Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Thom Sesma and Michele Ragusa Star in Greg Edwards & Andy Sandberg’s Craving for Travel through February 9, 2014

Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang

Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang

Thom Sesma (The Lion King, The Times They Are A-Changin’) and Michele Ragusa (Young Frankenstein, Disaster!) open in the world premiere of Greg Edwards & Andy Sandberg’s new comedy, Craving for Travel, Off-Broadway on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at the Peter J. Sharp Theater (416 W. 42nd Street, NYC). The play began previews on January 9 and will continue through February 9, 2014.

Helmed by Sandberg (Shida, The Last Smoker in America), a Tony Award-winner as a producer of Hair, the pair will collectively playing thirty characters-chiefly, Joanne and Gary, rival travel agents (and former spouses) vying for their industry’s most prestigious honor: the Globel Prize. Craving for Travel is commissioned and produced by Jim Strong, one of America’s leading luxury travel agents.

Tickets are $32.50 and $49.00 and can be purchased online at or, by phone at 212.279.4200, or in person at the box office at 416 W. 42nd Street (12 – 8pm daily).

With their reputations on the line, travel agents Joanne and Gary will tackle any request, no matter how impossible, and any client, no matter how unreasonable. Full of overzealous travelers, overbooked flights, and hoteliers who are just over it, Craving for Travel reminds us why we travel-and everything that can happen when we do.

The genesis of Craving for Travel began in 2011, when Jim Strong set out to find New York theater artists who could write about the travel industry in their own voice and shed light on the role of the modern travel agent. He found Edwards and Sandberg, arranged for them to interview travel professionals, and encouraged the writers to theatricalize their impressions, whatever they may be.

The creative team for the world premiere includes scenic design by Charlie Corcoran (The Weir), costume design by Tony Award nominee Michael McDonald (Hair), lighting design by Tony Award-winner Jeff Croiter (Peter and the Starcatcher), and sound design by Bart Fasbender & Dave Sanderson (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). Pamela Edington is the Production Stage Manager, and Andrew Jones is the General Manager. Casting is by Geoff Josselson.

Performances are Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 7pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. The evening performance on Wednesday, Jan 22 is at 7pm (instead of 7:30pm); and the Sunday, Feb 9 matinee performance will take place at 2pm (instead of 3pm). There will be added performances Jan 29 and Feb 5 at 3pm; no 7pm performance on Feb 2 or 9; and no 3pm performance on Jan 11. A full schedule can be found on the show’s website,

Thom Sesma (Gary et. al.) recently returned to New York from DC’s Signature Theatre, where he appeared as the Engineer in Eric Schaeffer’s newly re-imagined Miss Saigon. Mr. Sesma’s other theater credits include leading roles on Broadway and on tour, including The Times They Are A-Changin’, The Lion King, Search & Destroy, Titanic and Chu Chem. He has performed Off-Broadway with NSYF/Public Theatre, the Roundabout, Second Stage, The Drama Department, The Mint, NAATCO, Epic Theatre and others. Regionally, he has performed new plays, musicals and classical theater with The Old Globe, Yale Rep, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse, The McCarter, Two River Theatre Co., Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage and many more. Among his TV and film credits: are “The Good Wife,” Single Ladies, “Third Watch,” “Law & Order,” “Canterbury’s Law,” Over/Under, Lay The Favorite, Building Girl, and “Person of Interest.”

