Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Jon Norman Schneider is Making a Splash in Pool Boy at the Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab, 7/13-8/8

MaryAnn Hu, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Jon Norman Schneider, Cindy Cheung and Angela Lin in a scene from the staged concert of Heading East, a musical by Robert Lee and Leon Ko at the Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium at Asia Society in New York on May 24, 2010. Photo by Lia Chang

MaryAnn Hu, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Jon Norman Schneider, Cindy Cheung and Angela Lin in a scene from the staged concert of Heading East, a musical by Robert Lee and Leon Ko at the Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium at Asia Society in New York on May 24, 2010. Photo by Lia Chang

Jon Norman Schneider is currently making a splash as Jack in Pool Boy at the Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab in Pittsfield, MA. through August 8, 2010. In May, Schneider appeared in a benefit staged reading of Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East: A Musical at the Asia Society in New York, where his portrayal as Leonard Tong, the piano playing son of Siu Yee Tong, a Chinese immigrant played by BD Wong, was simply delightful.
BD Wong and Jon Norman Schneider backstage at the Asia Society before the opening night performance of Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East on May 24, 2010.  In the musical they play father and son. Photo by Lia Chang

BD Wong and Jon Norman Schneider backstage at the Asia Society before the opening night performance of Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East on May 24, 2010. In the musical they play father and son. Photo by Lia Chang

The Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab, under the mentorship of Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist William Finn kicked off its fifth season on July 13, with the world premiere of Pool Boy, a new musical with music and lyrics by Nikos Tsakalakos and book and lyrics by Janet Allard. Directed by Daniella Topol, Pool Boy has an Opening Night set for Wednesday, July 21 at 7:30pm at BSC’s Stage 2 space, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA, and is scheduled to run through Sunday, August 8.

What happens when an aspiring songwriter spends his summer serving cocktails to the rich and famous? In hopes of catching a break, he hobnobs with the big shots and is seduced by L.A.’s glitz and a sexy older woman. Love and chaos ensue in this new musical set poolside at the Hotel Bel-Air, based on Nikos Tsakalakos’s experience as a pool boy there.

The cast features Jay Armstrong Johnson (Broadway: HAIR) as Nick, Sara Gettelfinger (most recently seen on tour as Cruella DeVille in 101 Dalmations; Broadway: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) as Mrs. Duval, Sorab Wadia (London: Jihad! The Musical) as the Sultan, Cortney Wolfson (Broadway: Les Miserables revival) as April, Cliff Bemis (Original Cast: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas) as Mr. Lopes and John Hickok (Broadway: Little Women, AIDA, Parade) as Mr. Duval.

Pool Boy marks the first show collaboration between Allard and Tsakalakos, who previously penned the song “I Have a Lion,” which has been performed in Songs by Ridiculously Talented…, Late Nite with Niko and Songs of A Night Owl.

The production features music direction by Matt Castle, choreography by Shonn Wiley, scenic design by Brian Prather, costume design by Holly Cain, lighting design by Nicole Pearce, and sound design by Brad Berridge. Production Stage Manager is Michael Andrew Rodgers. Assistant Director is Nick Potenzieri.

Jon Norman Schneider’s legit credits in New York include Ching Chong Chinaman (Pan Asian Rep), Queens Boulevard (the musical) (Signature), Durango (Public), Thunder Above Deeps Below (2G), A Play on War, Blind Mouth Singing (NAATCO). Regionally, he has appeared in American Hwangap (Magic), Durango (Long Wharf), Citizen 13559: the Journal of Ben Uchida (Kennedy Center), O’Neill Playwrights Conference, REDCAT. Workshops: Oblivion(Playwrights Horizons), Edith Can Shoot Things And Hit Them (Ma-Yi), Futura (NAATCO/New Dramatists). His film and television credits include Last Night (upcoming), The Rebound, Hiding Divya and HBO’s Angel Rodriguez(opposite Rachel Griffiths), “The Electric Company,” “30 Rock,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He holds a BFA from New York University.

Niko Tsakalakos (Music and Lyrics) At BSC: Inaugurated Barrington Stage’s Late Night Series, August 2007, with Late Nite with Niko, an evening of original songs. World Premiere run of original revue, Songs of a Night Owl, August 2008. Contributed to the annual writer’s showcase, Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists…, in September 2007 and 2008, as well as at Joe’s Pub, November 2008. Other credits: Co-composer of Duck for President and Other Stories, Theatreworks, August 2010. Appeared in 2009 ANT Fest at Ars Nova with Songs of a Night Owl. He is a Rutgers University graduate with a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis on creative writing and poetry. As drummer and lead vocalist, his band Saint Friday has played the Los Angeles circuit, including venues such as the Viper Room, the Roxy and the Troubadour. Two-time recipient of the UCLA Writing Lyrics that Succeed and Endure scholarship with Concord Records and Marty Panzer. May 2008, graduated with an MFA from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He also worked poolside for three summers at the Hotel Bel-Air.

