Ep 18: ‘The Boys in the Band’ and ‘Yellow Rose’ (Feat: Lea Salonga and Eva Noblezada)

Eva Noblezada and Lea Salonga in “Yellow Rose.” (Photo: August Thurmer)

Every week, culture critics Diep Tran and Jose Solís bring a POC perspective to the performing arts with their Token Theatre Friends podcast and video series. The show can be found on SpotifyiTunesStitcher, and YouTube. You can listen to episodes from the previous version of the podcast here but to get new episodes, you will need to resubscribe to our new podcast feed (look for the all-red logo).

On this week’s episode, the Friends react to the Lincoln Project’s ad that compares the president to Evita. It’s called Covita. It’s pretty terrifying. Then they review two shows-turned-movies/TV. The first is Ryan Murphy’s film version of The Boys in the Band, the 1968 play by Mart Crowley, which chronicles the lives of gay men living in New York City pre-Stonewall. It’s on Netflix. Then they talk about The Goes Wrong Show, which is based on The Play That Goes Wrong by Mischief Theatre, which ran on Broadway 2017 to 2019. The show on Amazon Prime 

This week’s guests are Eva Noblezada (Hadestown) and Tony winner Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Once on This Island). Eva is starring in Yellow Rose, a new film about an undocumented teenager whose mother is taken away by ICE. Lea plays her aunt. The two actors talk about their love of video games, how they’re both actually a bit introverted, and how they’re making money during quarantine.

Here are links to the things mentioned in this episode:

The episode transcript is below.

Diep:
Hi, this is Diep Tran.

Jose:
And I’m Jose Solís.

Diep:
And we’re your Token Theatre Friends, people who love theater so much that I’m not entirely sure if I’m okay with political pundits using Evita memes.

Jose:
I mean especially not when it’s that person.

Diep:
Yeah, yeah Yeah. How did you feel about the Lincoln Project Trump Evita ad?

Jose:
Well, I mean, it was like clearly what he was going for. Cuz remember, like, it is so disturbing. We’re living in the apocalypse. It’s like dystopia. It’s like the end of everything at once. Because it’s just one of his favorite musicals. You know that right? So I’m like, girl, is this what you have been going for all this time? I mean, with like, the really like, yeah. But also like the blonde. Do you think he went blonde for Evita? I’m like, come on. So I don’t know how I feel about that. Because I love Evita so much. And although Eva Peron herself, you know, I have problems, issues with—Eva Peron, what she meant in terms of like, you know, like, being friends with Fascists, and I love that. I love Evita. And there’s nothing about this administration about this man that I’m ever going to love. So I still don’t know how I feel about anything.

Diep:
Yeah, he’s never going to be a gay icon.

Jose:
Fuck no. I don’t know like, grabbed all of us and like brainwashed us and torture us and like forced us to like love him or something like that—gross. I don’t know. But no, no.

Diep:
Oh my god. Do you think like in 50 years, someone’s going to do an a Evita revival. And it’s going to be Trump’s set?

Jose:
Eww.

Diep:
Because I feel like someone’s going to try if we’re all still alive.

Jose:
Oh, I mean, Melania as Juan Peron. God no. And what like Claudia Conway is gonna be Che? No, please, God. Save me, rescue me from the future. I don’t I don’t. I don’t. I don’t want it. I don’t want that timeline. No.

Diep:
I feel like anything related to the Trump administration, 2020—like I don’t want to see any media about that until I’m dead.

Jose:
There’s a Showtime or Starz so whatever show that’s already happening. That’s like so gross. You’ve seen that right?

Diep:
No, I did see the the the Michael Cohen show. No, it wasn’t Michael, or Jeff Bridges is playing. No, no, no. Jeff Bridges is playing, oh my god, oh my god. The FBI agent. Her emails. Her emails.

Jose:
No mom. Jeff Daniels is playing Comey.

Diep:
Okay, yes. Okay.

Jose:
You’re like, a white Jeff.

Diep:
Yeah, one of the white Jeffs who is middle age.

Jose:
The only reason why I’m what I even consider like maybe like watching that was because I love Holly Hunter and she plays Sally Yates. But I’m like, Nope, I cannot, I cannot get this. So like it’s already happening. So the Evita Trump-ita thing is gonna be happening at some point.

Diep:
Well, I look forward to seeing your version.

Jose:
My version. God, I know. That’s just—

Diep:
Yeah, I tweeted it. And someone was like, “Did Jose write this?”

Jose:
Yeah, no.

Diep:
Like, wow, his brand is strong.

Jose:
I don’t know. Like, we should stop talking about this man. When he was like out and I saw him like doing all his like, you know, like crazy nonsense in the balcony, the first thing that I immediately thought was like, “dexamethasone me from my head to my toes.” Cuz that motherfucker was rainbow high, right? Didn’t you hear steroids make you? Yeah. He was high AF. And I mean, imagine, I kind of felt like good for him that he was so high.

Diep:
Except that he started—Ccan you do a parody about all the tweeting? Oh, yeah, that was a rainbow high.

Jose:
Yeah, I was like, you go girl. People should not be in control of the nuclear codes if they are gonna be like rainbow high like that, right?

Diep:
I need you to hook up with Randy Rainbow and just, and do that. That actually fit the rhyme scheme and I am so proud of you,

Jose:
Randy Rainbow high? Okay, let’s talk about shows before we give more attention to this man.

Diep:
Okay, well, what shows are we talking about today?

Jose:
We saw two film and TV versions of shows that we know. We’re going to be talking about The Boys in the Band, which is on Netflix. And then we saw the Prime video series The Goes Wrong Show which is a version of *The Play That Goes Wrong. But instead it’s like tiny episodes, and it’s very funny. So shall we start with *The Boys*?

Diep:
Yes. Let’s talk about The Boys.

Jose:
Ugh! That’s that’s my review.

Diep:
I’ve never seen it. And then I watched it and I’m like, Oh my God. I am so excited to talk to Jose about this because I know he’s going to have opinions about Robin de Jesús. Give me all of your opinions.