Michele Ragusa (Joanne et. al.) just finished a successful run as Jackie in the Off-Broadway production of Disaster, the Musical. She last starred on Broadway as Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein, succeeding Megan Mullally. Her other Broadway credits include UrinetownRagtimeA Class ActTitanic and Cyrano. Her Off-Broadway credits include Adrift in Macao (Primary Stages, Lortel and Drama League nominations as well as the Barrymore Award. Regional credits: Spamalot (Lady of the Lake, The Muny); Gypsy (Rose, The Hangar Theatre); Singing in the Rain (Lina Lamont, The Muny); Into the Woods (The Witch, Kansas City Rep., dir. Moises Kaufman); Annie (Miss Hannigan, TUTS); Kiss Me Kate (Kate, Paper Mill, dir. James Brennan); The Drowsy Chaperone (The Chaperone, Flat Rock Playhouse); Company (Sarah, Geva Theatre); Bad Dates (Haley, Studio Arena, dir. Scott Schwartz); She Loves Me (Amalia, Paper Mill, dir. James Brennan); Boeing Boeing (Gabriella, Engeman Theatre, dir. BT McNicholl); Guys and Dolls (Adelaide, Rabin Award, Dallas Theatre Center); Noises Off (Belinda, Studio Arena); Sweeney Todd (Beggar Wmn, Portland Center Stage); Side Sondheim (Berkshire Theatre Festival); Lend Me a Tenor (Maria, Portland Stage/Engeman Theatre); Me and My Girl (Jacquie, Goodspeed, dir. Scott Schwartz); Nunsense (Sr. Amnesia, Sacramento Music Circus). Ms. Ragusa is also seen as star vocalist with symphonies across the country.

Greg Edwards (Co-Author) has written lyrics for Neurosis: A New Musical (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse); book and lyrics for Taking the Plunge (NYMF, Samuel French OOB Festival), The Temptation of Lady Amsterdam (Prospect Musical Theatre Lab), and Office Space: The Musical (Yale); the script for Application Pending (with Andy Sandberg); and assorted songs with Marvin Hamlisch (White House Governors’ Dinner, Mr. Hamlisch’s holiday tour). Honors and approximations thereof include the BMI Harrington Award and the Fred Ebb Award (two-time finalist). He’s backpacked through India, Guatemala, Peru, and Iceland, but really he should have used a travel agent. For more information:

Andy Sandberg (Director; Co-Author) recently directed the world premiere of Shida (Ars Nova; nominated for four 2013 AUDELCO Awards), the world premiere of Operation Epsilon (nominated for three 2013 Elliot Norton Awards) at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA, and the New York premiere of The Last Smoker in America (Westside Theatre), having previously directed the world premiere at CATCO (Columbus, Ohio). Sandberg is the co-author of Application Pending, also with Greg Edwards. He has been represented on Broadway and London’s West End as a producer of HAIR (2009 Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle Awards) and the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (2012 Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle Nominations). Other New York directing credits include Zelda at the Oasis (St. Luke’s Theatre), R.R.R.E.D. and Bernice Bobs Her Mullet (NYMF), Into the Woods and A Funny Thing…Forum (Blue Hill Troupe), “Eli’s Comin’ to Broadway,” a BC/EFA benefit hosted by Nathan Lane (Lincoln Center), and multiple workshops, benefits, and readings. As producer: A Perfect Future (Cherry Lane Theatre); Paradise Found (Menier Chocolate Factory, London; dir. Hal Prince and Susan Stroman); and Vigil (DR2 Theatre). In 2007, Sandberg worked with Hal Prince on the Broadway production of LoveMusik. For more information: Twitter: @Andy_Sandberg.

Jim Strong (Producer) is one of America’s leading luxury travel agents and the President of Strong Travel Services in Dallas, Texas, a Virtuoso member agency. His experience and travel insights are sought by an exclusive clientele that includes prominent names in the arts, entertainment and business. Jim travels extensively throughout the world selecting and vetting unique hotels, villas, and destinations for his clients. He is the author of two luxury travel books and recently developed an iPhone and iPad app, all under the name Craving for Travel. A Certified Travel Counselor and an Accredited Cruise Counselor, Jim serves on the advisory boards of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ritz Carlton Hotels, Rosewood Hotels, Travel + Leisure Magazine, as well as many other luxury travel organizations.

