Pacific Overtures follows the introduction of Japan to western civilization, beginning with the landing of Commodore Matthew Perry at the "Floating Kingdom" of Nippon in 1853. Setting the stage afloat, the revival evokes the old world of shoguns, screens, poems, rice, tea, bows and flowers to present the story of a fisherman and a samurai who are sent to rid the secluded island nation of the encroaching "black ships" of America.
Amon Miyamoto, who directed the all-Japanese production of the work at the 2002 Lincoln Center Festival, directed and choreographed the new revival performed in English with Asian American actors.
Tony Award winner B.D. Wong (M. Butterfly) stars as the Reciter with a cast that features the original Broadway cast members Alvin Y. F. Ing and Sab Shimono. The ensemble also includes Evan D'Angeles (Miss Saigon), Joseph Anthony Foronda (Pacific Overtures - Donmar Warehouse), Yoko Fumoto (The King and I), Fred Isozaki (The King and I), Francis Jue (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Darren Lee (Seussical The Musical), Hoon Lee (Urinetown), Michael K. Lee (Jesus Christ Superstar), Ming Lee (Miss Saigon), Telly Leung (Flower Drum Song), Paolo Montalban ("Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella"), Alan Muraoka (My Favorite Year), Mayumi Omagari (Beauty and the Beast), Daniel Jay Park (Kiss Me, Kate tour), Hazel Anne Raymundo (The King and I), Yuka Takara (Mamma Mia!) and Scott Watanabe (The Phantom of the Opera) as well as swings Eric Bondoc, Rick Edinger and Kim Varhola.
Pacific Overtures features the music and lyrics of Sondheim and a book by Weidman with additional material by Hugh Wheeler. Paul Gemignani (Assassins) handles music direction. Orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick. The design team features Rumi Matsui (sets and masks), Junko Koshino (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting) and Dan Moses Schreier (sound). The Sondheim score includes "The Advantages of Floating in the Middle of the Sea," "There Is No Other Way," "Four Black Dragons," "Chrysanthemum Tea," "I Will Make a Poem," "Welcome to Kanagawa," "Someone in a Tree," "Lion Dance," "Please Hello!," "A Bowler Hat," "Pretty Lady" and "Next."
PS Classics will record the cast album of the new Broadway production of Pacific Overtures Feb. 1 for an anticipated May release. The label has previously produced the cast albums for the recent Sondheim revivals of The Frogs and Roundabout's Tony Award-winning Assassins.
Wong recently starred in the HBO series "OZ." and is currently part of the cast of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." The San Francisco-born and bred actor made his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly — which earned him the Outer Critics Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and the Tony Award (a feat only accomplished by him). He has also appeared on stage in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Shanghai Moon as well as on screen in "Jurassic Park," "The Salton Sea," "Seven Years in Tibet," "Father of the Bride" (and its sequel) and (in voice) on Disney's "Mulan."
Pacific Overtures debuted at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on January 11, 1976, and ran for 193 performances. Originally directed by Hal Prince, the work garnered ten Tony nominations, winning two: Best Costume Design (Florence Klotz) and Best Scenic Design (Boris Aronson). (Take a look at the original 1976 playbill in the Playbill Archives feature.)
The staging of Pacific Overtures marked the third production — following the revivals of Cabaret and Assassins — to fill the former disco-turned theatre Studio 54 since Roundabout purchased the venue as its new musical home. A revival of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Natasha Richardson, Amy Ryan and John C. Reilly is next scheduled to play the space, beginning March 26 towards an April 26 opening.
Pacific Overtures performs at Studio 54, 254 West 54th St. For more information on the Roundabout, call (212) 719-1300 or visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.