

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

Fans can see my demo reel and short films I’ve made by searching for Karen Huie on Youtube or Funnyordie.com

Previews are Thursday, September 5th through Saturday September 7th at 8pm and Sunday September 8th at 2pm. All preview seats are $21.

“Steel Magnolias” is a classic comedy-drama play that later became a popular film about the bond among a group of Southern women. The action centers on Truvy’s beauty parlour and the women who regularly gather there.

The production features Hiwa Bourne (The Pity of Things, Crimes of the Heart, Shake) as Truvy, Ruth Coughlin (A Christmas Carol, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Shelby, Karen Huie (A Little Night Music, Joy Luck Club) as Ouiser, Dian Kobayashi (Joy Luck Club, Equus) as Clairee, Lovelle Liquigan (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Language Archive) as Annelle, and Patti Yasutake (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as M’Lynn.

For special performance dates and additional information, visit STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

Volunteer Opportunity Volunteer as an usher.

post-ono-flat

Saturday, August 17th was the perfect summer day in Los Angeles – a hot sun and cool breezes. That afternoon, the Aratani Courtyard was full of hustle-and-bustle and good cheer – flanked by tables dressed in white and mint, while friends, long-time and new, came together and enjoyed fine wines and the exclusive “Tim Dang Banger” cocktail, inspired by the celebrant of the evening. Parvesh Cheena was our host for the evening, providing lots of laughs and encouraging everyone to join the opportunity drawings and Tim Dang Bingo.

As the sun gave way into dusk, guests enjoyed a delicious dinner al fresco specially created by Chef Glen Ishii of Jist Cafe and shortly made their way into the David Henry Hwang Theater for the show, featuring the best musical performers to grace the EWP stage. Hosted by Reggie Lee, directed by Marilyn Tokuda and musical direction by Nathan Wang, each brought the house down in their own way. Artists who supported the Artistic Family Mosaic project also shared the stage with the performers. Our guest of honor, Tim, shared his heartfelt gratitude for everyone who has supported his journey here at EWP.

After the show, the sun was down and the stars were out, and we enjoyed a variety of desserts by Majestic Caterers while everyone waited excitedly to find out who won prizes!

The event chaired by Lynn Arthurs for the Board of Directors and produced by Alison De La Cruz was a memorable evening indeed.

Thank you for celebrating Tim’s 20th at East West Players!

View photos from “One Night Only: Tim’s 20th!” Photos by Mike Palma.

 

Chef Glen Ishii By Alison De La Cruz

As a foodie and a producer of “One Night Only,” I sat down with Chef Glen Ishii of JiST Café,  East West Players’ newest neighbor in Little Tokyo and chef catering our special event “One Night Only: Tim Dang’s 20th Anniversary” on August 17, 2013.

How did you get started as a chef?

Glen: I guess I got started working for my mom, when I was a kid helping her out in the kitchen at Tokyo Garden doing prep work and cleaning. I then went to college for Hotel & Restaurant Management, and after I went to Japan for a year. It was while I was there that I decided: I think I’ll do this as a career. Then I came back, worked at a restaurant in Marina del Rey and learned classic French cuisine. After, I was just building my work experience.

What was it like growing up in Mom’s kitchen in Little Tokyo?

Glen: Part of it was convenient.  I went to elementary at Maryknoll, it’s now St Francis Xavier school, and then I would walk over after school. As a kid it was fun, something about the kitchen seemed fun. But as a teenager, I always had to work on the weekend so it sucked. Especially during Nisei Week, when all the friends would visit.

You have such a deep history in Little Tokyo. Lots of people are talking about how Little Tokyo is shifting, what are your thoughts?

Glen: Before, everyone used to know each other in Little Tokyo, people knew who my mom was, and I was, because of the area and the restaurant business. But now it’s completely changed. Whether it’s better or worse, I’m not sure, but for business it’s okay. It’s tough from generation to generation, not sure if the younger generation cares anymore. To preserve Little Tokyo, (pause) its tough, most Japanese Americans or Japanese businesses are going to other locations. Working in downtown, I’ve seen the changes. The older generation, like my mother’s, are getting tired and not everyone is going to do what their parents did.

Caroline Shin, Glen’s business partner joins us in the conversation.

So, knowing how Little Tokyo is changing, is there where you always wanted to start your own restaurant or were you looking at other locations around L.A.?

