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Telly Leung to Debut at The Green Room 42

March 17th, 2017 Comments off
Telly Leung (Photo: Lesley Bohm via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung (Photo: Lesley Bohm via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung — the Broadway and television star of “Glee,” Godspell and Rent, currently starring on Broadway in In Transit — will debut at the new concert space The Green Room 42 at Yotel (570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street) for one show only on Sunday, April 23 at 7:30 pm.. The show has a $30 cover with no minimum.

Leung, who recently returned to Broadway after a two–year hiatus with a “star turn” (NBC New York) in Allegiance opposite George Takei and Lea Salonga, will offer an intimate and deeply personal evening of music and personal showbiz anecdotes, in addition to highlights from his solo albums on the Yellow Sound Label – “I’ll Cover You” and “Songs for You” – and the musical talents of some of Broadway’s finest musicians.

Telly comments, “I have had an amazing time harmonizing and singing a-cappella with my Broadway cast mates at In Transit — but I’ve really missed making live music with a band! I am very excited to perform with some of my favorite musicians on Broadway, and also get the opportunity to perform in a chic, new, intimate venue in Hell’s Kitchen!”

Songs for You features familiar classic music from the worlds of Pop, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway done with a new and innovative twist, accompanied by lush musical arrangements. The album includes songs originally recorded by Michael Jackson (“Human Nature”), Oleta Adams (“I Just Had to Hear Your Voice”), Mama Cass Elliot (“Make Your Own Kind of Music”), John Denver (“Leaving On A Jet Plane”), Des’ree (“You Gotta Be”) and more.

To honor his Broadway roots, Telly also includes songs by his favorite theater composers Stephen Sondheim (“Being Alive”), Jerry Herman (“I Am What I Am”) and Stephen Schwartz (“Dreamscape”), in addition to the world premiere recording of “Second Chances” from the pre-Broadway engagement of AllegianceTelly’s debut CD I’ll Cover You is an eclectic collection that features a variety of genres. It includes songs from Broadway (“Before The Parade Passes By” from Hello, Dolly!, “Children Will Listen” from Into The Woods and the disc’s title track, which he performed in the final Broadway cast of Rent) and fresh interpretations of pop hits (“Firework” by Katy Perry, “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna and “Galileo” by The Indigo Girls).

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Exclusive: ShowTickets.com Interview with Telly Leung

March 8th, 2017 Comments off
Telly Leung (Photo: Leon Le Photography via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung (Photo: Leon Le Photography via The Broadway Blog.)

“There’s no people like show people!” (Or so sang Ethel Merman.) The Broadway Blog is thrilled to announce our partnership with ShowTickets.com, one of the best online resources for choosing, purchasing, and saving on the most popular shows nationwide. We’ve combined creative forces to bring you exclusive interviews with some of Broadway’s biggest stars.

Our first column features Telly Leung, currently starring in In Transit on Broadway. Telly shares with readers about Broadway’s first a cappella musical, his audition experience, backstage insights, and his favorite NYC hot spots.

For the full article click here.

Justin Guarini and Telly Leung in 'In Transit.' (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Justin Guarini and Telly Leung in ‘In Transit.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus)

‘Allegiance’ Announces Canadian Film Screening, 2/19

January 19th, 2017 Comments off
Lea Salonga and George Takei in 'Allegiance' (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Lea Salonga and George Takei in ‘Allegiance’ (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

After a successful North-American premiere, Cineplex Events brings George Takei’s (Star Trek, Heroes) Broadway musical Allegiance back to Canadian theatres for an encore on Sunday, February 19 at 6:30 p.m. local time. This date is the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, known as the Day of Remembrance, which marked the beginning of the forced relocation and internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII.

“George Takei’s Allegiance: The Broadway Musical On The Big Screen” will begin with an exclusive introduction from Takei and immediately move into the musical’s presentation. After the feature, audiences will also be treated to behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with George Takei and the rest of the cast and creative team.

Participating Theatres:

  • Toronto – Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP
  • Vancouver – The Park Theatre
  • Halifax – Cineplex Cinemas Park Lane
  • Ottawa – Cineplex Odeon South Keys Cinemas
  • Calgary – Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market Cinemas
Telly Leung (center) and the cast of 'Allegiance' (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung (center) and the cast of ‘Allegiance’ (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

“At a time when echoes of the interment ring once again far too loud in our political discourse, there’s never been a better moment for the story of Allegiance to find new audiences,” said star Takei. “It is a true testament to the power and the relevance of this story that so many people attended its premiere in December, and it is only appropriate that even more people will be able to witness it on such an important day as February 19, 2017. The Day of Remembrance is a day of commemoration, of reflection, and of learning, and I hope Allegiance can play an important role in its celebration, this year, and for many years to come.”

