CT's Long Wharf Theatre hosts Susan Kim's adaptation of the Amy Tan novel, The Joy Luck Club, April 15-May 25, although director Arvin Brown bowed out of the project. His wife, actress Joyce Ebert, is seriously ill and was recently hospitalized for a short time in Los Angeles.
Joy was to be Brown's last directing venture as artistic director at Long Wharf. "I am very disappointed that I will not be able to direct this play, which is so close to my heart," Brown said in a statement. "Only my concern for my wife could keep me from being there." Brown, in his last weeks before Douglas Hughes steps in as artistic director, said he and his wife hope to return to Connecticut soon. Brown directed Joy Luck Club in an acclaimed 1993 production in mainland China.
The show's American premiere is directed by Seret Scott, who was serving as associate director under Brown. Interim executive director Janice Muirhead said the choice made sense, since Scott had been working with the actors since the first day of rehearsal.
Scott directed The Amen Corner at Long Wharf and Zooman & The Sign at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre. Her credits also include CA's Old Globe and Indiana Rep.
Tan's other books include The Kitchen God's Wife and A Hundred Secret Senses. Kim writes primarily for TV, and as an associate director at PBS. Her previous plays include The Seventh Word , Rapid Eye Movement and Open Spaces, which won a Drama League Award for Outstanding New Play in 1988. How does Joy the play differ from Joy the book or Joy the 1993 movie? Kim decided to group the mothers' memories with those of the daughters in "a call-and-response that deepends over the course of the play." The stageplay was translated into Mandarin Chinese and performed in Shanghai, and then at an international theatre festival in Beijing, and at a theatre in Tianjin. Actor James Andreassi, who will be in the Long Wharf staging, was in the Chinese cast. Joining him in Connecticut will be Constance Boardman, Chao-Li Chi, Takayo Fischer, Mel Duane Gionson, Wai Ching Ho, Curt Hostetter, Pan Asian Rep veteran Kati Kuroda, Jennifer Kato, Yunjin Kim, Dian Kobayashi, Karen Tsen Lee, Lisa Li, June Lu, Mary Lum, Duc Luu, Andrew Pang, Elaine Tse and Ben Wang.
Designing the production will be veteran Broadway designer Ming Cho Lee (sets), Mark Stanley (lighting), Candice Connelly (costumes) and Johnna Doty (sound).
For tickets ($15-$39) and information on The Joy Luck Club,or the Long Wharf Theatre, call (203) 787-4282, or refer to the regional listing on Playbill On-Line.