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The 2018 Inaugural NAAP (National Asian Artists Project) Gala took abode on December 2nd adulatory the 60th Anniversary of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s groundbreaking agreeable “Flower Drum Song”. Casting associates from abundant productions including the aboriginal 1958 Broadway company, tours, the 1961 blur and the 2002 Broadway awakening took over the Golden Unicorn Restaurant in the affection of Chinatown for a bewitched black that included a amazing eight advance Chinese feast and a amazing show.

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Performers included the NAAP Broadway Association Chorus, The Award acceptable Theatre Club from P.S. 124, Alumni, NAAP Kids and appropriate performances by Alvin Ing, Jose Llana and Yuka Takara. The anniversary were staged by Richard Jay-Alexander and Baayork Lee. NAAP accustomed Alvin Ing, for his assignment in the theatre, blur and television industries and for allowance to advance the boundaries for the Asian American community. He has additionally performed in ‘Flower Drum Song’ added than any added actor. They additionally accustomed Yuriko, who is the world’s best admired American Japanese avant-garde of Modern Dance. In 1943 she confused to New York City and abutting the Martha Graham Dance Aggregation area she danced, choreographed, directed and accomplished for 50 years. This august awash out accident was absolutely area “The Bend of Chinatown and Broadway” met.

Broadway World’s own Richard Ridge was there to bolt up with abounding in the admirers to allotment their claimed memories of ‘Flower Drum Song’ and to bless Baayork Lee and NAAP.

Baayork Lee (Co-Founder and Executive Artistic Director):

“Well this is a dream appear true. This is article I visualized for such a continued time. I’ve been to so abounding galas and I never anticipation that NAAP would accept their own, so I get actual affecting because National Asian Artists Project is my life, my DNA. It’s article I feel I accept to accord aback to the community. We accept programs for our afterwards academy kids at P.S. 124 and their activity to sing tonight and I accept my choir, The National Asian Artists Broadway Association Chorus and that is acceptance from Pace and NYU and alive Asian actors and non -union Asian actors and anyone who wants to sing and be a allotment of the theatre.”

“Wow! the 60th Anniversary of ‘Flower Drum Song’. I was aloof a bald kid. We accept Pat Suzuki actuality tonight forth with so abounding others from the aboriginal aggregation and the awakening and added productions. We are anniversary Yuriko who is 98 years old and she has been a big allotment of the Asian association and allowance us and we accept been continuing on her amateur as we accept with our added honoree Alvin Ing. He has done so abounding productions of ‘Flower Drum Song’ including the awakening and tonight he will be singing a song that was taken out of the appearance but put aback in for the revival. All I can say is, dreams do appear accurate and if you anticipate continued abundant and your affection is full, it will happen.”

David Henry Hwang ( Honorary Chair of NAAP, Tony Award acceptable Playwright and Chair of The American Theatre Wing):

“‘Flower Drum Song’, up until ‘Allegiance’ in 2016, was the alone Broadway appearance in actuality about the lives of Asian Americans. There are a fair cardinal of shows set in Asia, but in agreement of Asian Americans, ‘Flower Drum Song’ was it, and by the time we get to the backward 90’s, it has affectionate of collapsed off the face of the apple for assorted affidavit and I acquainted the befalling to accompany this actual aback and put it aback in advanced of bodies and the Asian American chance was ability assignment of Rodgers and Hammerstein. It was a already in a lifetime opportunity. What’s amazing is that aback we did the awakening aback in 2002 there was a faculty that we could accompany calm three ancestors of Asian American performers. Those that were in the aboriginal production, my bearing and than, the kids that were in the appearance that we did. And at that point, we accept 4 or 5 generations, so the access of ‘Flower Drum Song’ does not achromatize over the decades.”

Baayork is a pioneer. She is an amazing artist, and she keeps the ancestors together. If ‘Flower Drum Song’ is a family, if Asian American performers are a family, than Baayork is the mother amount that makes us all appetite to abutment and be together.”

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Alvin Ing (Honoree and aerialist in added productions of ‘Flower Drum Song’ than any added actor):

“I get actual emotional. It agency the apple to me because ‘Flower Drum Song’ was my accomplished world. Some bodies anticipate that I am a pioneer. You accept to understand, that aback aback I started, I would be the alone Asian at an admirers and I would be typed out appropriate away, so assuredly aback ‘Flower Drum Song’ came forth they still didn’t appoint an Asian for Wan Ta, they assassin Ed Kenny who was a acquaintance of abundance from Honolulu. But, aback we went on tour, I became the amateur for Wan Ta and that’s how I abstruse my craft. I was on bout for 14 months. Tonight, I am singing a song that was originally accounting for Keye Luke who played the father. And in the song, Wan Ta the adolescent man, is accepting adulation problems and he is broken amid the allure of Linda Low and an allure of Mai Le. So, he comes to me Uncle Chin for admonition and in the song ‘My Best Love’, I am advising him of what he should do. The song came about because one day at rehearsal, aback I was accomplishing the awakening on Broadway, Ted Chapin, the arch of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Alignment said to me, ‘I accept the absolute song for you’ and I thought, ‘he was kidding, but it angry out to be ‘My Best Love’.

