Broadway Musicals With Roles Written For Actors of Asian Descent

  1. The King and I (1951, 1977, 1985, 1996, 2015)
    The King and I, though well loved, has been criticized for its racist overtones and featured in the past white actors in Asian written roles. The music was rather than written with actual Thai music, used "exotic flavor" which was deemed more accessible for American audiences.
  2. Miss Saigon (1991)
    Miss Saigon has been criticized for its racist and sexist overtones regarding its portrayal of Asian women. It has in the past featured white actors using eye prostheses and bronzing cream to appear more Asian.
  3. South Pacific (1949, 2008)
    South Pacific's two major leads are written for white actors. Many of the roles in the original production, though written for actors of Asian descent were given to white actors. It is one of the longest running musicals of all time.
  4. The Flower Drum Song (1958, 2002)
    Unsurprisingly, this show in early productions featured some white actors is Asian roles.
  5. Pacific Overtures (1976, 2005)
    The 2004 production received critical response suggesting that the predominantly Asian American, English Speaking cast distracted from the original intent of the piece.
  6. Hero (2011)
    Hero was the first ever overseas transfer of a Korean musical. It ran for two weeks at Lincoln Center.
  7. Aladdin (2011)
    The original Broadway company of Aladdin featured no actors of Middle Eastern descent. This was literally 2011... Of the current 37 cast members, three are of Asian descent. Not of the primary cast are of Asian descent.
  8. Allegiance (2015)
    Allegiance tells the long untold story of Japanese American internment during World War II. It was deemed too depressing, especially regarding brutality by white soldiers by the AP.
  9. Special Mention: Here Lies Love
    Here Lies Love gets special mention because it never played Broadway. However, the rock musical following the life of former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos, played the Public Theatre off Broadway in 2013 and 2014-2015.
  10. Of the eight Broadway musicals listed, two (Allegiance and Hero) featured writers of Asian descent on the writing team.
    David Henry Hwang revised the book of Flower Drum Song in 2002.
  11. Asian American actors use strategies such as auditioning for Hispanic roles as well, so long as they can look the part.
    Jose Llana, a Filipino-American played El Gato in Wonderland
  12. Often lead roles in workshops can be awarded to actors of color, but gradually as the shows reach Broadway and Off-Broadway, the roles are given to white actors
  13. Of 6,639 roles cast in the 2007-2012 Broadway seasons, 54 went to Asian-American Actors.
  14. Asian American actors fill roughly 2% of roles off-Broadway and on-Broadway and yet make up 12.9% of the New York City population, and are the fastest growing minority group.
    Latin American actors fill approximately 4% and African American actors fill about 13%.
  15. Hey American Theatre Wing! Hamilton doesn't mean your diversity problem is solved.
    There are currently two Asian American actors in Hamilton.