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Pan Asian Repertory Theatre

The Brothers Paranormal

May 5, 2019

Is a young Asian woman a ghost or a melancholiac’s hallucination? That is the haunting question vividly answered in playwright Prince Gomolvilas’ gripping thriller "The Brothers Paranormal" which crackles with tension from start to finish. It’s a masterfully written synthesis of "Blithe Spirit," "The Amityville Horror" and "The Sixth Sense" with shades of Stephen King. Comedy gives way to terror as its Asian and African-American characters also battle their own personal demons. A floating pillow is a frightening sight and Ella Fitzgerald’s 1960 live Berlin recording of “Mack the Knife” becomes a spooky touchstone. [more]

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]

Incident at Hidden Temple

February 2, 2017

Behind the theme of war," Incident at Hidden Temple" is a thriller of sorts. Sisters Ava (Ying Ying Li) and Lucy (Briana Sakamoto), first seen in China travelling on a train littered with American soldiers, are separated when a disturbing road block forces their train to a halt. With some time to kill, the sisters exit the train and are introduced to a mysterious stranger--Dinh James Doan as a blind man with a penchant for speaking in riddles--who tells them about a Hidden Temple located just a short ways away. The temple, the blind man cryptically tells them, is filled with lost treasures but will only be revealed to those of pure heart. [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]

A Dream of Red Pavilions

January 29, 2016

A Dream of Red Pavilions is set in 18th century China during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. The framing story which gives the plot its mythic quality involves a stone and a flower that are reborn as cousins, the rich scion Baoyu and sickly Daiyu, who fall in eternal love. Like" The Forsyte Saga" or "Downton Abbey," the social context depicted is the rise and fall of an aristocratic family. Beginning with the birth of Baoyu, the oldest son on whom the Jia family’s future fortunes rest, the play which takes place in 30 short scenes follows the affairs of these nobles and their servants over 20 years until Baoyu’s young adulthood. [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]

Film Chinois

January 23, 2015

While "Film Chinois" certainly has an interesting premise to create a stage film noir set in turbulent postwar China, the play fails to deliver on its promise to entertain as well as thrill with a coherent story. Though the play has all the elements of the genre, here they are confusing rather than organic to the material. The elegantly staged production never remembers to turn up the heat. [more]