Jose:
I have a really soft spot for Robin and I was very glad—didn’t he get like Tony nominated for the Broadway version?

Diep:
Mm hmm.

Jose:
He was in fact that I don’t know. I don’t like when—it’s not his fault, obviously—but I don’t like what white writers and white directors, asked BIPOC performers to do almost like parodies of, you know, themselves. Not themselves the person but what they think the person represents. We saw it in that show whose name I won’t say cuz like, I don’t want to get death threats anymore, but it was exactly that where you grab like a Latinx character, Latino character and just ask them to like amp it up to like Sofia Vergara. Just for the sake of allowing the white audience to like, oh, he must be Latino, right? Because there’s no other reason. And I do, like, Robin de Jesús a lot. I think he did what he was asked to do, and he did it well. But it’s very troubling that it’s such a cliche-written character in a play that basically—well in a film adaptation of a play that basically glorifies the suffering of white gay men, and how they are the only population that matters when we’re talking about LGBTQI people. So I fucking hated this thing.

Diep:
Thank you for watching it for me. The Boys in the Band the film is based on The Boys in the Band the play, which was a 1968 play by Marc Crowley who actually died earlier this year, not from COVID. He just was old.

Jose:
[laughs] I love that.

Diep:
And it was revolutionary for its time because it was one of the first mainstream portrayals of gay men and the double lives that they lead. And I believe it kind of fell out of favor with the LGBT community around the ’70s and ’80s, with Stonewall. And then it got back into favor very recently with the 2018 Broadway revival. And then Ryan Murphy saw the Broadway revival, and he produced it for Netflix. I was watching it. And it’s set in late ’60s, early ’70s. You would know it’s a period piece. When I was watching it out, I was like two minds about I was like, Okay, I could see how these portrayals of these men at the time was, was new. Like it was talking very candidly about how torturous it feels to not be your authentic self. And at the same time, I was just also wondering, why am I watching this in 2020? What, is there anything that this play is telling me right now?

Jose:
That Ryan Murphy has compromised on Netflix? Otherwise, why are they letting him do all these things? It must be the only reason, right?

Diep:
There’s nothing about this that is relevant right now, you think?

Jose:
I mean, do you think anything’s relevant?

Diep:
I don’t know. I’m not I’m not. I’m not part of the—

Jose:
No, but I mean, but you’re like it. You’re like an informed, smart, audience member who knows actual gay people, gay men specifically in real life. This is not how, right? I mean, see, I’m not even making sense. I sound like Will from Will and Grace right now, just like uhhh….

Diep:
I could see that part about, because you and I have always talked about how the gay community’s really cruel to each other in terms of—just the unrealistic body image expectations and just the machismo of it all. And so maybe that could be an angle. I don’t know.

Jose:
You know, what I think is an angle, how it’s white, gay men, in like their 40s and 50s, which is the average age of like the cast in this right? They insist on calling themselves boys. And I’m like, you stopped being boys like three decades ago. That’s the only thing that I was like, This is relevant. For men, the actors in this production and this film version are really handsome men, right? Why do they all look like—remember that marionette? That creepy marionette from like the 50s? What was the thing like Charlie something? They all looked really like plastic. And I don’t like to comment on the appearance of actors. But don’t they all look like they have too much makeup on? They look like they have too much Facetune on. And that’s probably because they’re like playing really, really young men when none of the men in you know, none of the actors are of that age anymore. So it’s very strange. It was almost a perverse like Sunset Boulevard kind of production for me. Like I saw Ryan Murphy wanting to preserve this piece that’s no longer relevant and—what’s the thing where you preserve things?

Diep:
Amber?

Jose:
Yes, from Jurassic Park, it’s kind of like that. It’s wanting to preserve this piece that’s no longer relevant. Like even, I don’t know, make it even like, look terrible, and like, look like it’s been polished too much. I was like Zachary Quinto, you have not been 30 for like 100 years, like who are you kidding?

Diep:
Yeah, it’s around the 32nd birthday of one of the characters played by Zachary Quinto, who they say is ugly. But then you’re just like it’s Zachary Quinto, that is not believable. Even if you put a really bad wig on him.

Jose:
Yes, we have seen his abs and he’s 43. So he stopped being 32 even a decade ago.

Diep:
It’s so nice. You rarely see men playing younger.

Jose:
Well, I know right? White gay men love commenting on the looks of female actors. I guess we’re allowed to say how terrible everyone looked in this. Except for Robin. Robin look gorgeous.

Diep:
Yeah, Robin, and oh, my God, who is the Black actor?

Jose:
I forgot his name. It’s so white. Let me see.

Diep:
It’s so white.

Jose:
Boys in the Band….

Diep:
I don’t actually understand why the title is that. They’re not in a band. They’re not getting the band back together. They’ve been in contact.

Jose:
It’s Michael Benjamin Washington.

Diep:
Michael Benjamin Washington Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Fires in the Mirror.

Jose:
Oh, yeah.

Diep:
Which was a better showcase of his talent than whatever the heck he was not able to do in Boys in the Band, because he was like the other BiPOC character, of which there was just one in like a 10 member cast, just off to the sidelines, just supporting the white people and all their fuckery.

Jose:
I mean, that’s exactly what this play is. And what the movie is, and it’s not even like a well-made movie.

Diep:
Like, it’s just the play.

Jose:
Yeah, but it was it me, but nothing about it, that none of the performances were modulated for a camera. They were all like acting like they’re all freaking Norma Desmond, larger than life. And like that guy from the Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons. I was like, holy shit.

Diep:
I think the reason actually, that he didn’t feel like it was well made for the screen was because Joe Mantello directed it. And he directed the Broadway revival. And he’s a fine director, there’s some very stylish shots. Like the shots of Zachary Quinto coming up the stairs, and you see the rings on his hand, I was very into that. I love little detailed shots. Did you notice, why do they use a fish eye lens so much, like that little fish eye lens, it made their faces look gigantic.

