CollaborAzian's Guide to A Gentleman's Guide...

CollaborAzian's Guide to A Gentleman's Guide...

“Have you heard of the D’Ysquith family?” “The D’Ysquiths? Why yes of course. Hasn’t everyone?” Then you’ve heard of CollaborAzian and their production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Done entirely through virtual staging, this performance garnered well-deserved recogntion from press and audiences for its hilarity and innovation.

The production, led by director Alan Muraoka served as a fundraiser with the proceeds going to Stop AAPI Hate. It starred Cindy Cheung, Karl Josef Co, Ali Ewoldt, Diana Phelan, and Thom Sesma with Steven Cuevas as Music Director. The show, which premiered on July 15, 2021 went on to raise $25K in support of Stop AAPI Hate, and made a heavy impact on how we can look at representation in theatre. 

We were able to chat with a few of the members of CollaborAzian in honor of AAPI History Month and get their perspective on the musical, putting the show together, and the impact that representation can have on the AAPI Community.

1.  When did CollaborAzian come to fruition? How did you all come together to form this incredible organization?

Diane Phelan: Back in 2020 Karl Josef Co wanted to do an all-Asian version of Gentleman’s Guide. When we were generously gifted the rights by the writers Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freeman to do this as a benefit, we knew it was much bigger than us, and we needed to assemble a team to get this off the ground. I reached out to the friends whom I knew shared the mission of amplifying the API voice and also happened to be brilliant producers and artists. We came together in a zoom room to start the process of producing Gentleman’s Guide and realized that this collective had something good going on and that was the beginning for us. 

2.  The livestream of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was such a success! Was there any reason behind choosing this musical?

Pearl Sun: Thank you. We are so grateful for the response to our Gentleman’s Guide. This piece was chosen for a myriad of reasons. As a period piece set in London in 1907, Asian artists are never included in the idea of period farces or dramas. We wanted to show that we have fantastic Asian performers who are able to play leading roles, with British accents, in period pieces, and play them exquisitely. 



3.  Talk to us about your incredible community partners and how they have helped and inspired you in this journey to create representation on stage.

Ariel Estrada: We couldn’t have done this ambitious benefit concert without the support of our community partners. Several of our partners helped to defray the production costs. As we’ve all discovered, the costs of a quality online production can be as much, if not more than a live concert. In particular, I want to give our heartfelt thanks to MTI and Gentleman’s Guide creators Steven and Robert for letting us perform their beautiful musical; Broadway on Demand for lending us the virtual space, and BroadwayWorld for spreading the word. Our additional partners all helped us raise $25K in support of Stop AAPI Hate, including Broadway ConTremendous CommunicationsLeviathan LabUnapologetically AsianBroadway Diversity ProjectChinosity, and CAPE - Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment.

4.  What productions are you all thinking about doing in the future? Can you give us a hint?

Rob Laqui: CollaborAzian is currently creating an anthem / rally song developed by a team of 10 AAPI writers and composers in partnership with Stop AAPI Hate to be featured at various API Heritage month events and for use by all API communities. We continue to work with all of our community partners to discover the best way to serve them and bridge the arts and theatre industry and activist communities. 

5.  What would you say to those who don’t feel seen or heard and are looking to build a community of their own?

Jessica Wu: First and foremost, that you are not alone. Hate exists to divide us, and there are so many of us out there who also feel unseen and unheard. Hate also exists to strip us of our power and our joy. The most powerful way to stick it to the haters is to take back that joy and amplify it through connection – identify what brings you joy in the world and use that to find, build, and grow your community! 

CollaborAzian continues to do work to enrich the AAPI community and inspires us this month and every month after to look for ways that we can build a better community surrounding the performing arts. If you would like to contribute to the work they’re doing, follow this link to learn more: We here at MTI would like to take this moment to wish all of our patrons an AAPI History Month filled with joy, uplifting others, and education.

Follow the fun @mtishows on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.