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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.

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MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2013 | 7PM
AT DAVID HENRY HWANG THEATER
120 JUDGE JOHN AISO ST., LOS ANGELES CA 90012

East West Players is a proud community partner for Velina Hasu Houston and Nathan Wang’s BROWN GIRL IN THE RING. A reading of the musical will take place here at EAST WEST PLAYERS.

A SPECIAL PRESENTATION
BROWN GIRL IN THE RING
Books and Lyrics By Velina Hasu Houston
Music By Nathan Wang
Directed by Michael Arabian

Produced by Giselle Gilbert
Production Stage Manager, Bernice Mendez
Graphic Design, Michele Thompson

Cast: Esperanza America, Tiffany-Marie Austin, Takayo Fischer, Ren Hanami, Maegan McConnell, Arthur L. Ross, Katy Tang

Community Partners: East West Player (Producing Partner), Pasadena Playhouse, California African American Museum

What happens when two worlds that differ in class and race clash, and a young woman is caught in the middle – in the ring – trying to figure out where she belongs?

Brown Girl in the Ring centers on the journey of Afro-Cuban Japanese Olivia Takahashi Fuentes in the aftermath of the sudden death of her parents, the closure of her high school in Kansas, and her unexpected and precipitous move to Los Angeles where she must contend with a Japanese relative she has never met before and an Afro-Latino low-income medical world where she chooses to volunteer.

The development of this project and this special presentation are supported by an Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences grant, University of Southern California.

This is a free event. Seating is first come, first served. Please RSVP to Ms. Gilbert at leartistegiselle@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Director Jon M. Chu will be honored by East West Players at the 47th Anniversary Visionary Awards and Silent Auction taking place on Monday, April 22, 2013 at the Universal Hilton.  His most recent directorial work, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, debuted at #1 at the Box Office this past Easter weekend, and has grossed over $231 million worldwide to date.

A native of Palo Alto, CA and a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Chu has raised the visibility of Asians Americans in the entertainment industry through his love of music and dance, directing two films in the Disney dance film “Step Up” franchise and creating the prolific dance collective Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (LXD).  He also directed the 3D documentary film “Never Say Never,” about music phenomenon Justin Bieber, grossing nearly $100 million worldwide.

 “This is a huge honor,” says Chu. “East West Players has helped build a strong foundation not only for Asian American theatre, but for Asian Americans in arts and entertainment as a whole. Thank you to Tim Dang and East West Players for including me in this great tradition.”

“Jon is an emerging force behind the camera in his achievement as a director and producer,” says Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of East West Players. “From LXD to the ‘Step Up’ Franchise, and now ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation,’ it takes leadership and vision to be a master storyteller on large scale screen projects. Jon’s work also raises the visibility of Asian Americans in front of the camera, as reflected in the diverse casts of his productions.”

East West Players (EWP) is the largest creator of Asian American artistic work and the longest running professional theater of color in the country.  EWP has been working with Asian Pacific American actors, writers, directors, designers, producers, stage management, crew, box office and administrative staff for the last four decades. EWP celebrates its 47th Season, themed “Spirited Away,” with its captivating Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction, and salutes those who have made a valuable impact on the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through their artistic excellence and support of the Asian Pacific American performing arts. Proceeds from the gala will benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs.

Chu joins fellow honorees: seminal Asian American improv comedy ensemble COLD TOFU, YouTube celebrity Kevin Wu aka KevJumba, and “The Walking Dead” breakout star Steven Yeun. Tamlyn Tomita (Karate Kid Part II,” “Joy Luck Club”) will serve as emcee for the event. Award-winning composer Nathan Wang (Beijing Olympics/Shaolin Monks, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar Award-winning film “The Last Days”) will serve as the evening’s Musical Director.

Current major sponsors of the gala include: PLATINUM CIRCLE – CBS Corporation, NBC Universal, Mattel, Inc., Southern California Edison, The Walt Disney Company; GOLD CIRCLE – The Thomas R. Bancroft Family, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Wells Fargo; SILVER CIRCLE – Sony Pictures Entertainment, David L. Mauss; BRONZE CIRCLE – Lynn & Brian Arthurs, Tim Dang & Darrel Cummings, I.W. Group, Inc., Paramount Pictures, Superstar Friends of Daniel M. Mayeda, Union Bank and Rabbit Litho.

