Chinglish at Berkeley Rep To Feature Broadway's Vivian Chiu, Larry Lei Zhang, Plus Alex Moggridge and More
By Kenneth Jones
The West Coast premiere of David Henry Hwang's comedy of cultural misunderstandings, Chinglish, will be directed by Leigh Silverman, who helmed the Broadway staging. The co-production by Berkeley Repertory Theatre and South Coast Repertory reunites the earlier design team a several members of the Broadway troupe.
South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA, presents the play (in English and Mandarin, with English supertitles) in 2013. It launches at Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre Aug. 24, opens Aug. 29 and runs through Oct. 7.
Hwang won the Tony Award for Best Play for M. Butterfly. In Chinglish, according to Berkeley Rep, "an American businessman heads to Asia to score a lucrative contract for his family's firm — but the deal isn't the only thing getting lost in translation as he collides with a Communist minister, a bumbling consultant, and a suspiciously sexy bureaucrat."
Hwang said in a statement, "In a time when Americans both admire and fear the rising power of China, the journey of Chinglish has been so gratifying to me. First in Chicago, then on Broadway, I've seen non-Asian, Asian American, and Chinese audience members, sitting in a theatre, watching a comedy set in today's China — and laughing together. I'm so excited we're now bringing Chinglish to its natural home on the West Coast, which has long understood the often-hilarious mishaps that can occur when East and West meet."
Hwang's plays include Bondage, The Dance and the Railroad (1982 Drama Desk Award nomination), Family Devotions (1982 Drama Desk Award nomination), FOB (1981 Obie Award), Golden Child (1997 Obie Award, 1998 Tony Award nomination), M. Butterfly (1988 Tony Award, 1989 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and Yellow Face (2008 Obie Award, 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist). He also wrote the libretti for three Broadway musicals: Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida (co-author), Disney's Tarzan and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song (revival, 2002 Tony Award nomination). In opera, his libretti include four works with composer Philip Glass: 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, Icarus at the Edge of Time, Sound and Beauty and The Voyage as well as Howard Shore's The Fly, Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards) and Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland (Opernwelt 2007 World Premiere of the Year).
The West Coast Chinglish will feature an ensemble of seven, including Vivian Chiu (Zhao), a member of the original company of Chinglish on Broadway; Celeste Den (Miss Qian/Prosecutor Li); Michelle Krusiec (Xi Yian); Austin Ku (Bing/Judge Geming); Alex Moggridge (Daniel); Brian Nishii (Peter); Larry Lei Zhang (Minister Cai Guoliang), an original cast member of Chinglish.
The creative team behind the Broadway production of Chinglish reunites for this production: David Korins (scenic design), Anita Yavich (costume design), Brian MacDevitt (lighting design), Darron L West (sound design), Jeff Sugg (projection design) and Shawn Duan (projection design).
The stage manager for this production of Chinglish is Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep's resident production stage manager.
For more information about the Tony Award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, CA, visit berkeleyrep.org.
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