Jose:
And they also looked like they were made out of plastic. I think it was like that thing where Ryan Murphy was like, “Boys, we have Netflix money.” So they’re like, let’s use every lens. And let’s try to do everything. Let’s try to do everything we can with this. I really like Joe Mantello. And this is like me being just, exaggerating things. But I feel like Ryan Murphy is one of those creatives right now who gets control over everything, even if he’s not necessarily directing the shows that he said, if it’s a Ryan Murphy production, you sense him hovering over everything. You know, it kind of fits into the Ryan Murphy universe where like, everything’s like too much, a little bit too much, right? And I fear that maybe he had too much of a say in what Joe Mantello wanted to do. Because like the performances, you know, those performances kind of work on stage, but they definitely don’t work in film any more. Unless it’s silent film.

Diep:
Maybe if it’s camp, they’re so close to getting over to the other side of it.

Jose:
The film itself is so lacking in self awareness of what it is as a film. Didn’t you get the sense when this thing ended, when they wrapped production, they were like, oh, we’re going to change the world. And we’re going to change the people from the South, where they see how amazing gays are. And I’m like, No, no, no, no, no, no, no, this film is like, empty. It’s like so shallow. And it’s not a good movie. So I don’t even know what to say.

Diep:
I feel like the characters aren’t really characters because when it was written, it was very much like, I want to offer you a panorama of what the experience is like, which means nobody is well-developed, aside from maybe Jim Parson’s character, and you still can’t figure out why he’s so pissed off all the time, and why they’re all friends with him. It’s like, I love my friends, but even if they insulted me that much in one evening, like no, no. Especially if I was like the only person of color in the room like and just got punched to like know, like, why would you stay there?

Jose:
Have you ever been to Julia’s?

Diep:
No. What is that?

Jose:
It’s one of like the classic gay bars in the West Village. It’s like a block from Stonewall. It’s one of the iconic bars one of the iconic gay bars in New York. And the movie kind of feels like Julia’s because Julia’s is basically attended by gay men, mostly white gay men, who were around during Stonewall. So the amount of bitchery and camp, but also humor that’s what Julia’s feels like. But there is sense of humor and it’s not mean. And Boys in the band all the characters are just mean, why are they friends?

Diep:
Why are they friends? At the end Zachary Quinto was like, “I’ll call you tomorrow” to Jim Parson’s character that said something about friendship, about how strong these friendships are because they need to be strong. But at the same time, it doesn’t give you an excuse to just be mean to each other for no reason.

Jose:
No, I think it’s like one of the most pervasive cliches that exists when it comes to gay men. And it’s that they’re supposed to be mean to each other. And also, by default, be mean to other people, which is something that white gay men continue to perpetuate. Like I said before, you know, like, if you go to like fashion blogs and stuff like that, like men are always talking about women’s faces. And I’m like, motherfucker, have you looked at yourself in a mirror recently? This feels like a relic already, this movie. I don’t know. There’s much more interesting things to watch on Netflix that are queer.

Diep:
Yes, recommendations. Jose give people the recommendations.

Jose:
Just don’t watch this. Watch anything but this.

Diep:
Pose is great. Ryan Murphy may have created it. But Janet Mock is the showrunner. So Pose great.

Jose:
I mean, go, Janet. Let’s move on. I don’t want to talk about Ryan Murphy anymore.

Diep:
All right, we’re gonna have to when The Prom comes out,

Jose:
The only reason for that is Meryl [Streep], and Nicole [Kidman]. So yes, I’ll put myself through that.

Diep:
Okay, our next show is is The Goes Wrong Show that’s made by the same production, the same British production company as the people who made The Play That Goes Wrong, which was on Broadway for like, a couple years. And then it moved off Broadway. And it’s basically a slapstick evening at the theater, where a bunch of actors trying to put on a show and you know, things go awry. Set pieces fall, people fall off set pieces. Lines get flubbed, props don’t work. It’s not deep, you know, it’s not profound, you just got to go and laugh and feel better about your life. And for actors, you know, who go through so much when they’re making shows. And The Goes Wrong Show. It’s 10 30-minute episodes on Amazon Prime. And Jose and I watched two and they do the same thing, but within different plays within 30 minute time period. The conceit is the same: they try to do a show and it doesn’t go that well. And it’s funny. Turn off your brain. Just turn off your brain. Just don’t expect anything. I feel like it does get a little bit old. So it’s not bingeable thing. You know, if you need something to cleanse your brain at the end of the day, this is a fun 30 minutes to spend.

Jose:
You saw it on Broadway, right?

Diep:
Yeah, I did.

Jose:
Did you enjoy it on Broadway?

Diep:
Yeah. I mean, I really enjoyed when big set pieces fall. That’s really fun.

Jose:
You were like neutral chaos.

Diep:
Exactly. Smash it all!

Jose:
So you just said that this thing isn’t bingeable. I watched every episode. I love the show so much. Like I love it. Like I had to like ration it by the end because oh no, I’m almost done with all them. I couldn’t stop. I’ve watched like, my stomach hurt from laughing. I sent myself a little edible every time before I had to watch it. And then during one of the episodes, I was eating cereal also because like Cinnamon Toast Crunch came up with like, a churro version. And it’s like, my favorite thing in the world right now. So I filled a bowl with those and like some oatmilk. And I almost choked. I’m not kidding, I almost choked. Those laughing so much so hard from watching it. I thought it was absolutely genius. And I couldn’t stop. Because it’s like, I love the fact that it’s a series yes. And it’s self-contained episodes. But in the actual show, it’s like so meta because it’s like actors playing actors playing characters. So the actors as characters, you kind of become familiar because they each have their thing. You know, there’s this woman who’s always like, looking at the camera, you know, like at the audience, and like throwing those like, come hither looks. There’s this guy who I love so much, who’s like, he lives for the applause, like go Lady Gaga. And like whenever like someone like cheers. He does the same thing over and over and over again. And I find it so endearing. And there’s just like really hot like prop guy who’s always like, just like, oh—

Diep:
Splashing water or like accidentally hitting people.

