Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: David Byrne, Alex Timbers, Jaygee Macapugay, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Adam Guettel, Sarah Saltzberg and More Celebrate Jose Llana’s Lincoln Center American Songbook Debut

Lincoln Center announcing the lifestream of Jose Llana's American Songbook debut on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Lincoln Center announcing the livestream of Jose Llana’s American Songbook debut on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

On Thursday night, as I turned the corner of Broadway and W. 65th St. on my way to the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse for Jose Llana’s Lincoln Center “American Songbook”, I was greeted by the sight of Llana’s photo by Billy Bustamante, larger than life, on electronic billboards extending the full length of the block, flashing details for the livestream of his concert.

Performance photos by Kevin Yatarola

Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay, Enrico Rodriguez, Simon Kafka, Jose Llana, Pete Donovan and Kevin Garcia in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay, Enrico Rodriguez, Simon Kafka, Jose Llana, Pete Donovan and Kevin Garcia in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Before a sold-out house, Llana’s lush and dynamic tenor filled the elegant, intimate room of The Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, framed against the backdrop of stunning views of the New York City skyline.

Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay and Jose Llana in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay and Jose Llana in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Llana’s recent star turn as Marcos in David Byrne & Fat Boy Slim’s Here Lies Love at The Public Theater (dir. Alex Timbers), was his most charismatic and seductive to date, and garnered him a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. Llana is a gifted storyteller, and his charisma and comedic chops were on full display during his concert celebrating 19 years in the business, having made his professional debut as Lun Tha in the 1996 Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein The King and I, alongside Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips.

Here Lies Love castmates Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay, Enrico Rodriguez in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse for Jose Llana's Lincoln Center “American Songbook” debut in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Here Lies Love castmates Jeigh Madjus, Jaygee Macapugay, Enrico Rodriguez in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse for Jose Llana’s Lincoln Center “American Songbook” debut in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

It was a virtual Here Lies Love reunion onstage with musical director Kimberly Grigsby (HLL musical director) at the helm and on the keys; musical arrangements and orchestrations by Matt Stine (HLL musical editor) and Cody Owen Stine; and HLL cast members Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus and Enrico Rodriguez as his background singers. He was accompanied by Kevin Garcia on Drums, Pete Donovan on Bass, Simon Kafka on Guitar and Jack Bashkow on Reeds.

During the evening, Llana reminisced about his history with The Public Theater, where he appeared as Gabey in the George C. Wolfe helmed On the Town at the Delacorte; in Adam Guettel’s Saturn Returns, directed by Tina Landau; and most recently, as Ferdinand Marcos in David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim’s Here Lies Love. Llana gave shoutouts to Oskar Eustis, David Henry Hwang, Adam Guettel, David Byrne and Alex Timbers, who were sitting at tables in front of me. His selections included songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Adam Guettel, Leonard Bernstein, William Finn, David Byrne; in addition to his own spin on tunes made popular by Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Ed Sheeran and George Michael.  Llana also sang Kailangan Kita, a Filipino song, featured on Jose, his Filipino-language best-selling album in Manila.

Kimberly Grigsby, Pete Donovan, Simon Kafka, Jose Llana, Jon Nakagawa, Lincoln Center’s Director of Contemporary Programming Charles Cermele, Producer of Contemporary Programming, Kevin Garcia, Jack Bashkow, Jeigh Madjus, Enrico Rodriguez, Jaygee Macapugay toast to the success of the concert backstage at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

(Back Row) Kimberly Grigsby, Pete Donovan, Simon Kafka, Jose Llana, Jon Nakagawa, Lincoln Center’s Director of Contemporary Programming, Charles Cermele, Producer of Contemporary Programming, Kevin Garcia, Jack Bashkow, (Front Row) Jeigh Madjus, Enrico Rodriguez, Jaygee Macapugay toast to the success of the concert backstage at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

“This has been one of the most extraordinarily rewarding and difficult things I’ve ever done, but it is paying off,” said Llana. “An artist hopes that he has something to say, and everyone in this room has helped me become a better artist, a better partner, a better brother, son and better friend, so I thank you so much for coming tonight, everybody here.”

Also in the house, Jed Bernstein, Michael Friedman, Jeanine Tesori, Annie-B Parsons, Philip Himberg, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Christine Toy Johnson, Jhett Tolentino, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Sarah Saltzberg, Michael Winther, Debralee Daco, and so many more in the audience who leapt to their feet for several standing ovations.
nytimes.com: Review: Jose Llana Radiates Youthful Bravado in ‘American Songbook’

Enrico Rodriguez, Adam Guettel, Jose Llana, Kimberly Grigsby, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus, Matt Stine, Cody Owen Stine at the afterparty at Tavern on the Green in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Enrico Rodriguez, Adam Guettel, Jose Llana, Kimberly Grigsby, Jaygee Macapugay, Jeigh Madjus, Matt Stine, Cody Owen Stine at the afterparty at Tavern on the Green in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Full Lineup

Jaygee Macapugay and Jose Llana sing Child of the Phillipines from Here Lies Love in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

Jaygee Macapugay and Jose Llana sing Child of the Phillipines from Here Lies Love in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse on March 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Yatarola

