Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

The Classical Theatre of Harlem 15th Anniversary Benefit featuring Patina Miller, Leslie Odom, Jr., and music from Witness Uganda at the Apollo Theater Soundstage on April 13

Classical Theatre of Harlem

Leslie Odom, Jr.

Leslie Odom, Jr.

Theater and Harlem luminaries will converge on the Apollo Theater Soundstage, 253 West 125th Street in New York on April 13 to mark the 15th anniversary of The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) (Ty Jones, Producing Artistic Director; David Roberts, Managing Director). Hosted by actor Leslie Odom, Jr. (HamiltonLaw & Order: SVU, Person of Interest and Smash), CTH’s 15thAnniversary Celebration and Benefit Concert will feature the New York premiere of songs from the eagerly anticipated off-Broadway musical Witness Uganda, as well as an appearance by Patina Miller (Tony Award winner, Best Actress in a Musical, Pippin).

Called “a joyous, wrenching experience” by the Boston GlobeWitness Uganda by Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould has won the American Academy of Arts and Letters 2014 Richard Rodgers Production Award for Musical Theater, ASCAP’s Dean Kay Award and ASCAP’s Harold Adamson Award, among others. The show, which is set to open off-Broadway later this year, chronicles one man’s battle to find his place in a world full of injustice and inhumanity and explores the question: Is changing the world even possible?

Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews - Face Off

Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews – Face Off

CTH celebrates 15 years of creating comprehensive access for theater artists of diverse backgrounds. This includes not only actors but also directors, designers, playwrights, technicians and arts administrators. Since its founding in 1999, CTH has presented a world repertory ranging from works by classical playwrights (Chekhov, Euripides and Shakespeare) and established 20th-century playwrights (August Wilson, Langston Hughes and Derek Walcott) to new plays by emerging playwrights.

The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s 2015 season includes two anchor productions, the first being Shakespeare’s classic The Tempest, directed by Carl Cofield, and the second the world premiere of The First Noel, a holiday musical directed by Kamilah Forbes and created by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson.

The family-friendly, free production of The Tempest will run from July 3 through 26 at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park and is presented in association with City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage festival. The CTH-commissioned musical The First Noel, by composer/lyricist Jason Michael Webb (Brooklyn Tabernacle, Broadway’s Motown the MusicalViolet) and writer/lyricist Lelund Durond Thompson (founder, YellaFella Entertainment; and CTH Artistic Associate) will premiere in December. In development for two years, the Harlem-based holiday show is destined to become an evergreen classic for years to come.

The host committee for the CTH 15th Anniversary Celebration and Benefit Concert includes Rodrick Covington; David and Monica Csatari; Frederick Davie and Michael Adams; Laurent Delly; Kwaku Driskell; Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews; Richard Habersham; Greg Mays; Joe Johnson; Ty and Jill Jones; Peggy and Ulrich Jorde; Jason and Yvonne Lee; Alex and Brad Linard; Greg Mays; Estela Ogiste, M.D., Ph.D., and Jason Ogiste, M.D.; Billy Porter; David Roberts and Paul Di Donato; Zead Ramadan; Juan Ignacio Rosa; Ken and Kate Ruck; Donavin and Emilie Scott; Meredith Simmons; and Sue Suh.

Tickets for the event, which starts at 6:30 pm, are $100 each and can be purchased online at The Classical Theatre of Harlem can be found on Twitter at @classicalharlem and on Facebook at

Ty Jones. Photo by Jill Jones

Ty Jones. Photo by Jill Jones


The Classical Theatre of Harlem (Ty Jones, Producing Artistic Director; David Roberts, Managing Director) is an American theatre company which tells stories as seen through the lens of the African diaspora and does work that honors the cultural legacy of the neighborhood in which it was founded. CTH combines original adaptations, music and dance to present great classics of world literature as well as contemporary works that will stand the test of time, while being truly reflective of the diversity of ideas and racial tapestry that is America. CTH also proudly provides theater-based training and live theater experiences to Harlem youth and their families through its arts education program, Project Classics. The organization engages new audiences, provides artistic development of new work and gives exposure to emerging playwrights with its three free reading series: Future Classics, Playwrights’ Playground, and Revisited Classics. CTH is supported in part by Axe-Houghton Foundation, Casement Fund, City Parks Foundation, Columbus Foundation, Dramatists Guild Fund, Ford Foundation, Harlem Community Development Corporation, Jarvis & Constance Doctorow Family Foundation, L & N Andreas Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Office of NYC Councilmembers Inez E. Dickens and Mark D. Levine, Princess Grace Awards, Puffin Foundation West, SHS Foundation and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. Local business sponsors include: Art in FLUX, The Cecil, Harlem Shake, Lido, and Minton’s. and follow CTH on Twitter (@classicalharlem), Instagram (@classicalharlem), and Facebook (

