Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let's See Where This Goes-

It has been prescribed that for every breakup of a relationship, you need double that amount of time to heal.

Three months of sixteen and I keep telling people, "yea, I just got off of tour". 

My heart aches not being onstage in a show I love everyday.  Yes, I am working on other projects.  Yes, I keep in contact with most all the Idiots.  Yes, I like having DVR. 

Thank goodness, I didn't take a day for granted while touring the country.  Carpe fucking diem'ed. 

===

This week.  I'm working on three major projects for me.  And if you couldn't already tell, I'm sleepless and trying to lull myself to sleep with Red Label. 


I AM STRESSED BEYOND BELIEF.

And I'm smiling.  Because, I love the theater.  And I love the theater with theater professionals with an attitude of "can do".  Because at the end of the day- well, what else is more rewarding?

I've been recently feeling as if I needed something else.  Something that wasn't so volatile as being an artist for a living.  I wanted more control.  I wanted more money.  I wanted more stability.

NEWS FLASH:  Stability doesn't exist, y'all!!!

But love does.  If you do what you love and treat others with respect while you're doing it-  you only attract more of what you project. 

Take what you want from this.  It's full of generalizations.  But generally what I'm saying is- everything is worth it.  And when it drives you to tears, you can thank God that something still can. 



Friday, August 3, 2012

Hashtag Nightingale (I Love Prison)

In regards recent Nightingale "controversy":  The Asian American theatrical community has many feelings.  The creatives have expressed they too have many feelings.  It seems like the entirety of the Broadway community has arisen with their own commentary, opinions and feelings.

I have one.  One instinctual feeling.

You may suspect it is a feeling of dismay; but it is not.  Saddened?  No.  Disappointed, heartbroken, wronged?  No, no, no.

Rather it is of pure ELATION.

For the theater to bring to host this conversation is incredible.

Let me clarify that I am not elated because someone finally "stuck it to the man".  I am elated because for the first time in my professional career, I believe that the entirety of a community I was born into has raised one collective voice to say, "We are here."

For those of you who need to be filled in of the goings on of # nightingale:
Playbill Article : Facing Criticism for Lack of Asian
Video of Panel Discussion : LaJolla Nightingale

Some of our Asian American theater veterans may proclaim that this is history repeating itself.  It seems like a twenty year cycle.

A little over twenty years ago, we experienced the infamous Jonathan Pryce scandal of Miss Saigon.  David Henry Hwang brilliantly dramatized the events in his play Yellowface nearly a decade and a half later.  Because of the open protestation of Pryce's casting, never again was the coveted role of the Engineer played by someone not of Asian descent on Broadway.

Miss Saigon was the first time Asian Americans have experienced yellowface in such a high caliber theater setting.  Right?

Actually, twenty years prior to that in 1970,  the Asian cast members of Broadway's Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentleman protested outside their own show because of denial of access for Asian performers to audition for the coveted role of Sakini in their own show.  These pioneer Asian actors went as far as to distribute brochures with headshots and contacts of dozens of Asian performers to casting directors to say "we are here".  The show closed on Broadway to eventually tour but the costumes of Sakini were never worn by an Asian man.

Will we look back in 2030 and be quick to forget the conversation that has been spurred by The Nightingale ?

Only time will tell but what we all can learn from history is "change is slow".  No, this isn't the first time this conversation has been had and it certainly will not be the last.  But this is the moment for this generation of Asian performers to make their mark for the betterment of the theatrical community;  this American theatrical community that we are very much a part of.

Specifically, in addressing my thoughts about The Nightingale.  I've heard both sides of the table.  Even then, I lack the ability to see the content of the show for myself, I lack the ability to validate either side's arguments, and I lack the ability to sort out for myself what is right and wrong/hypocritical or not in terms of the implementation of a multi-ethnic cast.

I can't say that any Asian actor was denied Asian appropriate roles as I have no hand in the artistic creative process.

Through much meditation about the subject, I became keenly aware that my issue was not with this production at all.  I began examining my existence as an Asian actor in the theater business of 2012 and I came up with the question:  "Am I not American enough to be considered for your multi-ethnic project?"  This notion stings.

Post the panel discussion, I felt satisfied that I had tweeted some thoughts (you can find by searching # nightingale) and I was prepping for the windfall of discussions I was sure to encounter in the coming weeks.  This blogpost never wanted to be written.

Alas, my impetus for writing tonight:  I saw an All-Asian production at this year's New York Musical Theater Festival called Prison Dancer  (www.prisondancer.com).  I've seen my share of NYMF productions in the past, but this afternoon's performance was truly inspiring.

I have worked with many of the faces on that stage.  This was a story told by Filipinos about a prison in the Philippines.  But, it did not matter to me that I was not Filipino, nor was a majority of the audience. I found myself in awe of what I was seeing, hearing....feeling.  I forgot that those were my friends and colleagues on that stage.  Instead, I was enamored by each one of them as artists who were all masters of their craft.  The craft of conveying a human story that is a identifiable to all who sat opened-hearted in front of them.

What I saw today was a new unique American (or Western as it hails from Canada!) story that could be told by none other-  a brilliant cast of Asian-Americans.   *Might I also add, a ridiculously beautiful cast*

Because with the focus so strongly on The Nightingale, I hope that we do not forget to celebrate the triumphs that we are achieving together;  Asian American performers and supporters alike.  To name a few on this ever growing list :

-The entirety of the production team, creatives, supporters and the cast of Prison Dancer.  Marcus Calderon, Marc DelaCruz, Andrew Eisenman, Albert Guerzon, Jose Llana, Jeigh Madjus, Nathan Ramos, Catherine Ricafort, Enrico Rodriguez, Moses Villarama, Liz Cassasola, Brian Jose and more! 

-Baayork Lee, Steven Eng, Zoie Lam and their National Asian Artists Project's continued education program for school aged children and exploration of classic works with All-Asian professional performers.

-The continued success of organizations like East West Players, Pan Asian Rep, Ma-Yi Theater Co., NAATCO, and Leviathan Lab for dedicating it's existence to explore theatrical work to exemplify the Asian and Asian-American experience.

-Upcoming new musical productions of predominantly Asian casts Allegiance and Here Lies Love fully produced in major theatrical centers (Old Globe and Williamstown/The Public, respectively).

-Asian performers that consistently represent on the Broadway stage in non-ethnic specific roles including Paolo Montaloban, Aaron Albano, Ray Lee,  Olivia Oguma, Telly Leung, and J Elaine Marcos amongst many others.

-Active diverse casting advocates for Asian Americans: Nikole Vallins and Michael Cassara.

I name these artists as my friends of whom we'll look back in twenty years and claim that it was not in vain. I name these artists as my colleagues of whom I constantly feel i am in a cast with regardless of whether we have ever even done a show together.  I name these artists as my heroes as they will forge an even broader path for future Asian artists to emerge.

We must take a moment to think of how far we have come as ONE community.  Even as fragmented as we may be under this large umbrella that is "Asian", we have formed such a strong brotherhood; this collective entity that can no longer be less visible than others.

I applaud La Jolla's artistic director and it's staff for initiating a public forum on the issue.  As a huge fan of Moises Kaufman and his LGBTQ work, I wholeheartedly thank him in his participation and acknowledgement that this is a momentous discussion in American theatre.  

And so I celebrate all of you, Asian or not, who have joined us in this conversation that continues to fuel the momentum of change (despite how dilatory it wants to be).

