Monday, September 21, 2009

PART of Our Uber-Terrific Creative Team!

As the saying goes, "Behind every great man, there's a great woman" (or two, or three) supporting them, and this goes without saying with our production. Of course, our creative team doesn't only consist of women, but I thought it would be a great opener since without these people, we wouldn't be having a show! (At least not a great one!)

With this said, up first at bat is our esteemed Musical Director and Vocal Coach, Ms. Lisa Joe!

If it weren't for Lisa, we would never have been exposed to "Songs" and definitely would NOT be doing this. I've been taking voice lessons with her for about 5 years now, and I have to attribute all that I "know" to her expertise. She's terrific! In her "off" time (that is, outside of our production) she's a Table Tennis pro. Oh, and she recently bit the bullet and finally got an iPhone. Mucho kudos to Lisa, our Musi-kal dee-rektor! We love her!

I should have posted this next person's photo a while ago, cause without him, we wouldn't know where to go (staging wise) nor envision what the show would look like! And after a long intensive search for capable directors, with names such as Spielberg, and Baz Luhrmann in the mix (and rejected) we decided on Peter J. Kuo to lead the helm and bring us into the "New World".

Peter stretching out for real talent. Ha.

I had never worked with Peter before, but with past projects such as "Letters from a Student Revolutionary" which he also directed, Peter came with some strong recommendations from many of our friends who know and have worked with him. I have to say that I agree with all of them, as he's very focused, creative and easy to work with, plus, he always uses the same hand gestures over and over again (see the first posting on this blog, as we're all doing it with our hands!). That mere fact alone sold us on Peter, and the rest was just a bonus. Thanks Peter for your guiding "hands"! We love you too!

Would anyone like to see a show without ANY movement or choreography? Anyone? Bueler? BUELER? Of course not! Although "Songs" isn't a dance musical by any means, we definitely wanted to have one or two of the numbers choreographed to some extent to add some dazzle to the show. For this, we asked a good friend, and renowned teacher and creator of the
Movement for Actors class at the Edge Performing Arts center in Hollywood, Cindera Che to share with us her fantastic choreography and dance skills!

Cindera showing us how to look and move like true "Ballers". Yo, speak up, SON!

I've been training/studying with Cindera for years now, and as with Lisa, I have to attribute all of my dance ability to Cindera. She has taken this double left-footed dancer and made me into the movement animal I am today! (okay, not really double left-footed, but I have my moments - who doesn't?!). It has been such a pleasure to have her on our team, and we are most grateful to her for her talents and PATIENCE! We are UBER thankful to have her with us :)

As well all know, pianos don't play by themselves (or DO they?). In our case, our pianos don't play by themselves, so we needed a super (insert filipino accent here) tal-lehn-tehd (talented) musican/pianist to help bring our rehearsals to life, and we were so happy to get Marc Macalintal to lend his magic fingers to us! (Perhaps we should be thanking his wife MJ for lending Marc out to us. Either way, we're grateful). We've known Marc for a number of years now, and have worked with him on other projects, like 2005's production of "Imelda: A New Musical" or with his ultra funny band of improvisers - Room to Improv. Marc has also musical directed a number of shows throughout his illustrious career, and he's just plain awesome. Although he's not smiling in this photo below, he's happy. And funny. Oh, and an all around great dude! Thanks for helping us out Marc!

Marc "Fingers" Macalintal, on loan from MJD.

Oh, and just to show you what our rehearsals are like, here it is. Yes, it is all FUN AND LAUGHTER!

I love Randy's expression in this photo. Me, I'm just the king of pop is all.

This photo says it all. 

In addition to our Uber-Terrific Creative Team, we also have Ivy Chou, Ken "Mr. T" Takemoto", Glenn Suravech, Michael Villaneuva, Nathan Wang (and his band, of which I'll name later cause I don't have their names with me right now), and Stefanie Lau. I'll get some photos of everyone up later. Enjoy these for now! 

BTW, ticket sales are starting to happen so click on our ticket link and reserve your spot now! See you guys there!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why Songs for a New World?

Now that you've met the cast, (with the production staff to be introduced as well), you may be wondering why we chose to produce "Songs".

