Pan Asian Repertory's Shanghai Lil's got strong reviews and word of mouth in its brief run April 23-May 10. New Yorkers who missed the show during the crush of late-season Broadway openings will get another chance to catch the musical, Oct. 15-Nov. 8, when it reopens at the same space (Oct. 16), St. Clement's Theatre on West 46th Street.
Directed and choreographed by Pan Asian Rep's artistic director, Tisa Chang, Shanghai Lil's evokes the spirit of the cabaret musical of the 1940s. In San Francisco's Chinatown, three women struggle to find courage and personal identity in wartime America -- a terrible period for Asians in America. The story is based on real Chinese-Americans who operated nightclubs in the 1930s and 40s.
With a book and lyrics by Lilah Kan and music by Louis Stewart, Shanghai Lil's features such songs as "Is It Really Possible" and "Growing Up Is So Exciting." Kan wrote the plays Flowers And Household Gods, Sunrise and Pursuit Of Happiness, all directed by Tisa Chang at Pan Asian Rep. Composer Stewart collaborated with Chang on 1992's Cambodia Agonistes, which ended up touring to Cairo and Johannesburg.
Starring in the show are Mimosa (daughter of well-known Asian actor Mako), Timothy Huang, Matt Hyland, Michael Minn, Blossom Lam, Liza Lapira, Eileen Rivera. Robert Klingelhoefer (sets), Stephen Petrilli (lighting) and Terry Leong (costumes) are designing the show.
Said director Chang of the style of Shanghai Lil's, "Where else but in a musical can you dance with a mouse, or slosh around in the rain without catching pneumonia, or woo and marry a girl by riding up on a horse in a suit of armour? Dancing replaces dialogue, and in one dance number, all personal crises and world issues can be resolved. Shanghai Lil's' choreography encompasses Latin influences, tap, ballet, Tai Chi and Peking Opera. [It] also pays homage to the enduring strength of the Japanese American internees and the courage of all who saw action in diverse military campaigns during WWII." Shanghai Lil's is the first show of Pan Asian Rep's 1997-98 season. Also on tap are a comedy/performance art solo by Esther Paik Goodheart, titled The Esther Goodhart Show (Nov. 12-15), and the new play Aloha Las Vegas, by Edward Sakamoto, April 16-May 16, 1998. That comedy tells of a widower who moves from Hawaii to Las Vegas. Ron Nakahara directs the show, which opens April 22, 1998.
For more information about Pan Asian Repertory call (212) 245-2660.
--By David Lefkowitz