Janet Allard (Book and Lyrics) Janet is a playwright and bookwriter/lyricist. Recent Works include: Vrooommm! A NASComedy published by Samuel French, Incognito, Loyal and Untold Crimes of Insomniacs, published by Playscripts, Inc. Her musical The Unknown: A Silent Movie Musical (with Shane Rettig and Jean Randich) won a Jonathan Larson Award with P73 Productions and appeared at the New York Musical Theater Festival. Ms. Allard is the recipient of two Jerome Fellowships at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. Her work has been seen at The Guthrie Lab, The Kennedy Center, Mixed Blood, Playwrights Horizons, Yale Rep, The Yale Cabaret, The Women’s Project, Perseverance Theatre, Joe’s Pub, with P73 Productions, She is a Fulbright Fellow, has an M.F.A in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, has studied at the NYU Musical Theatre Writing program with William Finn and written songs Niko Tsakalakos has performed in Barrington’s cabarets as well as Joes Pub and Ars Nova. She currently teaches playwriting at University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Performances of Pool Boy are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 7:30pm at BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield. Opening Night: Wed., July 21 at 7:30pm. Tickets: $15-$45. Seniors: $20 all matinees. Pay What You Can Night for 35 year olds and younger: Fri., July 16 at 7:30pm. Post-show discussions with the cast will be held following the Thursday, July 15 and Thursday, August 5 performances. For ticket information call 413-236-8888, stop by the BSC Box Office at 30 Union Street or visit Please note that Pool Boy contains adult situations and strong language.

About the Musical Theatre Lab (MTL)
Celebrating its 5th year, BSC’s Musical Theatre Lab, overseen by Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist William Finn, is a place for young musical theatre writers to develop their work on all levels: from staged readings to workshops to full productions. Since its creation, five world premieres and four workshops have been produced. The critically-acclaimed The Burnt Part Boys (2006), written by Nathan Tysen, Chris Miller and Marianne Elder, received a production at Playwrights Horizons in May/June 2010. Barry Wyner’s 2007 hit musical Calvin Berger recently received critical acclaim at the George Street Playhouse, and an Off-Broadway production is planned. In 2008 The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Joe Calarco (book), Nathan Tysen (lyrics) and Chris Miller (music) received a full production (after a 2007 MTL workshop) and was chosen one of the Top 10 year-end shows by both The Boston Globe and The Berkshire Eagle. See Rock City and Other Destinations by Adam Mathias and Brad Alexander was also produced in 2008 and won a Top 10 nod from Metroland, and will receive its NYC premiere at The Transport Group this summer.

Other Articles by this author
Photo Call: BD Wong and the Cast of Heading East at the Asia Society
33rd Asian American International Film Festival: Stephanie Wang-Breal’s Wo Ai Ni Mommy screens at Clearview Chelsea Cinema on 7/16 and at Queens Library on 7/23
Christine Toy Johnson Plays Christmas Eve in AVENUE Q at Weston Playhouse Theatre in Vermont, 7/15-31
Lia Chang as Nurse Lia on One Life to Live
Portrait of Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to Be Presented at the National Portrait Gallery
Making the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution Bill a Reality
Asian Women Donors Grant $82,000 to NYC Artists and Non-profits Committed to Activism Thru The Arts
AALDEF and the 33rd Asian American International Film Festival co-sponsors screenings of 9500 Liberty and Lt Watada at the Quad Cinema on July 17
Randy Gener Wins 2010 SPJ Deadline Club Award for Best Arts Reporting in New York City
Raymond Red’s Manila Sky Kicks Off the 33rd Asian American International Film Festival at the Chelsea Clearview Cinema on July 15; Festival continues through July 24
33rd Asian American International Film Festival Shorts Film Program Lineup
Photos by Lia Chang at the Shanghai World Expo 2010’s USA Pavilion, Library of Congress and Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection in L.A.
Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection Exhibition at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, has been extended through November 7, 2010
Hazel Anne Raymundo Joins Off-Broadway Cast of AVENUE Q
Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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Photo by Lia Chang

Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer and an award-winning multimedia journalist. Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, VIBE, 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. As a photographer and videographer, Lia is frequently tapped to collaborate with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive. 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.

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