Jose:
It reminded me a lot of like Benny Hill and like Monty Python. I just found it so delicious. It was so refreshing. And like you said at the beginning, it really made me miss live theater because it’s one of those, the show will go on kind of thing. Oh my god, which episodes that you watch.

Diep:
Oh, I watched the first and second episode.

Jose:
So it was the, was it the one about like the Nazis and the one about—

Diep:
“The Lodge”

Jose:
[laughs] Oh my god, you need to go watch. I mean, maybe you don’t need to. I don’t know if your dad, because it felt like a very dad show to me. It’s such a dad show. Like I told my father, you need to watch this right now. You need to watch or have your dad watch the law show, like the jury episode, and also one called “90 Degrees,” which is supposed to be set in this like, you know, like Southern. So it’s like the Brits doing an American Southern accent. It’s called “90 Degrees.” Yeah. And it’s supposed to be this like, wet, moist, Southern drama about like a dad dying. It’s like very Tennessee Williams. But it’s like just to give you an idea of the kind of humor that they’re going for here. At the beginning of the show in like a, “I’m Laura Linney. And this is PBS Masterpiece.” The director comes out and tells the audience, “we’re about to see a play. And this is what the play is about.” But he also lets people know that something went wrong, even before the plays started. And in the case of “90 Degrees,” for instance, he tells people that the set designers read the name of the show, and assume that the sets were supposed to be built at 90 degrees. And it’s incredible, like, yeah, you need to, like get stoned or something, or like, get a few drinks or whatever. But this is like such a balm. I love that so much.

Diep:
For me, I had the same feeling as when I watched the Broadway show, which is: how they do that. Especially because this version, there’s like 10 different sets that just all, that all look different and and have a different aesthetic. And they all fall apart in different ways. And I’m just like, oh my god, so much money was put into this because it is much easier to do a show that goes right, than a show that goes wrong.

Jose:
I know, right? Because it’s also like such a testament to the fact that this is, they’re directing chaos. One of the reasons I think, why I found this show so bingeable and so addictive was because we are living in chaos right now. But no one is directing it. Like we have no idea what the fuck is going to happen with this pandemic. You know, the nuclear codes were given to a mad person. No one’s in control. So the fact that I was watching chaos that was controlled, and that was directed by someone, and that was done with care and appreciation for the craft of theater of filmmaking and television actually gave me such relief. I was like, I wish the people who are directing the show, were directing the world right now.

Diep:
Oh my god, would you want to see them do a version of this presidency?

Jose:
God no, go fuck that presidency. I do however, want to see them do a version of Evita.

Diep:
And she falls off the balcony.

Jose:
And play over.

Diep:
I know. I’ve always wanted to ask them like, I feel like it must be so meticulously timed. How do you know when something actually goes wrong? Because in live theater, something always goes wrong.

Jose:
I guess for them if something went wrong would be something actually going right, right? I mean like a set not falling apart. Oh my god you need to watch “90 Degrees” because like there’s a dog and it’s like [laughs]. It’s like robot dog on a skateboard. It is amazing. It’s amazing.

Diep:
So much money, the Brits give their masterpiece theater so much money, would like to see the same here.

Jose:
Yeah, because it was also a celebration of like, what a live audience does to theater, which is it felt like theater to me, because the audience was reacting. And I always love to hear you know, in the laugh tracks like, with the live audience, I always love to hear the one person who laughs louder than everyone else because they just can’t help it. And there’s like plenty of those at this show. I loved it so much.

Diep:
Yeah, it’s like chaotic SNL.

Jose:
Yes, yes. But actually funny. SNL hasn’t been funny for years.

Diep:
Yeah, yeah. SNL is not consistent This is actually pretty consistently funny because it’s camp, it’s pratfalls, it’s really cool optical illusions that you don’t realize are optical illusions until the things fall apart. You’re like, Oh my god, how do they design that set? Like I was just trying to figure out mentally how this is all happening.

Jose:
And also like me wondering like, how are the actors not breaking? I would die.

Diep:
Yes. Such professionals. Do you remember our interview with Harriet D. Foy? And she was talking about how she would love to do The Play That Goes Wrong.

Jose:
Yes, oh my god!

Diep:
Someone call her, call her to do this show!

Jose:
Or can you imagine like a P Valley episode that goes wrong? Just stay away from the poles girls.

Diep:
Don’t do acrobatics on the pole. They’re not stable.

Jose:
It’s like so funny cuz like I was watching, I remember this one time that I I interviewed Isabelle Huppert. I always want to ask actors this question, I always forget to ask and I was like, What do you do when you need to like sneeze or yawn? So Isabelle Huppert was telling me that the adrenaline usually prevents you from that, cuz you’re so in the moment that you can’t help it. But then she was playing, I think, Mary Queen of Scots or something in Paris last year. And she sneezed when the curtain went up and someone in the front row went like, bless you. You know I love when shows go well, but it’s such a testament to why I miss theater so much, live theater so much and like being there so much, that that whole thing of be in community and laughing with someone, and multiplying that with like lots of people, made me wish that we were in pre-March times more than—

Diep:
You can try to be an audience on SNL, they’re paying them now.

Jose:
Oh god, no. I want to laugh, I don’t want to go on SNL.

Diep:
You might see Jim Carrey play Joe Biden. All right. Well, if you want to watch The Goes Wrong Show, it is now available on Amazon Prime, get high, get drunk, binge it. Yeah, have a laugh. And who did we interview today?

Jose:
Our guests today are Eva Noblezada and Lea Salonga, who are starring in the new film, Yellow Rose, which is about a Filipino-American young woman played by Eva, who finds out her mom is undocumented. And when her mom is sent to prison, because this is how this country works, she must find a way to survive and thrive. And she also happens to be very talented in terms of becoming a country musician. So we’ve talked to Eva and Lea. Oh my god, like I love them both so much. We talked to Eva and Lea about a bunch of stuff, including the movie, obviously, and video games and what they have been up to during quarantine. Yeah, so let’s go to that interview. Lea Salonga, Eva Noblezada, thank you so much for for joining us. I was so excited when I saw that the two of you were in Yellow Rose, mostly because I had a very nerdy question to ask you. When I’ve interviewed you separately, I’m obsessed with the fact that you play video games together and that you’re like both huge video game nerds. I mean, can we start talking about that? Like, have you been playing a bunch of video games in quarantine?