Caroline: It organically worked out that way. When we first started playing with the idea, we didn’t know what kind of restaurant, we just knew it was going to be something. It was just the right timing, his uncle was retiring. But Glen wanted to come back to Little Tokyo, but never planned to come back. In the end, it was kind of like a path that he needed to take.

Glen: It just seemed like it was meant to be for some reason.

Can you tell me about the name JiST Cafe?

Glen: We came up with the name. Caroline had the idea for Gist. Caroline had a J in her name, and it also is a nod to my mom’s name. We wanted to keep the T for Tokyo Café for Tokyo Gardens.

What was your inspiration for JiST’s menu?

Glen: We talked about doing a different kind of concept, but I felt that breakfast was an area that people do right. Plus, I wanted a change of lifestyle; I had been working a dinner service schedule all the time. So I thought this concept of breakfast, doing it this way, would be better for me.

Why breakfast?

Glen: I want people to come in here and have things that are done right, as far as breakfast. People put extra emphasis on dinner, because of a high ticket price, but breakfast is difficult. As a chef, the first thing you learn to make are eggs. People think eggs are easy. But eggs are very difficult, very sensitive.  And going back to our conversation about Little Tokyo, I realized that what Little Tokyo was missing was a breakfast place. I do have some Japanese elements, but Little Tokyo is a mixed crowd, and for the business, I want to cater to a broad crowd.

You’ve been open for a few weeks now, how’s it been going?

Glen: The customers that come in, it’s amazing how many people come to see my mom. And how many people come to see her. People I grew up with, I haven’t seen them in over 20 or 30 years and they’ve come by. It’s just amazing.

Timing with the restaurant, with our partnership, it just seemed like the right time. In life, what I’ve learned, opportunities are always coming your way. If you keep your eyes open you’ll see it. If you don’t, they’ll pass by. When opportunities come, it’s about whether you have the guts to take it. Business is very risky. Caroline was the one who said, “If you don’t take the risk you’ll never know.”

Right now, it’s just fun. Our timing to open this place just happened to fall into place. The timing was right on.

JiST is located at 116 Judge John Aiso St, Los Angeles, California 90012
www.jistcafe.com
Phone: (213) 792-2116
Hours of Operation: Tues – Fri: 5am – 3pm Sat& Sun: 8am – 4pm.

tim-dang-1993

EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang in front of the David Henry Hwang Theater in 1996. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

On Saturday, August 17th, East West Players will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Tim Dang as Producing Artistic Director. This signature “one night only” event takes place at East West Players, featuring some of the best talent to grace the EWP stage, along with dinner al fresco in the Aratani Courtyard, just outside the theater. Proceeds of One Night Only benefit the artistic/educational programs of East West Players and the organization’s endowment.

In EWP’s 48 years, Dang is the third Artistic Director of the organization, succeeding Nobu McCarthy and taking the helm in 1993. Among the key milestones in his leadership, the most pivotal was growing EWP from a 99-seat theater on Santa Monica Blvd. in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, to a 240-seat state-of-the-art mid-size theater in its current location at the Union Center for the Arts in Little Tokyo.

Are you an artist who has been involved with East West Players? Have you participated in EWP’s mainstage productions, professional enrichment and youth arts education programs during Tim’s tenure? As part of the EWP artistic family, we want you to share the stage with Tim in an extra special way with the EWP Artistic Family Mosaic.

For more information regarding tickets and sponsorship packages, visit One Night Only.

 

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Huell Howser with EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang at the 40th Anniversary Gala.

East West Players (EWP) mourns the passing of Huell Howser, the great adventurer, and star of  several public-television series such as “Videolog,” “California’s Gold,” and “Visiting.” Howser was a supporter of EWP and did a segment about East West Players at the Union Center for the Arts in Little Tokyo.

“We are saddened by this news and were shocked to hear of his passing,” said Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of EWP. “Huell always had great energy, always in a great mood and could really light up a room with his smile and laughter. He touched so many people in our community and even took to the stage at our 40th Anniversary Gala to encourage everyone to support the arts and an organization like East West Players. Everyone will miss him.”

Just last month, the EWP community lost Senator Daniel Inouye and now, we have lost another friend. In recognition of our thanks to Huell Howser for his lifetime of achievement, East West Players offers once again, the highest accolade in theatre: A Standing Ovation.

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