On the Scene

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SILICON VALLEY THEATER SCENE

Great theater came to town this month and it always interests me that although our valley’s population numbers over one third Asian, you barely see 5 percent Asian audience members watching local theater works.  Someone out there explain to me the reason.  When so many Asian families influence their children to take up a musical instrument or enroll in Chinese or western dance classes, why is it when musical theater, ballet or symphony orchestras perform, there are so few Asian Americans in the audiences? Conversely at sports events like Giants or Warrior or Sharks games, there are many more black heads visible in the stands so Asians are definitely sports fans.

There were two great stage productions this past week. 3-Blonde Moms scripted by Joanie Fagan brought three hilarious comediennes to the Louis B. Mayer Theatre on the Santa Clara University campus as part of SCU•Presents Visiting Artist Series.  To uproarious laughter throughout, Fagan, former Miss California Donna Cherry and Beaumont Bacon shared their unique experiences of being a Mom and finding unlikely friends in the cul de sac.  The quick witted ladies have appeared for many years together in this production. BLONDE MOMS is simply about being a Mom, having a Mom, kids, schools, husbands told with such humorous antics and one-liners that the audience never stopped laughing. Much applause goes to SCU Presents for bringing this hysterical, semi-scripted PG-13 stand-up comedy show, even if only for one day. SCU-Presents serves an important role within the local community by offering affordable venues to Bay Area arts organizations and educators.

San Jose Repertory Theatre in downtown San Jose treated their audience members to a fast moving play, Game On, which starred two very talented actors, Marco Barricelli and Craig Marker who are avid fans of live baseball, but also enjoy fantasy baseball games as well.  They argue, make up, disagree and attempt to shmooze a wealthy friend into investing into their edible bug idea.  This is one of the best of SJ Rep’s offerings lately, and a good one. www.sjrep.com.  Coming up in May is a play called The Big Mealwhich fits in purposely with the growing area of restaurants near the theatre which are perfect to visit pre-show time.

The Miss Vietnam of Northern California Intercollegiate Pageant drew 11 lovely young women contestants at theCampbell Heritage Theatre.  2013’s Queen Yolanda Vo said she enjoyed her reign of last year because she had the opportunity to spearhead community service projects although she has been busy as a University of Pacific student obtaining her juris doctorate next month.

2013 Queen and her Court at Miss Vietnam of N.C. Intercollegiate Pageant with Director Jodie Truong.

2013 Queen and her Court at Miss Vietnam of N.C. Intercollegiate Pageant with Director Jodie Truong.

The pageant is the result of hard working Executive Director Jodie Truong Sison and her staff members Kimmy Huynh,  Kristine Pham and Mary Nguyen who choreographed the whole show.  MCs Antoine “Jet:” Duong and Trami Nguyen Cron kept the show moving efficiently as the girls came out in their traditional ao dai traditional dress as well as western evening gowns. Crowned Queen was Christine Truong who will represent as the voice of Vietnamese youth in serving the community through events and appearances as MVNCI. Others crowned are as follows:  1st Princess Crystal Bui, 2nd Princess Cvathy Nguyen; Miss Ao Dai Mandy Dang; Miss Social Cindy Nguyen, Miss Photogenic Quy Hoa Le, Miss Talent Crystal Bui, Miss Entrepreneur Mandy Dang, and Miss Congeniality Crystal Bui.

A traditional Vietnamese wedding will be performed at the Ao Dai Festival

A traditional Vietnamese wedding will be performed at the Ao Dai Festival

EVENTS COMING UP IN SILICON VALLEY

Another big event coming from the large Silicon Valley Vietnamese community will be The Ao Dai Festival III (ADF3) which will be a celebration of Vietnamese Art and Culture. This event is becoming an established tradition in downtown San Jose as this year’s May 4, 2014 event marks the third biennial festival.