Eva Noblezada:
I will say I’ve never actually had the opportunity to play with you. Like actually, like, I have a controller, you have a controller. We’re having a great time, wine’s open. I never had that. That actually sounds a lot of fun. But no, I haven’t been playing much in quarantine just because I’ve been trying to do everything I can to stay sane and to make take money from people who have a lot of it.

Lea Salonga:
Good plan. Good plan. Thank you. I’m in quarantine. What have I played. I’ve played a little bit of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is incredible. I’ve played Kingdom Hearts, which is really cute. It’s like playing Final Fantasy with Disney characters. And then there’s Final Fantasy Seven, which is a remake of a previous Final Fantasy game. But because the technology has advanced so far, since the original Final Fantasy Seven was produced, stuff has changed, the story arc pretty much remains the same. But now all the bells and whistles are just jacked up. And there are a few more additional elements to it that take advantage of the tech. And it’s just breathtakingly beautiful and quite addictive. I remember just sitting on the couch in my den playing this. And I look to my left and I see the sun coming up. I’m like, yep, I’ve been here a while. Yeah, it gets you get really obsessed really, really fast. And the characters are actually very fully developed. The voice acting is fantastic. I can’t really find anything wrong with it, except it takes a lot to get past the very first boss. It’s difficult. But the cool thing about it is that you learn the hard way exactly which buttons to push in order to get your desired result. So yeah, so they make it tough, but they make it tough for good reason. And so I’m not angry at the game. So now I’m waiting for the next “Assassin’s Creed*. The next one to come out which is *Valhalla* and I think it’s supposed to be really violent and bloody because we’re talking Vikings now. Oh, yeah. England. So it’s like isn’t there like a series called like Vikings on the History Channel?

Eva Noblezada:
Yeah, there’s a Vikings one and like another like, like more Starz, Showtime-y one.

Diep:
Yeah, I think Starz.

Lea Salonga:
Yeah. So I remember seeing maybe one or two episodes of Vikings and thinking, if Valhalla is going to be anything like that, this is gonna rock so hard, goodbye sleep. That’s not going to happen. So, yeah, my Thanksgiving is going to be very very happy.

Eva Noblezada:
Is this on PS4? What console are you playing?

Lea Salonga:
A PS4 and Xbox.

Jose:
I probably shouldn’t have started asking about video games because I thought there were gonna be like amazing stories about the two of you playing on set while you were in between—

Eva Noblezada:
We had 18 days to shoot!

Lea Salonga:
I tend to be anti social when it comes to video games. I mean, there are people who like to play Overwatch or Pub G and socialize and play with their friends. My daughter does that. I’m kind of antisocial with video games. I don’t like interacting with actual human beings. I’m an introvert. You know, I jokingly say, because I hate people. I mean, I don’t in real life. But when I’m playing a game, I’d like to just focus on my solitude and isolation and just go through this adventure on my own.

Eva Noblezada:
But it requires focus and not everyone one understands it. Sometimes they’ll be like, Oh, my God, look at this meme. And I’m like, shut up. I like people ish. I don’t like company.

Lea Salonga:
[laughs] Well, maybe it depends on the company.

Eva Noblezada:
The only company I’ve had for the past seven months is Reeve [Carney]. He hasn’t gotten tired of me yet.

Lea Salonga:
Like he would.

Eva Noblezada:
He probably is. Yeah, that’d be cool. I have to download GTA and Tomb Raider, because I’m playing Call of Duty. The last time I played it was like four months ago, because I got really stressed out like, I need to hit a Nazi. I got really stressed but I need to download two of the games. And I kind of want to get Guitar Hero just ’cause I’m feeling crazy. I just know that I’ll buy the guitar. I’ll have one really fun night. And then I’ll see the guitar and get very annoyed because I live with an actual musician. And the fact that I’m playing that kind of guitar and having like it in a corner.

Lea Salonga:
It’ll be hilarious. Because I know some guitar players that have played Guitar Hero, and they’ve said it’s actually harder playing Guitar Hero than the actual guitar.

Diep:
Make Reeve Carney play Guitar Hero.

Lea Salonga:
That actually would be something. That would be online content, I would want to watch. I just want to see how he’s able to negotiate that.

Eva Noblezada:
That would actually be very funny. We should probably try that. We’ll have it be a surprise.

Diep:
Oh my god, I’m it comforts me so much to hear both of you say that you’re introverts because I’m the same way where I tell what I tell people. I’m a journalist. And I’m also an introvert. They’re very surprised, because my job is talking to people. But I actually don’t like being around actual people in my real life, which makes quarantine a really great experience for me.

Lea Salonga:
I know. It seems it seems like a very wrong thing to say. And you know, my quarantine experience has actually been quite invigorating, and educational and lovely and quiet and restful. And there are a lot of people who can’t relate to how I’m dealing with it. I’m like, it’s okay. Everybody will have their own quarantine experience, everybody’s going to have, everybody’s going to have their own takeaway from this. Some people are going to thrive in isolation. My daughter is the same as me. And she’s doing online schooling. And she’s happy because she gets to distance herself from teenage drama. So she’s like, um, I like this. I like this. I like being in my room and doing schooling this way. Like, yeah, you’re definitely my child. Yeah, you’re definitely my kids. She loves video games. She loves to sing. She loves musical theater. A lot of kids her age are listening to pop music. I listen to more pop music than she does. She’s gonna log on to like Broadway HD or whatever and watch An American in Paris. Yeah, really happy with stuff like that. That’s what she likes. And She Loves Me. Those two are like, constant repeat for her. So I’m like, I’m not gonna tell you not to watch musical theater. That would be hypocritical. You know, but yeah, it’s like no one should ever discount or poopoo anybody else’s quarantine experience only because it’s unique to you and how you respond to it. It’s how you respond to it. I mean, I do love my friends, but I’m perfectly happy entertaining myself at home. Um, yeah, I’m like this anyway, even without a pandemic, so it’s all good.

