Last year, Drama Desk Award-winning theatre star Jose Llana received critical acclaim for his concert at the Lincoln Center American Songbook Series, which celebrated his 20 years on Broadway and featured a savvy collection of songs that he has performed on and off the main stem, in addition to pop favorites.
The first thing I asked Llana after the concert was whether there was going to be an album. Lucky for us, on Friday, May 13th, YELLOW SOUND LABEL is releasing Altitude, his debut American solo album, featuring many of the songs that he performed in concert. Tony Award winner Ruthie Ann Miles, his co-star in the Off-Broadway smash Here Lies Love, is featured as a special guest. Altitude is produced by Michael Croiter with Kimberly Grigsby serving as Music Director. Pre-order the album at www.YellowSoundLabel.com.
Llana will return to the starring role in Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King & I from April 19 to May 1, directed by Bartlett Sher, appearing opposite Analisa Leaming.
His two week return will be a reunion with his Here Lies Love co-star Ruthie Ann Miles. Llana appeared in the title role for the first time last season and made his Broadway debut as “Lun Tha” in the 1996 Revival of the show opposite Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips. Advance copies of Altitude will be exclusively available at the Vivian Beaumont during this time.
Altitude follows Llana through show-stopping highlights of his accomplished Broadway career. When this program debuted last year at Lincoln Center, a rave review from Flavorpill praised Llana as “an exceptionally versatile performer, thrilling the audience with contemporary pop songs and Broadway standards alike.” The album features several numbers from The King & I, including his personal arrangement of “A Puzzlement.” “Child of the Philippines” and “A Perfect Hand” come from Here Lies Love, the smash hit musical at the Public Theater which helped him explore his own Filipino roots. Ben Brantley of The New York Times said “he should have been nominated” for a Tony Award in his the role of Marcos. Other highlights include “Chip’s Lament” from William Finn’s Spelling Bee – in which Llana was called a “standout” by The Washington Post – and selections are from Adam Guettel’s song cycle Saturn Returns. The album is rounded out by numbers from classic musicals Company and On the Town, pop hits from Billy Joel and Ed Sheeran, and a contribution from Pretty Dead Girl, a musical adaptation of the cult short film.
“Twenty years ago – in the Broadway Revival of The King & I – I began an amazing, messy, unpredictable journey,” says Llana. “Since then, I’ve gotten to sail on Adam Guettel’s rolling waves, misspell words in Bill Finn’s adolescent gymnasium, and rule with an iron fist in David Byrne’s presidential palace. And two decades after I arrived in New York, when I took the stage as the King in the new Broadway production of The King and I, I knew I’d come full circle. At my concert for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series, I got the chance to honor the composers who’ve kept me gainfully employed, and who make me want to keep reaching for higher altitudes. This album was inspired by that night, and the astonishing music I’ve been lucky enough to get to sing.”
Jose Llana starred on Broadway as “Chip Tolentino” in William Finn’s The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee (Drama Desk Award, directed by James Lapine), “El Gato” in Wonderland, “Wang Ta” in David Henry Hwang’s adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, “Angel” in Rent (directed by Michael Greif) and “Jessie-Lee” in Street Corner Symphony.
His Off-Broadway appearances include “Marcos” in David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim’s Here Lies Love at The Public Theater (directed by Alex Timbers) garnering a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. “Adam” in Falling For Eve (York), “Gabey” in On the Town (directed by George C. Wolfe, Delacorte) and Adam Guettel’s Saturn Returns (directed by 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, directed by Tina Landau, Jefferson Nomination – Best Supporting Actor) and the title role in Candide (Prince Theater, Barrymore Nomination – Best Actor).
Llana’s TV and Film appearances include HBO’s “Sex and the City” opposite Margaret Cho and Hitch with Will Smith. He appears on numerous cast albums and is also a best-selling recording artist on the VIVA Philippines label. Trained at Manhattan School of Music, Jose is an advocate for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and serves on the Advisory Committee for Broadway Impact for Marriage Equality.
Yellow Sound Label is a Grammy Award-nominated, cutting-edge record company that produces both established performers and up-and-coming artists. The boutique label takes a hands-on approach in nurturing and producing passionate, focused performers and composers who create quality, noteworthy recordings. The label has featured the best of Broadway (Matilda, The Visit, Big Fish), Off Broadway (Heathers: The Musical, The Burnt Part Boys, Murder Ballad), theater luminaries (Chita Rivera, Alan Cumming, Telly Leung, Christopher Jackson), and rising songwriter/composers (Marcy & Zina, Kerrigan & Lowdermilk, Lance Horne, Michael Patrick Walker). www.YellowSoundLabel.com.
JOSE LLANA “ALTITUDE” TRACK LIST
Music by Richard Rodgers / Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, from The King & I
Broadway’s ‘The King and I’ Will Feature a Succession of Kings- Ken Watanabe Returns (Mar. 17 – Apr. 17), Jose Llana (Apr. 19- May 1), and Hawaii Five-O’s Daniel Dae Kim (May 3 – Jun. 26)
THE KING AND I’s Lainie Sakakura Ushers in the Year of the Monkey at P.S. 87 with Broadway Pals Ann Harada, Jose Llana, Telly Leung, Amaya Braganza, Sam Tanabe, Belinda Allyn, James Ignacio and YoonJeong Seong
Photos: Celebrating with Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles, Kelli O’Hara and Company after THE KING AND I’s Special Performance for The Actors Fund
Q & A with Jose Llana, the new King of Siam in LCT’s Tony Award-Winning Revival of The King and I
Photos: Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More
Photos: Jose Llana, Stephanie Umoh & cast of Falling for Eve
The Making of the Flower Drum Song Cast Album
Flower Drum Song, An American Story
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a 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, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.