With a lack of Asian role models on television, in movies or on the stage, I spent much of my youth wondering, "what's wrong with me?  Why did I have the misfortune of being born Asian?"  This ideology has only recently shifted for me. My elation now comes with the idea that we are here at another crossroads.  I feel my words and my continued loving dedication towards this craft is now important beyond getting that next hit Broadway show.

I am here so that Asian-American kids will look back in twenty years and say, "Everything's fine. What was all the fuss about?"  So I can get mad at them for not knowing....

And until then, I lead with love.  Love of this battle while standing with you.

===

I take it all back.  My gut feeling is that this is only the beginning.  I feel HOPEFUL.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day Number WhoTheEffCare: 'Cause It's Over

*Note:  I started this nearly a week ago, but reflection takes time!!!*


Chapter One: Final Destination

Here is where you would expect me to recap the tour and telling you how wonderful my experience was. Here is where you would like me to post all the wonderful photos of times I'll miss most. Here is where you would expect me to embrace the wonderful adventures that await me. One wonderful door closes and then another wonderful one opens.

But no.

Imagine this. This wonderful "tour door" closes. There is no denying that it once opened to awesomeness. Knowing this notion, I stare blankly for a day denying that it has closed. I grab a beer and stare at it some more and I try the handle. It's certainly locked. I take a piss and peruse the other doors and they all seem alright at best. Some familiar, some callously ajar. None look appealing. I have another beer and go back to the wonderful door. This time, I am frantically trying to put my fist through it. Then my head. Bang, bang, bang. Imagine my back leaned up against it. Holding my knees in, face buried like a cowardly ostrich. For this door to have closed is no celebration- It is a funeral.

 ===


Chapter Two: The Prodigal Whatshisface

As expected, I returned home and instantly my ICalender was immediately filled with lunch dates and dinner parties. Knowing myself, I hesitated to talk about tour to not be annoying. Knowing my friends, they are lovely and want to know everything that was the last year of my life. There was an onslaught of "what's next" which I politely obliged by half-joking and half-knowing, "nothing".

I was expecting to sparkle from this high of being with an amazing show. The "prodigal punk rocker" has returned says my friend Patrick. And yet, I feel as fun as dead cat on a leash. I wake up and drag my feet. I feel this overwhelming sensation of uneasiness in my stomach like after a night of drinking but all I had was water. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I make it to the gym and I feel drained. Even in my full face, I can see it has sunken in with grief.

I loved my job. I loved my life. And I feel robbed. Enjoy the UK, kids.

Walking through the upper west side with cast mate Tommy, he casually mentioned that I haven't had a moment of musical tourettes (where I'll bust into a song lyric that happens to reflect my current state of emotion; usually musical theater) in a while. I deny to Tommy that I even know that I have musical tourettes although I know it to be true from others.

So, I identify that this lack of song all of a sudden is an involuntary reaction to feeling utterly empty. This is the life of an actor. This is the "glamor" no one tells you about as you take a one hour shower, staring at the tile because you have no where you NEED to be.

 ===

Chapter Three: Step One, Get Off The Couch

My adult self reminds me that it has been 5 days. This is all part of the 7 steps of grief. But my Aquarian mind wants me to hit rock bottom before I can really appreciate the next summit. I want to push the fast forward button.

Meanwhile, the chorus of: "This is a game changer on your resume" "Are you going in for Wicked/Bare/BookOfMormon/Glee next week?" "Happy to be home?" "Nothing has changed since you've been gone."

And that's the worst. "Nothing has changed". Because it's a lie. Everything's changed. All who have stayed home changed immensely and I refuse to think that I haven't. For better or for worse is still up for debate but.... I guess what it all boils down to is I've feel like I've lost everything. I've lost an outlet for me to do what I was born to do. I've lost the family, where it was bittersweet to work, live and play with 24/7. "Nobody Likes You. Everyone Left You. They're All Out Without You Having Fun." I've always understood this lyric. I've always been able to access this lyric on the stage. I just don't want to live it in my real life.

 ===

Chapter Four: Empty Threats at Empty Tables

If a kitten died every time an actor threatened to leave the business, there would be a whole lotta dead kittens. And who are you threatening that you're leaving? If Stephen Sondheim threatened to never write another song, people would boo and hiss but the next day, they'd holler "next!"

If Ms. LuPone said fuck it she's done, no one would bat an eyelash and roll in the next diva. This is a business that loves to forget. Even legends. And I am just a blonde streaked guppie in this big pond!

Do you know who David Merrick is? I didn't think so.....

Then why work so hard in a business that has your replacement dressed and ready in the wings?

Well, it comes down to the lottery question: "If you won 10 million dollars tonight, what would you do?" My answer: I would pay off my parents house and send them on permanent vacation. Buy my brother a nice car and a house. And I would build a theater in state that needed it and run it and try to do good work.

A long time ago, I determined there were two different kind of theater artists: Those who wanted to be in theater and those who needed to be in theater. I need it like a heroine addict. And I refuse to quit it. I've tried- I've killed many kittens.

 === 


 Chapter Five: Audition Halls of Broken Dreams 

 I happened to stop by the Actor's Equity Building (only to pee) where I passed a couple dozen actors waiting outside in the hall. I wanted to shout, "if you can turn away, not look and run, do it!" But there's no fighting it. Us theater actors, we're idiots. We don't know we're the new vaudeville. Either that or we just don't care. Trying to stay relevant at time where there is no way possible that we can keep up with the distribution of movies and television.

And the internet- We live in a world where a cat playing a keyboard has been viewed by over two dozen million people. Where Justin Bieber can tweet and it can be read by the same amount of people. All for free.

Economy Lesson: Youtube Video = $0 Production Value/5 Minutes Shooting 10 minutes uploading = Free Tickets = Instant Reviews/Free Advertising through commenting and sharing. Broadway Show = Millions$$$/Years of Development/Years More = $100+ tickets = What's Theater?

The theater is pushing the limits of being obsolete, right?

 === 


Chapter Six: Biggest Fangirl Ever 

 I find myself walking through Times Square and unlike the other jaded New Yorkers, I don't wish everyone would drop dead. Instead, I wish everyone would just stop talking. I wish everyone would just put down their phones. I wish every Asian tourist would put down their cameras and look at this city without a lens, the German ones too. Shut up, Look up, and Listen.

Now as an exercise, I wish we would all stop, look a complete stranger in the eye and take a mental image. This person's face is worth a million times more than the millionth picture of who cares. Because it lives and breaths. If you are suddenly compelled to communicate, he/she can communicate back.

And isn't that what theater is all about?

It's a truly unique experience; that moment of silence when a room full of people voluntarily gather. They turn off their cell phones (for the most part) and wait for a the voices of real people.  Unfiltered.  The scene is only edited by the speed at which you choose to blink.

And alas, that is why I do it.  Whenever I go to the theater, whether it is onstage or not, I never feel like I'm at work.  I feel like I'm at home.  So NYC is awesome and sweet but not coming to the theater everyday, I feel only like a visitor again.

Despite the heartache of leaving the show, I think of what every friend has advised me at the end of any relationship:  "Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."

Because love to me is a learned behavior.  And the more I exercise my heart muscles, the more powerful I can live with love, share my love, radiate in love.

[Btw, so does hate.  Don't work those muscles.  Keep that muscle small like the dicks of those who choose to lead with hate.]

