East West Players (EWP), the nation’s premier Asian American theatre, continues its 47th Anniversary season, themed Spirited Away, with the world premiere of TEA, WITH MUSIC. Book and lyrics are by acclaimed playwright Velina Hasu Houston, music by Nathan Wang and choreographed by Giovanni Ortega. This production is directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera. The musical features Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables), Tiffany-Marie Austin (Miss Saigon, A Little Night Music), Yumi Iwama (Our Town, South Pacific), Jennie Kwan (TV’s California Dreams, Avenue Q), and Janet Song (Twelfth Night, Medea).
In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the seminal play TEA by critically-acclaimed playwright Velina Hasu Houston, East West Players dares to present this story as a new musical. TEA, WITH MUSIC is about a group of Japanese war brides from World War II, now living in Kansas, who gather for a farewell tea ceremony for one of their friends who has mysteriously passed away.
“We are glad to be part of this newest work by Velina. East West Players produced her first full-length play, Asa Ga Kimashita (Morning Has Broken) back in 1981,” says EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang. “Velina is truly one of the most-produced Asian American playwrights, and her play TEA is certainly celebrated as part of the Asian American theatre canon. Now, Tea, With Music.”
Velina Hasu Houston is an internationally acclaimed playwright of over twenty plays as well as a published poet and essayist, and screenwriter. She has published two anthologies of Asian American drama, one of them being the first anthology of plays by Asian American women. Her renowned career includes an abundance of works and awards. Houston is a Professor of Theatre, Director of Dramatic Writing, Associate Dean, and Resident Playwright at the USC School of Theatre, where she founded the graduate playwriting program over 20 years ago.
Nathan Wang is one of the most successful composers in Hollywood and Asian cinema. Prolific and versatile, he has written music for Jackie Chan movies, Steven Spielberg documentaries, animated cartoons, opera, symphonies and more. Wang has been in busy in the musical theater world as well. He received seven Dramalogue Awards for best music and sound, and in 2005 penned the musical “Imelda,” based on the life of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos, which was produced at East West Players before it went to OffBroadway in New York.
Director Jon Lawrence Rivera is the founding artistic director of Playwrights’ Arena. A five-time LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award nominee, he and his productions have garnered over 100 local and international awards. Most recently, he has directed Euripides’ Helen at the Getty Villa, The Girl Most Likely To by Michael Premsrirat; Cages by Leonard Manzella; Unmerciful Good Fortune by Edwin Sanchez; Bonded by Donald Jolly (2012 GLAAD Award nomination); Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca; Calligraphy by Velina Hasu Houston; Road to Saigon at East West Players; Jacques Brel at the Colony Theatre Company; and Oedipus el Rey by Luis Alfaro at the Getty Villa Theater Lab and at the Theatre at Boston Court.
Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players. Additional funding for TEA, WITH MUSIC is provided by the James Irvine Foundation, the California Community Foundation, Shubert Foundation, The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.
All performances of TEA, WITH MUSIC will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Previews run from November 8-10 at 8pm, and November 11th at 2pm. TEA, WITH MUSIC opens November 14th and closes on Sunday, December 9, 2012. Opening night will be accompanied by a pre-performance cocktail reception and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. The Pay-What-You-Can Performance will be held Wednesday, November 21st at 8 pm. The post-show discussion will be held on Sunday, December 2nd.
General Tickets range from $31-$41. Preview tickets are $21 general admission, $16 for students. Opening night tickets are $65 for all seats. Tickets are currently on sale. For ticket purchases or more information, please call East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or visit http://www.eastwestplayers.org. Senior, student and group discounts are available. Dates and details are subject to change.