Multimedia: Wakka Wakka’s New Puppet Musical MADE IN CHINA at 59E59 Theaters through Feb. 19

Mary (Peter Russo) and Eddie (Ariel Estrada) confront a dragon in Wakka Wakka's Made in China, directed by Gwendolyn Warnock and Kirjan Waage, at 59E59.
Mary (Peter Russo) and Eddie (Ariel Estrada) confront a dragon in Wakka Wakka’s Made in China, directed by Gwendolyn Warnock and Kirjan Waage, at 59E59. (© Heidi Bohnenkamp)

I’m celebrating the Year of the Rooster at the wildly successful US premiere of MADE IN CHINA, written by Gwendolyn Warnock and Kirjan Waage (with help from the MADE IN CHINA ensemble), featuring music and lyrics by Yan Li, puppets by Mr. Waage, and directed by Ms. Warnock and Mr. Waage.

Mary (Peter Russo) goes on a shopping spree in Made in China.
Mary (Peter Russo) goes on a shopping spree in Made in China. (© Heidi Bohnenkamp)

Produced by Wakka Wakka at 59E59 Theaters, in co-production with Nordland Visual Theatre, MiNEnsemblet, and The HOP at Dartmouth, MADE IN CHINA is currently playing a limited engagement through Sunday, February 19.

Yo-Yo and his owner Eddie (Ariel Estrada).
Yo-Yo and his owner Eddie (Ariel Estrada).

The performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7 PM; Friday at 8 PM; Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM; and Sunday at 3 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Tickets are $25 – $60 ($25 – $49 for 59E59 Members). Use the code ROOSTERTKT for $45 tickets to catch Yo-Yo and his owner Eddie. To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org.

Wei Wei (Stephen J. Mark) does a cartwheel in Made in China.
Wei Wei (Stephen J. Mark) does a cartwheel in Made in China. (© Heidi Bohnenkamp)

What the critics are saying: 

THE SHOW’S VISUAL ALLURE NEVER CEASES”
– Charles Isherwood, The New York Times Critics’ Pick!

“FOUR STARS! MADLY AUDACIOUS…PACKED WITH HAPPY SURPRISES”
– Time Out New York

“DELIGHTFULLY ENGAGING”
– Theater Pizzazz

“WACKY AND THOUGHTFUL…WITH A GOOD HEART”
– StageBuddy

“BRIGHTLY GRIPPING…IT’S REPLETE WITH INNOVATIVE MARVELS OF ILLUSION”
– Blog Critics

The MADE IN CHINA puppeteers include Lei Lei Bavoil, Ariel Estrada, Dorothy James, Wei-Yi Lin, Andrew Manjuck, Stephen J. Mark, Charles Pang, Peter Russo. Music performed by Yan Li and Max Mamon.

Eddie (Ariel Estrada) rides Mary (Peter Russo) to China in Made in China. (© Heidi Bohnenkamp)
Eddie (Ariel Estrada) rides Mary (Peter Russo) to China in Made in China.
(© Heidi Bohnenkamp)

An isolated woman finds solace in shopping. After one of her big-box sprees, she finds a cry-for-help note, written by a woman in a Chinese labor camp, stuffed in a box of Halloween lights. Inspired into activism, she embarks on an odyssey of global proportions.

Inspired by true events, MADE IN CHINA dives into issues of human rights, consumerism and American-Chinese relations as told through the unlikely love story between this shopping-obsessed middle-aged American woman and her Chinese ex-pat neighbor.

Baby pandas, dancing appliances and romping middle-aged lovers populate Wakka Wakka’s fantastical universe. MADE IN CHINA features 30 puppets, seven puppeteers, music inspired by both American and Chinese traditions, as well as animated video to spin a contemporary issue of global relations into an entertaining tale of surreal dimensions with powerful take-aways and plenty of laughs.

The design team includes Yu Ting Lin (set design); Alex Goldberg (lighting design); and Tiger Cai (video animation). The Production Stage Manager is Mackenzie Blade. From the Obie and Drama Desk Award-winning talents behind the acclaimed Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey comes a new puppet musical.

Wakka Wakka Productions, Inc. is a non-profit visual theater company based in NYC, whose mission is to push the boundaries of the imagination by creating works that are bold, unique and unpredictable.

Since 2001, Wakka Wakka has created and produced eight original works of theater which have toured extensively throughout the US and abroad. All of Wakka Wakka’s productions have been highly physical, overlapping in a wide range of styles, including grotesque, absurd and clown; and incorporating elements such as object manipulation, puppetry, masks and original music.

Wakka Wakka was honored with a 2013 Special Drama Desk Award for Sophisticated Puppetry and a 2011 Obie Award Grant. In 2008, Wakka Wakka Productions was awarded a UNIMA Citation of Excellence for Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz. In addition, the company’s work has been nominated for four Drama Desk Awards (Fabrik for Unique Theatrical Experience and Baby Universe for Outstanding Direction of a Play, Outstanding Music in a Play, Outstanding Sound Design in a Play), a Helen Hayes Award (Outstanding Visiting Production, Baby Universe) and a Hawes Design Award (Kirjan Waage, Fabrik).

The company is led by Gabrielle Brechner, Kirjan Waage and Gwendolyn Warnock and supported by company members Andrew Manjuck and Peter Russo.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. 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. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. 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 and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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