Conan star Jason Momoa, courtesy of Lionsgate 

What does it take for someone to get noticed? What does that really mean and who has to do the noticing?

In Los Angeles’ performing arts scene, the Asian American talent on display is so astounding that it’s astounding people could miss it.

In the new play Sun Sisters by Chinese-Desi Visanti Saxena, Jully Lee is remarkable, making an impact in the short amount of time she’s on stage. Her physicality carries the character’s emotional core, intelligence, as well as her sexuality. From the moment the actress steps on stage, her presence alone conveys all the information one needs to understand the world she inhabits. Her performance is testament to the fact that an actress can make an strong impression in a supporting role, and Lee has definitely proven that in her turns for Lodestone’s Grace Kim and Spiders from Mars and comedic work with Cold Tofu and Eighteen Mighty Mountain Warriors. That Hollywood-focused eyes may not have discovered her is an egregious oversight.

Missing the aforementioned 18MMW is also no less than an oversight. Their new show, Asiatico, is hilarious, full of raucous humor that set the small audience to laughing so loud, they missed many of the witty lines. Much of the cleverness is to Michael Hornbuckle‘s credit; he’s been burning up YouTube with topical videos including those mocking Amy Chua and Rush Limbaugh and his own 5 Forces of G. Hornbuckle’s sketch writing succeeds where those of “Saturday Night Live”’s don’t: he actually knows how to end sketches before the joke runs out of steam. The whole cast of six chipped in as well as director Herbert Siguenza of Culture Clash.

OPM star Ewan Chung joins 18MMW on this outing, bringing his fleshed-out and vibrant characters. Diana Toshiko, the multi-talented actress, singer, and photographer, is a tiny combustible powerhouse as she brings spunk and spank every time she’s on stage. Golda Inquinto’s specialty is the oddities, with characters that are accessible slightly beyond the weird. Her eye-shiftings are never excessive and are tuned perfectly, in contrast to Kristen Wiig’s characters, say, who are often out of reach. The cast’s knack for varied accents is impressive, especially in Peter J. Wong. Wong’s voicings of stereotypical characters — in any other venue, he’d incite a protest — fit perfectly for the show and 18MMW’s focus.

The exceedingly talented Greg Watanabe is the core of 18MMW and the show. An award-winning theater actor, Watanabe brings a depth and giddy oddness to everything he does. Watanabe has that rare skill of keeping the audience’s trust even when he’s jumping off a cliff.

And much of what 18MMW does feels like a death-defying act, with the audience very willing to go for the ride.

Kelsey Chow, courtesy of IMDB

Speaking of rides, many API stars will be on hand at D23 Expo this weekend, including Brenda Song, Kelsey Chow, Hayley Kiyoko, and Lea Salonga, who’ll accept the Disney Legends award along with her other fellow Disney Princesses.

courtesy of Telly Leung

As Salonga’s in town on Friday, there’s no scheduling conflict with the other big live event in Asian American arts on Saturday: East West Player’s One Night Only: On Broadway, featuring many an Asian American stage star, including Takayo Fischer (Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End), Gedde Watanabe (E.R.), and Glee star Telly Leung. Salonga’s not on the slate, but perhaps she’ll make a surprise appearance.

Many Asian American stars are going to the movies Friday night, eschewing CAPE’s pricy poker tournament because of the org’s credibility problems. Friday is opening night for Conan the Barbarian starring Jason Momoa. And if there’s ever a time to support an API lead, it’s now. Momoa, he’s totally live and oh-so noticeable.

– See more at:

Related posts: