B.D. Wong to Star in Next Sondheim-Weidman Roundabout Revival Pacific Overtures; Dates Set

News   B.D. Wong to Star in Next Sondheim-Weidman Roundabout Revival Pacific Overtures; Dates Set Tony Award winner B.D. Wong (M. Butterfly) will star in the upcoming Roundabout Theatre Company-Gorgeous Entertainment Inc. presentation of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Pacific Overtures at Broadway's Studio 54.
Pacific Overtures Reciter B.D. Wong
Pacific Overtures Reciter B.D. Wong Photo by NBC/Universal Photo: Eric Liebowitz

Amon Miyamoto, who directed the all-Japanese production of the work as part of the Lincoln Center Festival in July 2002, will direct the new Broadway staging set to begin previews Nov. 12 and open Dec. 2.

Pacific Overtures follows the introduction of Japan to westernization from the landing of Commodore Matthew Perry in the "Floating Kingdom" of Nippon in 1853 over 150 years. The new revival will be performed in English with Asian-American actors.

The musical features the music and lyrics of Sondheim and a book by John Weidman with additional material by Hugh Wheeler. The design team for Pacific Overtures features Rumi Matsui (sets) and Emi Wada (costumes). Paul Gemignani (Assassins) handles music direction.

Wong, who will play the role of Reciter, recently starred in the HBO series "OZ." and is currently part of the cast of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." The San Francisco-born and bred actor made his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly — which earned him the Outer Critics Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award (a feat only accomplished by him). He has also appeared on stage in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Shanghai Moon as well as on screen in "Jurassic Park," "The Salton Sea," "Seven Years in Tibet," "Father of the Bride" (and its sequel) and (in voice) on Disney's "Mulan."

The Lincoln Center Festival staging featured a reconfigured setting which allowed the audience to view the Japanese rather than an American perspective. In the program notes, director Miyamoto explained, "Pacific Overtures was a great experiment to be added to Broadway because the play explored the new possibility of musical theatre as a form of cultural exploration. In October 2000 the first production of Pacific Overtures was performed in Japan by New National Theatre, Tokyo. It was staged not in a decorative Kabuki style, but rather in Noh style. A simple setting encourages the imaginative ability of the audience. I believe this is one of the most privileged aspects of stage performances." Pacific Overtures debuted at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on January 11, 1976, and ran for 193 performances. Originally directed by Hal Prince, the work garnered nine Tony nominations, winning two: Best Costume Design (Florence Klotz) and Best Scenic Design (Boris Aronson).

The Sondheim score includes "The Advantages of Floating in the Middle of the Sea," "There Is No Other Way," "Four Black Dragons," "Chrysanthemum Tea," "Poems," "Welcome to Kanagawa," "Someone in a Tree," "Lion Dance," "Please Hello," "A Bowler Hat," "Pretty Lady" and "Next."

The staging of Pacific Overtures will mark the third production — following Cabaret and the current Sondheim-Weidman musical Assassins — to fill the former disco-turned-theatre Studio 54 since Roundabout purchased the venue as its new musical home.

For more information on the Roundabout and its productions, visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.