Although Asian have been the subject of several musicals (South Pacific, Pacific Overtures, Flower Drum Song), very few have been actually written by Asian Americans. June 1, Dink Records will release the CD of Heading East, a new musical by Asian Americans Robert Lee (book and lyrics) and Leon Ko (music).
East traces 150 years of Asian American history in the United States, beginning with Siu Yee, a young Chinese man who emigrates to California during the Gold Rush and then creates a hundred year existence in San Francisco. Told in flashback by Yeh-Yeh, an ancient grandfather who was once Siu Yee, to Timothy, his dissatisfied 19 year old grandson who embodies Siu Yee for the telling, East focuses on the Chinese experience, while bringing in Japanese, Korean, Filipino and Vietnamese characters.
Paolo Montalban, who sings the parts of Timothy and Siu Yee, is best known for portraying Prince Charming on ABC/Disney's TV production of Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Brandy. Joining Montalban on disc are Cindy Cheung (Jasmine), Mia Katigbak (Mrs. Lai), Ken Leung (Leonard), Christine Toy Johnson (Michiko), Leon Ko (Immigration Official/Chairman Mao), Ming Lee (Yeh-Yeh), Fay Ann Lee (Lee Fung), lyricist Robert Lee (Storekeeper/Native Son), Jason Ma (Ma), Mimosa (Ma's Wife), Jorge Ortoll (Rallygoer), Nicky Paraiso (Native Son), Ralph Pena (Dr. Lai) and Ching Valdes/Aran (Mother).
Songs on the CD include:
"Try To See Me As I Was"--Yeh-Yeh, Timonty/Siu Yee, Mother
"There's A Ship"--Fortune Teller, Siu Yee
"Gold"--Siu Yee, Storekeeper, Ma, Yeh-Yeh, Salesman, Mother, Miner, Spectators
"A Long, Long Way Back Home"--Lee Fung, Siu Yee
"This Is How He Says 'I Love You'"--Michiko
"Good Ol' Uncle Sam"--Native Sons, Yeh-Yeh, Siu Yee, Lee Fung, Immigration Official, Ma's Wife
"Yankee Boy"--Siu Yee
"Thanksgiving/Family Traditions"--Siu Yee, Ma, Ma's Wife, Lee Fung, Michiko
"Stay Out Of San Francisco"--Charlie, Ma's Wife, Ma, Jasmine
"All We Can Do Is Remember"--Jasmine
"Shame"--Prosecutor, Siu Yee, Pak, Carlos, Jasmine, Michiko, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, House Committe On Unamerican Activities
"Much Like You"--Lee Fung, Siu Yee
"Only Home"--Mother, Siu Yee
"All We Can Do Is Remember"--Michiko
"This Is How The World Is Made"--Company Heading East will available in stores and on the web at http://www.dinkrecords.com. Dink Records' previous releases include the "Stages" series of gay-themed show tune albums.
-- By Christine Ehren