Growing Asian Theatre Makes for a Happy Chinese New Year in N.Y. and L.A.

News   Growing Asian Theatre Makes for a Happy Chinese New Year in N.Y. and L.A.
 
Though David Henry Hwang's Golden Child won't reach Broadway until April 2, we can already celebrate the Chinese New Year (Jan. 28) with special theatre events. The Year of the Tiger (4696) will offer such performances as:

Though David Henry Hwang's Golden Child won't reach Broadway until April 2, we can already celebrate the Chinese New Year (Jan. 28) with special theatre events. The Year of the Tiger (4696) will offer such performances as:

At the Henry Street Settlement's Abrons Arts Center, the Chu Young Works theatre troupe will present, Feb. 7-8, Long Life, Long Faith, which adapts a Chinese folktale, the NY Daily News reported.

This Saturday, Jan. 31, Chinese Lion Dancers will perform in front of the China Institute on East 65th St.

For one night only, Feb. 2, the National Asian American Theatre Company will do a concert reading of William Finn's musical, Falsettoland. Kevin Gray, who plays the King in Broadway's The King And I, plays Whizzer. Also in the cast are Jason Ma, Francis Jue, Ann Harada, Phillip Kong, Christine Toy Johnson and Mimosa. The 8 PM benefit performance takes place at St. Peter's Church on Lexington Ave.

Two weeks ago (Jan. 15-18), the folkloric piece Making Tracks played at the Pace Downtown Theatre. Choreographer Shawn Ku, current dance captain of The King And I, directed Tracks, a collaboration among several members of the recently-formed "Second Generation Productions." Welly Yang, who appeared in Miss Saigon, started the non-profit troupe, which has as its mandate "smashing cultural stereotypes and chronicling Asian contributions to the fabric of American culture." Says Yang, "As we move farther away from the survival mentality of first-generation immigrants, more young Asian-Americans are choosing to leave their mark through artistic expression." New Yorkers also had a recent chance to catch the Asian-American performance troupe Slant at La MaMa. Good taste is not exactly the governing standard for this troupe, whose previous piece was titled Big Dicks, Asian Men and whose latest was titled Squeal Like A Pig.

Richard Ebihara, Perry Yung and Philippines-born Wayland Quintero comprise Slant, which pokes fun at "pop notions of Asian culture" through rock and roll, puppetry and choreography. As Ebihara told "Asian New Yorker" magazine, "Asian women's stories, like The Joy Luck Club, are everywhere. But the men's side of the Asian-American experience is non-existent."

Also of some interest is the National Asian American Theatre Company's production of Kaufman and Hart's You Can't Take It With You at the Connelly Theatre, opening Feb 17.

Once Golden Child is up and running on Broadway, Hwang (author of M. Butterfly) will no doubt return his attention to another Asian project. According to the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization's newsletter, he's doing treatment of a revised libretto for Flower Drum Song, about life in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Meanwhile, in L.A., East West Players, one of the foremost Asian-Pacific-American theatres, inaugurates its new home this month with Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures (directed by Tim Dang). The theatre, known as the David Henry Hwang Theatre, will be located at the Union Center for the Arts in downtown L.A. Exact production dates have not yet been announced.

East West Players will also present a special two-week engagement of a world premiere musical, with the working title Angel Island, in May. The composer for this work is Leon Ko, with book and lyrics by Robert Lee. The production will commemorate Asian Pacific Heritage Month and the upcoming 150th anniversary of the California Gold Rush.

-- By David Lefkowitz, Rebecca Paller and Sean McGrath

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