Award-Winning Nanjing Race, a Play of Culture Clash and Desire, Makes NYC Debut

News   Award-Winning Nanjing Race, a Play of Culture Clash and Desire, Makes NYC Debut
 
Reggie Cheong-Leen's The Nanjing Race, winner of the American Theatre Critics' Association Best Regional Play Award, makes its New York City premiere Oct. 29 in a production by Abingdon Theatre Company.

Marcus Ho and Ian Wen in The Nanjing Race
Marcus Ho and Ian Wen in The Nanjing Race Photo by Kim T. Sharp

The tale of a gay Japanese-American businessman who encounters two "floor boys" in a hotel in China, is directed by Brian Tom O'Connor. Opening night of the Off-Broadway production is Nov. 7 at Abingdon's Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, 312 W. 36th Street. Performances play to Nov. 21.

Here's how Abingdon characterizes The Nanjing Race: "Philip, a gay Japanese-American businessman, visits Nanjing China in 1988. Yu Ahn, a hotel 'floor-boy,' befriends Philip in the hope of being sponsored to go to America. But it is Bao, another floor-boy, who intrigues Philip. Trapped in their social and racial identities, the three men struggle to come to terms with their desires and prejudices. The Nanjing Race depicts an intimate culture-clash at an intriguing moment in recent Chinese history."

The cast features James Chen (Pan Asian Rep's Ching Chong Chinaman) as Bao; Marcus Ho (Pan Asian Rep's Shogun Macbeth, NAATCO's The Seagull) as Philip; and Ian Wen (Target Margin's Dinner Party, the feature film "Tie a Yellow Ribbon") as Yu Ahn.

The production features set and lighting design by Andrew Lu; costume design by Pam Prior; sound design by David Margolin Lawson; and fight choreography by Rick Sordelet.

The Nanjing Race was first produced at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. It has had staged readings at the Cleveland Public Theater and the Mark Taper Forum; and was presented in San Francisco at the New Conservatory Theatre. Cheong-Leen's other works include Cut Sleeves, Squeeze and Rock, Paper, Scissors. He is currently working on Obsessions, a new musical about a Chinese-American girl searching for her American father. The Nanjing Race kicks off Abingdon's 2010-11 season, the productions of which are Equity Approved Showcases.

Performances play Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays at 8 PM; Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM; and Sundays at 2 PM (with the following exception: special opening night performance Nov. 7 at 5 PM; no 2 PM that day). Tickets are $25; www.abingdontheatre.org or (212) 868-2055.

James Chen, Ian Wen and Marcus Ho in <i>The Nanjing Race</i>
James Chen, Ian Wen and Marcus Ho in The Nanjing Race Photo by Kim T. Sharp
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