Allegiance illuminates one of American history’s lesser known chapters as it tells the story of Sam Kimura (Takei), transported back nearly six decades to when his younger self (Telly Leung, Godspell, Glee) and his sister Kei (Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga, Miss SaigonMulan) fought to stay connected to their heritage, their family and themselves after Japanese Americans were wrongfully imprisoned during World War II.

“The response from the audience who attended the premiere has been overwhelming. While its Broadway run may have been cut short, the story of Allegiance truly speaks to audiences everywhere and we are honored that its legacy continues, through this encore with Fathom Events and beyond,” said Allegiance producer Lorenzo Thione. “Moreover, we are excited that the story, music and message of Allegiance will expand its reach to more people, cities, and even countries, continuing to move, educate and inspire, truly fulfilling George’s legacy.”

Tickets are now on sale for “George Takei’s Allegiance: The Broadway Musical On The Big Screen” and can be purchased online by visiting Cineplex.com/Events or at participating theatre box offices.

For more information visit www.AllegianceMusical.com/movie.

 

 

 

Telly Leung Returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below

August 30th, 2016 Comments off
Telly Leung (Photo: Leon Le Photography via The Broadway Blog.)
Telly Leung (Photo: Leon Le Photography via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung, the Broadway and television star of “Glee,” Godspell, Rent and more, returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below for two shows only on Tuesday, September 13 and Wednesday, September 14 after a two-year hiatus and a “star turn” in Broadway’s Allegiance opposite George Takei and Lea Salonga.

Songs For You is an intimate and deeply personal evening of music and personal showbiz anecdotes dedicated to the many people who have influenced Telly on his personal and professional journey on and off the Broadway stage. This eclectic evening of music features highlights from Telly’s solo albums on the Yellow Sound Label – “I’ll Cover You” and “Songs for You” – and the musical talents of some of Broadway’s finest musicians: Gary Adler (music director, piano), Mary Ann McSweeney (bass), Brian Koonin (guitar) and Michael Croiter (drums).

Songs for You features familiar classic music from the worlds of Pop, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway done with a new and innovative twist, accompanied by lush musical arrangements. The album includes songs originally recorded by Michael Jackson (“Human Nature”), Oleta Adams (“I Just Had to Hear Your Voice”), Mama Cass Elliot (“Make Your Own Kind of Music”), John Denver (“Leaving On A Jet Plane”), Des’ree (“You Gotta Be”) and more.


To honor his Broadway roots, Telly also includes songs by his favorite theater composers Stephen Sondheim (“Being Alive”), Jerry Herman (“I Am What I Am”) and Stephen Schwartz (“Dreamscape”), in addition to the world premiere recording of “Second Chances” from the pre-Broadway engagement of Allegiance.
For tickets, visit: www.54below.com

Review: ‘Allegiance’

November 27th, 2015 Comments off
Telly Leung (center) and the cast of 'Allegiance' (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung (center) and the cast of ‘Allegiance’ (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Allegiance, the new Broadway musical currently playing at the Longacre Theatre, isn’t perfect. But neither is America’s track record when it comes to minority populations. Our country is currently in heated debates over our Muslim communities, some even calling for mandatory “databases,” in response to the recent ISIS attacks in Paris.

“The sense we get now is that it’s not only worse for Arabs and Muslims,” said Abed Ayoub, national policy director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, in a recent article on CNN. “The sense we get now is that it’s worse for all immigrant and brown communities as a whole.”

This fearful temperament shows that, yes, history has the potential to repeat itself. Two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order that would relocate “all persons of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and aliens, inland, outside of the Pacific military zone. The objectives of the order were to prevent espionage and to protect persons of Japanese descent from harm at the hands of Americans who had strong anti-Japanese attitudes,” according to the National Archives.

Lea Salonga and George Takei in 'Allegiance' (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Lea Salonga and George Takei in ‘Allegiance’ (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

This dark stain in American history, and the personal experiences of George Takei, serve as inspiration for Allegiance, which follows the journey of siblings Kei (Lea Salonga) and Sammy (Telly Leung) Kimura, as they are forced, along with their father Tatsuo (Christòpheren Nomura) and grandfather Ojii-chan (George Takei) to move to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in northwest Wyoming.

