Arden artistic director Terrence J. Nolen (Baby Case) stages the show, which has additional material by the late Hugh Wheeler. The show, which borrows Asian musical ideas and Japanese performance styles, mystified some critics and audiences when it premiered in 1976. The original Broadway company was all-male until the striking finale, in which women emerge to sing of the country's 20th-century explosion of growth in a song called "Next."
In recent years, Pacific Overtures has gained favor and is starting to be widely staged in American regional theatres such as Atlanta's Alliance and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.
The production plays Arden's Otto J. Haas Theatre. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Commodore Perry's first visit to Japan. The ship Perry took to Nippon was built at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, and a journal kept by a Japanese sailor named Manjiro (a primary character in Pacific Overtures) is in the permanent collection of the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philly.
Opening is May 27. The cast includes Arthur Acuna, Bev Appleton, Billy Bustamante, Rich Ceraulo, Derrick Cobey, Scott Greer, Adam Michael Kaokept, Mingo Long, Jorge Maldonado, Steve Pacek, Glenn Townsend and Rob Tucker.
The Japanese culture consultant is Greg Giovanni, choreography is by Myra Bazell and musical director is Eric Ebbenga. Tickets range $22-$36. For information, call (215) 922 1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org.