Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: BD Wong to Star in “HEADING EAST” Concert to Benefit Asia Society, May 24-26, 2010

BD Wong Photo by Lia Chang

BD Wong Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award-winning star of Law & Order: SVU BD Wong is hard at work with his latest passion project, rehearsing for a staged concert of Heading East, a Richard Rodgers Development Award-winning musical by Robert Lee and Leon Ko, for three performances only- May 24, 25, 26, at the Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium at Asia Society in New York. Asia Society will benefit from the proceeds of the event, which is co-produced by Andrew Asnes. Tickets are available through BOX OFFICE: 212-517-ASIA or

The cast is made up of twelve Asian-American actors playing a wide variety of roles, making the concert a celebration of Asian-American artists that coincides with Asia Society’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month programming throughout May (for details, visit

Cindy Cheung Photo by Lia Chang

Cindy Cheung Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Darren Lee, Heading East features a cast lead by Wong, Cindy Cheung, who stars in the film Children of Invention, Fay Ann Lee, who produced, directed and stars in the film Falling for Grace, and Manu Narayan (Bombay Dreams, The Love Guru). MaryAnn Hu, Ming Lee, Angela Lin, Kelvin Moon Loh, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Jon Norman Schneider, Rodney To and Virginia Wing round out the cast. Lex Liang is the production designer for the concert.
Manu Narayan Photo by Lia Chang

Manu Narayan Photo by Lia Chang

Heading East is set primarily in San Francisco from 1848-1981. This funny yet gripping musical tells the story of Siu Yee Tong, a brazen young man who travels from drought- and famine-ridden China to the shores of Gold Rush-era California determined to be the next great American success story. Siu Yee’s lifelong quest to reinvent himself plays out against the tumultuous backdrop of a century and a half of American history: although the narrative spans 133 years, the characters age over the course of a single lifetime.

Actor BD Wong currently plays FBI forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Huang on the long-running NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Broadway debut: M. Butterfly (Outer Critics’ Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award, Clarence Derwent Award, Tony Award). Films include: The Freshman, Father of the Bride (1 & 2), Jurassic Park, And the Band Played On, Seven Years in Tibet, Executive Decision, Slappy and the Stinkers, Mulan (1 & 2), The Salton Sea, Stay. Six seasons as Father Ray Mukada on HBO’s Oz. Other Broadway: Pacific Overtures, Face Value, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Author of the critically acclaimed memoir Following Foo (The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man) (Harper Collins). Other Off-Broadway and regional theatre: Shanghai Moon, As Thousands Cheer, A Language of Their Own, and four productions of Herringbone.

Robert Lee (Books & Lyrics) is a lyricist and librettist whose original musicals include Journey to the West (music by Leon Ko), Heading East (music by Ko) and The Sweet By and By (book and music by Maria .S. Seigenthaler). His work as a music director includes the recordings Stage 1 and Stage 2. He and Ko received the Richard Rodgers Development Award for Heading East and an AT&T First Stage Grant for their musical Chinese Hell, the latter developed with producer Margo Lion and San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. Most recently, Robert and Leon were commissioned by East of Doheny to create a musical stage adaptation of Jean Kerr’s Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. They are currently at work on an original musical for London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East with a planned 2011 opening. Robert is an alumnus of Princeton University and the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU’s Tisch School Of The Arts (where he currently serves on the faculty), and is an Artistic Associate at TRSE, where he leads its Musical Theatre Writing Workshop with composer Fred Carl (the workshop is the subject of the 2005 film Rappin’ at the Royal from Blast Films).

Leon Ko (Music)
Leon Ko’s music for The Good Person of Szechwan, The Legend of the White Snake and Field of Dreams won Best Score honors at the 2003, 2006 and 2009 Hong Kong Drama Awards. He and collaborator Robert Lee received a Richard Rodgers Development Award for their musical Heading East. For his work on the film Perhaps Love, he received a Golden Horse Award for Best Original Film Song, a CASH Golden Sail Music Award for Best Alternative Composition as w
ell as a Hong Kong Film Award, an Asia-Pacific Film Festival Award and a Golden Bauhinia award for Best Film Score. He was nominated for a Golden Horse Award and a Hong Kong Film Award in 2008 for his score to the film The Warlords. He was the music director of Hong Kong pop legend Jacky Cheung’s 2004 world tour of Snow.Wolf.Lake, and The Year of Jacky Cheung World Tour ’07, penning a 30-minute musical for the latter. In 2006, he wrote a new opening song and incidental music for the classic Cantonese opera Princess Changping for Chor Fung Ming Troupe. In 2009, he wrote an opening number and finale for Liza Wang’s musical Liza the Diva. Other works include the scores to the movie Mr. Cinema, the stage musical Angel Falls for Hong Kong Dance and the stage play Cross-Mopolitan for Chung Ying Theatre. Leon is currently working on a stage adaptation of Please Don’t Eat the Daisies for the New York stage.