During their confinement, Mike Masaoka (Greg Watanabe), an executive with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) attempts to leverage the rights of Japanese Americans through various recommendations, including segregating troublemakers such as Frankie Suzuki (Michael K. Lee) and others enraged by the government’s actions. Within the camp, there are varying degrees of animosity and compassion, including nurse Hannah Campbell (Katie Rose Clarke), who falls under Sammy’s convincing spell after a number of visits to the infirmary in his quest to obtain medication for this grandfather. Another love interest develops between Kei and Frankie during the course of their internment, and the two storylines weave throughout broader historical happenings, which include the valiant efforts of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team—a segregated unit of Japanese-Americans assigned on a mission to the Vosges Mountains of France.

With a book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione, and music by Jay Kuo, Allegiance is both intimate and sweeping in scope. Director Stafford Arima (Broadway debut) keeps the action moving at a swift pace with the help of scenic (Donyale Werle) and projection (Darrel Maloney) designs that seamlessly transform from one locale to the next.

Unfortunately, other elements have needlessly been polished to a Broadway shine, which undermines the story’s truthfulness. Costumes by Alejo Vietti are crisp, vibrant, and period specific, but too picture-perfect for those living under such harsh conditions. Andrew Palermo’s choreography, too, unnecessarily dazzles in several flashy production numbers (“Get in the Game” feels like it was lifted from the short-lived TV series, Smash). And while the show’s book manages to encapsulate multiple storylines, it unfolds in a linear and literal manner that occasionally lacks dramatic tension.

The acting ensemble led by the deep-voiced and endearing Takei, is clearly dedicated to the piece. Along with Takei; Salonga, Leung, and Lee appeared in the production’s 2012 world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre. Allegiance, above all, has heart. And though it sometimes feels as though it’s been molded to fit a preconceived idea of what a Broadway show “should” look like, the musical’s relevance is a haunting reminder of how fragile and fleeting our freedom can be.

Here’s what the other critics are saying…

“Directed in workmanlike fashion by Stafford Arima, “Allegiance” has a complicated story to unfold and to humanize. It does a reasonable job of providing a nuanced view of events, the occasional swerve into melodrama notwithstanding. Some scholars of Japanese-American history have objected to unnecessary factual inaccuracies, but the musical, which bills itself as being “inspired” by actual events (and in part by Mr. Takei’s own experience in another camp), need not be held to the standards of strict documentary.

If anything, the authors, feeling the responsibility of illuminating this shameful chapter in American history, pack the show with so much incident and information that “Allegiance” often feels more like a history lesson than a musical. A singing history lesson, yes, but a history lesson nonetheless.” ­New York Times

“Ultimately what wins you over is the heart to heart connection. That stupid simple journey of the soul to find its path and the others who will share it. You could be separated by time and space, then tossed back together without a hesitation. Some loves you win. Others you lose. It is indeed a crazy game of allegiance everywhere you look – but it is ours, and who would ever think of giving it up.” New York Theatre Guide

“The show isn’t bombastic or preachy, though some may find the well-structured book—written by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione—too earnest. Kuo’s serviceable score is loaded with anthems, simple melodic lines and some obvious rhymes, with a few lighthearted ’40s boogie-woogy numbers to signify Americana. Although we hear enticing Japanese flute and percussion between scenes, this more “Le Miz”-lite pop opera than a fusion of musical cultures.” Newsday

Allegiance
Longacre Theatre
228 West 48th Street
Open ended run.

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo

Preview: Telly Leung’s ‘Songs For You’

September 24th, 2015 Comments off
Telly Leung (photo: Leon Le Photography via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung (photo: Leon Le Photography via The Broadway Blog.)

Yellow Sound Label has announced the new album from Telly Leung, star of this season’s new Broadway musical Allegiance opposite George Takei and Lea Salonga. A dynamic singer and actor best known as Wes on “Glee” and his Broadway work in GodspellRent and Flower Drum Song, Telly was named one of last year’s Out 100 and “Faces To Watch” by The Los Angeles TimesSongs for You will be released on Friday, November 20, with the lead single “New York State of Mind” available on Friday, October 23.