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‘I apperceive of two Asian American performers that accept been absolutely accessible to their association One is George Takai, and the added is Baayork Lee, and I am so blessed that this is a account for her alignment because she has done absolutely acceptable assignment with her experience, her ability and her aptitude and that is wonderful.”

Ali Ewoldt (Christine from Broadway’s “The Phantom of the Opera”):

“I am so captivated to be actuality tonight. Baayork Lee is such an afflatus and has been such a best for the Asian American association and the Broadway community. She has accustomed me some amazing opportunities and to get to bless her is absolutely special. It’s so admirable what NAAP does because I got to do the all Asian assembly of ‘Carousel’. I got to comedy Carrie and it was such a bang because it was so departure to get to comedy this allotment that I had capital to comedy consistently and she created this amazing befalling for us. I’m aloof absolutely beholden for it.”

Adam Jacobs (Aladdin from Broadways’ “Aladdin”):

“I accept consistently admired the assignment that Baayork has done and she has opened the doors for so abounding Asian American artists including myself.” Baayork Lee and NAAP provides so abounding altered opportunities in abounding altered agency whether it’s through apprenticeship or activity to schools and acknowledging adolescent artists there. I accept so abundant account for what she has been able to do.”

Jose Llana (Ta from the Broadway awakening of ‘Flower Drum Song’):

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“I am actual aflame to be here. I accept consistently acquainted it has been an account to be a allotment of the bequest that ‘Flower Drum Song’ has let me be a allotment of. And to accord acknowledgment and to account those who came afore us. That is the accomplished bulletin of ‘Flower Drum Song’. As an Asian American actor, I consistently accept to accede that my activity is a accomplished lot easier and I’m able to do what I do because actors like Baayork and her counterparts, from the aboriginal ‘Flower Drum Song’, paved the way for us. The adolescent Asian American actors today accept no compassionate of how difficult it was to be an Asian American amateur in America 50 years ago. Aloof the arrant racism bodies would say to your face, and that they capital to appoint an American to comedy a Chinese actuality in a allotment that you should be able to play. They all accept action wounds, and thankfully it has gotten a lot easier, I accept my own action wounds from alive for the accomplished 20 years, but hopefully it will be alike easier for the bearing afterwards me. It’s because of the bequest that the actors that we are anniversary actuality today, accept accustomed to us.”

“Being a allotment of Flower Drum Song, It’s the specificity of the facts in the show. I accept played the King in ‘The King and I’, and I’ve played added Asian roles. There are actual few belief that are specific to the Asian American experience. What it agency to be addition from an Asian country, whose ancestors is still aggravating to authority on to those traditions from your bearing country, but still aggravating badly to fit in as an American. And that, in itself, is a actual specific affect and a actual specific experience, and ‘Flower Drum Song’ addresses that arch on. It’s adamantine to alike try to name addition agreeable that does that. We charge to accomplish added of those shows, and that’s why I anticipate David Henry Hwang was so aggressive to adapt it in 2002, and there are so abounding added belief to acquaint that are specific to the Asian American acquaintance and we accept to get those belief onstage. What’s empowering, is that now there are Asian American writers and alike writers in general, that are autograph the Asian American experience, and we are assuredly accepting the embrace of that today.””Baayork Lee is such an inspiration. She teaches that with the success, that if you are advantageous to accept in your career, is to canyon that on and to be a dispatch bean for added bodies to pave the way for them. And she is such an archetype of that.”

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Richard Jay-Alexander (Co-Director of the NAAP Gala):

“This is appealing exciting. I accept never done a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. So were inventing a new bend area Broadway Meets Chinatown and its activity to be fantastic. This is area Baayork grew up. These accomplished few canicule actuality at P.S. 124 call with the kids, activity to Wo Hop which is her family’s restaurant. It has been wild. Tonight in amid the show, the awards and the speeches for the National Asian Artists Project, these bodies are accepting an 8 advance acceptable Chinese banquet. The allowance looks like a cine set from ‘Flower Drunm Song’. It’s appealing fantastic.”

“First of all, NAAP is appealing spectacular. It’s overwhelming. This was Baayork’s idea. The answers are consistently in your own backyard. Chinatown is her beat. Walking through Chinatown with Baayork Lee is like walking with the actionable queen of the town. It’s absolutely astonishing what Baayork has done with NAAP. And aback I see the kids, you accept why she was accustomed that appropriate Tony Award. That was not a gift. She’s the absolute deal. I could acquaint afterwards call bygone that she was absolutely tired, but she got up at 2am in the morning, because she had so abounding things on her apperception and checks to write. It so amazing. And tonight, actuality in the bath with her, allowance her fix her hair, and fluffing the accept accoutrement on her gown, these are things you can alone dream about aback you are growing up. These adolescent kids tonight will be assuming to the bodies who are majestic in our business. David Henry Hwang, Ted Chapin, Jack Viertel and lots of donors. In these times, aback the arts are actuality raped fiscally for not for accumulation organizations, these bodies in this allowance are so important to us. I’m ashamed by this. I’ve done some appealing big and bright things but there is annihilation like assuming up and accepting kids acknowledge you and they apperceive who you are because they are admirers of the business were in and to accept Donna McKechnie actuality tonight. Wow, I met Baayork through Donna. We could compression ourselves to be in this business.”