===


3 Final Parting Thoughts


1.  I love the Idiot fans.  I am confident that on many nights they elevated the crowd that sat behind from being good to being awesome.

2. If I end up adopting a dog, I'll probably name her Whatshername.  If it's a boy, I'll name him Cocksucker.

3. One day when I have kids, I'll have video evidence that once in my life I was so fucking cool.  And so was everyone else riding in that badass car that was Idiot on tour.

Thank you for coming on the ride.  This is just another pit stop.  Take a piss, grab a bag of Cheetos and I hope you'll join me on next leg of the Amazing Life.

xoRagexoLove,
Kelvin



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 199: Counting UP the Days (Footballs and Grenades)

A number like 199 will always feel more significant than 200. 199 seems like you're reaching as if to say, "you're almost there!". 200 seems like you've settled.  I digress.

===

Arriving in Seattle yesterday seemed ever strange.  With only two cities left and only forty performances to go, I can see a finite end to this leg of my journey with American Idiot.  One can only hope to document their time with an experience like this and try to enjoy every last moment and yet this question nags me more and more frequently of late:

"Do you have anything else lined up?"
"What are you going to do when it's all over?"
"What's next?"

Pretty much my entire life I have heard it from my friends, my mother, my father or internally of myself.  But now I can taste the venom of the question, "what's next?". 

I advise, when someone other than yourself asks, to politely say, "I don't know as of yet."  But if the question comes from within say, "I don't fucking know yet!  I'm not done with right now to worry about what's fucking next!"

Remember the blogpost I did a couple weeks back about how the show has become a job and it's hard and blah blah blah.  I want to slap that former-bitch-self in the face.  I am weeks older and wiser for it.....HAH! 

It is natural for human beings to agonize, to worry about what's next.  I get that.  I am, in fact, human (wink wink LA girls).  But what infuriates me is when I can't see the patterns and mistakes that I have made in the past.  This will not be the first show I've closed and far from the last.  In fact, it is a pleasure cruise to know the definite impending closing date of July 8th, more anxiety eliminated.  In the past, I would have counted down the days, daydreamed of what it would be like back home, scrambling to find that next audition, signing in to work while checking out of life.  Life before my eyes....  

It is human to worry.  It is god-like to savor.  

You hear in many different ways.  You hear it in many different languages.  Let the message of "carpe diem" ever trump the fucking question, "what's next?"  

When I fall, I find comfort in the idea that I can try again tomorrow.  But, in truth, there is no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow.  Wouldn't that make one afraid of falling in the first place?

 It is very possible for me to fall off a speaker stack during the show tonight and break my leg or more likely fall off the top of the bus and break my face.  And yet I do it anyway.  Because if I do metaphorically fall, or literally, why not do it rocking out to beat of your own drum while giving everyone else the finger?  Fall because you have taken the day to climb the highest tower.

I constantly fight to remember to be present in my day to day.  Because every day matters.  Every moment matters.  It's not about getting out of this place and time, it's about what can you get out of this place and time. 

Does that make sense?  If not, I'm sure a couple-weeks-older-Kelvin-blogger will correct me.  But until then, I can't worry about what he knows or not.  

===

This blog post has been weirdly/positively inspired by those at the stage door of late and the pilot episode of "Fridays Night Lights", which is my new favorite show.  Football and God are not my thing, but damn....  Fine writing and fine acting wins me over always.

There is a fantastic culture to Football;  similar to fanaticism that I have for theater.   I finally get it.

I highly recommend the show.  And if still not inspired, please read the play "Take My Out"

===

And if you haven't seen my homage to American Idiot here it is.  I don't promise an Episode Two as I'm going to try to actively kiss every boy in Seattle (they're all like hot skinny Vikings, wtf?!)

American Idiotoons - Episode One
by: KelvinIdiot






Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dear Citizens of North Carolina


Dear Citizens of North Carolina Who Voted "Yes, on Amendment One",

I expect that you have received many letters of hate from members of my community.  I expect that you have prepared to stand even more firmly on the grounds of your faith and beliefs in marriage being between one man and one woman.  I expect you have already learned to tolerate the jokes of being able to marry your own cousin but not if he/she is of the same sex.  

I expect that you think this letter will be more of the same.

Know that this letter finds you with love.  Because as a member of my community, I do not judge you for how you choose to conduct your lives.  I do not propose to prevent you from worshipping to whomever and wherever you please.  I do not wish you any harm and/or preventing you from living the great American dream.  

But I must inform you:  Your passing of your state's Amendment One is truly the definition of Un-American.  The standing First Amendment of OUR country states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."   Call me presumptive, but this most recent legislation is the product of religious influence however it may inform your political leanings.

Notice I don't use the words "religious-hate-mongering-anything" because in order for me to continue to love the country, I must believe that you have enough love in your hearts to hear this message:

Marriage Equality is not an issue of morality.  It is not an issue of the definition of "marriage".  It is not an issue of my God versus your God.  But rather, it is an issue of Love.    

Love in the sense that if two people choose to care for one another, that they should be able to see it through in life and death, in sickness and health.  Love in the idea that the government should provide for every couple as equals, as we are all financially responsible to our country as equal taxpayers.  Love in the belief that we have the freedom to live our own lives as long as it does not infringe upon the same freedom for others.  

Our forefathers have asked up to separate our religious beliefs from our political beliefs since our country's birth.  I don't know why for sure.  Perhaps it is because most of earliest settlements were to escape religious persecution.  Perhaps they knew that it would spawn battles like this over Marriage Equality and deter us from focusing on more important issues that plague our country:  Education reform, Unemployment, why my father has to nag me about the $4 per gallon of gas I use in his car, etc.

You may think our President is an asshole.  But what is noble about President Obama is that his beliefs, in the past, weren't settled on same-sex marriage.  His ideas about it were ever "evolving".  His current support of Marriage Equality is an example of growth.  This was not his best political move to finally support the initiative but what makes our President great here is that he spoke from his heart.  And who is to say that as a Christian, President Obama actually believes homosexuality is right or wrong;  but as a gatekeeper to policy, he fairly knows that his religious beliefs has no bearing on his actions in office.

Because he too is a member of my community.  My community encompasses the passionate Americans who believe that LOVE is what should guide our actions day to day.  My community encompasses those who believe that if we encounter things we do not understand, if we approach them with LOVE and an open heart, that that is the greatest source of learning.  My community encompasses me, the rest of the country, including those who would have voted "yes" on NC's Amendment One because as human beings, I insist, we all have the ability to LOVE one another as "thy neighbor."

And if you scoff at my touting of the word "Love" from paragraph to paragraph- ask of yourself, "Why is love so offensive to you?"   

Before you think of me as another ineffective liberal cry baby who wishes to open the gates to murderers, rapist, molesters and the sort  (look, I made the comparison here).... know this:

I will stand at the front lines to join you in protest of those requesting consent of sex with a child, a dog, a cow, a hippo.

But will you stand with me, just so I can stand with my dying lover when the time comes?  

Do the right thing.  Examine in with your own hearts to ask:  What do you stand to lose by allowing yourself and others to love freely?

In truth, I don't believe in complete separation of church and state.  The teachings of any good Christian home will demonstrate the power that Love can have on a growing family.  Now imagine the power that Love can have on a growing nation.  

Sincerely,
Kelvin Moon Loh 

Day 173: Funny, I'm in Dallas. Dear North Carolina.


