Hwang's B'way Golden Child Prays for Tony Miracle

News   Hwang's B'way Golden Child Prays for Tony Miracle The same day David Mamet's weak-selling Old Neighborhood got blanked in Tony Award nominations, Neighborhood's producers announced the show was closing that week, having given up hope of drawing further crowds. A similar gambit seems to be happening with David Henry Hwang's drama, Golden Child.

The same day David Mamet's weak-selling Old Neighborhood got blanked in Tony Award nominations, Neighborhood's producers announced the show was closing that week, having given up hope of drawing further crowds. A similar gambit seems to be happening with David Henry Hwang's drama, Golden Child.

Though nominated for a Best Play Tony (plus nods to featured actress Julyana Soelistyo and costumer Martin Pakledinaz), Golden Child has been performing disappointingly at the box office. For the week ending May 17, the show brought in only $84,670 in grosses, filling less than 42 percent of the seats.

To that end, Golden Child has begun advertising "Last Weeks," making it (as reported by Newsday and confirmed by the Richard Kornberg press office) a likely candidate to close quickly after June 7 if it doesn't win the Best Play Tony.

(Advertising last weeks is not to be confused with an official "closing notice." Recent shows that declared "Last Weeks" only to extend significantly when ticket sales picked up include Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks, When Pigs Fly and Grandma Sylvia's Funeral.)

Golden Child already survived one scare in March 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 were cancelled. Producer Benjamin Mordecai managed to raise the money from actress Talia Shire, making her debut as a Broadway producer. The infusion allowed previews to begin, as scheduled, Mar. 23.

Hwang's Golden Child opened Apr. 2 to good reviews at Broadway's Longacre Theatre after a two-year development process that took it from Greenwich Village to California, to Singapore, to San Francisco and back.

Author of the Tony-winning M. Butterfly, Hwang has been revising the play, about a young Chinese-American who is inspired to remember the funny, dramatic and poignant 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 is 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 the Tony-nominated Soelistyo.

As they did in the Costa Mesa, CA, production, Tony Straiges designed the sets, Martin Pakledinaz the costumes, David J. Lander the lighting. Sound design is by Dan Moses Schreier.

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 (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."

The partnership between the Public Theatre and South Coast Rep came about 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.

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.

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