Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Photos and Video: Paul Schoeffler, Kate Fahrner, Lori Tan Chinn, Ben Michael, Alison T. Chi, Fran Prisco in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC at Walnut Street Theatre through Oct. 23

Walnut Street Theatre opened its landmark 208th season with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Tony Award-winning romantic musical, SOUTH PACIFIC. Directed by Charles Abbott, with choreography by Michelle Gaudette and musical direction by John Daniels, this production began previews on September 6th and runs through October 23rd on the Walnut’s Mainstage.

Kate Fahrner, Courtney Chu, Kwanchi Loo and Paul Schoeffler. Photo by Mark Garvin

Kate Fahrner, Courtney Chu, Kwanchi Loo and Paul Schoeffler. Photo by Mark Garvin

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s American classic, SOUTH PACIFIC, weaves together tales of romance, duty and valor to bring audiences a hilarious, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking Broadway musical. Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with Emile, a French plantation owner. At the same time, U.S. Lieutenant Cable falls for a beautiful island native named Liat. On this island of paradise, can true love survive cultural prejudices and the threat of war? The thrilling score includes “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “There Is Nothing Like a Dame,” “Younger Than Springtime” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy.”

Kate Fahrner and Ensemble. Photo by Mark Garvin

Kate Fahrner and Ensemble. Photo by Mark Garvin

Paul Schoeffler (LES MISERABLES) and Kate Fahrner (Elf, Grease) star as Emile de Becque and Ensign Nellie Forbush. On Broadway, Schoeffler has been seen in Rock of Ages (Hertz), Sweet Charity (Vittorio Vidal), Peter Pan (Hook), Beauty and the Beast (Lumiere), Cyrano (Le Bret), Phantom of the Opera, Nine and Sunday in the Park with George. Fahrner returns to the Walnut having just performed the role of Eva Peron in Evita at Maine State Music Theatre. On Broadway, she has been seen in Wicked and was a member of the 1st National Tour of South Pacific.

Lori Tan Chinn and Ensemble. Photo by Mark Garvin

Lori Tan Chinn and Ensemble. Photo by Mark Garvin

Lori Tan Chinn makes her Walnut debut as the sarcastic, sassy Bloody Mary, a role for which she received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Chinn also played the role in the 2001 made-for-television movie, starring Glenn Close. Many audience members will recognize her from her character on “Orange is the New Black,” Mei Chang. Among Chinn’s numerous stage credits, she has been seen on Broadway in M. Butterfly, G.R. Point and Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen.

Alison T. Chi and Ben Michael. Photo by Mark Garvin

Alison T. Chi and Ben Michael. Photo by Mark Garvin

The cast also features Ben Michael (9 To 5: The Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Michael as U.S. Marine, Lieutenant Joseph Cable, Alison T. Chi as Liat, Fran Prisco (Sister Act, Harvey and A Christmas Story) as Luther Billis, Christopher Shin (A Christmas Story) as Henry, Billy D. Hart (Sister Act) as Stewpot, Ben Dibble (Harvey) as Professor, Jeffrey Coon (Mary Poppins) as Commander William Harbison and Dan Olmstead (Harvey) as Captain George Brackett, Courtney Chu and Ella Hampton share the role of Ngana, and Ethen Jih-Cook and Kwanchi Loo share the role of Jerome.

Sean Thompson, Dan Olmstead, Owen Pelesh, and Jeffrey Coon. Photo by Mark Garvin

Sean Thompson, Dan Olmstead, Owen Pelesh, and Jeffrey Coon. Photo by Mark Garvin

The ensemble includes Joey Abramowicz, Jennie Eisenhower, Maria Konstantinidis and Owen Pelesh. Shavey Brown, Schyler Conaway, Casey ElizaBeth Gill, Jessica Gruver, Kathryn Miller, Joseph Michael O’Brien, Chris Stevens and Sean Thompson.

Kate Fahrner and Ensemble. Photo by Mark Garvin

Kate Fahrner and Ensemble. Photo by Mark Garvin

The creative team includes Robert Andrew Kovach as Set Designer (High Society, 9 To 5: The Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Elf),  Lighting Designer Paul Black (A Christmas Story, Mary Poppins, How to Succeed…, In the Heights), Costume Designer Mary Folino (Peter and the Starcatcher, A Christmas Story, The Mousetrap), and Sound Designer Ryan Peavey (A Christmas Carol).

Fran Prisco, Kate Fahrner and Company. Photo by Mark Garvin

Fran Prisco, Kate Fahrner and Company. Photo by Mark Garvin

Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, October 2nd, 7pm performance. This production is sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Media Sponsor is NBC 10 and Metro Philadelphia. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. 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. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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