East West Players’ 47th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 22, 2013 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. The no-host reception and silent auction will start at 6pm. The dinner and awards program will start at 7pm. Tickets are $175 – $1,500. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information on East West Players’ 47th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction, please visit http://www.EastWestPlayers.org or contact Development Manager Rosalyn Kawahira at (213) 625-7000 x17 or rkawahira@eastwestplayers.org

East West Players celebrates its 47th Season, themed “Spirited Away,” with its dazzling Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction, and salutes those who have made a valuable impact on the Asian Pacific American (APA) community. The fundraising event will take place on Monday April 22, 2013 at the Universal Hilton. Proceeds from the gala will benefit East West Players’ educational and artistic programs.

“EWP and the APA performing arts community continue to expand the spectrum of voices and stories of our vast, complex yet underrepresented community,” says Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of East West Players. “This year’s Visionary Award Honorees reflect some of the best of our community, who raise the visibility of APAs through their craft – Cold Tofu for the past 30 years, and Steven Yeun as a breakout star on the hugely popular television show, The Walking Dead.”

Tamlyn Tomita (Karate Kid Part II, Joy Luck Club) will serve as mistress of ceremonies of the event.

Award-winning composer Nathan Wang (Beijing Olympics/Shaolin Monks, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar Award-winning film The Last Days) will serve as the evening’s Musical Director.

The 2013 Honorees are:

Cold Tofu Photo

COLD TOFU, receiving the Visionary Award, is the nation’s premier Asian American comedy improv group.  Under the leadership of its current Artistic Director Helen H. Ota and core cast members, COLD TOFU continues to grow and develop its distinctive brand of comedy. The members of COLD TOFU consistently strive to create unforgettable characters, improvised scenes and original sketch materials. From its inception in 1981 by Marilyn Tokuda, Denice Kumagai, Judy Momii and Irma Escamilla to today, COLD TOFU has grown to 25 members who perform improv shows regularly in historic Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles and MC events for several community organizations. COLD TOFU shares the thrill of performing improv and sketch, while training up-and-coming performers by providing improv workshops year-round.

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Steven Yeun, receiving the Breakout Performance Award, currently stars on AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead, where his portrayal of ‘Glenn,’ the pizza boy turned “walker killer” has developed into a leading role on the show and has quickly become a favorite for both fans and critics alike.  The Walking Dead has become the most watched drama series in basic cable history, and launched internationally in over 120 countries in 33 different languages. The Breakout Performance award was created to recognize an individual or group who, through an outstanding performance, has made a significant contribution to the community by helping raise the visibility of the Asian Pacific experience.

Additional honorees and entertainment to be announced at a later date.

East West Players’ 47th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 22, 2013 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. The no-host reception and silent auction will start at 6pm. The dinner and awards program will start at 7pm. Tickets are $175 – $1,500. Full table sponsorship packages are also available. For more information on East West Players’ 47th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction, please visit http://www.EastWestPlayers.org or contact Development Manager Rosalyn Kawahira at (213) 625-7000 x17 or rkawahira@eastwestplayers.org

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”

Watch (below) TEA, WITH MUSIC’s Joan Almedilla perform on Kababayan LA.

Joan Almedilla plays “Himiko Hamilton,” a strong, but fragile woman worn down by circumstances of war and of domestic abuse, and is the reason why the other Japanese war brides gather together once again. Almedilla is an alum of the East West Players stage, which include ROAD TO SAIGON and KRUNK FU BATTLE BATTLE. Her musical theater credits also include MISS SAIGON (Broadway), LES MISERABLES, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, and THE KING & I to name a few.