I preface with the fact that this blog post will have very little to do with American Idiot and/or theater.

But for a quick update on AI:  we have done 2 shows in Dallas and the audiences have been polite.  I anticipated a Wednesday night reception to be lackluster but still standing ovations nonetheless.  I am very aware of the politically charged nature of our piece and making comparisons of their hometown boy to Hitler....  let's just say, I'm happy to not be followed home at night.  Meanwhile, if you haven't read- I did have the pleasure to be interviewed by the Dallas Voice and you can view it here:

He Wants To Be An American Idiot! - Dallas Voice
I love how there is an ad for Idina's concert in Dallas on the same page.
No, I don't feel that special!
If you insist that I must have a theater tie-in as I transition this blog, here it is:  I advise as a theater professional to "always have an opinion on everything".

I am thankful to be part of the Broadway community that uses their collective voice to bring to my attention the first amendment to the North Carolina individual state constitution.  No, it wasn't on CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News but twitter that I fount out; if that shows you what kind of political aficionado I am not.  

If you need to catch up on what is happening in our country, I don't blame you but read about our most recent shameful endeavor as a country here:


My blog has nearly reached over 10,000 views since it's inception.  And even if it is just my mom hitting "refresh" every hour,  I would like to share this letter that, if I could, I would send to every household in North Carolina.  

Dear Citizens of North Carolina Who Voted "Yes, on Amendment One",

I expect that you have received many letters of hate from members of my community.  I expect that you have prepared to stand even more firmly on the grounds of your faith and beliefs in marriage being between one man and one woman.  I expect you have already learned to tolerate the jokes of being able to marry your own cousin but not if he/she is of the same sex.  

I expect that you think this letter will be more of the same.

Know that this letter finds you with love.  Because as a member of my community, I do not judge you for how you choose to conduct your lives.  I do not propose to prevent you from worshipping to whomever and wherever you please.  I do not wish you any harm and/or preventing you from living the great American dream.  

But I must inform you:  Your passing of your state's Amendment One is truly the definition of Un-American.  The standing First Amendment of OUR country states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."   Call me presumptive, but this most recent legislation is the product of religious influence however it may inform your political leanings.

Notice I don't use the words "religious-hate-mongering-anything" because in order for me to continue to love the country, I must believe that you have enough love in your hearts to hear this message:

Marriage Equality is not an issue of morality.  It is not an issue of the definition of "marriage".  It is not an issue of my God versus your God.  But rather, it is an issue of Love.    

Love in the sense that if two people choose to care for one another, that they should be able to see it through in life and death, in sickness and health.  Love in the idea that the government should provide for every couple as equals, as we are all financially responsible to our country as equal taxpayers.  Love in the belief that we have the freedom to live our own lives as long as it does not infringe upon the same freedom for others.  

Our forefathers have asked up to separate our religious beliefs from our political beliefs since our country's birth.  I don't know why for sure.  Perhaps it is because most of earliest settlements were to escape religious persecution.  Perhaps they knew that it would spawn battles like this over Marriage Equality and deter us from focusing on more important issues that plague our country:  Education reform, Unemployment, why my father has to nag me about the $4 per gallon of gas I use in his car, etc.

You may think our President is an asshole.  But what is noble about President Obama is that his beliefs, in the past, weren't settled on same-sex marriage.  His ideas about it were ever "evolving".  His current support of Marriage Equality is an example of growth.  This was not his best political move to finally support the initiative but what makes our President great here is that he spoke from his heart.  And who is to say that as a Christian, President Obama actually believes homosexuality is right or wrong;  but as a gatekeeper to policy, he fairly knows that his religious beliefs has no bearing on his actions in office.

Because he too is a member of my community.  My community encompasses the passionate Americans who believe that LOVE is what should guide our actions day to day.  My community encompasses those who believe that if we encounter things we do not understand, if we approach them with LOVE and an open heart, that that is the greatest source of learning.  My community encompasses me, the rest of the country, including those who would have voted "yes" on NC's Amendment One because as human beings, I insist, we all have the ability to LOVE one another as "thy neighbor."

And if you scoff at my touting of the word "Love" from paragraph to paragraph- ask of yourself, "Why is love so offensive to you?"   

Before you think of me as another ineffective liberal cry baby who wishes to open the gates to murderers, rapist, molesters and the sort  (look, I made the comparison here).... know this:

I will stand at the front lines to join you in protest of those requesting consent of sex with a child, a dog, a cow, a hippo.

But will you stand with me, just so I can stand with my dying lover when the time comes?  

Do the right thing.  Examine in with your own hearts to ask:  What do you stand to lose by allowing yourself and others to love freely?

In truth, I don't believe in complete separation of church and state.  The teachings of any good Christian home will demonstrate the power that Love can have on a growing family.  Now imagine the power that Love can have on a growing nation.  

Sincerely,
Kelvin Moon Loh 







Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 167: So You Think You Can Act. Act. Act. Back to Reality (NYC Layoff)

For those of you who write:  "How did you like the weather in LA?"  "Will you do a blog post on your favorite restaurants in Minneapolis?"  "Visit any fun museums in Denver?".....

I apologize in advance that I will never post about these things.... well, not on purpose at least.  

I bring this up because, believe it or not, my time on this tour is wrapping up soon.  And even as I re-read my most recent post, lamenting my life's "misfortunes", I can hear my mother's voice saying with accent:  "Don't be an asshole.  You're life is good and you are an ungrateful person.  Take the time to stop and smell the bean curd." (no.... a racist joke is far superior to the truth that my mother has never in fact asked me to smell a bean curd.)

And without a the AMERICAN IDIOT tour, what the fuck will the Asian-AMERICAN IDIOT blog be about? 

"All I know is, she was right.  I am an idiot
It’s even on my birth certificate in so many words."

I guess that will never change.  This blog has been about my experience with the show but the theme has always been the same.  My experience in the theater.  So perhaps the show may change in the future but my life as a theater artist will not.

This week's entry based on many tweets:  "I want to be an actor, do you have any advice?"


I preface this with: I always have advice.  I don't fancy myself a guru on anything, just opinionated and sometimes dangerously so.  I have advice that has proven itself to be good for me and at times disastrous for me.  In the end, you are in control of your own life's path....

Rewind.  "In the end, you are in control of your own life's path".  That is all the advice you need in life really.

Let me break it down just a few steps further.  Just three steps:

1. "SIT IN A ROOM AND TALK TO YOURSELF IN A MIRROR.  YES, YOU LOOK CRAZY."

But what that forces you to do is to get a really good sense of who you are, what you want, and how you view your ability to accomplish things.  What you will soon realize is that no one can truly stand in your own way but yourself.

I am fantastic at being my own worst enemy.  And often times I'll blame it on others.  Example:  She says, I'm not right for the role. He says, I don't sing like that.  They say, that experience is not my cup of tea.

Fuck what he/she/they said.  But, in fact, it is not their fault.  Everyone has opinions.  But it is MY fault if I let others identify who I am.  This sounds generic and redundant but really think about it for a minute.  Have you really ever been open to the idea that "I am the master of my own fate"?

Ask yourself.  "What is it that I want".  Then be more specific.  Then be even more specific.  And then, prepare to bust your balls.  

"I want to be an actor"-  "I want to be a musical theater actor"-  "I want to be in rock musicals"- "I want to be in American Idiot"---  that is the a progression that I used to my advantage.

