On the other side | Inquirer Entertainment

On the other side

By: - Columnist
/ 12:40 AM April 21, 2016
JOE Iconis and Family onstage Lea Salonga

JOE Iconis and Family onstage Lea Salonga

NEW YORK—First of all, allow me to thank everyone who came to my Feinstein’s/54 Below engagement! From Tuesday to Sunday last week, I enjoyed a lovely residency, taken care of by the staff, my musical director Larry Yurman, my guitarist Jack Cavari, and my husband Rob (Chien) and daughter Nicole.

In a red pantsuit, I climbed the stage and sang some of my favorite songs. What a fun week it has been!


Following my final performance, I decided to occupy the other side of the stage by sitting in one of the 54 Below booths and enjoying a wonderful meal prepared by the chef (honestly, to say “wonderful” is an understatement; it was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had), and taking in the show of this night: Joe Iconis and Family in Concert.

For those who aren’t familiar with his work, Joe is a musical theater songwriter. He has written most notably for the TV show, “Smash,” as well as created original work that has been presented in theaters, including La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego.


The music presented that evening ran the gamut of hilariously funny material to darker, emotional pieces. And some songs were a combination of both.

The titles of the songs aren’t necessarily giveaways to their stories or plot lines. I mean, “Party Hat,” “Hey Dad” and “Jeff” do not in any way, shape or form reveal what’s going on. However, “Velociraptor,” “Everybody’s at the Bar” and “The Goodbye Song” (sung at the very end of the show and inspired by a real-life event in the composer’s own life) give us a little peek.

Some of the songs are, as the composer explains, “songs unto themselves.” However, a few come from actual musicals that he’s done. “Michael in the Bathroom” is from a show titled “Be More Chill,” while “Hey Dad” and “Adore” are from “The Untitled Hunter S. Thompson Project.”

We could, and did, consider each song its own musical theater story, with a fully fleshed out beginning, middle and end.

With each performer who came up onstage (many of them also swapping out on playing various musical instruments), every single one of the 18 songs felt complete.

We hung on to every word, and the performers (many of them accomplished musical theater performers) acted and sung the heck out of them. They weren’t just vocally wonderful, but emotionally connected, as well.

Joe Iconis and Family have more performances at Feinstein’s/54 Below. If you happen to be in New York, I would highly recommend catching one. I’m so happy to have stayed to watch, and hope to see more.


JOE Iconis and Family onstage Lea Salonga

THE AUTHOR at Feinstein’s/54 Below Matt Blank’s Facebook


On Monday night, Rob and I parked ourselves on the couch to watch the season finale of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” the episode in which I made a guest appearance. Needless to say, we were very excited.

While we were watching, I kept an eye on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, to see if there was any feedback from audiences who were watching, too. I know this is nothing scientific, but by all accounts, those who were tuned in enjoyed the episode!

Members of the cast were tweeting, as well! Rachel Bloom (Rebecca Bunch), Vincent Rodriguez III (Josh Chan), as well as Gabrielle Ruiz (Valencia) and Vella Lovell (Heather) were sharing their feelings.

Rachel and Aline Brosh McKenna (cocreator and this episode’s director) were also live on Periscope to talk about the finale and answer questions sent to them.

What I am happiest about is that Filipino culture has been prominently featured on TV. What also excites me is that the show stars a handsome, sweet and sexy Asian leading man.

All too often in the media, the Asian male is portrayed as weak, nerdy, impotent and either asexual or without sex appeal.

As a woman married to an Asian-American male, I know the opposite to be true, and it’s about darn time this is realized.

Thank you, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” for not only being an incredibly entertaining and well-written show, but for contributing to the visibility of Asian culture in the way that you have, without stereotypes.

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TAGS: Backstory, Broadway, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Entertainment, Hollywood, Lea Salonga, Musical
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