Hello Dolly! by National Asian Artists Project

Article by Raymond Mei
Photo by Niko

In association with National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), Lee Roy Leams directs this revival play of the Tony Award-Winning musical Hello Dolly! for two 7:30 PM performances only on April 29th and May 6th at The Pershing Square Signature Center, in New York City.

Lee Roy Leams directed and choreographed Carol Channing’s last Broadway revival of this play in 1995. This time around, he is on board an Asian-American cast revival of Hello, Dolly!, which still features music and lyrics by Jerry Herman with a book by Michael Stewart.

This play is based on an original piece titled The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder. Hello, Dolly! is a musical about one of Broadway’s most famous matchmakers, Dolly Gallagher Levi. The story takes place at the turn of the 20th century in New York City. Professional matchmaker Dolly, played by Christine Toy Johnson, an Award-winning playwright, actress, and filmmaker, has a passion to help others find their appropriate matches. It is not until 14 years later after the death of her husband does she decide it is time for her to find her next match. Dolly strives to continue to find the right match for her clients, as well as one for herself.

Matchmaking is very common in the United States and particularly in Asia. People of all ages hire matchmakers to find the right spouse. It is no longer a difficult task to find love in your life when there are professionals who can find it for you. Dolly who is a middle-aged woman is hired by Horace Vandergelder, played by Paul Aranas, to find a match for his niece Ermengarde, played Rebecca Lee Lerman. In addition, Vandergelder also wants Dolly to find a match for him. In a turn of events, Dolly decides Vandergelder’s match should be her. Dolly takes on the challenge to maintain her professional status as a matchmaker, to satisfy her clients by pairing the right couples and still be able to fulfill her own needs.

There are also many familiar faces at this musical production including Carla Ogden, Jaygee Macapugay, David Shih, Austin Ku, Karl Josef Co, Alex Chester, Andrew Cristi, Daniel Edwards, Robyn Deguzman, Aaron Komo, Katie Lee Hill, JP Moraga, Gillian Munsayac, Rommel Pierre O’Choa, Yuki Ozeki, Sam Tanabe and Anna-Lee Wright.

What a performance we must say! The actors on the stage showed tears of joy when Christine Toy Johnson delivered the curtain speech.  She applauded their hard work for a great showcase and emphasized the great talent of Asian American actors who usually do not get the proper recognition. Johnson brought tears to the cast as well as the audience as many walked out the theater with wet eyes.

Producers Baayork Lee, Steven Eng, and Nina Zoie Lam of NAAP are proud to put together another great “Rediscover Series” of Hello, Dolly! to benefit the NAAP program since NAAP strives to be a leader in this often unheard community.

During the reception, we spoke to a few actors and were very surprised that they put the whole production together in less than two weeks.The cast put together an unforgettable performance with beautiful musical performances and stunning dance movements, choreographed by Randy Slovacek, that were completely synchronized. Not only that, the children chorus from P.S.124 and the adult chorus brought a lot of energy to the show. We highly recommend everyone to go see this great display of talent and it might inspire you to be an actor too!

For more about the production, please visit: http://www.naaproject.org

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