Darren Lee (Director)
Directing and/or Choreography, Broadway: Associate Choreographer, Pacific Overtures. New York: Bronx Express (Fringe Festival), Andy Warhol Was Right (NYMF), Stephen Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Celebration (New Amsterdam). Regional: The Music Man (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Miss Saigon (St. Louis MUNY, Paper Mill Playhouse, Music Theatre of Wichita), Kiss Me, Kate (Glimmerglass Opera Festival), Herringbone (La Jolla Playhouse, McCarter Theatre and Williamstown Theatre Festival), Up in the Air (Japan Festival, Washington, DC), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Diamond Head Theatre, HI), Chicago (Riverside Theatre, FL), Carnival (UNLV), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Westchester Broadway), Pacific Overtures (North Shore, Cincinnati Playhouse, Atlanta Alliance), Jesus Christ Superstar, Aida, Joseph and the Amazing…, The Fantasticks (MUNY), Guys and Dolls (Trinity University, TX), High School Musical (Lyric Theatre, La Comedia, Casa Mañana), High School Musical 2 (Lyric Theatre), and Christmas with the Symphony 2007-2009 (Omaha Symphony).

Lex Liang (Production design)
Lex Liang’s work includes scenic and costume design for theatre, film and dance, as well as architectural interior design and project management. Liang’s recent theatre work includes (NYC/Off-Broadway): The Yellow Wood (NYMF), Secrets of a Soccer Mom (Snapple Theater), After Luke/When I Was God (Irish Rep., Tina Santi Flaherty Award nomination for Best Design of a Play), and Made in Heaven (SoHo Playhouse). He was Resident Scenic and Costume Designer at Penobscot Theatre for 3 years, designing over 25 productions – most recently Spunk and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (as guest artist). Design for dance includes Gibney Dance at Baryshnikov Dance Center, Unbounded for the Internationale Tanzmesse in Dusseldorf, Germany, and View Partially Obstructed in Montreal. Liang’s film work includes Love is Hell and The Louisiana Conversation, both shot in NYC. His architectural design projects include RED, a vintage boutique in the East Village; Lemonade, a children’s boutique on the Upper East Side; VBAR St. Marks, a bar and restaurant in the East Village; and most recently 25 Park, a women’s l’atelier boutique on the Upper East Side, Bridgehampton, and Malibu. He is a 2010 Princess Grace Award nominee for theatrical design.

Andrew Asnes (Co-producer)
Andrew Asnes has produced, for Broadway: Superior Donuts, All My Sons, Legally Blonde the musical, The Color Purple Musical, as well as the National Tours of: Legally Blonde the Musical, The Color Purple Musical and the original cast album of Legally Blonde the Musical. As a performer, he has appeared on Broadway in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Jumpers. Previous to Broadway, Mr. Asnes was a lead dancer for 11 years with The Paul Taylor Dance Company.

ASIA SOCIETY is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and Asia. Asia Society seeks to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of arts and culture, policy and business, and education.

ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH (APAHM) is celebrated in May to commemorate the contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States. Congress passed a joint Congressional Resolution in 1978 to commemorate Asian American Heritage Week during the first week of May. This date was chosen because two important anniversaries occur during this time: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad (by many Chinese laborers) on May 10, 1869. In 1990 Congress voted to expand it from a week to a month long celebration and in May 1992, the month of May was permanently designated as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”

Other Articles by this Author
Multimedia: BD Wong, Anastasia Barzee, Clarke Thorell, Cindy Cheung and Orville Mendoza at Rattlestick Playwrights Theaters’ Musical Mix ‘n’ Mingle
BD Wong, Anastasia Barzee, Cindy Cheung and Orville Mendoza in Rattlestick’s Musical Mix ‘n’ Mingle
BD Wong Stars in the La Jolla Playhouse Production of Herringbone, August 1-30
A Night at the Apollo features Marva Hicks and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra at the Southern Theatre, April 13-17
House of Payne-“Payneful Visit” Episode features Denise Burse as Claretha Jenkins on TBS
André De Shields stars in Chicago Premiere of Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at Victory Gardens 5/14-6/12
Peter Jay Fernandez in Theatre for a New Audience’s Macbeth at The Duke through April 22
Ruby Dee, Alicia Keys and Sidney Poitier Among Honorees at Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Gala at Edison Ballroom on May 22
Up Close and Personal with Darren Pettie, Star of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet,Tracee Chimo opening night of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon
Multimedia: Exclusive photos and video of Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas -In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Multimedia: Promises, Promises’ Stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at Lord & Taylor Fifth Ave
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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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

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. Lia currently plays Nurse Lia on “One Life to Live”. She has appeared in Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and “New York Undercover”.

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,, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle,,,,,, 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 She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

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