Songs for You—a follow up to Telly’s acclaimed 2012 debut album I’ll Cover You—will feature familiar classic songs from the worlds of Pop, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway done with a new and innovative twist, accompanied by lush musical arrangements by Gary Adler, Mary Ann McSweeney, Jesse Vargas, and Telly himself. The album, produced by Michael Croiter, will be available on iTunes, Amazon.com and at live performances.

Songs for You features songs originally recorded by Michael Jackson (“Human Nature”), Oleta Adams (“I Just Had to Hear Your Voice”), Mama Cass Elliot (“Make Your Own Kind of Music”), John Denver (“Leaving On A Jet Plane”), Des’ree (“You Gotta Be”) and more. To honor his Broadway roots, Telly also includes songs by his favorite theater composers Stephen Sondheim (“Being Alive”), Jerry Herman (“I Am What I Am”) and Stephen Schwartz (“Dreamscape”), in addition to the world premiere recording of “Second Chances” from the pre-Broadway engagement of Allegiance, which opens on Broadway at the Longacre Theater on November 8.

“All of the selections from Songs for You are classics,” says Telly, “and I worship at the altar of the artists that originated them. The challenge for me and my musicians: how to make them our own. We discovered that the way to truly do that was to not think of ‘the self’ at all, but to focus the sentiment and the energy of the song towards someone else. Who are we singing to? Why are we singing this song? When we found the ‘who’ in the song, we found our way in. We unearthed a deep, personal connection to the music that made these timeless songs come to life again. We hope that our listeners will feel the generosity of spirit that was intended with each track.”

For more information, visit www.TellyLeung.com.

New Musical ‘Allegiance’ Partners with Inspire Change

August 22nd, 2015 Comments off

allegiance

Producers Lorenzo Thione and Andrew Treagus have announced a partnership with Inspire Change, an innovative arts program that works alongside commercial theater productions to provide students across the tri-state area with no-and-low-cost tickets paired with unique and high-impact educational programming.

Inspire Change was piloted with the Tony-winning Best Musical Memphis in 2012 and is thrilled to be back on Broadway this fall with Allegiance, a new American musical starring Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, George Takei and Telly Leung, which will open on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street) on Sunday, November 8, 2015.  Previews begin on Tuesday, October 6, 2015.

George Takai (photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com_

George Takai (photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com_

Under the direction of Inspire Change Director of Education Matt Freeman and Allegiance Director of Education Matthew Schneider, Inspire Change will offer fully sponsored educational workshops paired with tickets to attend a performance of Allegiance and round trip transportation, all supported by generous donations. The program was established for the Broadway production of Memphis and allowed more than 10,000 students to experience the thrill of a Broadway show while learning about an important part of American history. For more information, visit www.inspirechangebroadway.org.

Allegiance producer Lorenzo Thione said in a statement: “George Takei has always wanted this story to reach as many students in as many classrooms as possible and we have decided to commit to making that a reality. We are so thrilled to collaborate with Inspire Change to bring this initiative back to Broadway with Allegiance, a musical inspired by George’s true-life experience. Through this incredible partnership, we have the opportunity to make his dream a reality as we share this untold American story with new audiences.”

Inspired by the true-life experience of its star George Takei (“Star Trek,” “Heroes”), Allegiance follows one family’s extraordinary journey in this untold American story. A mysterious envelope leads Sam Kimura (Takei) back 60 years to a time when he (played as a young man by Telly Leung — Godspell, “Glee”) and his sister Kei (Tony winner Lea Salonga — Miss Saigon, Mulan) strive to save their family from the wrongful imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Sam enlists in the army to prove the Kimura’s  loyalty, but Kei joins draft resisters fighting for the rights of their people. Their paths take them from the lush farmlands of California to the wastelands of Wyoming to the battlefields of Europe, and their divided loyalties threaten to tear them apart forever. But as long-lost memories are unlocked, Sam finds that it is never too late to forgive and to recognize the redemptive power of love.

Exclusive Interview: Telly Leung

November 22nd, 2014 Comments off

by Jim Gladstone

Telly Leung (photo: Leslie Bohm via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung (photo: Leslie Bohm via The Broadway Blog.)

“My parents are pretty much the opposite of Mama Rose,” jokes Broadway veteran Telly Leung—who plays Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco this weekend—“They have no relationship to showbiz whatsoever. It was harder for me to come out to them as an actor than as a gay man.”

