Staging New Stories


Miranda Gohh ’13 was a senior at Williston and decidedly focused on surfing, ice hockey, cross country, and softball—not theater—when the groundbreaking musical Here Lies Love premiered in 2013. The immersive musical was based on a concept album (by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and Fatboy Slim) about former Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos. The unique staging, at the Public Theater in New York City’s Greenwich Village, saw audience members mingling with actors on a rotating stage in a nightclub-like environment, complete with pulsing beats and strobe lighting.

Fast forward 10 years, and a much-anticipated revival production of Here Lies Love heads to Broadway this summer, with rows of seats already being removed from the iconic Broadway Theatre to match the original staging downtown. Gohh, now an emerging leader in the New York theater world, is a co-producer. The revival brings together two lead producers, both taking that role for the first time, who have ties to the original musical: Clint Ramos, a Tony Award-winning costume designer, and Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. They plan to have an all Filipino and Filipino American cast—an important key to telling the story responsibly.

“As soon as I heard their vision for it and intention to get authentic Filipino and Filipino American actors on stage, I knew that this was the right team to be telling this story,” says Gohh, whose parents are from the Philippines. Gohh’s responsibilities for the production include marketing, advertising, outreach, and community engagement, but the job is about more than these parts. “A producer is the champion of a story and is in charge of making sure that all of the elements are brought together to make that
possible,” she said.

It takes years and tens of millions of dollars to stage a Broadway play. Producers pitch shows to investors, but also can read scripts, sit in on auditions, meet with managers to go over budgets, and negotiate deals with agents. “Just making sure that all of the pieces are coming together to move the production forward,” she says.

In addition to this musical, Gohh has been busy with other productions. Pent-up demand for live theater has surged after the industry shut down during the height of the pandemic. In the past year she worked to bring six plays to the New York stage, including another musical that centered voices from the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, KPOP.

“Unfortunately it had a very short run, but I was very proud to be a part of that show because it was one of the first musicals in Broadway history to be written from an AAPI perspective,” Gohh says. The show’s composer, Helen Park, was the first female Asian American composer in Broadway history.

Gohh’s passion for telling stories that have long been overlooked on the Great White Way led her in 2020 to found the organization Theatre Producers of Color, which mentors and trains aspiring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) producers. The group works with 25 students over the course of 11 weeks, and the program is tuition free. Courses cover traditional production elements such as budgeting, author agreements, and marketing and advertising. “But there’s also an effort to tailor it to the BIPOC experience,” Gohh says, noting it includes sessions such as “How to Lead With Your Values” and “How to Introduce Anti-racist Practices into Your Process.”

Those interested need only submit an application. “Traditionally there have been barriers to entry, where you can only get your foot in the door if you know the right person or if you have access to capital,” Gohh says. “And we know that that excludes a lot of people and fails to offer them a seat at the table.” Four graduates of the program have already made their Broadway debuts as associate producers, and 11 worked on Kinky Boots off-Broadway. A group of alumni formed their own production company and staged The Piano Lesson by August Wilson on Broadway—exciting success stories in a traditionally white-dominated field. “In a very short amount of time, it has opened the doors for people to run away with the information and to get after what they’ve been wanting to do,” Gohh says. “It’s definitely something I’m proud of, and I’m excited to see it continue to grow.”

Creating interesting projects is nothing new to Gohh, who, while a student at Williston, had dreams of becoming a professional surfer. At her desk in Conant House, she coded a website and started a company called The Shaka Show, the shaka sign being a surfer hand wave with thumb and pinkie outstretched, said to have originated in Hawaii. As a junior in high school, she was on the phone interviewing professional surfers around the world, including Australia and South Africa.

“Williston was a place to really nurture your passions and to surround yourself with like-minded people,” she says. “It did prepare me to develop the work ethic that I would need and the communication skills that I needed to do what I’m doing now.” A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Gohh’s passion for theater emerged after seeing several plays as a student at Wesleyan College (see her three favorites, at left).

“I fell in love with theater because it’s a tool for connection. When else do we all get together in a room and experience a story from start to finish and have our minds and hearts changed?”

Miranda’s Picks

As a young theater-goer, Gohh was transfixed by three productions that gave voice to authentic characters not traditionally depicted on stage.

Fun Home: 2013, Music: Jeanine Tesori; Lyrics: Lisa Kron

The first Broadway play with a lesbian protagonist, Fun Home was based on a 2006 graphic novel by Alison Bechdel and explores Bechdel’s own sexuality, her relationship with her closeted gay father, and her attempts to unlock the mysteries surrounding his life. “I saw that play six times within the same summer,” Gohh says.

The Wolves: 2016, Sarah DeLappe

The Wolves depicts an all-girls soccer team warming up for a Saturday game. “That was the first time I ever saw myself on stage,” says Gohh. “It’s like how it was at Galbraith Fields, no coaches around, no boys around, just girls being themselves as teenagers and exploring the awkwardness and anxieties of growing up.”

Usual Girls: 2018, Ming Peiffer

The story of the life of a biracial Korean and white woman, from girlhood in 1980s Ohio and into adulthood, Usual Girls takes on topics of race, sexuality, and sexual violence. “I had never seen myself, as an Asian American woman, portrayed in such a realistic and honest way.”