My First Musical Memory with the cast of Soft Power

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The cast of The Public’s Soft Power is gearing up for opening night! In celebration, we asked them to recall their first musical memory before they begin a powerful new production of their own. Read the official description below.

“Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Yellow Face) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home; Violet; Caroline, or Change) bring their groundbreaking new musical-within-a-play to The Public for its New York premiere.

One of the most exciting theatrical collaborations in recent memory, SOFT POWER is an exploration of America’s current place in the world, told through an East-West musical from China’s point of view, in which a theater producer from Shanghai forges a powerful bond with Hillary Clinton. SOFT POWER is a fever dream of modern American politics amidst global conversations, asking us all – why do we love democracy? And should we?

Featuring the choreography of Tony nominee Sam Pinkleton (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Tony nominee Leigh Silverman (Violet, Yellow Face, Wild Goose Dreams) directs this exhilarating new show.”

Francis Jue (DHH) The first live musical I saw was a high school production of The King and I. The only Asians in the cast were the guy playing the King, and my older brother, Geoff, who played the Prince. But it was so magical, I believed they were all Siamese.  And even though I was so shy I could barely talk to anyone else, I knew then and there that I was an actor.

Jon Hoche (Chief Justice/Hālǐ Aòhālā/Ensemble) My first musical memory was of Gene Kelly dancing with an animated mouse (Jerry from “Tom & Jerry”) in Anchors Aweigh. As a little kid, seeing a live person dancing with a cartoon was the coolest, most mesmerizing thing. Gene Kelly became my hero after I saw that, and Singin’ in the Rain is one of my all-time favorite movies.

Austin Ku (Bobby Bob/Jū Míng) One of my first musical memories was in my freshman year of college when I was recruited from the opera department to play Berger in the campus production of Hair. To prepare for being naked on stage in front of all our friends and professors, we streaked around campus, skinny-dipped in the President’s pool after hours, and did all sorts of things (not fit for print) that were so far from my previous experience as a classical singer. I had such a blast and found such community with this group of other misfits that I kept on doing the campus musicals every year, went on to grad school for musical theater instead of opera, and have never looked back!

Raymond J. Lee (Randy Ray/Yáo Tuō/Veep/Ensemble) My first musical memory is sitting at a piano and playing with the keys. I don't remember how old I was, but I remember vividly sitting on the piano bench and exploring how pressing the keys on the piano could create a wonderful sound that I immediately wanted to mimic vocally. As someone who grew up singing all my life, this memory has been integral in shaping me as an artist and a musician.

Alyse Alan Louis (Zoe/Hillary) One of my first musical memories was my grandmom, "Nan", singing "Let There Be Peace On Earth" to me as she got me ready for pre-school in the morning. Soon I started to hum along, learned the words, and it became our little tradition to sing it together as she did my hair each day. This heart to heart connection with others through music is why I do what I do, why I love being an artist. 

Jaygee Macapugay (Betsy/Lóng Lín Kūn/Ensemble) My first musical memory was when I was barely a toddler, standing on my mom's lap, while we held each other's hands. She sang made up words, like Tagalog jibberish (Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines), and I sang the phrase right back to her. I connected to her musically before I could really even speak.

Paul HeeSang Miller (Ensemble) My first musical was in sixth grade, when I was cast as Harold Hill in The Music Man! The lines: I got; the irony behind most of them: not so much.

Kristen Faith Oei (Ensemble) At five-years-old, I used to perform at church or at friends’ parties singing a trio in harmonies with my parents. I have a memory of us being in my room on my bed practicing the songs over and over again to the accompaniment on the record player. I loved every second of singing and making up harmonies with them, and I couldn’t get enough of it!

Conrad Ricamora (Xūe Xíng) My first significant musical memory was watching Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. The combination of singing, dancing, and storytelling was so entertaining, transporting, and moving – and I wanted to be a part of it! 

Trevor Salter (Ensemble) My first musical was Grease in my junior year of high school. I knew nothing about singing or dancing, but I knew how to be a major ham. So, I played Kenickie.

Emily Stillings (Swing) I was probably five-years-old and watched the Hello Dolly movie starring Barbara Streisand with my grandma and mother. After that, I was hooked. I memorized every song and dance move, and soon had regular living room performances.  

John Yi
(Swing) My first musical memory was OKLAHOMA! in 10th grade. I had never been a part of a musical before, and I was cast as Will Parker. The rest is history.

Get your tickets to Soft Power HERE!