But, the Brooklyn-born Leung, whose irresistibly sweet, clarion singing voice has graced New York productions Pacific Overtures, Wicked, Godspell, and Rent, may crack wise a bit too quickly.

Reflecting for a moment, he’s reminded that, while his Chinese immigrant parents—Dad works in the restaurant business, Mom is a seamstress—always aspired for him to have a white collar job, American popular entertainment was ingrained in his life from very early on.

“My father learned to speak English by listening to pop music,” says Leung, recalling Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water in heavy rotation in the Leung household. (His own interpretation of that song, beautifully melded with the traditional spiritual The Water Is Wide is featured on Leung’s debut album, I’ll Cover You).

Television, too, had its part in his parents’ acculturation.

Leung’s first name is derived not from Cantonese or Mandarin, but borrowed from a Greek immigrant: Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas.

“My mother loved watching Kojak,” Leung shrugs. “That’s who she named me after.”

Ironically, the musical theater bug first bit Leung hard while he was studying at Stuyvesant High, New York’s prestigious public magnet school for math and science whiz kids. “I grew up as a studious, only child,” he remembers, “So theater really gave me my first real chance to just hang.” High school productions of West Side Story and Pippin provided an expansive sense of camaraderie that felt new and enthralling. “I never really refer to casts I’ve been in now,” he says, “In my mind its my Flower Drum Song family, or my Rent family.”

After high school graduation it was off to drama school at Carnegie Mellon University. “My parents only let me go,” Leung says, “because [the school] offered me the biggest financial package.”

Making theater the center of his life rather than a sideline proved a bit of a shock for Leung, whose coming out process was tightly entwined with his college education. “My first year I got a C. I was used to getting A’s and A-pluses my entire life. But my teacher told me ‘You are not bringing yourself to the work.’ I wasn’t a student trying to get 1500 on a test anymore. I had to commit to being an ‘A’ student for life, an artist for life. And to do this well, I had to dig in myself. I had to know myself. Theater really opened me up.”

Among his mentors at Carnegie Mellon was Billy Porter, winner of the 2013 Best Actor Tony for Kinky Boots. “Billy was an alum who directed my senior musical, Sondheim’s Company. Billy’s own first Broadway show out of school was Miss Saigon, so he knew a lot of the tight knit community of Asian-American actors on Broadway. He knew that auditions were happening for the David Henry Hwang revival of Flower Drum Song, and even though I didn’t have an agent, he arranged for me to try out. One day he said to me, ‘After you finish rehearsal, you’re going to take the Greyhound from Pittsburgh to New York and go to the Ripley Greer Studio.’ They kept me all day, and I landed a part in the ensemble.”

Since landing that first New York role right out of college, Leung feels extraordinarily fortunate to have been a part of three particular projects that have become huge cultural phenomena: He played Angel in the final Broadway cast of Rent, originated the role of Bok in the pre-Broadway Chicago run of Wicked, and appeared Dalton Academy Warbler, Wes, on television’s Glee.

Leung takes pride in the fact that none of those roles were conceived specifically for an Asian American actor, but nonetheless acknowledges an inherent prejudice in Broadway casting. “As an actor though,” he says, “I go into every audition thinking ‘Why not me?’ I can’t control my age, my height, or my skin color. But I can’t go in thinking that they’re never going to hire me. My job is to show why it can be me. But I do wish,” he notes, “That there was more encouragement of Asian writers and people in power to tell their own stories.”

To that end, Leung has long been attached to the musical Allegiance, about the Japanese-American internment during World War II. Also starring George Takei, whose own experience informs the script, and Lea Salonga, the show debuted to solid notices in 2012 at the Old Globe in San Diego, and producers remain hopeful for a Broadway production.

In the mean time, Leung—happily partnered for 10 years to a man who prefers to avoid the spotlight—continues to branch out as a solo recording and cabaret artist. He also recently served as producer of Grind, a short film about gay hook-up culture starring his good friend Anthony Rapp—available for free online at www.grindshortfilm.com.

The twin siren songs of Broadway and pop culture that have infused Leung’s life from the start have hardly faded into the background though: The candy-voiced singer named for a lollipop-sucking TV detective is currently involved in the development of a new musical: It’s called C’mon Get Happy—and it’s about a cult that worships The Partridge Family.

Jim Gladstone is a San Francisco-based creative consultant and writer. A book columnist and Contributing Editor at PASSPORT, he is the author of an award-winning novel, The Big Book of Misunderstanding.