Fashions of VoViet Chung will highlight Vietnamese Festival May 4 in San Jose

Fashions of VoViet Chung will highlight Vietnamese Festival May 4 in San Jose

For the first time outside of Vietnam, the ADF3 will feature “Vinh Quy Bai To”,  a  traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony in the Circle of Palms plaza between the San Jose Art Museum and the Fairmont Hotel. The ceremony will begin with the procession of the bride and groom arriving on horseback, along with 100 men and women in ao dai, the traditional costume of Vietnam, 20 zither players and drummers, and a traditional dragon dance. This free show is open to the public beginning at 5pm. The festival will continue with a cocktail reception in the Fairmont Hotel foyer and the music of jazz chanteuse Thuy Linh and will introduce ao dai fashion designers Vo Viet Chung, Diep QuocThanh, Khanh Shyna and Duc Hung from Vietnam as well as local designers Debbie Nghiem, EllaViet and Daniella Do.  An expected audience of 900 will view a fashion show extravaganza of these designers’ designs.Dinner program also includes music of Emmy-award winner Vanessa Van-Anh Vo,  vocalist Khanh Ha and the premier of “Yearning Mountain” poetry in motion musical story.  Proceeds from the event will help support theFriends of Hue Foundation programs which include a children’s shelter in Hue, Vietnam as well as youth leadership programs here in Silicon Valley, announces Steve Yamaguma 

Gloria Hom, center lead Chi Am Circle members on Culinary tour at Mission Community College.

Gloria Hom, center lead Chi Am Circle members on Culinary tour at Mission Community College.

Chi Am Circle’s annual premier event is the awarding of scholarships to high school seniors around the South Bay Area, as selected by a committee based on the student’s merit, need, essay and community service.  IBM Managing Director – Venture Capital Group Claudie Fan Munce will be the keynote speaker at the China Stix Restaurant in Santa Clara May 16, Friday.   Friends and family of the honoree students together with Chi Am Circle women’s club members will join together to herald the young people and their accomplishments. Guests are welcome and from past experience as chairperson of the dinner, I know that everyone comes away from this scholarship dinner awed by the brilliance of the students, and inspired by their sharing of their goals and dreams for college life. Info:  www.chiamcircle.org.  Dinner reservation checks may be sent to Sharon Lai, 47305 Galindo Dr., Fremont, CA.  Dinner cost: $27.  The Chi Am Circle Service Fund has awarded scholarship grants for over 20 years and proudly will recognizeAsian American high school graduates at this annual dinner with over $60,000 of scholarship honorariums.      I salute Chi Am Circle members for spearheading this grant program enabling philanthropic  individuals to donate and join together to recognize our youth of today facing monumental campus tuitions.  Scholarship Selection  Committee co chairs are Lisa Liu and Verna Wong.   Dinner chairs are Liza Wong, Sharon Lai, Marichu Scanlon and Gerrye Wong. 

Veteran members Pauline Fong, Helen Chew, Mary Ann Wong and Gerrye Wong discuss Chi Am Circle’s upcoming May 16 scholarship dinner program.

Veteran members Pauline Fong, Helen Chew, Mary Ann Wong and Gerrye Wong discuss Chi Am Circle’s upcoming May 16 scholarship dinner program.

ON THE SAN FRANCISCO BEAT

The Square and Circle Club, a women’s service organization will celebrate its 90th anniversary with a celebration fundraising dinner May 3 at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District Hotel – wow!! This organization was founded in 1924 in San Francisco’s Chinatown by seven young women to aid flood and famine victims in China.  Guest speakers will be Anni Chung and Laureen Chew.  Since that compassionate beginning, and to this day the Club has continued its tradition of supporting and caring for the needs of the community. The club’s name is derived from an old Chinese proverb: “In deeds be square, in knowledge be all-round.”   For further info:  650-738-8288.

Korean American hero James Lee, 3rd from left, meets Angel Island staff to share his story.  L to r. Ed Lee, Kendra Adams, James lee, Jennifer Lee,  Gerrye Wong, Grant Din, Eric Louie, ED Michael McKechnie.

