The Asian-American experience will be conjured when the Off-Broadway rock musical, Making Tracks, makes its world premiere, opening Feb. 4 (continuing to Feb. 14) at the Taipei Theater, produced by Second Generation Productions, in New York City.
Previews began Jan. 30. Dance, original songs, music and multimedia enhance the story of the uneasy assimilation of Asian people -- including Japanese, Chinese and Koreans -- in the United States. Lenny Leibowitz directs, with choreography by Shawn Ku, former dance captain of Broadway's The King and I.
Collaborators Brian Yorkey, Matt Eddy and Welly Yang (book and lyrics) and Woody Pak (composer) weave stories of 19th-century railroad workers, San Francisco nightclubs, immigration "picture brides," World War II internment camps -- as well as Asian influence in the high-tech industry -- into 12 musical scenes. Ghosts, storytellers, laptop computers and lush costumes are part of the pageant.
The frame of the story involves a young, second-generation Asian American woman and "her discovery of the treasures of her family, history and culture," according to production notes.
The cast includes Cindy Cheung, Lydia Gaston, Mel Gionson, Tim Huang, Tom Kouo, Michael Minn, Mimosa, Kiki Mortisugu, Aiko Nakasone (of the original Rent cast), Rodney To, Virginia Wing and Welly Yang. Designers are Sarah Lambert (set), Virg Nafarette (sound), Elaine McCarthy (multimedia) and Richard Tatum (lighting).
Second Generation Productions' producers are Gladys Chen and Romeo Joven. The nonprofit is devoted to "nurturing a richer and more daring world culture by infusing it with the vitality of Asian-American artists," according to a mission statement.
A U.S. college tour of Making Tracks commences in the spring, prior to a summer 1999 engagement in Taipei.
Making Tracks had a New York workshop in January 1998 at Pace Downtown Theatre. The new staging is restructured and recast in a letter of-agreement Actors' Equity staging.
The seldom-used Taipei Theater is a 234-seat space in the lower level of the McGraw Hill Building, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, between 48th and 49th streets. Tickets are $20. Call (212) 340-1095 for information.
-- By Kenneth Jones