Hello again Theatre People!
Baayork Lee is a theatrical legend in her own time. I was so thrilled to interview her, bringing you the wisdom and life experience of decades of her impact on Broadway, the nonprofit world and beyond—as an actor, choreographer, director and more. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did! Ladies and gentlemen, Baayork Lee.
What’s a show that still inspires you? (explain away!)
The show that still inspires me of course is… A Chorus Line! I was honored to be a part of the development, one of the original cast members, and continue to direct and choreograph the show after Michael Bennett passed on the baton to me. The show’s message is love, and a mirror that reflects the good and bad of humanity.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
For me personally, one of my happiest moments was standing onstage at the Rome Opera with the cast of Porgy and Bess behind me, wondering how this little girl from Chinatown got here to direct this show.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
After several years of performing A Chorus Line, the character Greg went out to do his monologue and forgot his lines...and had to be helped. Exactly the next day I went out to do my monologue and all of a sudden went into outer space… it’s not that I forgot my lines, but I just left the audition.
Why do you love theatre?
Theatre gives the opportunity to express one’s artistic achievements and has the potential to make change. At the age of 5, I walked into the St. James Theatre seeing a beautiful chandelier, red velvet seats and watched the dancers’ and singers’ comradery. I still have the same excitement today.
Theatre is for...
Dreamers who must have the passion and discipline to work on their craft. Your dreams can be achieved through theatre, where all things are possible.
More Amazing Theatre People!
Shirlee Idzakovich, Costume Designer and Teaching Artist
K'Lynn Hocker, High School Theatre Director
Gene Gillette, Broadway and television actor
More about Baayork Lee
Baayork Lee has performed in dozens of Broadway shows and created the role of Connie in A Chorus Line, also serving as Michael Bennett's assistant choreographer on A Chorus Line, of which she has directed and choreographed many national and international companies.
Her Directing and Choreography credits also include; The King and I and Bombay Dreams (national tours), Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (NYC Opera), Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (Kennedy Center), Porgy and Bess and Jesus Christ Superstar (European tours), Gypsy and A New Brain. She has also choreographed Miss Saigon (Kansas City Starlight), Mack and Mabel (Shaw Festival), Animal Crackers, South Pacific (Helen Hayes nominations,) Coconuts, Camelot, Damn Yankees, all at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., South Pacific at Sandy Springs theater, GA., and most recently, A Chorus Line Spanish Production with Antonio Banderas (Malaga, Spain).
Through her nonprofit National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), Baayorks' vision includes educating, cultivating, and stimulating audiences and artists of Asian descent through the many outreach programs the company offers. The organization has produced Oklahoma!, Carousel, Hello Dolly!, Oliver! and Into the Woods and Honor (collaboration with Prospect Theater Company) with all Asian-American casts. With these classic shows, NAAP has demonstrated that famous works can speak to all audiences and ethnicity is no longer a barrier.
She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including the Isabelle Stevens Tony Award, Paul Robeson Award from Actors Equity Association, the Asian Woman Warrior Award for Lifetime Achievement from Columbia College, Asian Pacific American Heritage Association Achievement In Arts Award, the Dynamic Achiever Award from OCA Westchester. Chen Dance Center Artist Award, Arena Stage American Artist Award, Actors Fund for Outstanding Contribution to the World of Dance.
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