BD Wong to Revisit Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, March 6 – March 31

BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang
BD Wong. Photo by Lia Chang

Following rave reviews and audience acclaim at off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company this past spring, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon announced that Tony Award winner and San Francisco native BD Wong will reprise his role as ‘Wen Chang’ in award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, performing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St., San Francisco) from Wednesday, March 6, through Sunday, March 31, 2019. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Says Wong: “I’m always looking for the rare work that’s as moving as it is funny, that has characters who are people you’ve never met before but whom you somehow immediately feel familiar with. This play, kind of miraculously, gives me all of it. I love Lauren Yee’s insightful vantage point that looks over family relationships and the unsettled scores such relationships keep, all wrapped up in a fresh athletic metaphor. It’s a play that is so specifically Chinese American, yet somehow all-embracing-and that isn’t an easy feat for a playwright. It is a gift of an opportunity to perform Lauren’s play on one of the great regional stages in the country.”

Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang
Lauren Yee, BD Wong, Lisa Peterson, Pam MacKinnon. Photo by Lia Chang

Adds MacKinnon: “The Great Leap was already going to be a celebration of San Francisco-a story set here, by a playwright from here, about a sport vital to here. We now add to that a homecoming for San Francisco’s own BD Wong. I cannot wait!”

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé-now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches. Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from Yee-developed at A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival in 2017-explores cultural identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Under the direction of two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, The Great Leap soars through time and leaps across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of a revolution, building tension right up to the buzzer.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Wong is the only actor ever to have received all five major New York Theater awards for a single role-namely his performance in M. Butterfly (his Broadway debut): the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World Award, the Clarence Derwent Award, and the Tony Award.

Wong gained notice on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Oz” as the resilient prison priest (Father Ray) for the show’s six-season run. Then, for 11 seasons on the top-rated NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” he played George Huang, an FBI forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind. Other television credits include NBC’s “Awake,” ABC’s “All-American Girl,” HBO’s telefilms And the Band Played On and The Normal Heart, as well as guest-starring roles on “Sesame Street,” “The X-Files,” “Madam Secretary,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” He most recently has been seen in two drastically different television roles simultaneously: as the nefarious Hugo Strange on “Gotham” and as the mysterious trans-female hacker Whiterose on “Mr. Robot.” For his work on the latter, he received an Emmy, Gold Derby, and a Critic’s Choice Award nominations.

Wong has appeared in more than 20 feature films, including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Jurassic World, Focus, The Space Between Us, Stay, The Salton Sea, Executive Decision, Seven Years in Tibet, Jurassic Park, Father of the Bride (1 & 2), and The Freshman. He can also be heard as the voice of Shang in the Disney animated films Mulan and Mulan II. He will next be seen in Birdbox.

Wong’s additional New York theater credits include The Great Leap at The Atlantic Theater Company, The Tempest, A Language of Their Own, As Thousands Cheer, Shanghai Moon, and the Broadway revivals of the musicals You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures (the latter for which he received a Drama League nomination for distinguished performance). He recently starred regionally in The Orphan of Zhao at La Jolla Playhouse and San Francisco’s A.C.T. In addition, he has starred in five productions of the one-man musical Herringbone, a project dear to his heart.

Wong holds an honorary M.F.A. from American Conservatory Theater.

Three-, four-, and five-play subscriptions are available and offer incredible savings, unparalleled access, exclusive benefits, and personalized customer service. Subscribers save as much as 50% off single-ticket prices. Students and educators are eligible to save up to half price on subscriptions, and senior discounts are available for certain series. A.C.T.’s competitive subscriber benefits include free ticket exchanges up to the day of your scheduled performance, guaranteed best seating, ticket insurance, access to convenient prepaid parking one block away from the theater, discounts for neighborhood restaurants, and the opportunity to subscribe to Words on Plays, A.C.T.’s in-depth theater guide for each show.

