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 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


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.

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.