Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Photo Call: Derek Walcott’s Marie Laveau featuring Marie Thomas, Arthur Bartow, Trazana Beverly, Tom Brangle, Gerard Catus, Hunter Canning, John Danelle, Brandon Dirden, DK Dyson, Steve Greenstein, Teresa Lasley, Harrison Lee, Mizan Nunes, Stu Richel, Martin Shakar, DeWanda Wise

Marie Laveau playwright Derek Walcott, director Clinton Turner Davis and New Federal Theatre producer Woodie King Jr. (Photo by Lia Chang)

Marie Laveau playwright Derek Walcott, director Clinton Turner Davis and New Federal Theatre producer Woodie King Jr. in the Castillo Theatre after the reading of Marie Laveau on June 28, 2009. (Photo by Lia Chang)

On the last Sunday afternoon in June, Woodie King’s New Federal Theatre presented Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott’s Marie Laveau, with music by Hair composer Galt MacDermot and musical arrangement by Chapman Roberts, as the final play in the Gurfein Foundation/Ntozake Shange Play Reading Series at Castillo Theatre in New York.

(front row l-r) Marie Laveau director Clinton Turner Davis with his cast Gerard Catus, Stu Richel, Martin Shakar, Teresa Lasley, DeWanda Wise, Marie Thomas, DK Dyson, John Danelle, Trezana Beverly and Lia Chang (back row l-r) Hunter Canning, Tom Brangle, Harrison Lee, Steve Greenstein, Arthur Bartow, Brandon Dirden

(front row l-r) Marie Laveau director Clinton Turner Davis with his cast Gerard Catus, Stu Richel, Martin Shakar, Teresa Lasley, DeWanda Wise, Marie Thomas, DK Dyson, John Danelle, Trazana Beverly and Lia Chang (back row l-r) Hunter Canning, Tom Brangle, Harrison Lee, Steve Greenstein, Arthur Bartow, Brandon Dirden

Walcott’s musical comedy, which has elements of French farce, tells the fascinating story of New Orleans madame and Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, who attempts to wrest control of her brothel away from its white financier, and in the process unleashes a racial and religious storm that threatens to consume the city.

Woodie King Jr. assembled a cast featuring Marie Thomas as Marie Laveau, Arthur Bartow, Trazana Beverly, Tom Brangle, Gerard Catus, Hunter Canning, John Danelle, Brandon Dirden, DK Dyson, Steve Greenstein, Teresa Lasley, Harrison Lee, Mizan Nunes, Stu Richel, Martin Shakar, DeWanda Wise and myself.

Over a tight two day rehearsal period, director Clinton Turner Davis expertly navigated us through the poetic rhythms of the script and we were lucky to have playwright Derek Walcott, who had flown in from his home in St. Lucia, in the house. Just hours before our 3pm show on Sunday, Chapman Roberts infused the text with blues, jazz, the call and response of a church congregation and African drum rhythms, adding yet another dimension to our performances.

(l-r)Marie Laveau playwright Derek Walcott, Sigrid Nama, New Federal Theatre producer Woodie King Jr., Kathy, Jim and Kody Gurfein of the Gurfein Foundation (Photo by Lia Chang)

(l-r)Marie Laveau playwright Derek Walcott, Sigrid Nama, New Federal Theatre producer Woodie King Jr., Kathy, Jim and Kody Gurfein of the Gurfein Foundation at the reception for Marie Laveau at Castillo Theatre on June 28, 2009 in New York. (Photo by Lia Chang)


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All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2011 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachang@hotmail.com.

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.

Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are now in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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