East West Players 39th Anniversary Gala features the best in the Asian American entertainment community

East West Players, the nation's premier Asian American theatre, will honor actor Alec Mapa, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, veteran actor James Shigeta, actor Rodney Kageyama and composer Nathan Wang at its 39th Anniversary Visionary Awards Gala at the beautiful Hilton Universal City high atop the hills of Hollywood on April 18, 2005. East West Players‚ 39th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction is an award-winning event that salutes artists who have raised the visibility of the Asian Pacific American community through theater, film and television. Proceeds from the evening will benefit East West Players educational and artistic programs.

Actor Alec Mapa is best known for his portrayal of "Song Liling" in M. BUTTERFLY by David Henry Hwang on Broadway and most recently at East West Players. An award-winning actor, Mapa was the first gay Asian series regular on the CBS comedy Some of My Best Friends and can currently be seen on UPN's Half and Half. Award-winning actress Amy Hill (Fifty First Dates and Cat in the Hat) will present Mapa's award.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry serves the Ninth District which encompasses the diverse communities of South Los Angeles, Downtown and Little Tokyo, the home to East West Players. Councilwoman Perry is being honored for her strong leadership in bringing Little Tokyo together to resolve important issues that affect the community. She has also been a staunch supporter of East West Players and our mission to provide a voice for the Asian Pacific American community. Veteran Asian American actor George Takei (Star Trek) will present Councilwoman Perry's award.

Actor James Shigeta has the distinction of being the only Asian American actor groomed as a romantic lead. Shigeta played the lead role in Flower Drum Song and has been in dozens of films including Brother, Mulan, Die Hard, The Yakuza, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Battle of Midway and Walk Like a Dragon. At East West Players Shigeta was last seen in the One Night Only performance of LOVE LETTERS by A.R. Gurney. Veteran Asian American actress Nancy Kwan (Flower Drum Song and The World of Suzie Wong) will present Shigeta's award.

The Rae Creevey Award, named in honor of an Emmy Award-winning founder of East West Players, will recognize Rodney Kageyama for his 26 years of commitment and volunteer service to the theatre as an actor, director and award-winning costume designer. Kageyama was last seen onstage as a special guest in THE NISEI WIDOWS CLUB HOLIDAY ON THIN ICE and previously in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. Actor Gedde Watanabe (Sixteen Candles and Gung Ho) will present Kageyama's award.

Composer Nathan Wang will receive the Made in America Award which recognizes an artist who has made a significant contribution to Asian American theatre. An award-winning composer, Wang has created the music for a number of productions including East West Players‚ commissioned pieces IMELDA: A NEW MUSICAL and CANTON JAZZ CLUB. He is also a composer for film and television, and has had works commissioned for the Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Symphony and Hollywood Bowl orchestra. Hong Kong martial arts star Robin Shou (Mortal Kombat and Beverly Hills Ninja) will present Wang's award.

The gala will include entertainment that showcases young Asian Americans from the next generation of artists. Sophie Tamiko Oda made her stage debut when she was just 6 years old in THE KING AND I. Since then she has performed in more than a dozen musicals and plays. Now at the age of 13, Oda has appeared in films, commercials, print, and received national attention as a Jr. Singer contestant on the CBS television show, Star Search.

Eighteen-year old Samantha Aiko Kim has sung at many opera events including the Redlands Bowl Music Festival and Opera Guild of Los Angeles. She was a semi-finalist in the LA Music Center Spotlight Awards and attends the LA County High School of performing arts.

The cast of East West Players upcoming world premiere IMELDA: A NEW MUSICAL will sing two songs from the show.

Closing the evening is singer Jenni Selma, who was in East West Players‚ LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and played "Jasmine" in Disney's California Adventure production of ALADDIN.

Music for the evening will be provided by musical director Nathan Wang and the 39th Anniversary Orchestra.

Actresses Amy Hill and Tamlyn Tomita will be the Gala's mistresses of ceremony.

The East West Players 39th Anniversary Visionary Dinner and Silent Auction will be held on Monday, April 18, 2005 at the Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal City Drive, Universal City, CA 91608. The no-host reception and silent auction will begin at 5:30 pm with the dinner and event program starting at 7 pm. Tickets are $150-$1,000.

For more information on East West Players 39th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction please contact Managing Director Trent Steelman at tsteelman@eastwestplayers.org or (213) 625-7000 x19.

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Copyright 2005, Roger W. Tang

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