“Flower Drum Song” (2009)

FDS1Music by

Richard Rodgers

Lyrics by

Oscar Hammerstein II

Book by David Henry Hwang

Based on the original book by
Oscar Hammerstein II & Joseph Fields

Based on the novel by C.Y. Lee

Michael Baranowski, Director
Ken Hardin, Music Director
George Jayne, Choreographer

“Flower Drum Song” (Hwang Version)

January 22, 2009 to February 14, 2009

The Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St.,
Nevada City, CA 95959

 

Coming Full Circle
With
Rodgers and Hammersteins’

FLOWER DRUM SONG

An article that appeared in the December 25, 2008 edition of the Grass Valley Union newspaper

By, Jeannie Wong Wood, Executive Director, Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS)

FDS2When I was a child growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown, I attended Chinese school at St. Mary’s on Stockton Street. Even though I spoke Chinese at home (Toishanese dialect), we had to go to Chinese school to learn the more “sophisticated” Cantonese dialect! One day, while attending class in 1959, we got word that they were filming FLOWER DRUM SONG at St. Mary’s Square a few blocks away. I wanted so badly to cut class and go watch! Actually, I wanted to go so I could get “discovered” and maybe even get a part in the movie! Oh well, I didn’t cut class, and my opportunity for stardom went out the door! The scene they were filming was one of the opening scenes in the movie where Mei Lei and her father arrive in San Francisco from China and they wandered into the park in Chinatown. In order to make some money, they staged a singing of a flower drum song, which became the popular “A Hundred Million Miracles.”

FDS3I loved the movie. I knew every single song and sang them throughout my growing up years. FLOWER DRUM SONG introduced me to the beautiful sounds of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. To this day, they are my favorite collaborators and musicals are my favorite genre. FLOWER DRUM SONG was the first movie musical with an all-Asian cast. The actors in the movie looked just like me! Maybe that’s why FLOWER DRUM SONG resonated so well with the Chinese community – there was a real connection there – even to this day. The story was cute and fun, and it definitely filled an artistic void. Today, people’s awareness has evolved. At least mine has. After watching the movie now, I end up wanting more. In comes David Henry Hwang, an award-winning Asian-American playwright!

FDS4Mr. Hwang saw the opportunity of taking this classic story beyond the generation gap into a world where cultural conflicts and differences are transformed. He rewrote the story in 2002, which was nominated for a Tony award on Broadway. He kept the same beautiful songs and kept intact the spirit of the original 1957 story by C.Y. Lee. Mr. Hwang’s version incorporates modern-day sensibilities with depth, poignancy, and charm. This is the version that CATS will be producing at the Nevada Theatre from January 22 to February 14. (Our fundraiser of the 1961 movie, starring Nancy Kwan, is on February 13, 8pm, at the Nevada Theatre. Come compare the two versions!) Our 20+-member multicultural cast hails from, not only locally, but also from Roseville, Rocklin, and Elk Grove. It’s been a joy to watch rehearsals by our revered team of directors Michael Baranowski (Director), Ken Hardin (Music Director, Twin Cities Concert Association who will conduct the live orchestra!), and George Jayne (Choreographer). It’s been many years since the Nevada Theatre played host to a live orchestra. I’m in for a real treat – and so will you!

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