Lia Chang. Photo by Thom Sesma

Lia Chang. Photo by Thom Sesma

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Celebrating the Year of the Horse with David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu at Signature Theatre; Previews begin February 4, 2014
March 21 – May 4: Arena Stage Presents World Premiere of Lawrence Wright’s Camp David Starring Tony Award winner Ron Rifkin and Emmy Award winner Richard Thomas
Feb. 7-22: Maggie Alexander and Ciarán Sheehan Star in Michael Weller’s Fifty Words at The Gene Frankel Theatre
Jan. 22-31: Photos: Tracey Conyer Lee, Lelund Durond Thompson, Matthew Murumba, and Carmen LoBue set for Camille Darby’s Lords Resistance Featured in The Fire This Time Festival at The Kraine Theater
Asian CineVision Auction Items Feature Producer Janet Yang, Kung Fu Playwright David Henry Hwang or a 4 Hour Photography Session with Lia Chang
André De Shields to receive 2014 Making Waves Award; will perform “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” at Florida Atlantic University
Jan. 31: Spend an Evening with Pauletta Pearson Washington at Joe’s Pub
2014 is the Year of the Horse, Dragons and Lions in The Chinese New Year Parade
Feb. 4 – Mar. 16: Phoebe Strole, Jon Rua, Join Cole Horibe and More for Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Q & A with Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play’s Garth Kravits
Peter Scolari, C.J. Wilson, Francois Battiste, Chris Henry Coffey and More Begin Previews in Eric Simonson’s The Bronx Bombers at Circle in the Square Theatre on January 10, 2014
Dec. 16: Award Winning Playwrights Rajiv Joseph and Tarell Alvin McCraney, the focus of PBS Film, Playwright: From Page to Stage
Signature’s Revival of The Piano Lesson Sweeps AUDELCO’s with 8 Wins including Best Revival, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Roslyn Ruff, Chuck Cooper and Brandon J. Dirden; Also Among 2013 “VIV” Winners – Wild with Happy’s Coleman Domingo and Sharon Washington; and Storyville’s Mercedes Ellington
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
Photos: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, André De Shields, Sandra Marquez, Dennis Zacek and More Celebrate Opening Night of Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Victory Gardens
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Signature Theatre’s 2013-14 Season Features New Works by Albee, Hwang, Enos, Taylor, Wilson, Clarke and Jacobs-Jenkins
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast

Other articles on Thom Sesma:
Photos: Backstage Q & A with Thom Sesma and the cast of Signature’s Miss Saigon
Jan. 9 – Feb. 9: Thom Sesma and Michele Ragusa to Star in Off-Broadway World Premiere of CRAVING FOR TRAVEL at Peter J. Sharp Theater
A Summer in Bangkok for Thom Sesma, Star of Signature’s Miss Saigon
Production Photos: Music Theatre of Wichita’s The King and I Starring Thom Sesma, Kim Huber, Alan Ariano, Karl Josef Co, Kay Trinidad, Tami Swartz at Century II Performing Arts Center through July 14, 2013
Christine Toy Johnson, Thom Sesma, Ali Ewolt, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Telly Leung and More Set for The Asian American Composers and Lyricists Project at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre on May 19, 2013
Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin de Jesus and John Tartaglia set for MUNY’s Aladdin, July 5-13
Thom Sesma is the keynote speaker for the Library of Congress celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) at the Mary Pickford Theater on May 17
Photos & Video Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas-In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Spotlight on Shanghai Moon’s Thom Sesma
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
Extended through 8/23- “In Rehearsal” Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at Library of Congress Featuring Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East Starring BD Wong, Thom Sesma as Scar in The Lion King Las Vegas
Photos: On the town with Rick Shiomi, Co-Editor of “Asian American Plays for a New Generation”, in D.C. & NY
Backstage at The Lion King Las Vegas with Thom Sesma
Thom Sesma as Scar in The Lion King at Mandalay bay
Thom Sesma, Peter Kim and Andrew Cristi star in Durango
Thom Sesma Stars in Jeanne Sakata’s Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi
Thom Sesma in The Epic Theatre Ensemble’s A HARD HEART
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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