But then the voice in your head goes... You don't have any acting training.  You don't have any singing training.  You don't sing like a rock star.  You don't know how to play guitar!  Oh fuck, what should you do.....

Um, not to sound like a total douche.... but this was true of me at some point and only I had the power to change all that.  It took time.  And at times it looked impossible-

Because the voice in your head takes a devilish tone like Golem:  It's too late, these fuckers have been doing it since they were 4.  You don't have the money to take lessons.  You live in Tulsa not NYC.

Drop kick Golem into the lava and find a way.  There is always a way to make something out of nothing.  That is the whole basis of theater, is it not?

Yes, some kids have rich parents.  Yes, some kids have won the gene pool lottery.  Yes, some kids just happened to fuck the right producer.  But that was never my path.  This kid just took a double shift at a TGIFridays, and never fucking looked back.

2. "BE RELENTLESS.  NEVER SAY 'NO' AND NEVER TAKE 'NO' FOR AN ANSWER."

A. You can sleep when you're dead. 
B. You're never above doing anything.
C. It may seem cult-like but the Power of Yes is what gets shit done in the world.

Ask and you shall receive.  I've heard this a thousand times.  But be prepared to receive nothing (again, nothing is something).  It doesn't hurt to ask.  Ask someone on a date.  Ask someone for advice.  Ask someone to give you a chance.  Ask ask ask ask ask......  and most always someone will NOT be able to give you exactly what you want.  Then ask ask ask ask ask ask again.

Whatever modicum of anything they give you when they finally do.  Use it.  Cherish it.  Turn it into a positive for yourself:

I once asked a writer if he had any time for me to audition for a piece that he was workshopping next week.  He was well known in the business.  He said he didn't have room for me then, but he'd keep me in mind..... I called bullshit on him.  I said, "Thank you, but if you have a 10 minutes in the near future, I'd love to sing for you live one day. But I understand you are busy.  Here is a demo I did myself as a sample of my work.  Would love to work with you in the future."  I lied, I paid $300 for that demo and have been shopping it around since.  I replaced the lead in the workshop next week as that actor came up with a conflict.

This shit happens all the time.  Put yourself out there.  And ask for help constantly.

And when you start to feel guilty..... like a whore in church..... or even like a whoring actor asking for opportunities, you will have these two saving graces, to remove that guilt, in your back pocket:

1.  I work and study hard at my craft and I can back up my work with integrity.
2.  Karma is supreme.  When someone asks for help in the future, I will be the first to volunteer with a hearty "Yes!" 

3. HUMBLE YOURSELF BY CELEBRATING YOUR VICTORIES

Is this an affliction of the generation I'm a part of, the business I'm in or the product of Chinese immigrant parenting-  the idea of "what I have now is not good enough"?

My opinion: what you have is neither good nor bad.  The path you stand on is just a path.  It is YOU who decides on if it is a good path only if it points you forward.  It is YOU who chooses to walk or run or do pirouettes in a floral sarong.

"Stop and smell the bean curd."

What is acting?  Bringing a truthful representation of life on stage.  Being able to access your emotions and experiences to inform the work you present to an audience.  Having an opinion on everything and everyone.  That is acting to me.

And so the brilliant thing about the craft of acting is that you are constantly studying:

-I went to the grocery store today.  I know what it is like to be responsible.
-I went to see a show today and I thought the writing was terrible.  I know what I would write instead.
 -My ex-boyfriend posted on his facebook that he's in a new relationship.  I know what it is to be unjustly devastated.
-I saw this man call a stranger a cunt.  I wanted to punch a wall for her.  

Just by living life you have won the day.  That is worth a celebration!  If that isn't convincing then:

-Take a dance class
-Take a voice lesson
-Just make enough money to afford a voice lesson
-Book a show at the local community theater
-Memorize your favorite Jim Carey monologue
-Script the conversation your mother and father had over coffee

Any of these things is worth the same celebration as if you booked your first Broadway show.  You may disagree, I bet you do.  I challenge you to!  But, I would like to re-examine the business of theater.  Often times people wonder what the secret is to booking a show.  What makes someone stand out.  There are thousands of talented people.  There are thousands of good looking people.  But who gets the job?

The answer:  The person who the creative staff could imagine themselves working with happily for several weeks, months, years to come.

Theater is a business of PEOPLE.

So if you are in constant celebration, you are instantly attractive to me as a real and pleasant person.  That, in turn, changes how I view you.  I put you on my list of people I want to work with.  Although, there is one side effect:  You also get to live a happy fulfilled life.

====

I can already hear the pessimists out there rolling their eyes at this sudden Buddhist-like transcription being pawned off as "Acting Advice".  Noses titled towards the sky because I'm telling you to dream big and you can succeed.

To those holier-than-thou-arrogants,
All I have to say is this:

For years I have collected playbills from dozens of Broadway shows.  I examined every headshot, studied the bios of the actors, taken every theater quiz, read them cover to cover including actors recommendations to restaurants.  I never threw a single Playbill out, ever. 

You should see my childhood bedroom!







I only ever dreamed that one day my name and my picture would grace the pages under the Playbill logo. 











Well to them I say, "SUCK IT.  I win."

Best of luck to you beautiful crazy fuck nuts out there.  Me and your future self are rooting for you!

xoxo,
Kelvin

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 146: Friday the 13th and a Stormy Day in LA

It has taken me 56 days since my last blog post.  That in itself is scary to me. Not because my procrastination has reached new limits but,  ask Josh Kobak, because I have told him several times I have an absurd obsession with the number 56 as it continues to show up in my life.  One would call it a "favorite number".  I call it ominous.  And on a day like today, Friday the 13th.  Numbers are playing a big factor.

I swear I didn't plan on sitting down and writing today.  I diligently count the days on my calendar when I make the title for every blog post.  Day 146.   An incredibly boring number.

The truth is, I haven't found much to write about.  I know many of you check in to see what it is like to be an actor on the road.  I would like to post about all the glamorous parties and the wonderful celebrities we meet and all the fun lavish things I buy with my ginormous salary..... But then I would be selling you a great blog of fiction. 

I stretched the time to think of new and inventive blogposts for you readers and each time I would shoot blanks and delay my writing by another day....then a week....and now apparently 56 days.  When I remembered, "the only thing that is appealing about my blog is how real I try to keep it."  So, indulge me in a tale that involves a little show anecdote and my personal life, will you?

Here is the truth:  The show has become a job.  A job that I always want to do well with but it's come with all the territories of being a job.  The perks and the pitfalls.  And this job is 24/7.  As much as I thought that I would find comfort in living in a hotel and calling it home.... it's not possible.

We have developed an undeniable family here with the cast, crew and band of the show.  We work, party, eat, DRINK together.  Still it can be incredibly lonely on tour.

Most of our cast has significant others which I'm not convinced I envy or am relieved that that isn't my life.  A part of me believes that, being alone in my hotel room with the next chapter of the Hunger Game isn't the worst fate but pretty pathetic.  Another part questions, well, is it much better to be, constantly, miles and miles away from my love;  I see it on the faces of my castmates who have visiting lovers.  Upon their arrival, they are giddy with anticipation.  The elation on their faces when to come to work that whole week, and then the inevitable decline into withdrawal when it's time to part.  It seems merciless. 

Still, perhaps I prefer to be the later.  I've been told I could have a trick in any city, in every city.  But it doesn't appeal to me.  Who needs the clubs when I can find the company of the lonely right here in my hotel suite?  A party of one is still a party of one even in a crowd of hundreds.  I prefer actual silence and not that produced by thumping techno beats.

