Forget Ally McBeal's dancing baby (the show's pre-empted tonight anyway), New York now has the chance to take another youth to its heart: David Henry Hwang's Golden Child. The drama began previews Mar. 23, at Broadway's Longacre Theatre -- but reportedly only thanks to the last-minute intervention of a showbiz angel.
The New York Post identified the angel as actress Talia Shire, which the Kornberg office confirmed (Mar. 23).
The drama is scheduled to open April 2.
Variety reported Mar. 20 that Golden Child survived a scare early last week when a key investor bailed out, taking 45 percent of the show's $850,000 capitalization with him. When that happened, pre-production work on Mar. 18 and a Mar. 19 scheduled load-in was cancelled.
The good news is that producer Benjamin Mordecai managed to raise the money from Shire, allowing previews to begin, as scheduled, Mar. 23. Since the load-in was quick and last-minute, sources expect the first preview to be closer to a full-dress rehearsal. (Cushioning the anticipated first-night glitches is the fact that, as Variety reported, sponsor AT&T has bought up many of the first preview tickets).
Mordecai told Variety, "I hope never to have another week like this one. It was a very precarious situation. The people who were investing in this show last week are not the same as the people who are investing in it this week."
Listed as Golden Child investors are Mordecai, Dori Berinstein, John Kao and the Kennedy Center, alongside South Coast Rep, American Conservatory Theatre and the Public Theatre/NY Shakespeare Festival. Mordecai declined to say which of the above disembarked.
Back on Mar. 12, CultureFinder website's Tattle & Tale column hinted that Golden Child was in trouble, but Kornberg told Playbill On-Line that the reports were untrue.
Hwang's drama of East-West culture clashes had its premiere at the New York Shakespeare Festival in fall 1996. The current production had its West Coast premiere Jan. 3 at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA. The show began rehearsals in early December and then had a try-out in Singapore (Jan. 13-25), and was followed by a pre-Broadway run at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre (Feb. 18-March 15). James Lapine is directing.
According to production spokesperson Rick Miramontez (of the ornberg office) (Feb. 9), "The sold-out Singapore run was the biggest hit in the history of Singapore Rep," both audience-wise and money-wise. Miramontez also confirmed the NY Times report that the primary revision Hwang made to the play in Singapore was having the lead character now played by an older man (Kim), "which colors the whole production."
Hwang has been revising the play, about a young Chinese-American who is inspired to remember the funny, poignant and touching tales his grandmother told him about growing up with her father. She was labeled a "golden child" who was touched by fortune, until she got caught in the middle of a chaotic collision between Eastern and Western ways, when he brought a British Christian missionary home to her and his wives.
Starring in the Broadway mounting will be Tsai Chin, who won a Village Voice Obie for playing Eng Siu-Yong in Golden Child Off-Broadway. Randall Duk Kim, recently in the King And I revival, plays Eng Tieng Bin. Also in the cast are Ming-Na Wen, John Horton, Kim Miyori (TV's "St. Elsewhere") and Julyana Soelistyo.
As they did in Costa Mesa, Tony Straiges will design the sets, Martin Pakledinaz the costumes, David J. Lander the lighting. Sound design will be by Dan Moses Schreier.
The partnership between the Public Theatre and South Coast Rep occurred because Hwang, whose M. Butterfly won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1988 , has an alliance with both theatres, and really wanted Lapine to direct. The only way Lapine could schedule directing to meet SCR's schedule was if he was in New York.
David Emmes, SCR producing Artistic Director, said "We feel honored to be collaborating with [the Public] on this important theatre milestone. "
The last show at the Longacre (220 West 48th St.) was Horton Foote's The Young Man From Atlanta.
Tickets are on sale via TeleCharge, (212) 239-6200, and at the box office.