Eva Noblezada:
Yeah, that’s nice.

Jose:
One of the biggest, one of the saddest things, for me this during this whole time has been the fact that I will get to see both of you on the big screen, because you’re both luminous in, in the film. And I was hoping you could talk a little bit about, you know, like, Lea you’re in a few scenes, but you leave such a—you’re so powerful. And I was like, I would love to hear you talk about how you built that relationship that we see in the film, because like, I could imagine, Lea, your character’s backstory, I was like, I want to know, how she got to be how she was.

Lea Salonga:
That’s the nice thing about something where the backstory is not so defined. But because I have relatives like that, I didn’t have to do a whole lot of research to figure out. Which is a great thing and a not-so-great thing, you know, as far as members of my family are concerned. It’s nice for people to be able to look at her and just try to imagine and fill in the blanks on their own as to what her story might have been. And how did she get to America? How did she get married to this person? How did she wind up in this situation, where she does have some affluence, and being able to find herself in a position where she was actually able to help somebody. I won’t spoil the rest of it. I mean, there is that. But yeah, she’s not exactly the most likable person. And it’s nice to be able to play against what people might expect, of me. Because I tend to be the one that people tend to like in a show or whatever. So it’s nice to actually be somebody that no one knows how they’re going to feel about her at whatever point. It was also really helpful that my scenes were shot at the very beginning of the process of making this film. Only because I mean, our characters, even mine, aren’t exactly, you know, chummy with one another. And if we had actually filmed it much later, in the process, I think it would have been much more difficult to kind of backpedal into a place where there is tension and there is an obvious emotional separation between the two.

Diep:
Yeah, that makes sense. Now, I love what you’re saying about playing against tiype because even when I saw you on screen, I was thinking, oh my god, Lea Salonga, she she’s gonna save her and it’s gonna be okay. And then it, isn’t.

Lea Salonga:
[laughs] Sike! Like, that’s not gonna happen.

Diep:
But I’m actually really curious about like, because the two of you play Filipino-Americans so rarely on stage or on screen. And the movie talks so much about, especially with an interaction between the two of you, about class within the community, the Filipino-American community about, like the division between undocumented and those who are citizens. And so were you hoping to, like create conversation within the community around these issues, especially right now?

Lea Salonga:
So much of so much credit for that goes to Diane [Paragas], because she was one of the ones that wrote the film. And if conversations start coming up as a result of watching this, if people see what’s happening, and find themselves relating to the people and the situations, then I guess all of us as a collective part, you know, and part of this movie will have done something good. But i think i think any Filipino-American will have been witness to that kind of classism within the community.

Jose:
Eva, there have been two moments during quarantine where you have completely like blown my mind. And the first one was, Holy fuck, where was that incredible rendition of “The Man That Got Away”? At the Night of a Thousdan Judys. That was incredible. It was like an opera almost in like four minutes because like you acted the entire song, without like, you know, like leaving their shot. And I was like, I cannot wait to see you direct a film or something at some point. And the other moment was when I was like, I love the poster for the film so much and you shot the picture in your home.

Eva Noblezada:
So they’re like go to Brooklyn to a photographer. I was like absolutely not. I was like I barely left my house. What makes you think I’m gonna go and go sit in the studio and have somebody I don’t know shoot a picture. But yeah, it was kind of funny, because they sent me like, well first off, I don’t know if I should besaying this I think it’s very funny. I was blonde and did obviously do not have a fringe right now. So all of that crap is totally edited. And also they sent me like budget version of the costume and like, in the film, my final scene shirt’s a beautiful silk like Western shirt with like a silk red tie and like a really nice hat. They sent me like, it was like cloth, it was like craft material for clothing. And thankfully, my partner had bought me the guitar in the film for Christmas, you know, because he’s perfect. And so I have that. That was like the only bit of authenticity I had. I mean, I was wearing fuzzy socks in the shoot for Pete’s sake, but he was literally shot an iPhone, edited bangs, like edited hair color. It was just kind of like exactly what you’d expect for a quarantine photoshoot. So yeah, that was kind of crazy that we were able to do that.

Jose:
That’s pretty cool. Cuz like I’m curious. You know, like, I again, like I was like, even like you’re a natural born director and apparently also natural born photographer. So like, what are some skills that you have picked up in quarantine that you finally like, Oh, I never thought that I was going to be doing this in my whole life.

Eva Noblezada:
Pole dancing. I’m very good at that. I’m extremely good at that. I’m talking to myself a lot more just because like I am 30% introvert, 70% I wouldn’t say extrovert. I think there’s a middle ground. I can’t think of the—

Lea Salonga:
Ambivert, is that the one?

Eva Noblezada:
I think so. Yes, I have. I get major social anxiety. So in fact, now that I’ve been quarantined, if I were to go back to a setting with people, I would freak out. I would not, I don’t handle this well. And I don’t have my doctor anymore to give you beta blockers. Trying to make sure that I don’t go into situations like that. Um, but yeah, I would say pole dancing. I’ve been reading a lot. I’m reading a book, two books right now, one called Braiding Sweetgrass. I just want to get, like, take a juicy bite into the mysterious world of, the dark side of capitalism. I’m going into that direction with my mind right now. I know that FBI agents watching right now and I was reading your job, but also like, What the hell’s going on with this country? I’m also reading. I’m reading a book called Braiding Sweetgrass and a book called The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, & the Philippines. Just because I think this is a perfect time for me to start understanding, quite literally the history, both political and historical for America, and also for the Philippines. Just because, you know, I might I think that’s important for me to learn. But other than that, I don’t know. I’m not actually picking up skills. I just am trying to literally be sane. My partner loves it. He can work all day and be happy. I I actually miss my friends. I don’t have any friends in New York. But all my friends are in London. I go a little crazy at times. But I think that’s, I just ride the wave.