Wait....if you think this is a depressing story.... we've only just gone down the rabbit hole.  I can hear my roommate Enrico now, saying in his most lovingly concerned voice with a tinge of humorous judgement, "what are you going through?"

Because more and more I think about that Sunday, nearly three years ago;  I only remember it was a Sunday not because I obsess over our breakup, but because I had to miss the Tony Awards that year.  The only year I've missed the live broadcast since my gay self discovered the darn ceremony, my superbowl.  I things I do for love.... The things I did for HIM.

I was flying home to NYC from SLC International.  This is the first time I left my heart out on the road and I vowed it would be my last.  I will spare the readership of anymore gory details than this.  But the upcoming weeks as I searched through why I was meant to find love and then to have to leave it behind in pursuit of a job, I didn't think I'd ever understand.

I raged against a lot after that break up with HIM.  I remember the first day back in the city I started a random fight with a pushy woman on the subway of whom I would have never given two looks.  I remember getting hammered at a friend's BBQ and finding the nearest couch to lay flat faced down on instead of being remotely social with the multitudes of attractive people.  I remember one day ordering a bag of pot (medicinal?) then a lunch special from one of every cuisine that would deliver to my apartment and consuming them all before dinner.

From HIM, I had learned the power of external love, and therefore by product of relativity, learned the power of internal loathing.

A mere six months later, after a few interventions and few hundred  "what are you going through?"'s....  I set out on a mission.  I set out on a mission to prove HIM wrong.  I set out to show HIM that I was worth something much more than even the man I allowed him to love. 

I get my ass back in the gym.  I get myself to a vocal coach.  I audition for everything.  Everything I do, I do to better myself in order to say "Fuck You, HIM!"  I got the goods.  Suddenly my successes outweigh the failures.

Slowly the image of HIM blurs.  Or at least it dims in comparison to this newly vibrant ME. 

Here's the tie in my, Twidiots:  Like Jesus who turned water to wine, the Jesus of Suburbia learned to turn Love into Rage and back to Love again.

End of Anecdote.  Or is it the beginning?

Because, still I am lonely as ever on this tour.  Typing this blog post in my hotel room as I alternate between making lunch for Tommy McDowell and him washing dishes out of the bathtub.  But, I've grown to know that loneliness is not for me to dwell on but another time to reflect and crack the nut that is this lesson in life.

Time has been my adversary.  Patience has been my friend.  Solitude has been my test.  Clarity has been my goal.

In retrospect, it's ironic.  It's because of HIM, I am on the road again.  As our tour trucks drive en route farther and farther west;  closer and closer to SLC International.  I wonder, if the pushpins on the map of our tour are trying to point me back.

'Til then "I text a postcard sent to you, did it go through?"

====

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 90: The Actor's Nightmare (A Story of Asian Will...#getit?)

Let me take you back to February 14, 2012....

Like every other Valentine's Day, I try not to spend it loathing those who are laying trails of rose petals, depleting the shelves of champagne bottles, and guaranteeing themselves one very expensive night of sex.

Instead, I planned on taking a solo bath while playing John Mayer's "Love Song for No One" on repeat while hopelessly texting various ex-boyfriends as I await my delivery of Thai food meant for two.  Unfortunately not just a Valentine's Day routine.   Happily not just a Valentine's Day routine ;-)

This February 14th was different though.  I thought to myself, "I'm on the road, I'm in Chicago, I like myself and I love my job.  I'm going to buy a new journal!".  Yelped the nearest bookstore and non-chain coffee shop and was ready to give myself a gift of an afternoon full of positive self-affirmations.

4pm rolls around, just about the time any decent night owl theater actor stumbles out for breakfast and just as I slide on my puffy coat and sunglass my even puffier eyes, my hotel phone rings.

"Hi, It's Monica.  So, Jake is sick.  You're on tonight."

I responded, "oh, okay.  Cool.", but actually thought to myself, "oh, okay.  Tonight Chicago will see it's second St. Valentine's Day Massacre.".

3 hours and 30 minutes to death at the hands of a couple thousand Chicago theater patrons of whom, I assumed, I would ruin their romantic night at the theater.  (American Idiot, romantic comedy of the year! Hah!)  Took the time to tweet:

 

You know that terrible cliche actor choice when someone is stuck between a rock and a hard place and they start pacing back and forth like its supposed to mean something?  Well, I'm confident I logged about three miles around my little hotel room.

I had my script out.  I had the OBC album blasting in the background.  My shower was running hot water to steam my voice and possible force me to sweat out yesterday's heavy rationing of Maker's Mark.  I had a guitar across my lap when I realized that every time I went to finger a chord, my hands went instantly numb.  

Here's how it works:  Everyone has an understudy.  I've known I was understudying Will from the day I was offered the job.  Since that time, I've had a few rehearsals, done some homework, memorized some lines and kept an ear open whenever possible between learning and doing my own track.  But no matter how much you prepare-  the day you get that phone call-  Life becomes an ignited canon and you are the ball.  

An hour passed and I realized I had gotten nothing accomplished but a shower to the sounds of Michael Esper's voice.  So I had an open dialogue with myself:

"Kelvin.  Go to the gym.  Relax.  Breathe.  Stretch.  What you know is what you know.  You don't have to prove anything.  Just sing the right words.  Text your parents."

6pm.  1 Hour and 30 minutes to death.  Time to get my Will look on.  Tattoo, costume fitting, and dawn the traditional blue streaks among my blonde streaks. (I didn't get pictures of ANYTHING as I was in serious prep mode.)   Still denying the reality that this was in fact going to happen, I was indeed going to have to sing "Nobody Likes You" in front of people as opposed to myself on an treadmill.

6:30.  1 Hour til I meet my maker.  The entire cast assembles on stage.  I run "Too Much Too Soon" over and over and people are throwing bag and guitars a me, and I get pushed around on the couch.  I get a message from our stage manager that the Will guitar is broken and in the shop.  I think to myself:  The Good Will is broken, The Good Will Guitar is broken.  The audience will have to deal with the broken performance tonight.

7pm.  30 minutes til the curtain rises like the blade of a guillotine.  I'm in a foreign dressing room trying not to disturb any of Jake's things.  I run through a few harmonies for "21 Guns" and "Last Night on Earth" which I conveniently sing the opposite vocal part faithfully for the last 3 months.  Microphone....check.  Guyliner....check.  Grip on reality..... not so much.

7:31pm.  The curtain is late as per usual.  I have to be on all fours on the bed as we do our "Fuck Time/ShitMotherFuckerMotherFuckerGoddamn".  Everyone is giving me a thumbs up and a look of "you got this", "I've got you",  "you're going to be great".  But I can't shake the feeling that I'm going to let everyone down.  I sit on the couch and feel the fabric beneath me.  I take a remote control in hand and close my eyes through the entire first chorus of "American Idiot" trying to meditate and calm my mind and open my heart through the madness that is our show.

Cue the oh so familiar song where the melody is the same but the words have all changed.  But only for me.

I remember Leslie and I making out and her lovingly whispering in my ear "you can wipe the sweat of your face".  I remember burning my finger with a lit cigarette as my smoking dexterity hasn't developed.  I remember standing center stage during the final monologue desperately searching for my line that was coming soon but not in my mind- opening my mouth and there it was.  I remember being in a fetal position way too long.  I remember looking into that baby's eyes and even though they were blue, they belonged to me.  I remember chugging "holy water" and accidentally regurgitating all the water onto my lap making it look like I pee'd which I desperately had to do in real life.    

