Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Photos: Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE starring Brandon J. Dirden, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff, Andrew Hovelson and Charles Weldon at Two River Theater through May 3

Two River Theater (Artistic Director John Dias, Managing Director Michael Hurst) presents the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, written and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The press opening is Friday, April 17 at 8pm and performances will continue through Sunday, May 3 in Two River’s Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, NJ.  Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or tworivertheater.org.

Merritt Janson (Judith) and Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Merritt Janson (Judith) and Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Production Photos: Michal Daniel

An Upper West Side dinner party invitation brings an unlikely group together, spawning a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race. Brandon J. Dirden and Merritt Janson star as Zeke and Judith in Two River’s commissioned world-premiere drama about America’s relationship to race—and the power of hope and possibility in all of our lives. Zeke is a highly educated, once-homeless man who describes himself as a “walking outburst.”  Judith, a self-described “seeker of knowledge,” is a writer who decides that his life would make a great feature for The New York Times Magazine. As the story progresses and their worlds collide, Zeke and Judith discover the price of history, sacrifice, and legacy.

Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke), far right, with from left: Roslyn Ruff (Janeece), Andrew Hovelson (Randall) and Merritt Janson (Judith) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke), far right, with from left: Roslyn Ruff (Janeece), Andrew Hovelson (Randall) and Merritt Janson (Judith) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) most recently appeared on Broadway as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. opposite Bryan Cranston’s LBJ in All the Way. His other New York theater credits include Clybourne Park and The Piano Lesson; at Two River Theater, he starred in Jitney and Topdog/Underdog. His television credits include The Americans and The Good Wife.

Merritt Janson (Judith) was most recently seen in Theatre for a New Audience’s production of Tamburlaine the Great and The Last Will with Abingdon Theatre Company. She has appeared in numerous productions with Shakespeare & Company, American Repertory Theatre, and the Moscow Art Theatre.

Roslyn Ruff (Janeece) and Andrew Hovelson (Randall) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Roslyn Ruff (Janeece) and Andrew Hovelson (Randall) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Also featured in the cast are Andrew Hovelson (Broadway’s Lucky Guy and An Enemy of the People) as Randall, Judith’s boyfriend; Charles Weldon (Broadway’s The River Niger and Big Time Buck White with Mohammed Ali and Stir Crazy opposite Richard Pryor) as Zebedee, a recluse who has chosen to live for the past 40 years in a book-lined room under Grand Central Station; and Roslyn Ruff (Two Trains Running at Two River Theater, Lortel Award winner for The Piano Lesson at Signature Theatre, All the Way on Broadway) as Janeece, Judith’s best friend.

Charles Weldon (Zebedee) and Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Charles Weldon (Zebedee) and Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) in the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s directing credits include August Wilson’s Jitney and Two Trains Running at Two River Theater and The Piano Lesson for Signature Theatre. He won an Obie Award and critical acclaim for his solo show Lackawanna Blues, and his screenplay for the HBO adaptation received the Humanitas Prize and other honors. As an actor, his credits include August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, for which he received the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play; August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned at Signature Theatre; and the feature film Selma.

The creative team for Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine includes scenic designer Michael Carnahan, costume designer Karen Perry, lighting designer Driscoll Otto, and sound designer Robert Kaplowitz. The production will feature original music by Bill Sims Jr. The fight director is Thomas Schall, the casting is by Heidi Griffiths and the production stage manager is Laura Wilson.

photo_6 Click here to RSVP.

Two River Theater is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division within the Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Monmouth University, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, Investors Bank, Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, Brookdale Community College, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, William T. Morris Foundation, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at the Atrium at Navesink Harbor, , and many other generous foundations, corporations and individuals.

Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, creates great American theater performed by award-winning artists. We produce American and world masterpieces, and new plays and musicals. Two River Theater offers new-play commissions and artistic development activities that support the most adventurous artists in the American theater; invites its audience to be part of the creative process through readings and open rehearsals; and cultivates students and young people to participate in innovative arts-education programs and become a new generation of theatergoers. Founded in 1994 by Joan and Dr. Robert M. Rechnitz, Two River Theater is easily accessible by car, train, or bus, with great restaurants and shopping within walking distance of the theater. For more information, visit tworivertheater.org or call 732.345.1400.  

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:
Thom Sesma, Emily Padgett, J. Elaine Marcos and Thai Superstar Bie Sukrit lead the cast of the world premiere of WATERFALL at The Pasadena Playhouse, May 29 – June 28 and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, October 1-25
Photo:The Public Theater Presents Tony Award-winner Lemon Andersen’s TOAST starring Tony Nominees Keith David and John Earl Jelks, Hill Harper and more, April 21 – May 10
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
A Sumptuous View of Ken Watanabe, Kelli O’Hara, Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, Conrad Ricamora, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Paul Nakauchi and More in Lincoln Center Theater’s Revival of The King and I
Joe Mantegna receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Film and Television from The Riverside International Film Festival
Hamilton tops Lucille Lortel Award Nominations along with Into the Woods, Between Riverside and Crazy, The Invisible Hand, The Nether and The Fortress of Solitude
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
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 in Terrence McNally’s THE VISIT
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
LA Times Critic’s Choice FIGARO at A Noise Within; April 4, 5, 9, 10, 19, 30, May 1 and 10
Jon Tenney, Tessa Auberjonois, John de Lancie, Emily Ruth James and Kwana Martinez Set for World Premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s MR. WOLF at South Coast Repertory, April 12-May 3
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
Jerome Preston Bates, Michael Chenevert, Stephanie Berry, Terria Joseph, Kim Weston Moran, Tony Sallemi and Count Stovall set for World Premiere of Richard Wesley’s AUTUMN at Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, April 23 through May 3
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
Tony Award® Nominees Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed to star in Rajiv Joseph’s GUARDS AT THE TAJ, helmed by Amy Morton, at Atlantic Theater Company, May 20-June 28
World Premiere Musical HAMILTON Transfers to Broadway; Previews begin July 13
Photos: National Black Theatre Festival 2013; NBTF runs August 3-8, 2015 and will include Act III – A Celebration of Life Reception saluting the late theatre icon Garland Lee Thompson, Sr.
Photos: John W. Kuo, Jessica Hagedorn, and Neal Katyal Receive AALDEF 2015 Justice in Action Awards
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 
THE GET DOWN, Baz Luhrmann’s New Drama Series Set in 1970s NYC That Gave Birth to Hip-Hop, Punk and Disco, to Premiere on Netflix in 2016
Variety.com: Ken Jeong to Star in ABC Medical Comedy Pilot ‘Dr. Ken’
Photos: Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More
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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