Korean American hero James Lee, 3rd from left, meets Angel Island staff to share his story. L to r. Ed Lee, Kendra Adams, James lee, Jennifer Lee, Gerrye Wong, Grant Din, Eric Louie, ED Michael McKechnie.

The office at Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation in the heart of San Francisco downtown Market   and Third Sts was abuzz with excitement when 92 years young James Lee came down fromGranite Bay to be interviewed for the AIISF website and its Immigrant Voices story initiative..  A very bright and spry Mr. Lee told of his harrowing experiences as a 3 year prisoner of war held in North Korea by theJapanese.   Mr Lee proudly showed me his Congressional Medal of Honor from the Korean government for his bravery during World War II and cited his ability to recover was due to his wife and family who he says proudly are his greatest achievements. .  According to his son Ed and wife Jennifer Lee, their dad never sits still and is constantly in action.  Jennifer recalled that good dancer James was always sought after at the Senior Center dances. James Lee is truly an immigrant American hero who has been recognized for his contributions both in his home country of Korea and will be seen  here in the US throughthe Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s  website feature of Immigrant Voices. This is a wonderful site where families can share their own family history stories of immigrating to America, whether it was before or after the 1910-1940 years of Angel Island’s immigration history.  Check out Immigrant Voices stories on its website: www.aiisf.org.

Fashion designer and artist Colleen Quen, center, meets  supporters Gerrye Wong and Pauline Fong.

Fashion designer and artist Colleen Quen, center, meets supporters Gerrye Wong and Pauline Fong.

 

 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus are not as old as the S&CC but their youth members want to celebrate the group’s 42nd Anniversary on April 25 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco.  Pro Bono Honorees will be Keker & Van Nest LLP;  Yuri Kohiyama Lifetime Achievement Honoree is Dr.Rolland and Mrs. Kathryn Lowe, and Bill Sorro Community Activist Honoree National Day Laborer Organizing Network..   Info: Audee Kochiyama-Holman 415 896 1701 X 131.

Well recognized fashion designer Colleen Quen will be leading a workshop illustrating how fashion and costume design are integral in creating character on April 19, 10-12pm at the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco’s Presidio.  As she explains, “Through my ink wash painting and extensive knowledge in fashion, I will teach how to incorporate watercolor painting techniques with fashion illustration silhouettes to create imaginary gowns for characters including Cinderella and Snow White.”  For info:  colleenquen2000@yahoo.com

OCA San Mateo will be presenting its Scholarship Award luncheon April 27 at the San Mateo Senior Center, announces Melodie Lew.  Cory Chan of Yan Can Asian Bistro will be providing the luncheon fare, so Lew invites all OCA members and friends to come support this year’s distinguished scholars. Reservations: Melodie Lew boygie.m2000@yahoo.com

ON THE ROAD AGAIN 

Very sad audiences are flocking to see the last months of performances of the Palm Springs Follies which had been a longtime favorite in the historic theatre on its main street. The Follies were popular with senior audiences who remembered stage shows featuring beautifully frocked dancers, fast talking comedians, and magicians or jugglers to round out a live vaudeville show.  The difference with this Follies was that all of the performers themselves were seniors, retired from their regular show business careers, and revived again in this popular show. I have fond memories of seeing Donald O’Connor, Mimi Hines,  Howard Keel and even Tempest Storm on the Follies stage. Adieu Follies – audiences will miss your spectacular shows featuring amazing senior performers.

Longtime Silicon Valley fans see Palm Springs Follies last  season .

Longtime Silicon Valley fans see Palm Springs Follies last season .

Gerrye bids adieu to Palm Springs Follies performer at Last Hurrah Season ends and the popular show  closes.

Gerrye bids adieu to Palm Springs Follies performer at Last Hurrah Season ends and the popular show closes.

 

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