Hwang and Kwan to Attend Final Benefit Performance of Flower Drum Song in San Jose

News   Hwang and Kwan to Attend Final Benefit Performance of Flower Drum Song in San Jose
Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and screen actress Nancy Kwan will attend the Nov. 9 benefit performance of the American Musical Theatre of San Jose's production of Flower Drum Song.

Hwang, who penned the revised book for the 2002 Broadway revival of Flower Drum Song (and the current AMTSJ production), will join Kwan, a veteran of the 1961 film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, for a benefit reception following the 1 PM matinee performance of the musical.

Nov. 9 marks the final date of the San Jose run. Performances began Oct. 28.

The performance will raise funds for Asian Americans for Community Involvement, the Contemporary Asian Theater Scene and the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California. The reception with food and refreshments will begin at 4 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, directly across the street from the Center for the Performing Arts.

The new production of the 1950's musical takes a fresh look at the C.Y. Lee novel on which it is based, and concerns "Mei-Li, who arrives in San Francisco's Chinatown after fleeing communist China. The naïve young refugee is befriended by theater owner Wang, who is struggling to keep traditional Chinese Opera alive despite his son Ta's determination to turn the family's theatre into a rowdy nightclub," according to AMTSJ press notes.

Joseph Anthony Foronda (Making Tracks, Miss Saigon) stars as nightclub owner Wang with Michelle Liu Coughlin (The King and I, A New Brain) as Mei-Li and Paolo Montalban (Pacific Overtures) as Ta. Gabriel Barre (Cinderella, The Wild Party) directs with choreography by Vince Pesce and musical direction by William Liberatore. The cast also features Emily Hsu (Spamalot) as show girl Linda Low, Erin Quill (Avenue Q) as Madame Rita Liang, and Flower Drum Song revival veteran Alvin Ing re-creating the role of Chin.

Completing the cast are Jenn Aedo, Kikau Alvaro, Dane Paul Andres, Joven Calloway, Brian Conway, Albert Guerzon, Jared Lee, Stephanie Lo, Sumie Maeda, Jonelle Margallo, Mario Martinez, Don Masuda, Theresa Nguyen, Donna Rapa-Olsen, Sung Min Park, Nicole Tung, Erwin Urbi and Rod Voltaire-Edora.

Tony Award winners Robin Wagner and Gregg Barnes, who designed the 2002 Broadway revival of Flower Drum Song, lend their designs for scenery and costumes, respectively. The design team also includes Karen Spahn (lighting design), Hage van Dijk (sound design) and Sharon Ridge (hair and make-up design).

Featuring a score by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, the original Broadway production of Flower Drum Song opened under the direction of Gene Kelly at the St. James Theatre in 1958. The classic score includes "I Enjoy Being a Girl," "You Are Beautiful," "A Hundred Million Miracles," "Grant Avenue," "Don't Marry Me" and "Love, Look Away."

Performance and reception tickets range from $87-$115 and are available by phoning (415) 567-5505. The San Jose Center for the Performing Arts is located at 255 Almaden Blvd. in San Jose, CA.

Regular tickets for Flower Drum Song are available by calling (888) 455-SHOW (7469) or by visiting www.amtsj.org.

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