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cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington and Roscoe Orman. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Traveling through the mouth of the Dragon with BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA’s James Hong, Peter Kwong, Lia Chang, Gerald Okamura, George Cheung, Al Leong, Jeff Imada, James Lew, Gary Goldman, Eric Lee, Joycelyne Lew
Dael Orlandersmith, Jenny Lyn Bader, Lee Hunkins, Kara Lee Corthron, Caridad Svich and Fengar Gael Talk Playwrighting with the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) Co-president Maxine Kern at Theater Lab
The Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, Inc.: 2015 Collaboration Award recognizing Women Working with Women Open Call
Sinatra: An American Icon Exhibit on View through September 4 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
“Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men” on view at Museum of the Moving Image through June 14; Required Viewing: Mad Men’s Movie Influences Film Series Screenings through April 26
Disney Developing Live-Action ‘Mulan’
Kenny Leon Helmed ‘The Wiz’ Set as NBC’s Next Live Musical to air on Dec. 3; Broadway Revival Slated for 2016-17
Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion Exhibition on view at New-York Historical Society through April 19; Photos of An Evening with Amy Tan
“Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong,” – Retrospective of Disney Legend at MOCA through September 13
Dining out at élan with Artist Arlan Huang; New Paintings on view at Trestle Gallery
Photos and Video: Rachel York, Alan Ariano, YoonJeong Seong and More in Dallas Summer Musicals’ THE KING AND I at the Music Hall at Fair Park through April 5
Award Winning Actor Raul Aranas Talks THE BLACKLIST, NAAP’S OLIVER!, Songwriting and the Zen of Cycling
Tony Award Winners Chita Rivera and Roger Rees, Jason Danieley, Mary Beth Peil, David Garrison & More Begin Previews in Terrence McNally’s THE VISIT on March 26
11th annual 72 Hour Shootout™ Filmmaking How-To Workshop: Writing the Best Script on April 16; Enter to Win a Free 72 Hour Shootout Registration
Vanity Fair: Ken Watanabe, Kelli O’Hara, Jon Viktor Corpuz and More of Lincoln Center’s Revival of The King and I
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
Signature Theatre Company’s Founding Artistic Director James Houghton To Step Down After 2015-16 25th Anniversary Season
Photos: Hudson Yang, Randall Park, Eddie Huang, Richard Lui, Lori Tan Chinn and More at #FreshOffTheBoat Viewing Party at The Circle NYC
Photo: Stan Egi, Ellen Crawford, Paige Lindsey White, Bruce Turk, Greg Watanabe and More in Jessica Kubzansky helmed PYGMALION at The Pasadena Playhouse through April 12; PYGMALION Themed Activities
LA Times Critic’s Choice FIGARO at A Noise Within; April 4, 5, 9, 10, 19, 30, May 1 and 10
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Apr. 13:THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE Original Cast Album Release Party at Joe’s Pub will feature André De Shields, Adam Chanler-Berat, Kevin Mambo, Kyle Beltran, Ken Barnett, Britton Smith, Akron Watson and Juson Williams
Rebecca Naomi Jones kicks off run as Yitzhak in HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH on April 14
11th annual 72 Hour Shootout™ Filmmaking How-To Workshop: Writing the Best Script on April 16; Enter to Win a Free 72 Hour Shootout Registration
Apr. 20: Garth Kravits joins Laura Benanti, Lena Hall, Scott Alan and more for BROADWAY SINGS TORI Concert to Benefit RAINN at (le) poisson rouge
East West Players’ Honors Paula Madison of Madison Media Management LLC and “Fresh Off The Boat” Executive Producers Nahnatchka Khan and Melvin Mar on April 20
April 23-30: The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) Lineup includes EVERYTHING BEFORE US, KTOWN COWBOYS, Shonali Bose’s MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW, Jennifer Phang’s ADVANTAGEOUS, Arthur Dong’s FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. and THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR
The 31st Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) presents Jennifer Phang’s ADVANTAGEOUS Featuring Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim, Jeanne Sakata, Jennifer Ikeda and Matthew Kim at the Aratani Theatre on April 24
April 26: The 31st Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) Artist Spotlight- Arthur Dong’s FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. and THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR
May 1: A/P/A Institute at NYU presents Remembering SlutForArt: Tseng Kwong Chi with Muna Tseng, Ping Chong, and Bill T. Jones
15th Annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) Lineup includes Shonali Bose’s MARGARITA WITH A STRAW & Aparna Sen’s SAARI RAAT; May 4-9
Photos: Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Spring Exhibition, CHINA: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, May 7–August 16
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Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 is the 2015 Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History 
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Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
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

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