Diep:
Yeah, the way I’ve been trying to tell myself during this time is the way I feel today isn’t going to be the way I feel an hour from now or tomorrow, and you just just gotta feel your feelings.

Eva Noblezada:
Oh, yeah, I have also been painting. Like I’m actually not horrible at it. And I just finished a 30-by-40 inch canvas, which is the biggest one I’ve done so far. So I have to go back down to Blick, I love saying that in a Filipino accent, it’s an art material store in New York City. I have to go back and I want to see if I can get a bigger one. Yeah, it’s fun.

Diep:
You have more room in your apartment than I thought, wow.

Eva Noblezada:
Well, no. My actual apartment is being, my friend is staying there right now. So like, I have to keep everything in like a tiny corner here because he has a lot of stuff.

Diep:
Did you get any guitar playing tips from Reeves during the process for—

Eva Noblezada:
No, I didn’t know him then. We’re not together then, the universe was like, please just wait. No, I didn’t. I didn’t get any tips from anybody. I literally went back in. And it sounded like shit. To be honest with you. Like the first day of filming. We did a scene where I have to play the guitar for Diane’s daughter who plays Lea’s daughter in the film. And that was terrifying. Like I haven’t played guitar in front of anybody in literally eight years. And then you tell me to play in front of a child and keep her entertained? That’s kind of like, kind of like cuz you know that she’s gonna be like, that’s horrible. I don’t know, because she’s very outspoken that little girl and I love her very much, but she would easily be like, why are you doing this? But yeah, I was very bad.

Jose:
I’m really curious, you know, fingers crossed, someday we’ll all be able to gather and go see a show again. And I wonder when the time comes for theaters to reopen all over the world, are you looking forward more to being in a show or to seeing a show?

Eva Noblezada:
I want to be a part of experiencing live performance again. But I am not at all excited to do eight shows a week, I am excited to continue to receive a weekly paycheck. Because New York rent’s expensive and no one cares about the arts. So this is why I literally said to my agent, I was like, hey, if there any like rich white people who need to do like live video concerts, or like socially distance concerts, please let me know. Because your girl needs to pay her rent.

Lea Salonga:
What I want, what I want to do, ah, once we’re able to both, I think I get a thrill out of being in the audience and kind of just getting lost in a show or a concert performance. But it’s also so much fun to perform. I miss performing. I haven’t performed on stage since March of this year. I did two nights in Dubai at the beginning of March, came home, and started hoarding groceries because the lockdowns were going to happen a few days later. So, yeah, so yeah. Thankfully, I mean, there have been some charity gigs. There have been some fundraisers. And now I’m doing corporate gigs from home, which is nice. Which means that, yeah, I do, I get a paycheck. And I’m thankful, I’m really, really, really thankful that we can do that. The experience isn’t quite the same as being in a room, whichever side of you know, of that orchestra pit you’re on—whether you’re in the audience or on stage, there’s nothing like being in a room and sharing a heartbeat with however many people in an audience. And that’s just something so unique and special. Yeah, I miss singing with musicians, just miss the adrenaline rush of, you know, of that downbeat of an overture, and then stepping out and feeling ironically, that so many eyes are on you, but it still feels like the safest place to be. Yeah, I miss that. Because right now, singing in my living room, into my iPhone, I mean, it’s nice. But it’s not the most ideal situation, but I’m grateful that I can sing at all, and be able to still entertain people.

Eva Noblezada:
Virtual concerts are weird. I’ve done four, three of them at Birdland. And it’s just so weird, because you’re just like, you have a set for like 15 minutes, and I’m with my pianist. So I’ve been doing this for like, three, four years, our cabaret show together. And you sing and then you’re so used to like, making conversation with the audience or like, making a joke, them laughing and then, you know, it just feels more natural. But now it’s just weird. And I watched back the first one I did. I was just like, the first time I did the end of the song, I was like, I was like, wow, this is fucking awkward. I’ll say thank you so much for your applause, thank you. I could see, I’m trying to navigate like, how to, like what to do. It’s very strange

Lea Salonga:
It’s hard. But here’s the thing. I have watched a couple of online concerts. And they know that their people are applauding for them. Because I’m in my pajamas. I’ve got my laptop, like, on my bed and cross-legged. I’m watching. And I’m cheering like crazy, like a crazy person, by myself. So I think knowing that that is what the response is going to be. And I mean, they’re not going to tune into you if they’re not going to respond or know that. Or if they’re like, nah, that’s not even going to be my cup of tea, they won’t even bother. But if there’s a viewer that tunes in to watch you, I think you can trust that there is going to be a definite reaction and some sort of connection. So yeah, so yeah, me on my bed knowing, I’m going [cheering], clapping and I’m screaming. And even though I’m by myself, knowing that that’s exactly how I’m going to react when I see an artist that I love. So when it’s my turn to be to shoot myself and do an online thing, if there’s somebody tuning in, I have to trust that that’s what the audience is going to do. So knowing that, it’s comforting, knowing that that’s what’s going to happen.

Eva Noblezada:
Yeah, that’s nice. It’s a nice thought.

Diep:
I do miss clapping for people, though. Just to as audience member, I just want to show my apprecation. I wish they turn on the Zoom screens, I think at the end of those. And just be like, oh, here are the people who are just watching you. Here’s some applause.

Lea Salonga:
I did a thing that did that, exactly that! So you could actually, like turn on your microphones and clap. And then it felt incredible. Because it was a lot of people, so yeah. So if they could do that at the end of every concert or every streaming experience that you do, then that might actually help. Because then you have an idea of just, who’s out there and how appreciative they are, which then makes the artists appreciate the process even more, it doesn’t feel like you’re performing in a vacuum.

Jose:
Would you like to invite our viewers and our listeners to watch Yellow Rose on October 9, and plug anything and everything you have going on from here until you know the end of the year?

