The 27th episode of BACKSTAGE PASS with Lia Chang, executive produced and hosted by Lia, will air on March 26 at 1:30pm and 6:30pm on FIOS 34, RCN 83, and Spectrum 56/1996, and stream on MNN2. If you miss the episode, it is archived on my youtube channel.
On this episode of Backstage Pass with Lia Chang, I headed to Arlington, VA on March 15th to document the opening night of many of my theater family and collaborators who are featured in Signature Theatre’s PACIFIC OVERTURES.
I picked up a croissant from Vesuvius Bakery (opens at 5:30am) and boarded the 6:09am Amtrak train at Moynihan Train Hall, bound for Union Station in Washington D.C. I took a short Uber ride to Arlington, VA, where Signature Theatre is located.
Signature Theatre’s production of Pacific Overtures, with music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by John Weidman, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick and additional material by Hugh Wheeler, has performances through April 9. The production features direction and musical staging by Signature Theatre Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard (Signature’s Which Way to the Stage) and music direction by Alexander Tom. Preview performances began on March 7 in Signature’s MAX Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206, with opening nights on March 14 and 15. Tickets are available at SigTheatre.org.
In 1853, after 200 years of stability, Japan faces an American expedition determined to open the “floating kingdom” to trade. The isolationist island’s reckoning with the unwelcome western influence is brilliantly illuminated through a kaleidoscope of stories about sailors, samurai, “someone in a tree” and two friends who choose radically different paths. This innovative epic of East meets West is one of Sondheim’s most ambitious and rarely produced musicals.
The cast for Pacific Overtures includes Eymard Meneses Cabling (Prospect Theater’s Honor, The Kennedy Center’s Me… Jane) as Lord Abe and others, Andrew Cristi (Broadway’s A Christmas Story, The Public’s Miss You Like Hell) as the Mother of Shogun and others, Albert Hsueh (Theatre Row’s Anything Goes, TADA Theatre’s Romance of the Western Chamber) as Boy and others, Jonny Lee Jr. (Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Gold Mountain, Village Theatre’s Eastbound) as Manjiro and others, Quynh-My Luu (Signature’s Daphne’s Dive, A Little Night Music) as Tamate and others, Jason Ma (Broadway’s Sly Fox, The Public’s Antony & Cleopatra) as Reciter and others, Daniel May (Broadway’s Flower Drum Song, The Public’s Soft Power) as Kayama and others, Christopher Mueller (Signature’s She Loves Me, Assassins) as Warrior and others, Chani Wereley (Signature’s Into the Woods, Olney Theatre Center’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch) as Madam and others, and Nicholas Yenson (Signature’s Miss Saigon, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Taming of the Shrew) as Perry and others. Alex Koichi Beard, Joey Ledonio, Ashley D. Nguyen and Ryan Sellers are swings.
The creative team for Pacific Overtures includes Scenic Design by Chika Shimizu (Irish Rep’s Belfast Girls), Costume and Puppet Design by Helen Q. Huang (Woolly Mammoth’s Marie Antoinette), Lighting Design by Oliver Wason (Heartbeat Opera’s Fidelio), and Sound Design by Eric Norris (Signature’s Into the Woods). Kirk Kanesaka is the Kabuki Consultant, Yoshi Amao is the Fight Director, Mark H. Rooney is the Taiko Consultant, Zach Campion is the Dialect Coach, and Eiji Miura is the Musical Dramaturg. Chelsea Pace is the Resident Intimacy Consultant. Signature Casting is by Jorge Acevedo. New York Casting is by Stewart/Whitley. Kerry Epstein is the Production Stage Manager, Katie Moshier is the Assistant Stage Manager, Stephen Bubniak is the Production Assistant, Aria Velz is the Assistant Director, Ashlynne Ludwig is the Associate Costume Designer, Angie Benson is the Associate Music Director, and Alexander Greenberg is the Keyboard Programmer.
Signature released this video of “Someone in A Tree” featuring cast members Eymard Meneses Cabling, Christopher Mueller, Albert Hsueh and Jason Ma.
Pacific Overtures is sponsored by Lou Mazawey and supported in part by The National Endowment for the Arts.
Closed captions will be available for every show via the GalaPro app.
Pride Night, March 31, 2023
Post-show Discussions, March 28 and April 5, 2023
Signature has updated its policy regarding masking in performance spaces. Please visit SigTheatre.org/Safety for more details on current safety standards.
Tickets and information at SigTheatre.org or 703 820 9771
Signature Theatre is a Tony Award®-winning regional theater that broadens and brightens the region’s cultural landscape with its bold productions of challenging new and established works and engaging education and outreach programs. Founded in 1989 by Eric Schaeffer and Donna Migliaccio, and currently under the leadership of Managing Director Maggie Boland and Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner, musical theater is Signature’s “signature,” and the Theatre is renowned for its definitive Sondheim productions, inventive adaptations of overlooked or forgotten works, and investment in fresh new projects. Signature combines Broadway-caliber productions with intimate playing spaces and aims to be a leading force in U.S. musical theater.
Since its inception, the Theatre has produced 60 world premiere works—including 19 new musical commissions. Signature opens its doors to more than 100,000 people annually from the Washington, DC region and beyond and reaches more than 10,000 students every year through its innovative education programs, including the award-winning initiative Signature in the Schools. Signature has won 134 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the Washington, DC region’s professional theater and has been honored with 482 nominations.
My final meal with Jason before I headed back to New York was at Samuel Beckett’s, an Irish Gastro Pub where I devoured a Lamb Shank, served with root vegetables and potatoes. He had the Ahi Tuna Salad.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer, activist, documentarian and an Award winning filmmaker and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia is also the host and Executive Producer of BACKSTAGE PASS WITH LIA CHANG, an Arts and Entertainment and Lifestyle program that airs on Sundays at 6:30pm on FIOS 34, RCN 83, Spectrum 56/1996 and MNN2.
Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. Her short film, When the World Was Young garnered a 2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations.
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