Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins Celebrates Ethel Waters at 54 Below in New York on August 27, 2012

Tonight, I’m going to my new favorite cabaret club, the swellegant 54 Below in New York, to see Tony award-winner Tonya Pinkins, where she’ll be performing signature anthems celebrating the life and music of Ethel Waters, at 9:30pm.

Tonya Pinkins

Tonya Pinkins

Ms. Pinkins’ late summer concert will feature excerpts from her upcoming one woman show about Ethel Waters, a legendary artist who was America’s first International superstar of any race, written in collaboration with Dennis Courtney entitled HURRICANE ETHEL. This is her first concert performance since her celebrated Jazz at Lincoln Center appearance in 2005 when she performed her acclaimed Harold Arlen Concert.

Best known for her celebrated roles in Caroline, or Change and Jelly’s Last Jam, Ms. Pinkins made her Broadway debut in the original cast of Merrily We Roll Along. Broadway audiences have also delighted in her performances in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Play On!, The Wild Party and Radio Golf, while television audiences know her from “As The World Turns,” “All My Children” and “Army Wives”. Her performance in Milk Like Sugar won the 2012 Lucille Lortel Award, and she has been nominated for the Olivier, Jefferson, Helen Hayes, NAACP, Dramaleague, What’s On Stage, Audience Choice, Soap Opera Digest, Noel and Ovation Awards. She is the winner of the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Clarence Derwent, Monarch, Black Theatre Alliance, Garland, L.A. Drama Critics, AUDELCO and Obie Awards.

Ms. Pinkins is the author of GET OVER YOURSELF: How to drop the drama and claim the life you deserve. (Hyperion Books) and is the creator of “The Actorpreneur Attitude,” giving workshops lectures & life coaching to businesses & individuals across the globe. A single mother of four, she is an activist for women’s and children’s rights and has won legal battles in several states on the trial and appellate level as a self-represented litigant. She is also an accomplished painter and art teacher, and has taught at every level of education, from pre-K through graduate school.

54 Below in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

54 Below in New York. Photo by Lia Chang


54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street in New York. There is a $30-$40 cover plus a $25 food/drink minimum. The concert is at 9:30pm, doors open at 9pm. For more information, call 646-476-3551.
Faith Prince and Jason Graae onstage after their show at 54 Below in New York on August 24, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Faith Prince and Jason Graae onstage after their show at 54 Below in New York on August 24, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang


My first visit to 54 Below was last Thursday to see Faith Prince and Jason Graae in their show, The Prince and the Showboy. The charming and funny pair received glowing reviews during their one week run in New York. I first met Jason when he was performing in the Off-Broadway hit Forever Plaid, and reconnected with him over the summer in St. Louis where he was performing as Omar, in Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny.

Faith and Jason have been fast friends since their college days at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, and their closeness and mutual admiration for one another was evident on the intimate stage, even from my seat at the bar (There isn’t a bad seat in the house).

Both masters of their craft with impeccable comedic timing, the Broadway vets were accompanied by their musical director, Alex Rybeck on the keys. I had so much fun, that I returned with another friend for the late night show on Friday. We were seated in front of the stage, and were treated to an even richer experience. Thank you Faith and Jason for the laughter, the tears and the gift of your performances.

Francis Jue, Jason Graae and Eddie Korbich in Disney's Aladdin at The Muny on JUly 8, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Francis Jue, Jason Graae and Eddie Korbich in Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny on JUly 8, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

Other articles on The Prince and The Showboy:
nytimes.com: Two Vestiges of Vaudeville
Broadway.com: Music Mix: 54 Below’s Faith Prince and Jason Graae Talk Liza, The Book of Mormon and Once On This Island
theatermania.com: Faith Prince & Jason Graae: The Prince & The Showboy

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Faith Prince and Jason Graae: The Prince & the Showboy in Concert at 54 Below, August 21-25, 2012
Photos: All-Access Pass to Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny with Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin De Jesus, John Tartaglia, Jason Graae, Curtis Holbrook, Eddie Korbich, Samantha Massell and Ken Page
Photos: Tonya Pinkins, Billy Eugene Jones, Matthew Murumba and Toccarra Cash in Reading of Camille Darby’s Lords Resistance
Reading of Camille Darby’s Lords Resistance Stars Tonya Pinkins, Billy Eugene Jones, Tocarra Cash and Matthew Murumba at The Red Room on January 18
David Henry Hwang to Receive the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the 5th Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards on October 29, 2012
10 minutes with Sullivan & Son’s Jodi Long, Award Winning Actor and Filmmaker
West Coast Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish at Berkeley Rep stars Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge, August 24-October 7, 2012
New York Foundation for the Arts presents ‘An Evening with David Henry Hwang’ at Barnes & Noble on July 26, 2012
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Oskar Eustis, BD Wong, Brian d’Arcy James, Francis Jue, Jennifer Lim and Leigh Silverman at WNYC’s The Greene Space
Multimedia: Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s Conversations with Derek Ting, Linus Roache and Michael Park of $upercapitalist
Tony Award – winning Playwright Terrence McNally to be Honored at Westport Country Playhouse Annual Gala, September 24, 2012
Richard Thomas and Boyd Gaines to star in An Enemy of the People at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre during Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2012-2013 Season
Lily Mariye’s Model Minority, Jayshree Janu Kharpade’s Fire in Our Hearts, Eliaichi Kimaro’s A Lot Like You, Vincent Sandoval’s Señorita, and Liang Cheng’s My Spiritual Medicine among AAIFF’12 Award Winners
Janet Yang to receive 2012 Asian American Media Award at AAIFF’12 Opening Night Presentation of Shanghai Calling
George Takei, Lea Salonga, Telly Leung and Paolo Montalban star in the World Premiere of Allegiance – A New American Musical at The Old Globe, September 7 – October 21, 2012
Three Year Swim Club, Encounter, TEA, Christmas in Hanoi and Chess set for East West Players 47th Anniversary Season
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Photos: BD Wong, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Brandon Victor Dixon, Tom Viola at “Passing It On: An Evening of Mentorship to Benefit Rosie’s Theater Kids”
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (3pm) with Andre Bishop, Mary Beth Hurt, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Philip Kan Gotanda, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders, and more
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (8pm) with Oskar Eustis, Patti LuPone, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, John Weidman and more
Photos: In Rehearsal with Director Bartlett Sher and the cast of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan
Photos: In Rehearsal with BD Wong at Dixon Place for Live Concert Recording of Herringbone
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2012 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 liachangpr@gmail.com

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