1. SATURN RETURNS (Saturn Returns by Adam Guettel)
2. ICARUS (Saturn Returns  by Adam Guettel)
3. WE KISS IN A SHADOW/I HAVE DREAMED (The King & I  by Rodgers & Hammerstein)- Llana’s Broadway Debut in 1996.
4. LONELY TOWN (from On the Town by Bernstein/Comden/Green)
5. BABY WORKOUT (by Jackie Wilson & Alonzo Tucker)
6. SUNDAY/SUNDAY MORNING (from Flower Drum Song  by Rodgers & Hammerstein/Maroon 5 – Adam Levine, James Valentine, Jese Carmichael, Mickey Madden & Ryan Dusick)
7. HERO AND LEANDER — (by Adam Guettel)
8. CHILD OF THE PHILIPPINES — (by David Byrne & Fat Boy Slim)-Llana put his own spin on a song, originally sung by the Aquino character in Here Lies Love, and was joined by Jaygee Macapugay who portrayed Imelda.
9. KAILANGAN KITA — (by Ogie Alcasid, Filipino composer)
10.  MY UNFORTUNATE ERECTION –(The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee  by William Finn

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee castmates Sarah Saltzberg, Jose Llana, Celia Keenan-Bolger. Photo by Lia Chang

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee reunion Sarah Saltzberg, Jose Llana, Celia Keenan-Bolger. Photo by Lia Chang

Llana shared, “We’re having a Spelling Bee original cast reunion concert, Monday, July 6, 2015, at Town Hall.”
11.  THINKING OUT LOUD – (by Ed Sheeran)- dedicated to his partner, Erik Rose.

Jon Nakagawa,Lincoln Center’s Director of Contemporary Programming, Jose Llana and his partner, Erik Rose. Photo by Lia Chang

Jon Nakagawa,Lincoln Center’s Director of Contemporary Programming, Jose Llana and his partner, Erik Rose. Photo by Lia Chang

12.  LULLABY – (by Billy Joel) – “I have a hero and her name is Patricia. She’s my older sister.” This is the song he hummed to her children, his niece, Veronica and nephew, Max, during midnight duty.

13.  FREEDOM 90 – (by George Michael)
14.  PERFECT HAND — (by David Byrne & Fat Boy Slim)

Matt Stine, Debralee Daco, Jaygee Macapugay, Alex Timbers, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Enrico Rodriguez, Maria Christina Oliveros, Cody Owen Stine. Photo by Lia Chang

Matt Stine, Debralee Daco, Jaygee Macapugay, Alex Timbers, Jeigh Madjus, Jose Llana, Enrico Rodriguez, Maria Christina Oliveros, Cody Owen Stine. Photo by Lia Chang

After the concert and champagne toast with his band, Llana greeted his guests in the green room, then headed to his after party at Tavern on the Green with his family.

Jose Llana at the Lincoln Center American Songbook afterparty at Tavern on the Green in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana at the Lincoln Center American Songbook afterparty at Tavern on the Green in New York on March 12, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Jose Llana’s Broadway credits include Chip Tolentino in William Finn’s The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee (Drama Desk Award, dir. James Lapine), El Gato in Wonderland, Wang Ta in David Henry Hwang’s adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, Angel in RENT (dir. Michael Greif), Jessie-Lee in Streetcorner Symphony and his debut as Lun Tha in the 1996 Revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King & I opposite Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips. Off-Broadway appearances include Adam in Falling For Eve (York), Gabey in On the Town (dir. George C. Wolfe, Delacorte) and Adam Guettel’s Saturn Returns (dir. Tina Landau, Public Theater). Regional appearances include Bill Sikes in Oliver! (Papermill), Guillaume in Cameron Mackintosh’s Martin Guerre (Guthrie Theater), Tin Man in Ballad of Little Jo (Steppenwolf Theater, dir. Tina Landau, Jefferson Nomination – Best Supporting Actor) and Candide in Candide (Prince Theater, Barrymore Nomination – Best Actor). TV/Film appearances include HBO’s “Sex and the City opposite Margaret Cho and Hitch with Will Smith. Appearing on numerous cast albums Jose is also a best-selling recording artist on the VIVA Philippines label.  Training from Manhattan School of Music. Jose is a constant advocate for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and serves on the Advisory Committee for Broadway Impact for Marriage Equality.  www.josellana.com

Since its launch in 1998, American Songbook has been dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary achievements of the popular American songwriter from the turn of the 20th century to the present day. Spanning all styles and genres from Tin Pan Alley and Broadway to the eclecticism of today’s songwriters working in pop, cabaret, rock, folk and country, American Songbooktraces the history and charts the course of the American song from its past and current forms to its future direction.

Jaygee Macapugay, Jose Llana and Lia Chang. Photo by David McQueen

Jaygee Macapugay, Jose Llana and Lia Chang. Photo by David McQueen

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

Reviews:
nytimes.com: Review: Jose Llana Radiates Youthful Bravado in ‘American Songbook’
flavorpill.com: Jose Llana Thrills at American Songbook at Lincoln Center
theaterpizzazz.com: Jose Llana – Lincoln Center’s American Songbook

Related articles:
Photos: In Rehearsal with Jose Llana; Set for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Debut on March 12
Jose Llana Set for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Debut on March 12
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Crafting a Career
Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 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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