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John Quincy Lee

The Emperor’s Nightingale

December 4, 2018

Although Chua is less interested in beauty for beauty's sake than Andersen, the look and sound of "The Emperor's Nightingale" is still stunning, drawing on a wealth of traditional Chinese art forms to both enliven and culturally ground the story. Leading the way are Joseph Wolfslau's period-inspired score and You-Shin Chen's eye-popping set, which pays lovely tribute to the art of Chinese paper cutting. Leslie Smith's lighting design nicely highlights all of the wonderful colors in Chen's set, as well as those found in Karen Boyer's lambent costumes, which do imaginative justice to human and animal alike. [more]

Daybreak

April 28, 2018

A speech of Madame Arcati’s from Noël Coward’s "Blithe" Spirit recited in Armenian is just one of the many highlights of Nicole Ansari’s awesome performance as Victoria.  The long-haired and physically graceful Ms. Ansari’s crystalline presence, twinkling eyes and tremulous voice are a joy to behold especially when she is supposed to be 90 years old. Ansari’s brilliance is showcased as she simultaneously conveys the character’s despair, resilience and humor as the production’s riveting centerpiece. [more]

No-No Boy

June 23, 2016

Chris Doi winningly conveys Ichiro’s anguish and holds attention as this leading character with his emotional performance. The personable Glenn Kubota is deeply gentle as Pa, and Mr. Kubota performs a beautiful movement piece with his hands fluttering as birds during a storytelling segment. As Ma, Karen Tsen Lee poignantly descends deeper into her delusions with histrionic expertise that Japan won the war and is marvelously engaging during her fable-like recitations. [more]

Sayonara, The Musical

July 15, 2015

Although "Sayonara, The Musical" had an acclaimed lavish production at Paper Mill Playhouse in 1987 and a later version at Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars in 1993, it has not been seen in New York until now. Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, now in its 38th Season, is presenting the local premiere of the adaptation with its book by playwright William Luce ("The Belle of Amhurst," "Lillian," "Lucifer’s Child," and "Barrymore"), lyrics by Hy Gilbert and music by George Fischoff. Surprisingly, "Sayonara" has a great deal in common with "South Pacific": the exotic Asian locale, the fraternization between Yankee officers and Asian women, a tale of prejudice and bigotry, and two parallel love stories. Unfortunately, at this post Sondheim junction, the way 'Sayonara" follows the Rodgers and Hammerstein formula seems dated, while the material, based more on the movie than the original novel, has deflated Michener’s story by making it oversimplified and superficial. [more]