I remember blinking and it was over.  

I had a final reassuring nod from Van and a butt pat from Tommy and pretty much everyone else for a job well done before curtain call.  I didn't die.  And as American Idiot 99.99999% of the time receives standing ovations, I held my breath in fear that I was the link that didn't connect that would cause the audience to glue their asses to their seats.  They stood.  They applauded wildly.  I was safe.

All said and done.  Understudying can be terrifying.  It is also artistically fulfilling.  As an actor, your eyes have to be completely open.  You suddenly gain an even deeper trust and appreciation for you supportive cast and crew.  You hear the words all new again and gain a new perspective of the show that inspires new meaning even after months of work.  

With that, I thank my cast first and foremost for being so kind and having the most wonderful of praises for Tuesday.  I am humbled every day and in awe of their talent.  And I thank my Twidiots who sent so much love before the show, and I read every tweet to fill up my tank! 

In my career.  This will go down as a highlight.  I got to do a PRINCIPLE role in a major Broadway First National tour.  That is something I thought I might not ever be able to do as an Asian actor.  That is why I thank our producers Steve, Tom, and Ira.  I thank our creatives Michael, Tom, Jared, Johanna, and Lorin for having faith in me and taking the chance.  I thank Jim, Carrie, and Jillian at casting for their honest and progressive casting choices.  From the bottom of my rage filled heart:  Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Alas, Asian Will debuted at the Oriental Theater.....   yup.  That just happened. 

The only remnants of Asian Will.  My Will tattoo in my hotel room after a cool down whiskey and ginger. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 80: A WEEKend in the Country

We have arrived in Chicago and I can't tell you how exciting it is to be able to open this show in a new city every couple of weeks.  Let it be known that I have already had my taste of deep dish pizza and well, as life long New Yorker.....I must concede that it is delicious.  (I didn't say better, just delicious)

More about Chicago later as we have two weeks that have only just begun.

Okay....what's in RALEIGH?!  I have to be honest that I didn't think that Raleigh could hold a candle to the amazing week I had in Boston.  I am a CITY BOY.  I am a NORTHERN BOY.  I am a pretentious NEW YORK BOY.  .......  I was humbled by the beauty that is the South.

Everyone in North Carolina was more than nice.  Hospitable.  Warm.

I got to spend a great day driving out to Louisburg to visit Jen Bowles' family and we pretty much decimated every biscuit in sight.  OMG....Backfat Biscuits were created by the devil.   You need to google that shit.....

Our last day we happened to have two show on Superbowl Sunday.  We were prepared by the company that we would most likely see a smaller audience for the evening performance.  They were right.  It wasn't our biggest audience but they were by far the most supportive.  Those audience members wanted to BE THERE.  And we were happy to share the American Idiot experience with them.  For those to choose to not be part of national holiday that is football mania to come see our little play..... well, that's why I do it.



I don't like horses typically.  Except this one.  He was soft.....

President of the Taco Club.  Ironic huh?


The Memorial Auditorium.  I felt like I was supposed to quote scripture when I first saw it.



Don't think I didn't notice the handpicked messages on the sauce packages!  Thanks Cara and Amanda!!!

I thought they were actual grenades.  So I threw one at Matt DeAngelis' head

Fresh New Haircut.  Says "I'm going to cut you." 

Chanelling Billie Joe for this awesome Raleigh street art.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 69: Boston, Birthday, and Boys (oddly appropriate day number)

Just kidding about the boys  (or maybe not...).  I just thought alliterations are more fun in three's.  That is unless you count the beautiful boys in American Idiot of whom I adore them all individually (and apparently all of Boston's reviews)  Regardless of birthday festivities, I had to go to work and hit the grind ;-)
Can I begin to tell you what a gift it is to perform on your birthday?!  I guess as I am blogging, I already have.... 

Well, it is.  It's a special day on stage and to realize that I am a year older and traveling on tour with such an incredible show.  The best fucking show actually.  There's not another show I'd rather be a part of.  It is a blessing.  A St. Jimmy and/or J.O.S. type blessing.  The best kind of blessing then! 

This is also the first city that I feel like we finally have a schedule where we can explore.  Boston greeted us with the best weather (scary weather for January....global warming exists!!)  and we have done all the fun things.  Quincy Market and James Hook and Co.  I feel like I have single-handedly demolished the Lobster population in New England.

As I didn't post much about Detroit, I have to say, that is where I met my PERSONAL FANCLUB.  Whom I adore.  They have been nothing but sweet and the gifts have been pouring in.  They know my love of glitter.....  My heart was pounding like drum to meet them....

I never thought of myself as fan worthy.  So I'm just going to pretend like I'm their fan!

It has been a truly AMAZING week..... so Birthday pics  GO! 

Boston Opera House.  Amazing Marquee!!!


Most Thoughtful Gift from Vince Oddo, My Hero!!!

One of the many artworks I received from my favorite Twidiots in Detroit!!! I sent it home with Mama Moon Loh so I can keep it forever!!!

Beautiful Artwork by the beautiful Ran Xia.  The bottom left is me with the YELLOW Mohawk!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 59: Canada, destroyed. USA, you're next! (Twitter Challenge #2)


Finally crossed the border back to the USA as I managed not to become an international criminal of any kind.   Mostly because Toronto kept us on our toes everyday. 

No matter what you do, no matter how much you love it..... Every job eventually feels like a job.  And I love my job as an actor.  But sometimes-  just sometimes before I walk on stage, I think, "I don't know how I'm going to get through this one."

You could try to phone in a show with American Idiot  (it would be feat but completely doable).  But even when I've missed my morning cup of coffee.... something always grabs a hold of my heart and soul as the curtain rises.  I don't know if you believe in God or not, as I am not sure if I do-  but what one can always believe in is the power of people.

I think that is what THEATER is....  a manifestation of the power of people.

Because no matter how tired I am, suddenly you can feel the collectively energy of hundreds of people sharing one room.  They are holding their breath for an experience and I am suddenly empowered to deliver.

This is a testament to the generous Toronto audiences.   This is a testament to the Mosaic Youth Theater group that made our Detroit opening extra special.  This is a testament to anyone who loves live theater and continues to support it.

Every performance is special.  You can't hit "back", you can't rewind your Tivo.  When it's done, it is done, now performance every identical to the last.  And if every performance is special, that means every audience is special.  Especially when it's glittered with some of the best fans one show could possibly hope for.

*** Twitter Challenge #2 !!! ***
So this week, Nicci Claspell (Extraordinary Girl,  Nicci's Blog)  and I have been scouring the websites and we would like to encourage you all to ask us any questions about the show.  If we can, we'll tweet you back  (me  @KelvinMoonLoh ,  Nicci is @nclaspell).  But today we ask you a question!!!

What is your favorite American Idiot Musical song and why? #IHeartIdiot

Be sure to tag it with #IHeartIdiot !  As we go through this week's Twitter Challenge, I'll try to get answers from the cast!!!  Thanks for tweeting!!!

All my bars of soap are covered in St. Jimmy glitter by the end of the night....

Toronto Cast Boards.  Actor's Equity Cast and Stage Managers!!!