The reason behind it stems from being introduced to the music early last year by our Musical Director Lisa Joe. We were working on the title song "A New World" which basically states that your life as you know it would change, and that the way in which you think things would turn out, wouldn't always happen. That there would be an "unexpected bend" that you would have to cross. The song really resonated with me, as a week or so later, my beloved grandmother of 91 years passed away peacefully in her sleep. I'm not sure if I read too much into the song, in that it foreshadowed how my life was going to change with her passing, but it made me realize that when things are going the way you think it should, life throws you a curve that you have to deal with.

With my Grandmother's passing, I decided to look into the possibility of producing "Songs" by contacting Musical Theater International in New York, which oversees the rights management of many of the most popular musicals ever created. Thankfully, "Songs" was available, and I jumped at the opportunity to get the rights for it and produce it with the sole intention of dedicating the production to my Grandmother.

Sure, it's no "Wicked" or perhaps even a "West Side Story", but if you really listen to the songs, and the characters singing them, they remind you that life is as quirky, enjoyable, uplifting, sad, and challenging, and that we should all cherish each experience we have however big or small. Our hope as producers, creatives, cast and crew is that you come out and watch our production, enjoy a night of fantastic talent and theater, experience JANM's Democracy Center, and leave with an appreciation of life as we know it.

Lastly, I want to share a photo with you of my Grandmother and me, taken on her 90th birthday a few years ago. Just like with your own Grandparents, mine was the best one I ever knew, and I dedicate my part of this terrific production to her :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rounding out the team, Man TWO - MP

So how do I go about introducing myself? Well, let's see: Man Two, homeless guy, Alto, one of three filipinos, and perhaps the darkest of the cast due to all the time I spend in the sun chasing after my mythical, youthful fitness (okay, maybe a bit TMI, and totally irrelevant). 

Along with my cohorts, I round out the cast donning a variety of "hats" as well during the show, of which is shown above, that of homeless guy two. 

I have to say that I am thrilled, absolutely thrilled to be singing with everyone and working with our incredible production staff! Serious! Each day I go to rehearsal, I can't help but feel that sense of awe that everything is coming together. Something I've never done before, let alone something I'm doing for someone dear to me (I'll explain later, and definitely in the playbill, so come out!)

Also, co-producing this endeavor is such a new and exciting challenge for me. I've never done it before, and boy do I have a newfound respect for those who have and still do it on a regular basis! Talk about mad multi-tasking skills! Kudos, kudos, KUDOS!

Enough about me though. 

P.S. We just finished putting labels and postage on our show postcards so you should be seeing them soon either in your mailbox, or at your local hangouts! I'll post one up here soon!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Woman TWO - A Socialite

I love this photo of Helen, taken during our cast photo shoot.
Yes, I know, her eyes are closed, but I love the expression.

When it comes to Socialites, I'd have to say that Helen definitely falls into this category, but not in the stereotypical sense of the title, you know, some rich, self-absorbed, snooty person who only befriends those who can help them somehow. In real life though, I'd say Helen falls into the definition:

a socially prominent person.

But for this production, she does play the stereotypical one for a bit, but does so in a way that showcases her amazing vocal talents honed not only at Lisa Joe's piano every Saturday, but in the Ohjah room in L.T. (She'll hate me for mentioning that, but hey, if you know her, you'll understand). I'd have to say that she definitely sings more than I do, which completely makes her such a strong component of this cast.

What's most "cool" about Helen's parts is that she gets to play a huge range of characters! All memorable, and a joy to watch. Trust me. You've got to see why she's this type of socialite, and what she does as that character. (Come on, at this point with reading this blog, do you honestly think I'm going to spill the beans and tell you what she's going to do?! LOL!!!!)

The other part of this introduction is to also point out that Helen is co-producing "Songs" with me. Let me tell you, without her, I'd be lost! Believe me! She has the organization skills of a Martha Stewart and the diplomacy of a politician looking for the release of captives! (Okay, kinda going overboard with that analogy, but hey, it kinda works). I am so thankful for all the work that she is doing, juggling both the singing/acting with the producing responsibilities. What a god send! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

So come out and check out our show! Especially for those of you who haven't seen Helen act like a socialite before!

