Signature Theatre is presenting Pacific Overtures with music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman. The production will feature direction and musical staging by Signature Theatre Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard (Signature’s Which Way to the Stage) and will be the second of three Sondheim productions featured in Signature’s 2022/23 season. Performances run March 7 – April 9, 2023 in Signature’s MAX Theatre. Opening night performances are on March 14 and 15. Tickets are available at SigTheatre.org.
Updated: 3/17/23 Opening Night Coverage
“Nearly fifty years after its premiere, I’m thrilled to direct this beautiful, daring work for 2023,” said Signature Theatre Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard. “In the MAX Theatre, the ‘floating kingdom’ will be a pristine island with audience on all four sides. Our narrator is a contemporary Asian American man, who acts as a bridge to 1850s Japan and directs the 9-person ensemble in bringing the story to life. He encourages us to see things from a Japanese perspective: Commodore Perry and his sailors are frightening and alien; whereas Japan embodies calm and elegance, the foreigners bring with them disruption and violence. Our creative team includes wonderful artists with expertise in Japanese forms like kabuki, samurai sword-fighting, and taiko. As a half-Chinese person myself, I am fascinated by the sparks that fly – and drama that unfolds – when East meets West.”
In 1853, after 200 years of stability, Japan faces an American expedition determined to open the “floating kingdom” to trade. The isolationist island’s reckoning with the unwelcome western influence is brilliantly illuminated through a kaleidoscope of stories about sailors, samurai, “someone in a tree” and two friends who choose radically different paths. This innovative epic of East meets West is one of Sondheim’s most ambitious and rarely produced musicals. Signature Theatre Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard (Signature’s Which Way to the Stage, Heartbeat Opera’s Fidelio) directs, and Alexander Tom (Broadway’s The Music Man, The Public’s The Visitor) is the Music Director.
The cast for Pacific Overtures includes Eymard Meneses Cabling (Prospect Theater’s Honor, The Kennedy Center’s Me… Jane) as Lord Abe and others, Andrew Cristi (Broadway’s A Christmas Story, The Public’s Miss You Like Hell) as the Mother of Shogun and others, Albert Hsueh (Theatre Row’s Anything Goes, TADA Theatre’s Romance of the Western Chamber) as Boy and others, Jonny Lee Jr. (Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Gold Mountain, Village Theatre’s Eastbound) as Manjiro and others, Quynh-My Luu (Signature’s Daphne’s Dive, A Little Night Music) as Tamate and others, Jason Ma (Broadway’s Sly Fox, The Public’s Antony & Cleopatra) as Reciter and others, Daniel May (Broadway’s Flower Drum Song, The Public’s Soft Power) as Kayama and others, Christopher Mueller (Signature’s She Loves Me, Assassins) as Warrior and others, Chani Wereley (Signature’s Into the Woods, Olney Theatre Center’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch) as Madam and others, and Nicholas Yenson (Signature’s Miss Saigon, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Taming of the Shrew) as Perry and others. Alex Koichi Beard, Joey Ledonio, Ashley D. Nguyen and Ryan Sellers are swings.
The creative team for Pacific Overtures includes Scenic Design by Chika Shimizu (Irish Rep’s Belfast Girls), Costume and Puppet Design by Helen Q. Huang (Woolly Mammoth’s Marie Antoinette), Lighting Design by Oliver Wason (Heartbeat Opera’s Fidelio), and Sound Design by Eric Norris (Signature’s Into the Woods). Kirk Kanesaka is the Kabuki Consultant, Yoshi Amao is the Fight Director, Mark H. Rooney is the Taiko Consultant, Zach Campion is the Dialect Coach, and Eiji Miura is the Musical Dramaturg. Chelsea Pace is the Resident Intimacy Consultant. Signature Casting is by Jorge Acevedo. New York Casting is by Stewart/Whitley. Kerry Epstein is the Production Stage Manager, Katie Moshier is the Assistant Stage Manager, Stephen Bubniak is the Production Assistant, Aria Velz is the Assistant Director, Ashlynne Ludwig is the Associate Costume Designer, Angie Benson is the Associate Music Director, and Alexander Greenberg is the Keyboard Programmer.
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Pacific Overtures and a Really Big Drum
Signature has released this video of “Someone in A Tree” featuring cast members Eymard Meneses Cabling, Christopher Mueller, Albert Hsueh and Jason Ma.
Pacific Overtures is sponsored by Lou Mazawey and supported in part by The National Endowment for the Arts.
Closed captions will be available for every show via the GalaPro app.
Pride Night, March 31, 2023
Post-show Discussions, March 28 and April 5, 2023
Signature has updated its policy regarding masking in performance spaces. Please visit SigTheatre.org/Safety for more details on current safety standards.
Tickets and information at SigTheatre.org or 703 820 9771
Signature Theatre is a Tony Award®-winning regional theater that broadens and brightens the region’s cultural landscape with its bold productions of challenging new and established works and engaging education and outreach programs. Founded in 1989 by Eric Schaeffer and Donna Migliaccio, and currently under the leadership of Managing Director Maggie Boland and Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner, musical theater is Signature’s “signature,” and the Theatre is renowned for its definitive Sondheim productions, inventive adaptations of overlooked or forgotten works, and investment in fresh new projects. Signature combines Broadway-caliber productions with intimate playing spaces and aims to be a leading force in U.S. musical theater.
Since its inception, the Theatre has produced 60 world premiere works—including 19 new musical commissions. Signature opens its doors to more than 100,000 people annually from the Washington, DC region and beyond and reaches more than 10,000 students every year through its innovative education programs, including the award-winning initiative Signature in the Schools. Signature has won 134 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the Washington, DC region’s professional theater and has been honored with 482 nominations.