Eva Noblezada:
I have a podcast, this is what you’ve mean correct. Using plug. Okay. I have a podcast called “The Amarillo Project.” It’s on Apple podcasts and Spotify. Season two, our theme of season two will be announced in a week. And also I’m on socials, I’m on Instagram under Eva Maria and Twitter, Eva Noblezada. Other than that, I have nothing going on. We’re very close to Christmas, you guys. And it’s the time of year where the line between the living and the dead is the thinnest, so please stop playing with quiji board. That’s not funny, you really gonna get possessed. Gotta stop doing that.

Lea Salonga:
To everybody watching, please come and see our film, Yellow Rose, we open on October the 9th, please go to GoldOpen.com. And there should be links and a lot of buttons to lead you to how you can buy tickets. And you can even buy private screenings for larger groups. Please go check it out. There should be a list of theaters there where the film is going to show. We’re trying to get the movie to be number one, on its opening weekend, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it. Other than that, I bake a lot of bread. I bake a lot of sourdough and I’m extremely proud of it. One of my friends who went to culinary school, I gave him like a couple of loaves to try and he was like, This reminded me of something in San Francisco. It was a huge compliment. So I’m very, very pleased. And so I just been baking for my friends. And it’s just been really therapeutic. So that’s my quarantine skill. And I’ve been flexing it quite a bit. And I’m yeah, just getting through this quarantine sane, I have rabbit holes, I have my bread. Got my family. I’m good.

Eva Noblezada:
Surviving is thriving.

Diep:
Oh, Lea, I have a question for you. When’s your Broadway’s Best Great Performances? Oh, November 27. And that’s going to be on PBS stations all over the country. That was my second engagement at the Sydney Opera House. We’re with the Sydney Symphony. My brother, Gerard Salonga is our conductor. And that was just such a good time. There’s so much musical theater and also a lot of pop music. And I try my hand at singing some golden-age stuff that’s normally not in my voice. But it’s like, what the hell, let’s just do it. And yeah, just a lot of fun. And I’m hoping that people tune in to PBS on the 27th. That’s Black Friday, I believe the day after Thanksgiving.

Jose:
Thank you both so much for joining us. It’s always such a pleasure to see, but like you made me feel like it was back in the pre-pandemic days. And congratulations on the film. It’s beautiful. And you’re both great. Yeah. And I hope to see you again very soon.

Eva Noblezada:
Thank you guys so much for having us.

Jose:
Thanks, everybody. Have you interviewed Lea before?

Diep:
Yes. I interviewed her when she did Allegiance.

Jose:
Oh, was it for AT?

Diep:
Yeah, yeah.

Jose:
That’s pretty cool. I don’t think I read it. I’ll go find it. You should link to that.

Diep:
Well, it was about like how white musical theater people are really obsessed with Asians and they don’t know how to write Asians correctly. But it was a step in the right direction. I am looking forward to more though, like the K-Pop musical.

Jose:
One of my favorite things about Lea is that, have you seen her in concert?

Diep:
Yes, I have.

Jose:
She does like pop covers and I mean like listening to Lea Salonga do Coldplay is like the highlight of musical theater, gay-loving, you know, life.

Diep:
Yeah, yeah, I know. I know. And Lea has been doing so much in Manila. Like she did a Fun Home and she does Sweeney Todd, and I’m just like, Broadway producers. Why are you Lea Salonga away from us? She’s doing all this cool shit and you could have her do cool shit over here. Why you be so racist?

Jose:
Yeah. Can you imagine Lea Salonga’s version of Days and Days? Like I would—

Diep:
I just start crying. Or Lea Salonga being a crazy Mrs. Lovett. I want more chaotic Lea Salonga. I feel like she doesn’t get to do that enough, like she says. That would be good for me.

Jose:
Yeah, she’s always very wholesome. But now we know she bakes, so she would make it perfect. Mrs. Lovett in in the States. Thank you, Eva and Lea. Yellow rose is out on October 9. And it has original songs. Can you imagine like if Eva had to perform at that Zoom Oscars next year?

Diep:
She’d kill it because her home videos are shot very well. But would like to see Eva again in person?

Jose:
Yeah, me too.

Diep:
I do appreciate it, because this is her first film. And now people can see how good she is. You know, just like her face is so expressive. And I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated before because I’m always seeing her like 10 feet away.

Jose:
Oh, yeah, she’s astonishing. Like her voice is like critical but like her face was like, wow. And you should also go check out the episode that we recorded a few years ago with Eva when she was doing shows at the Green Room 42 in New York City.

Diep:
Our old interview with Eva we actually interviewed her before she was cast in Hadestown, but she could not tell us she was cast in Hadestown. And we didn’t talk about Hadestown because we ran out of time. But next time either part three, we will get there, we will get there we will talk about Reeve Carney. And if you enjoy this episode, we invite you to support us on Patreon, Jose and I edit and produce all of these ourselves and it would be of great help to us to have some support in our project. If you become a Patreon supporter, you get a lot of goodies like our newsletter, and extra bonus Q&A, like our Josh Groban Q&A, we had him singing a little bit for us, which all of our Patreon Patrons could see. So if you want all of that, then we invite you to be a Patreon subscriber for as little as $1 a month. And we also shout out our Patreon Patrons every episode. So this week’s shout out is to Luisa Lyons who is working on a database of stage musicals that have been vaguely filmed and publicly shared. So visit filmedlivemusicals.com and there’s a podcast. We love all theater podcasts, and we love online theater. So thank you, Luisa, for this invaluable database. Thank you.

Jose:
Become a patron. Join our friend zone. We have some goodies coming up and we love you for your support. And this is what, the 17th episode so far right? Holy fuck.

Diep:
I know, quarantine goes fast.

Jose:
Three more episodes and we can drink!

Diep:
Like we haven’t already been drinking.

Jose:
Thank you and stay tuned next week. Because oh my God, we know who we’re talking to next week, and we’re finally doing it. Can you believe that we’ve never had her here before?

Diep:
No I can’t because I feel like I talk to her and about her everyday, all the time. Yeah, yeah. Especially now. We need her now more than ever.

Jose:
Oh, that’s a great t-shirt. You’re gonna have to stay tuned to find out who we’re talking to next week. And until then,

Diep:
bye bye.

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