Chinglish Will Move to Broadway, Marking Return of M. Butterfly Tony Winner

News   Chinglish Will Move to Broadway, Marking Return of M. Butterfly Tony Winner David Henry Hwang's Chinglish, the tale of an American businessman in China — currently getting a well-reviewed world-premiere production at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago — will move to Broadway this fall.

Jennifer Lim and James Waterston in the Goodman production of Chinglish.
Jennifer Lim and James Waterston in the Goodman production of Chinglish. Photo by Eric Y. Exit

Producers Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel said that they will bring the Chicago production, directed by Leigh Silverman, to a Shubert theatre to be named. The comedy about "the challenges of doing business in a culture worlds apart from our own" opened June 27 following previews from June 18. It closes in Chicago on July 24. (News of the Broadway run was first reported in the New York Times.)

The producers characterize Chinglish this way: "Chinglish is about the unpredictable complications that ensue when an American businessman, despite his self-possessed cultural ignorance, seeks to expand his market by forging a relationship with government officials in a major Chinese city. Although he has hired an Australian entrepreneur who has lived in China to assist him, he soon finds that the complexities of such a venture far outstrip the expected differences in language, customs and manners — and calls into questions even the most basic assumptions of human conduct."

The Goodman cast includes James Waterston as the Midwestern American businessman;  Stephen Pucci as the Aussie; and Jennifer Lim as "the beautiful, seemingly supportive government official," according to the Goodman. The Goodman production alsp features Larry Zhang, Christine Lin, Angela Lin and Johnny Wu. No casting for the Broadway run has been announced. Chinglish is performed in a blend of English and Mandarin (with English surtitles).

Hwang is the Tony Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist who penned M. Butterfly and the revised version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song. This is Hwang's second collaboration on a world premiere with Silverman, following Yellow Face at Center Theater Group and The Public Theater. Chinglish had previous development through the Lark Play Development Center and The Public Theater (the latter announced plans to produce it, but a run did not materialize).

Playwright Hwang said in an earlier statement, "The U.S. and China are at a critical moment in history — each nation is deeply interested in, but knows very little about, the other. Chinglish was born from the many visits I've made to China over the past five or six years to witness the exciting changes there. During one particular visit, I toured a new arts center where everything was first-rate — except for the ridiculously translated English signs. It was at that moment when I thought of writing this play." The Goodman creative team for Chinglish includes set designer David Korins, costume designer Anita Yavich, lighting designer Brian MacDevitt, sound designer Darron West, projections designer Jeff Sugg, dramaturg Tanya Palmer, production stage manager Alden Vasquez and translator Candace Chong.

The Broadway production will be produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Roy Gottlieb, Barry & Carole Kaye and David and Barbara Stoller in association with Goodman Theatre.

For tickets and information about the current Chicago run, visit GoodmanTheatre.org.

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