Greg Watanabe, Glenn Obrero, Gregg Weiner and Helen Joo Lee Star in Asolo Repertory Theatre’s Production of Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP through Apr. 2

Asolo Repertory Theatre is presenting Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP starring Greg Watanabe, Glenn Obrero, Gregg Weiner and Helen Joo Lee in the Mertz Theatre, located in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts through Apr. 2.

Greg Watanabe and Gregg Weiner in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles
Greg Watanabe and Gregg Weiner in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles

Vanessa Stalling is at the helm of the comedic drama, which was days away from its first performance when it was cancelled because of the pandemic in March of 2020. THE GREAT LEAP began previews on Feb. 9 and opened on Feb. 11.

Glenn Obrero, Gregg Weiner in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles

The play’s title refers to both the athleticism of basketball and the Communist Party of China’s Great Leap Forward campaign in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Born in the United States but inextricably tied to far off and forbidden China, Manford Lum finds his home on the basketball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown. As fast-talking as he is athletically skilled, Lum wisecracks and dazzles his way onto a college team headed for a “friendly” exhibition game in Beijing. As the story bounces between 1989 and 1971, past relationships collide with present day revelations right up to the final buzzer. Smart, feisty and hilarious, THE GREAT LEAP is about family, history and learning that every game is a second chance.

Gregg Weiner, Glenn Obrero in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles

The creative team includes Joe Burke (Projection Programmer), Paul Deziel (Projection Designer), Grace Dolezal-Ng (Directing Fellow), Adam Ashraf Elsayigh (Dramaturg and Literary Manager),Theresa Ham,(Costume Designer), Michelle Hart (Resident Hair/Wig & Make-up Designer), Jeffrey Levin (Sound Design and Original Music),Victor Meyrich (Production and Operations Director), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer), XingYing Peng  (Cultural Competency Coordinator), Celine Rosenthal (Resident Casting Director), Arnel Sancianco (Scenic Designer), Nia Sciarretta (Stage Manager), and Jacqueline Singleton* (Assistant Stage Manager).

Helen Joo Lee and Glenn Obrero in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles

Visit asolorep.org for a full performance schedule. Orchestra and Mezzanine seats start at $52 and Balcony seats start at $29. Tickets are available now in person at Asolo Rep’s Box Office at 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, by phone at 941.351.8000 or 800.361.8388, or online at asolorep.org.

Lauren Yee (Playwright) was the second most produced playwright in America for the 2019/20 theatrical season (as per American Theatre Magazine). Her plays include Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep) and The Great Leap (Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, Atlantic Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, InterAct Theatre, Steppenwolf). Honors: Doris Duke Artists Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, Horton Foote Prize, Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, Hodder Fellowship, #1 and #2 plays on 2017 Kilroys List. New Dramatists, Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab, Playwrights Realm alum. TV: Pachinko (Apple), Soundtrack (Netflix). BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD

Glenn Obrero, Gregg Weiner in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles
Glenn Obrero, and Greg Watanabe in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles
Gregg Weiner, Glenn Obrero in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles
Gregg Weiner, Glenn Obrero, and Greg Watanabe in THE GREAT LEAP. Photo Credit: Cliff Roles
Lia Chang

Lia Chang loves to tell stories that are diverse and inclusive – as an actor, a multi-media content producer, award-winning filmmaker, and a performing arts photographer and documentarian. Photo archives: Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011, housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room; Lia Chang Photography Collection in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library. Awards: 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003). A co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, Lia makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. She stars in and is the Executive Producer for the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). Lia has also appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. Along with an extensive career in Off-Broadway productions, favorite stage credits include her debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet and playing Joy in Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago. www.liachang.com, www.liachangphotography.com

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