There are only 8 chances left to see TEA, WITH MUSIC! Now playing thru Sunday, December 9–tickets are available for purchase online, over the phone at (213) 625-7000 or in-person at the Box Office (opens at 6pm). Join us tonight for Wine Down Friday beginning at 7pm and have a drink or two of complimentary red or white wine (21+ only) before the 8pm performance. And the last Post Show Discussion of the performance run will take place on Sunday, December 2 after the 2pm performance. So don’t miss out on the last chance to chat with the cast of TEA, WITH MUSIC!

Watch TEA, WITH MUSIC’s Jennie Kwan and choreographer Giovanni Ortega here.

This past Monday, Kababayan LA aired Janelle So’s interview with Filipino-Americans Jennie Kwan and Giovanni Ortega of TEA, WITH MUSIC, now playing thru Sunday, December 9 at East West Players. If you were unable to watch it, check out the videos below!

Jennie Kwan plays Teruko Mackenzie, a cheerful woman who skillfully maintains a veneer of sweet politeness and who is devoted to her husband and daughter.  This is Kwan’s debut performance on the East West Players stage.

Giovanni Ortega is the choreographer of TEA, WITH MUSIC. He considers East West Players as his artistic home where he was commissioned to write the EWP Theater for Youth production ALLOS: The Story of Carlos Bulson and debuted on the East West Players stage in 2005’s IMELDA as Ferdinand Marcos.

Kababayan LA will feature Joan Almedilla, who plays Himiko Hamilton in TEA, WITH MUSIC, on tomorrow’s program so be sure to check it out! For more information, visit http://www.la18.tv/Kababayan.htm.

(Part I)

(Part II)

 

WATCH THE LATEST VIDEOS:
East West Players Presents the World Premiere of TEA, WITH MUSIC http://youtu.be/tuxnadFS-sI
Time for TEA, WITH MUSIC: A Talk with Velina Hasu Houston and Jon Lawrence Rivera http://youtu.be/o9AltnHXjDI

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

NOW PLAYING – December 9, 2012

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
Pay-What-You-Can Performances Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 8pm.
Post Show Discussion (A chat with the artists after the show) Sunday, November 25 and Sunday, December 2, 2012.
Southern California Edison Community Night Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
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

Tea, With Music

East West Players has partnered with the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) and USC Center for Japanese Religions & Culture (CJRC) for the world premiere of TEA, WITH MUSIC.

Book and lyrics for TEA, WITH MUSIC are by acclaimed playwright Velina Hasu Houston, music by Nathan Wang and choreographed by Giovanni Ortega. This production is directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera. The musical features Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables), Tiffany-Marie Austin (Miss Saigon, A Little Night Music), Yumi Iwama (Our Town, South Pacific), Jennie Kwan (TV’s California Dreams, Avenue Q), and Janet Song (Twelfth Night, Medea).

Founded in 1971, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. The JACCC is the preeminent presenter of Japanese and Japanese American, and Asian American performing and visual arts nationally. Their mission is to present, perpetuate, transmit and promote Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture to diverse audiences, and to provide a center to enhance community programs. The JACCC also provides office space to a wide variety of nonprofit cultural, educational and community-based organizations in Los Angeles.

“The Japanese American Cultural Community Center (JACCC) fully values a partnership with other arts groups that present quality works of art for the community. We share much in common – and we can only wish the greatest success for EWP in this production of Tea, With Music!” says Bill Watanabe, Interim Executive Director of the JACCC.

The Center for Japanese Religions and Culture was established at USC in September 2011. The Center’s mission is to promote the study of Japanese religions and culture at USC and in the broader intellectual community of Japan Studies. The CJRC will foster this area of study by funding faculty-led research projects; planning conferences, colloquia, and workshops; providing faculty and graduate student research support awards; and by building our capacity to host visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows in the near future. CJRC is the first research center for Japanese religions on the West Coast of the United States, and only the second such center in the country.

“We are honored to be associated with one of the most important plays on the post-war Japanese-American experience, Tea With Music by Velina Hasu-Houston,” says Duncan Williams, Director of the USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. “We are excited about this collaboration with East West Players to celebrate one of our faculty affiliates’ major works, this time as a musical production. The struggles overcome by the war brides depicted in the play are one of the many stories that represent the fabric of the U.S. – Japan relationship today.”

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