Ross Wetzsteon Award

Mia Katigbak (Trailblazing)

Nominee: Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play
Awake and Sing
By Clifford Odets
Directed by Stephen Brown-Fried
National Asian American Theatre Company

Editors’ Picks: The Most Impactful Shows of 2015

Play: Charles Francis Chan Jr. Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery at National Asian American Theater Company The latest by Lloyd Suh absolutely took my breath away, and I suspect it to be among the most important plays of our era- boldly tackling a number of vital and controversial subjects. At the very core, it is an exploration and indictment of the absurd manner in which Asian-Americans have historically been (grotesquely) portrayed and (un)represented in American culture. With rapid-fire dialogue evocative of Angels in America and fearless use of racist cartoon imagery and Asian minstrel show, the piece manages to be simultaneously devastating, angry, provocative and hilarious. It’s taken until 2015 to see any sort of positive Asian-American representation in TV and film, and Suh’s work makes it abundantly clear that there is so much work to do. At a certain point, the audience is asked to name the most memorable Asian-American character in USA popular culture… ever. After much silence, someone finally came up with Harold and Kumar. Good movie. But if that’s really the pinnacle of our representation in media over the last 100 years, it’s a sad statement. This powerful work connected me to the gross reality of the past, and gave me hope for the progress awaiting in 2016. (Matt Blank)

Austin Squires selects CHAN as one of the best of the season. Listen to the podcast here. We are at 36:30.

The terrific notices for our remount of Odets’ Awake and Sing! at the Public

Handsomely mounted… In Mia Katigbak’s performance, you will recognize every mother who has sacrificed for her family…It’s Hennie, played with simmering rage by Teresa Avia Lim, who brings this Awake and Sing! most ferociously and rivetingly to life. It’s a classic American story, and that means it belongs to all of us. Full Review

In director Stephen Brown-Fried’s production, the dialogue and the play come vibrantly alive. It’s almost as if Odets’ language awakes and sings. Full Review

What may seem at first like a kind of social experiment quickly becomes an all-around gripping evening in the theatre…Brown-Fried and his company probe deeply into the web of dependence and frustration that holds the Bergers together…Awake and Sing! is an American classic, and this most American of theatre companies does it proud. Full review

NAATCO’s diverse reimagining is a worthy revival…Director Brown-Fried has guided this production so that the modern audiences can see that the play is not just about a Jewish family, but more broadly, an American family…NAATCO has certainly made a strong argument for more diverse casting of classic American plays. Full Review

Even though this production does not have the bells and whistles the Broadway production had, this production has incredible talent, and they follow the script that is perfection! It was also very interesting to see an Asian company portray Jewish characters, and it was very believable. The show is a must see. Full Review

Be prepared to be won over by the acting in this play…Although it is set in 1933, the issues are still seen today thus making it a very relevant piece of work for new generations who are experiencing hard times both from the economy and from being immigrants. Full Review

Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing is as timely today as it ever was and thriveting production this company serves up proves the relevance chilling. This long-respected NAATCO gives Awake and Sing not only acting excellence, but set design, costume design, direction and a shared commitment that is palpable and exciting. Full Review

Odets’ seminal play packs quite a sentimental wallop, but the National Asian American Theatre Company’s (NAATCO) touching revival featuring Asian American actors in the largely Jewish-American roles, counters any mawkishness with strong, complex performances and director Stephen Brown-Fried’s confident steering. We are quite contentedly left with a fresh new realization of the Berger family. And it’s quite a sight to see. Full Review

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