Playwright David Henry Hwang (M Butterfly, Golden Child) is currently at work on a new book for the 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song. He told Playbill On-Line that he hopes to a have a draft completed by the end of summer. “Then we’ll start to workshop it and see how it goes,” he said. Flower Drum Song was the first American musical ever written about the Chinese population in the U.S. It told the story of nightclub owner Sammy Fong, set to marry Mei Li, fresh from China, but in love with Linda Low, a dancer in his club. Hwang is working with Chin Y. Lee, the author of the novel which inspired the show. “There’s a lot of wonderful things about the musical and some things that are outdated,” said the playwright. “I’m just happy to have the opportunity.”
Hwang, whose Golden Child is currently up for a Tony as best play, is working directly for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. There is no set timetable for a production at this point.
Flower Drum Song was first presented on Dec. 1, 1958, at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, under the direction of Gene Kelly. The cast included Miyoshi Umeki and Pat Suzuki. Among the show’s songs are “You Are Beautiful, “ “Grant Avenue,” “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” and “Love, Look Away.”