Pics! Take a Look Inside the NAAP Gala Hosted by Baayork Lee

News   Pics! Take a Look Inside the NAAP Gala Hosted by Baayork Lee
Original A Chorus Line cast member Baayork Lee is hosted Past, Present & Future, an Oct. 5 benefit gala at the Skirball Center in Greenwich Village, celebrating five years since the founding of her organization, the National Asian Artists Project, which aims to raise the profile of Asian-American theatre artists.

Participating artists included "Orange Is the New Black" co-star Lori Tan Chinn, actor/director Lee Roy Reams, choreographer (and Lee's Promises, Promises co-star) Margo Sappington, and actors Devin Ilaw, Ali Ewoldt and Sean MacLaughlin.

The gala featured "a line-up of show-stopping wall-to-wall musical numbers from Broadway shows, highlights from past NAAP productions and current material, as well as what Ms. Lee hopes to stage in the future. With a cast of over one hundred supervised by Ms. Lee and acclaimed director Richard Jay-Alexander, the evening will feature seasoned Broadway professionals— friends and supporters of NAAP— staging many of the numbers." All performed by a company of predominantly Asian performers.

A highlight of the event was the "Turkey Lurkey Time," the Christmas-party number from Promises, Promises, staged for this event by two of the three original Broadway soloists, Lee and Margo Sappington. Sappington will also be featured in "Big Spender" from Sweet Charity.

Other songs in the lineup included an updated staging of "Telephone Hour" from Bye Bye Birdie, "One Day More" staged by Richard Jay-Alexander from the original company of Les Miserables, "It's Not Where You Start" staged by original cast member Lee, and the title song from Hello, Dolly! staged by Lee Roy Reams. The show was accompanied by a full orchestra led by Broadway musical supervisor and conductor Kevin Stites and lighting & sound design by Matt Berman.

"I am very excited that we are celebrating our fifth anniversary with this benefit gala, Past, Present & Future,” Lee said. “It has been a long road for me and my co-founders Steven Eng and Nina Zoie Lam, as we continue our mission to make a difference in our community. This celebration will showcase the talent of our Asian-American performers as never before."

NAAP has staged a series of concert versions of Broadway classics, cast mainly with Asian-American artists. Productions have included Oklahoma!; Carousel; Hello, Dolly!; and Oliver!

Directed by Lee and Jay-Alexander, the 8 PM benefit was held at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place in New York's Greenwich Village.

Lee, who was also in the original Broadway casts of The King and I, Flower Drum Song and other musicals, appeared in a video to promote the event:

Jay-Alexander said, “Last year, I went to see NAAP's production of Oliver!, I knew that Cameron Mackintosh had granted special rights for the presentation in New York and that this was a big deal. The show is near and dear to Cameron's heart and there has not yet been a Broadway revival or U.S. tour since the successful 2009 West End revival. As I sat in the tiny theatre, my jaw dropped! What I witnessed was accomplished on very limited means, but BIG on heart and skill. NAAP does great work and it needs support - both in constituents and financially. Audiences and families need to know about them! The organization serves a 'gap' in the community and that is why I signed on immediately. Baayork is Broadway royalty, but a reluctant hero in the important work that she is doing here. I'm proud to stand by her side and put on the best show possible, in addition to raising as much money and awareness as we can.”

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