The world premiere of Velina Hasu Houston's Ikebana (Living Flowers) ends performances Oct. 22 at the Pasadena Playhouse. The production began previews Sept. 8 with an opening Sept. 17. Shirley Jo Finney directs. Houston is a playwright on a roll. In the 2000-2001 season, she will have three premieres of three different plays at three different regional theatres, as well as a major production of her signature play, Tea. In 2001, Shedding the Tiger will debut at the Sacramento Theatre Company and Waiting for Tadashi at the George Street Playhouse. Her play Norwegian Woods is also in progress.
Gedde Watanabe ("E.R.") and Lina Patel (Pasadena's The Importance Of Being Earnest last season) star in Ikebana, which is set in 1957 Tokyo, a time of vast change for Japan as it moved past the end of World War II and into prominence as a modern economic power. The play takes obsession as its theme. Mystery, romance, opportunity and freedom all figure in the story, which focuses on four people -- a dignified doctor, his daughter, and two suitors--and how the order they have found between the traditional and modern worlds disintegrates into chaos under the spell of a beautiful, mysterious stranger for whom they are willing to risk everything.
Finney has directed extensively in regional theatre and recently staged Crumbs From the Table of Joy by Lynn Notage to celebrate the 20th season of the Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey.
Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 S. El Molino Ave. For tickets and information call(626) 356-7529 or visit www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent