The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Baayork Lee

Baayork Lee

Actress, Dancer, Singer
Born on Thursday, December 5, 1946

Interviewed on: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #95
"If I were auditioning now I wouldn’t be working…it’s harder, you have to be able to sing, dance, tumble, play instruments...’Triple Threat.’ We invented that word, Chorus Line invented that phrase."
Baayork Lee Highlights
Video Length: 5 Minutes, 23 Seconds
Baayork Lee Interview Part One
Video Length: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes
Baayork Lee Interview Part Two
Video Length: 40 Minutes, 3 Seconds

Baayork Lee is a performer, director, and choreographer. She is best known for originating the role of “Connie Wong” in A CHORUS LINE (1975), assisting Michael Bennett with the choreography. Since then, she has directed and choreographed many national and international productions of the musical, including the 2006 Broadway revival. Her Off-Broadway work includes: choreographing IN THE BOOM BOOM ROOM (1974) at the Public Theater and I CAN’T KEEP RUNNING IN PLACE (1981), as well as directing CINDERELLA (2004) and GREETINGS FROM YORKVILLE (2007).

Born in Chinatown, New York City, Baayork Lee began her career at five years old when she appeared in the original Broadway production of The King and I (1951). Her other Broadway credits include: Flower Drum Song (1958), Golden Boy (1964), and Promises, Promises (1975). She has directed and choreographed numerous national and international tours, as well as regional productions at venues such as Arena Stage and the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center. She is one of the founders of the National Asian Artists Project, which aims to provide opportunities for actors of Asian descent through performance, outreach, and educational programming.  In 1976, she and the cast of A Chorus Line won the Theatre World Award for Ensemble Performance. She was the recipient of the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Asian Woman Warrior Award from Columbia College Chicago, the 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by Actors’ Equity Foundation, and the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award.

Mentioned in Interview

Michael Bennet, Yul Brenner, Katherine Dunham, Syvilla Fort, Bob Fosse, Freddie Gershon, Marvin Hamlisch, Michael Kidd, Robert LuPone, Joseph Papp, Jerome Robbins, The Acorn Theater, Amato Opera Theatre, Lincoln Center, Music Theatre International, New York City Opera, The Prospect Theater, Skirball Center, AIDA, CHORUS LINE, CINDERELLA, GREETINGS FROM YORKVILLE, I CAN’T KEEP RUNNING IN PLACE, IN THE BOOM BOOM ROOM, OKLAHOMA!,