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Cinema Chat: Ann Arbor's Ashley Park stars in 'Joy Ride,' opening at the State Theatre and nationwide

The State Theatre
The State Theatre
The State Theatre



The film had its world premiere at SXSW on March 17, 2023.

When Audrey’s (Ashley Park) business trip to Asia goes sideways, she enlists the aid of Lolo (Sherry Cola), her irreverent, childhood best friend who also happens to be a hot mess; Kat (Stephanie Hsu), her college friend turned Chinese soap star; and Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), Lolo’s eccentric cousin. Their no-holds-barred, epic experience becomes a journey of bonding, friendship, belonging, and wild debauchery that reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are.

About Ashley Park

Ashley Jini Park (born June 6, 1991) is an American actress, dancer, and singer who is best known for her portrayal of Mindy Chen on Netflix comedy series "Emily in Paris" and for originating the role of Gretchen Wieners in the 2018 Tony Award-nominated musical "Mean Girls." She has received several awards including nominations for a Tony Award and a Grammy Award.

Her theatre roles also include Tuptim in the 2015 Broadway revival of "The King and I." She is currently starring in "Crazy Rich Asians" writer Adele Lim's 2023 directorial debut, "Joy Ride."

Ashley Park grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is of Korean descent, and is a second cousin of actor Justin H. Min. Park's love of performing led her to participate in Ann Arbor's community kids’ theatre throughout middle school and high school.[8] She also attended Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in 2003. Park attended Pioneer High School where she participated in both theatre and choir. She also co-founded a women's a cappella group at Pioneer High School, Soulfege, which placed second at a national competition in 2009.

During her sophomore year in high school, at age 15, Park was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and was hospitalized for eight months. Park was a recipient of a "wish" from the Make-A-Wish Foundation for which she and her family went to New York City and saw the Broadway productions of "A Chorus Line," "The Lion King," "Spring Awakening," and "Wicked." In interviews she has stated, "My cancer experience is, I think, the reason I do theater...As soon as I was out of the hospital, all I wanted to do is be around people." After chemotherapy, Park returned to high school, and three months later, she was cast as the lead role of Millie Dillmount in her high school's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Park has disclosed that during this time, “putting on a wig and putting on shoes and costume and being a different person was the best escape from being just the girl who had cancer”.

She graduated from Pioneer High School in 2009 and then attended the University of Michigan, earning a BFA in musical theatre from the School of Music, Theater, and Dance in 2013. During her undergraduate years, she co-founded the Michigan Performance Outreach Workshop (MPOW).



Part of the Summer of Studio Ghibli 2023 series

In this sequel to "Whisper of the Heart," a quiet suburban schoolgirl, Haru, is pitched into a fantastical feline world and must find her inner strength to make her way back home. Walking with her friend after a dreary day at school, Haru eyes a cat with a small gift box in its mouth attempting to cross a busy street. The cat fumbles the package in the middle of the road as a truck is rapidly bearing down. Haru manages to scoop the cat away to safety. To her amazement, the cat then gets up on its hind legs, brushes itself off, and thanks her very politely. Strange behavior indeed, but this is nothing compared to what happens later that evening when the King of Cats shows up in a feline motorcade replete with vassals, maidens, and even Secret Service cats.


Part of the Summer of Studio Ghibli 2023 series

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of "Spirited Away," "Howl’s Moving Castle" and "The Secret World of Arrietty," comes another animated triumph. Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin) – but a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart. From a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Hayao Miyazakiand featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson, Sarah Bolger, Beau Bridges,Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Jeff Dunham,Isabelle Fuhrman, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Saxton, Alex Wolffand Anton Yelchin.

"Wet Hot American Summer" — PLAYS FRIDAY, JULY 7 AT 9:30 PM AT THE STATE

Part of the Late Nights at the State series

Set on the last day of camp, in the hot summer of 1981, this film follows a group of counselors who are each trying to complete their unfinished business before the day ends. The entire summer of pent-up sexual frustrations, unresolved post-traumatic stress, pending separations and of course, the talent show, all weigh heavily on the minds and groins of counselors and campers alike.


Part of the Summer Classics film series

When a young woman is killed by a shark near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.

"Muppet Treasure Island" — PLAYS SUNDAY, JULY 9 AT 1 PM AT THE MICHIGAN

Part of the Summer Classics film series

Kermit, Long John Silver (Tim Curry) and Young Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) set sail for riches using a dead pirate's treasure map.


Part of the Films We Love series

After a string of bizarre bank robberies in Southern California, with the crooks donning masks of various former presidents, a federal agent, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), infiltrates the suspected gang. But this is no ordinary group of robbers. They're surfers -- led by the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) -- who are addicted to the rush of thievery. But when Utah falls in love with a female surfer, Tyler (Lori Petty), who is close to the gang, it complicates his sense of duty.


Part of the Summer Classics film series

Presented with live organ accompaniment from Head Organist Andrew Rogers!

In the 1920s, actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a bona fide matinee idol with many adoring fans. While working on his latest film, George finds himself falling in love with an ingenue named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) and, what's more, it seems Peppy feels the same way. But George is reluctant to cheat on his wife with the beautiful young actress. The growing popularity of sound in movies further separates the potential lovers, as George's career begins to fade while Peppy's star rises.


"Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny"

Its world premiere was at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, May 18, 2023.

Daredevil archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary dial that can change the course of history. Accompanied by his goddaughter, he soon finds himself squaring off against Jürgen Voller, a former Nazi who works for NASA. This is the fifth and final installment in the Indiana Jones film series. The film stars Harrison Ford in his final portrayal of archaeologist Indiana Jones. John Rhys-Davies and Karen Allen reprise their roles as Sallah and Marion Ravenwood, respectively, from earlier films. New cast members include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Ethann Isidore and Mads Mikkelsen.

"Past Lives"

Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora's family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance.

A 2023 American romantic drama film written and directed by Celine Song in her feature directorial debut. The film stars Greta Lee, Teo Yoo and John Magaro, and follows a reunion between two childhood friends as they contemplate their relationship and their own lives. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2023, and has received almost universal acclaim from critics.

"Asteroid City"

This is a 2023 American comedy-drama film directed and co-produced by Wes Andersonfrom a screenplay by Anderson and a story by Anderson and Roman Coppola. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright,Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Steve Park,Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, and Jeff Goldblum. Its metatextual plot simultaneously depicts the events of a Junior Stargazer convention in a retro-futuristic version of 1955, staged as a play, and the creation of the play.

The film had its world premiere at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2023. The film received an extended standing ovation from the Cannes Film Festival audience and positive reviews from critics.

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse"

Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar®-winning animated Spider-Verse saga, an epic adventure that will transport Brooklyn's full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man across the Multiverse to join forces with Gwen Stacy and a new team of Spider-People to face off with a villain more powerful than anything they have ever encountered.

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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