Virginia Wing ( Played Mei Li in the bout of ‘Flower Drum Song”)

“I toured in ‘Flower Drum Song’ as Mei Li adverse Helen Gallagher. It was great, and it was my aboriginal agreeable that I had anytime done. I was built-in and aloft in Mississippi so I thought, ‘How am I activity to do this accent?’ Than I thought, ‘I will aloof archetype Miyoshi Umeki who is not Chinese, but Japanese, but in Mississippi, I had never met anyone who was Chinese or Japanese. I bethink the aboriginal achievement we did was in Cleveland, Ohio. It seems that in the breakdown scene, which is a actual agitating moment, aback I say, ‘The minute I saw you, I knew I admired you. I capital to be your wife and now, I don’t adulation you anymore’, and it came out with the arch southern emphasis and aback I came off date the absolute casting was on the attic bedlam their active off.”

Pat Suzuki (Linda Low from the aboriginal 1958 Broadway assembly of ‘Flower Drum Song”):

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“This is aloof amazing! I am seeing some of the aboriginal casting afresh and it’s a admirable cruise back. I cannot accept it’s been 60 years. It feels added like 100! It was such an adventure. So exciting. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were aloof so admirable and so nice. I was absolutely new to appearance business. They were the papas of the business. You accept to remember, I was from the west coast, so Broadway, absolutely aloof meant continued arena annal to me. So actuality on Broadway and ‘Flower Drum Song’, I admired it. It was aloof so exciting. It was absolutely a dream now that I anticipate about it. It was lovely. What Baayork and NAAP does is apparently the best auspicious affair that I can anticipate of. It’s actual adventurous of her and it’s aloof appropriate in this day and age.”

Robert Longbottom (Director/ Choreographer of the 2002 Broadway Awakening of ‘Flower Drum Song”):

“I absence our assembly of ‘Flower Drum Song’ so much. It’s authoritative my affection so abounding to see this generational accumulation of bodies actuality from the aboriginal assembly and our production. There’s a ancestors affiliation that I capital to actualize with the awakening that David Henry Hwang was so absorbed on authoritative appear and I anticipate we did.

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It was a huge albatross for me. Gene Kelly had directed the original, so I was absolutely advantageous to be afterward that. David had a absolute point of appearance of what it meant to be an immigrant advancing to this country. We opened the appearance at The Mark Taper Forum the anniversary afterwards 911 and we became a hit. I anticipate on the aback of ‘A Hundred Million Miracles’ that we all bare to attending at one addition and embrace that. We all accept a dream and that advancing to the Americas, we can acquisition one. I capital anybody in the audience, if they were Asian or not, to feel included. To apperceive they had a past, whether they came over on the Mayflower, or by any agency that got you to America to accomplish or to acquisition your dream. That’s absolutely what it was about for me and I admire the score. It’s was such a joy.

Baayork is a force of nature. She accomplished me ‘A Chorus Line’. I owe her so abundant in my life. Because of her, I became a choreographer. I’m so appreciative of her with what she has done with NAAP and giving this accumulation of bodies their own befalling to do ‘Into The Woods’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’, which they should be able to do after a appropriate adjustment and she fabricated abiding that was activity to happen. And that’s appealing great.”

Ted Chapin (President and Executive Director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company):

“Tonight underscores not alone the accent of Rodgers and Hammerstein and what they were in their time, but what eyes and impressions they had about the future. Baayork said, ‘To accept done a agreeable in 1958 that was about Chinese Americans, not Chinese, was so extraordinary.’ I anticipate Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote ‘Flower Drum Song’ because they admired the chance and they begin characters that absorbed them as they consistently did. And aback we attending at it, we apprehend what a apple they were depicting and what resonance it has. Attending at these bodies that are in this allowance tonight. Its abounding of bodies from the aboriginal production, the awakening and some who accept done tours. It’s like a biologic that anybody in this allowance has taken and accepting a common aerial over it. Anybody of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s shows accept affecting abyss and importance. To see all these bodies actuality tonight adulatory all of this is aloof the best.”

Jack Viertel (Producer and Encores! Artistic Director):

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“‘Flower Drum Song’ was one of my ancient Broadway adventures – I was 9 or 10 – so it has consistently had a actual appropriate abode in my heart. Accepting to assignment on it and aggravating to advice (though I was alone hardly involved) in aggravating to advice it allege to an admirers all those years after was actual special, and David Hwang, who wrote the aboriginal Broadway appearance I anytime was absolutely complex with ‘M. Butterfly’, fabricated it alike better.

Being actuality for the NAAP Gala I begin it blood-tingling – the alignment is so abundant in the beginning of bringing accurate assortment to all of our stages, and the generational advance that has been fabricated is so acceptable that demography an black to both bless that and be bright about how abundant added there is to go was a different experience.”

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