After an acclaimed tryout at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum and nearly a month of previews on Broadway, the reworking of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical Flower Drum Song officially opened at the Virginia Theatre Oct. 17. Featuring direction and choreography by Robert Longbottom and a new book by David Henry Hwang, the musical will have played 26 previews and 168 performances. A national tour of Drum Song will launch in Dallas for Dallas Summer Musicals, Sept. 16-28. No casting has yet been announced for the tour.
Flower Drum Song almost closed a week early due to the recent musicians strike. The production was the first musical to cancel its Friday evening (March 7) performance, prior to the announcement that both Actors’ Equity and Local One (the stagehands union) had joined the strike begun by the Broadway musicians. That announcement closed all Broadway musicals for the weekend, with the exception of Cabaret. The closing notice was later rescinded, and the show — along with 17 other Broadway musicals — resumed performances March 11.
The March 15 performance of Flower Drum Song was videotaped for the permanent archives at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts.
Flower Drum Song stars Lea Salonga, who won her Best Actress in a Musical Tony for her work as Kim in Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's Miss Saigon. In Flower Drum Song Salonga portrays Mei-Li, a Chinese immigrant who arrives in San Francisco, having been shipped in a crate from her homeland in China. The remainder of the cast includes Randall Duk Kim (Master Wang), Jodi Long (Madame Liang), Emily Hsu (Linda Low), Alvin Ing (Chin), Allen Liu (Harvard), Hoon Lee (Chao) and Ma-Anne Dionisio (Little Girl). The ensemble comprises Susan Ancheta, Raul Aranas, Rich Ceraulo, Eric Chan, Marcus Choi, Emily Hsu, Telly Leung, J. Elaine Marcos, Daniel May, Marc Oka, Lainie Sakakura, Yuka Takara, Robert Tatad, Kim Varhola and Ericka Yang. Robert Longbottom, who helmed Broadway's Side Show, directs and choreographs, with music adaptation and direction by David Chase. The creative team also includes Robin Wagner (sets), Gregg Barnes (costumes), Natasha Katz (lighting), ACME Sound Partners (sound), Don Sebesky (orchestrations), Seymour Red Press (musical coordinator), David Brian Brown (hair), Perry Cline (production stage manager), Tom Kosis (associate director), Darlene Wilson (associate choreographer) and Jamie H. J. Guan (Chinese Opera consultant).
Flower Drum Song plays the Virginia Theatre, which is located at 245 West 52nd Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Tickets, priced between $65 and $95, are available by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. For more information, go to www.flowerdrumsong.com.