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Theatre Appreciation

Musical Theatre Appreciation with Howard Ho


with Howard Ho

Calendar Oct 4, 2020 at 4 pm

DATES: October 4th, 18th, November 1st and 15th.


Miss being in the theatre? We do too! In collaboration with Boston Court Pasadena, we're bringing to you a four class series of musical theatre appreciation, taught by Howard Ho. Perfect for both theatre goers and professionals alike, we'll get to breakdown the details that the audience will not normally notice during a performance.

The first half of the series is called TESSERA, which discusses how modern musical composers have attempted to become more inclusive by taking classic musicals and twisting them, making it so that BIPOC can find a place in those narratives. Shows which make use of this technique are Hamilton, Soft Power, Vietgone, Pacific Overtures, and Passing Strange. Each of those shows either references or uses as a jumping off point an older musical (Hamilton -1776, Soft Power - King and I, Vietgone - Miss Saigon, Pacific Overtures - Mikado, Passing Strange - mainstream Black musicals and plays). This allows BIPOC to write themselves into the narrative.

The second half of the series is called VERNACULAR, discussing how musicals differ from other genres like opera and operetta in that they must specifically use the music of the pop charts in order to evolve with the times. And rather than being ornamental, the pop music must fit the story being told. Shows which make use of this technique are Here Lies Love, KPOP, Cambodian Rock Band, Hamilton, Passing Strange, and Vietgone. Each show uses a different vernacular as a musical metaphor. 


Howard Ho is a playwright and composer. His short musical END OF THE LINE (co-written with Kristen Rea and Chris Edgar) was in The Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival and will be published in Theatre Now New York’s Short Musical Anthology. His play VARIOUS EMPORIA was a 2017 O'Neill National Playwrights Finalist and a Finalist in the ScreenCraft Stage Play competition. His musical PRETENDO was featured in the Center Theatre Group (CTG) Library Reading Series. His musical MOLL-E was a NY Musical Festival Finalist. He was a 2016 Center Theatre Group Literary Fellow and a 2013 NY State Summer Writers Institute Scholarship recipient. His plays and musicals have been developed with Moving Arts, East West Players, The Vagrancy, Playwrights’ Arena, Company of Angels, Kaya Press, New Musicals Inc., Playground-LA, Santa Monica Playhouse, and Here and Now. His popular Youtube videos analyzing the musical HAMILTON ( have been recognized by Lin-Manuel Miranda and have earned millions of views. With over 50 sound design credits, he has earned two Ovation Award nominations and has worked with Center Theatre Group, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Playwrights’ Arena, and East West Players among many other theaters.  His music was recently recognized in the City of Los Angeles concert series COMPOSE LA, highlighting notable LA composers. His articles about theatre have been published at HowlRound and the Los Angeles Times. He holds a musicology degree from UCLA and a Master of Professional Writing from USC, where he was Stage and Screen Editor of the Southern California Review. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild, Cold Tofu Improv, the Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theater, and the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights.

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