Here's to Woman TWO!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Woman ONE - MCO

The first time I ever saw Myra was in an old East West Players production called "Woman from the other side of the world" back in the old Santa Monica space. I wasn't into acting yet at the time, but I distinctly remember seeing her performance and thinking to myself, "Wow, that's how good an actor I would like to be someday!". Although she was an understudy in the show, her performance was terrific and inspiring! And if she's reading this, I'm certain her head is swelling larger than it usually is! ;p

Since then, I've had the pleasure of working with her on several different projects, from my first movie ever "Much Adobo About Nothing", "A Jivebomber's X-mas", to "Imelda: A New Musical". But since our early days of acting, I've always known Myra had the "chops" to make any performance great, and have always looked forward working with her. Plus, ever since "Jivebomber's", where we played brother and sister, our relationship has stayed on that same exact track. We constantly act like brother and sister, with me ALWAYS getting the best of her! Ha!

We are so happy to have Myra as part of our production, playing the role(s) of Woman ONE. Just like Randy in the earlier post, Woman one takes care of the soprano parts in the show, which are gymnastic to say the least! She also has some truly memorable songs that are certain to bring tears to everyone eyes. She's dressed in a hospital smock because... oops! Sorry! Again, can't reveal it, you'll just have to come out and WATCH the show :)

That's a'boot all I have to say about Myra, Eh?

(She's from Canada BTW, hence the Candian-isms. Look out for those elk!"


Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Man ONE, Randy G., belting out a high note. Kinda.

For those of you unfamiliar with "Songs", the cast is comprised of four actors who play different roles throughout the show. Because of this, each actor is listed as "Man 1" or "Woman 2" throughout the libretto and piano/vocal score. Each song has a "character" than can be created by the director/actor for each individual production of songs. Follow me? This way, you'll never really see the same exact version of "Songs" twice, because each production will have a different take on each of the songs and the characters portrayed within them.

With this said, we'd like to introduce to you our "Man ONE", Randy. Randy will be singing all the tenor parts in the show because he has an amazing voice! For those of you who may recognize him, he is part of the Three Filipino Tenors that have been performing throughout the years at various venues, including East West Players, and JANM as well. A vocal major in college, Randy will thrill and delight you with his smooth, lyrical style, GUARANTEED to make you swoon (Okay, maybe not guaranteed, but you'll definitely like him :) - Wow, I sound like I'm auctioning him off! Nope, sorry! In order to witness his vocal prowess, you'll have to come out and watch our show :)

Oh, and the reason why he's listed as a "wannabe basketball" player in an earlier post here is because... well, come out and watch the show, and you'll find out! ;p

As with the rest of our production staff and cast, we are thrilled to have Randy as a part of this show! We can't wait for everyone to see and hear him!

Give it up for Man one!

My "Songs" Experience

Last week I started working on the music for "Songs for a New World" and all I can say is, "WOW!" I knew the music was going to be difficult and I was ready for the challenge, but yikes!!! This is probably one of the biggest challenges I've had to tackle as a performer. BUT, I love it! "Bring it on," I say! Make me work my butt off, Lisa Joe! :D

The funniest thing for me is listening to myself trying to figure out whether or not I hit the right note. Yes, it's a little frustrating at times...but I have to admit, it's very comedic. Yes, it's true. I am laughing at myself. Thank goodness! If I didn't, I'd go crazy! ;)

On the other hand, my castmates are amazing! When I listen to them, I'm in awe of their ability to just sing something for the first time as if they've performed this music all their lives. I get goosebumps! Their voices are just beautiful! I am definitely learning a lot and being inspired...a very cool thing to experience.

There's a lot more work to do and I can't wait for Opening Night! I know it's going to be out of this world! Check back soon so I can update you on how I'm doing. :)

Helen "I'm gonna work my butt off" Ota

P.S. The photo of Mike & me is from last year at the favorite karaoke bar!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We are so excited to announce, that tickets to our October 16-25 production of "Songs For A New World" at the Japanese American National Museum's Center For the Preservation of Democracy is now on sale! Please check out the side bar for more info on how to purchase tickets, and check back for more updates with our show! 

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. 

See you soon!