Our Detroit Opening Night Playbill!  The gorgeous Detroit Opera House!

Made a tongue-in-cheek memorial for Jarran Muse.  Get well soon, buddy!  We love and miss you.
Meanwhile we gain one more AI Broadway Alum!  Welcome Omar!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DAY 51: I Take All Kinds, Even Your Racist Bullshit

In my history of doing theater and performing music, I don't mind reading reviews: Good or Bad.  It's the nature of the business and frankly, what I do onstage will not change.  My job is to serve the creatives and my personal art;  not that of any critic.  I think everyone has a right to their opinions.... EXCEPT when they write things that are unnecessarily hateful (aware or unaware).

Here is the review in question:


Green Day’s American Idiot Toronto Production Intelligent-enough idiocy, until Jan. 15.

I was in my dressing room today when it was brought to my attention:  "Hey, have you read the review where they call you a token."

From the review by Mr.  Kerry Doole, "It’s hard to fault the dancing or singing of any of the cast, though for a bunch of punks everybody was a mite too freshly scrubbed and wholesome-looking. The actual dance routines could have done with more pogoing, moshing or slam-dancing to be punk-credible, while the inclusion of Asian and black actors seemed a little token."

It is certainly hard to fault the cast for their performances (wouldn't have minded if he did).  Instead, it is much easier to fault the creatives for assembling a diverse cast of actors in 2012.

"...while the inclusion of Asian and black actors seemed a little token" 

Upon further discussion with my castmates, we have decided that the meaning of this quote is to imply one or many of the following:

-In a suburban USA and later urban NYC, there are no Asian or black people.
-The punk revolution is a whites only counter culture.
-Actors of color are only cast, not based on merit or talent, but to fulfill some unspoken professional quota of minority performers.  Broadway's own Affirmative Action plan, if you'll have it.

I would list that I have followed the punk culture pretty much my entire Asian life.  I would list that Long Island is as suburban as it gets and I call it home (where I was one of a few but still many Asian teenagers in my town.  Oh yea, I'm pretty confident that black people also live on Long Island).  I would list the ever growing list of bands emerging out of the Asian hardcore punk scene developing worldwide.  I would list that if Broadway Affirmative Action were actually real, I would be a much happier, and richer actor today.

Alas, Mr. Doole.... I need not list anything to demonstrate how blatantly ignorant your self-posturing comments have come off. 

We have been so well-received in Canada with positive reviews and wonderful audiences.  I expect along the way we'll receive similar reviews to Mr. Doole's and that will be fine with me because it's much easier to write a scathing review than to do a "squeaky-clean theatre" piece like American Idiot.

But Mr. Doole.... he is a self-proclaimed "lover of first generation punk"  and wishes that American Idiot would more embody the true spirit of punk.  Among his astute observations, he suggests that, "surely it wouldn’t have hurt the bassist to trim his long locks, in the spirit of the show."  Just like one of the undeniable patriarchs of punk, the well-groomed, hair-trimmed Ramones:

Oh wait.....

Fun Facts:

1. The Ramones hail from Forest Hills, Queens.... aka The Land of No Asians (ahem. cough, cough).
2. Without "tokens" in the American Idiot family we would have to find the all white counterparts for--  Krystina Alabado, Nicci Claspell, Justin Guarini, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Gabrielle McClinton, Jarran Muse, Corbin Reid, Wallace Smith, Okieriete Onaodowan, Josh Henry,  Christina Sajous--- among many others to represent Mr. Doole's narrow view of the punk demographic.
3.  The term "token" traditionally refers to ONE of any category being represented.  The tour currently has three "token" black actors appearing at the same time from Principal to Ensemble characters.
4.  If I were hired as any "token" perhaps "token gay".  And who has every heard of gay punk rock besides the virtually unknown Pansy Division ?!?!  (again, ahem.  cough, cough).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 42: First Opening and NYE

After all that, I only had to miss one show.  And thank goodness. 

Opening night was incredible. I got to meet Adrienne and, wow, just wow.   The audience took every breath with us and we surely delivered.  Still our week was far from over.  We still had a TV appearance (and rehearsal...phew) as well as three back to back two-show days.  Our NYE party would be more than a celebration of the dawn of 2012 but also a celebration of two days OFF. 

In case you missed the performance..... 


It was a sea of people and we got police escorts around the city center.  It was pretty bad ass.  Then we headed downtown to have some drinks.  And who did I get to kiss at midnight?.....

Yes, you all should be jealous....      
But before I start any rumors..... in case you haven't heard....  Here is my interview for Toronto's local magazine Fab! 

American, but no idiot

Drew Rowsome talks to Kelvin Moon Loh about his part in the punk rock opera American Idiot

12.26.2011

Drew Rowsome: How did you get the role in American Idiot?

Kelvin Moon Loh: I remember seeing it on Broadway in 2009 and saying, “I don’t care what it takes; I must be a part of this show. I don’t care who I have to sleep with.” Thankfully, I just auditioned.

Did your experience in The Argyle Effect help with getting the role?

I can’t believe you found The Argyle Effect. The band broke up two years ago, and it serves as the remnants of my dreams of being a rock star. It was the best training ground for a show like American Idiot. It was a fun balance of indie-punk and theatricality (I have an arsenal of tricks I can do with a microphone cord). You learn a lot on the road, even when you’re playing to a crowd of three people in Bumblefuck, USA. I vowed I would still give it to them hard (every pun intended), the same way I would to a crowd of thousands.

Your thoughts on the blending of pop-punk with theatre?

It feels so right. I am a huge musical theatre fan, and I will be the first to admit that there is a lot of fluff out there. American Idiot pushes the boundaries using the very essence of punk culture as a device to show you how theatre should be: In your face. Raw. Unapologetic.

Green Day was instrumental in breaking down sexual barriers in the punk scene by championing queer punk band Pansy Division. Does American Idiot have a similar mentality with musical theatre?

I don’t know if American Idiot’s intentions are to break down any sexual barriers. What I can say is, this is a show about outcasts and misfits in search of life’s fullest potential. Black, white, Asian, gay, straight, et cetera — it doesn’t matter — just anyone on the outside, or who has felt like they are on the outside, of what the media tells us is “in.” When I am onstage, I have a moral obligation to represent these people earnestly. Deep in my heart, I represent the gay youth who are, sometimes literally, dying to have their voices heard — their beautiful unique voices. My every performance is for them.

We were told emphatically that American Idiot has a predominantly straight cast.

Gay or straight didn’t really matter here. As far as private lives of other actors in the theatre community — I say everyone is entitled to their privacy. But for me as an actor, I’ve been honing my craft of living truthfully and fully realized onstage. Being a gay man is very much a part of my truth. It goes into everything I do, including American Idiot. Especially American Idiot!

You have a huge list of credits. What role would you like to tackle?

Is it tacky to say that American Idiot is my dream show? Well, it is! But I have a severe desire to play Albin in La Cage Aux Folles. Either that or the first male Christmas Eve in Avenue Q.

You will be in Toronto over New Year’s. Any plans?

Why? You got a date for me? Or two? Our show will be performing on Citytv’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. But I will be sure to sample the Toronto nightlife. And I won’t be waiting till New Year’s, either . . .

American Idiot runs from Wed, Dec 28-Sun, Jan 15 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St. dancaptickets.com

Drew Rowsome is an associate editor at fab, a musical theatre geek and a pop-punk fan who’s grateful the two arts are blending.
 
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