2019 Grand Marshal
The Tony award winning American actress, singer, dancer, choreographer, theater director and author, born to an Indian mother and Chinese father, hails from Manhattan's Chinatown. Among her many memorable appearances on Broadway have been those in Flower Drum Song, Bravo Giovanni, Mr. President, Golden Boy, Here's Love and her first three shows as a Michael Bennett dancer: A Joyful Noise; Henry, Sweet Henry, and Promises, Promises where she became dance captain at age 23. Next, following its theatrical run, came Norman Jewison's film version of Jesus Christ Superstar before Baayork returned to the Broadway stage, dancing with Tommy Tune in Michael Bennett's Seesaw.
That same year, Bennett invited Lee to participate in the workshops from which A Chorus Line was developed. There she originated the role of Connie Wong, a character based upon her life as explored in the workshops. Handed the show by Bennett on opening night at the Shubert Theater, July 25, 1975, Lee has gone on to direct and/or oversee choreography for more than forty national and international productions of A Chorus Line, including the Broadway revival of 2006 and a Shangahi production in January, 2019, that followed her restaging of the choreography at City Center in late 2018.
Baayork documented the evolution of A Chorus Line in the book On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line, 1990, written with fellow original cast member Thommie Walsh and writer Robert Viagas. The 2008 feature documentary Every Little Step chronicles the casting process of A Chorus Line's 2006 Broadway revival, for which Lee restaged Bennett's choreography, as well as the saga of the original production in old clips and interviews.
Baayork has directed the Broadway originated shows Barnum (Australia), Carmen Jones (Kennedy Center), Jesus Christ Superstar (European tour), Porgy and Bess (European Tour) and South Pacific (Atlanta), and has choreographed Arena Stage (DC), productions of Animal Crackers, Camelot and Damn Yankees. Her Arena Stage choreography for South Pacific earned her a Helen Hayes Award nomination. She has been resident choreographer at the Washington (DC) Opera for eighteen years.
Honored with a 2003 Lifetime Achievement Asian Woman Warrior Award from Columbia College Chicago, and a 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award of Actors’ Equity Foundation, Lee received the 2017 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award, for significant contributions to charitable causes. Baayork started Musical Theater schools in Korea and Japan and has presented master classes in China, as well as at NYU, Pace University, University of Michigan, and Temple University. With Nina Zoie Lam and Steven Eng, she co-founded and serves as Artistic Director of the National Asian Artists Project (NAAP) showcasing the work of Asian-American theater artists through performance, outreach, and educational programming.