BD Wong, Ned Eisenberg, Ali Ahn and Tony Aidan Vo Celebrate Opening Night of Lauren Yee’s THE GREAT LEAP 

The Rise of Playwright Lauren Yee

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A.C.T. Extends Qui Nguyen’s VIETGONE through April 29

Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is extending Qui Nguyen’s critically acclaimed play, Vietgone, by one week due to popular demand and sold-out houses. Tickets are now on sale through Sunday, April 29, 2018. Hailed as “one of the most rollicking Culture Clash comedies ever” (Bay Area News Group) and a “miraculous fairy tale of love” (San Francisco Chronicle), Vietgone is a contemporary twist on the classic story of boy meets girl.

Photo Flash: A.C.T. Stages VIETGONE
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) and her mother Huong (Cindy Im, right) arrive at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

In this irreverent new comedy, three young Vietnamese immigrants leave their war-torn country for an eye-opening road trip across the bewildering and foreign landscape of 1970s America. A vibrant mash-up of audacious language, pop-culture references, and kick-ass romance, Vietgone is an action-packed road trip that shifts gears instantaneously from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. Performances of Vietgone take place at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater (1127 Market St., San Francisco). Tickets for all remaining performances are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at www.act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

The performance schedule for the added week is as follows: Tuesday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 29 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: “The response to Vietgone from audiences young and old has been incredible. We’re so delighted that this wildly imaginative and bold play has found such a receptive home in the Bay Area and are thrilled it is getting a longer life at The Strand.”

Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Under the direction of Jaime Castañeda (Associate Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse), the Vietgone company features (in alphabetical order) Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, James Seol, Jomar Tagatac, and understudies Steven Ho and Christine Jamlig.

Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

The creative team for Vietgone includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic Designer), Jessie Amoroso (Costume Designer), Wen-Ling Liao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), Chris Lundahl (Projection Designer), Shammy Dee (Original Music), and Natalia Duong (Assistant Director).

Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne.
Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Chatting with VIETGONE Star James Seol 

Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn
Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn

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

Chatting with VIETGONE Star James Seol

Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
James Seol
James Seol

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) production of Qui Nguyen’s critically acclaimed play, Vietgone, helmed by Jaime Castañeda (Associate Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse) and starring Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, James Seol, and Jomar Tagatac, opens tonight at The Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street, SF, CA. Vietgone began previews on February 21st, and is scheduled to run through Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Photo Flash: A.C.T. Stages VIETGONE
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) and her mother Huong (Cindy Im, right) arrive at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Hailed as a “raucous, immensely moving comedy” by the New York Times, Vietgone is a modern twist on the classic story of boy meets girl. In this irreverent new comedy, three young Vietnamese immigrants leave a war-torn country for an eye-opening road trip across the bewildering and foreign landscape of 1970s America.

Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Helicopter pilot Quang (James Seol, right) promises his wife Thu (Cindy Im, left) that if the Viet Cong invade Saigon he will fly her and their two children to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

A vibrant mash-up of audacious language, pop-culture references, and kick-ass romance, Vietgone is an action-packed road trip that shifts gears instantaneously from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. Following sold-out houses at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club, this sexy, sassy, freewheeling ride, backed by original hip-hop and Motown rhythms, will roll into The Strand in an all-new production this February.

Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Nhan (Stephen Hu, left) and Quang (James Seol, right) fly a helicopter full of people to safety. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Below is my chat with James Seol, who plays Quang.

Lia: You are appearing in one of my favorite shows. How are rehearsals going?
James: We open tonight!! Previews have been ongoing for about two weeks now; my favorite part of the process. I love working on things during the day, getting notes and then seeing if I can fully incorporate those changes into the evening’s performance.

Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Huong (Cindy Im, left) walks in on Quang (James Seol, center) and Tong (Jenelle Chu, right) in bed. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

This particular preview period has been pretty eventful. Lots of refining. Lighting adjustments. Quick change practice. Addition of Sex Montage. It’s a super challenging show because of all the moving parts that need to align. All that said, it’s been a THRILL to work on, and every day the goal is to be as rich, textured and playful as the text itself.

Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, right) share a joint during their trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Working on this play is a huge gift. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea that artists need practical experience to get better. Working and learning in an acting class is one thing. But, to actually learn and improve on the job, where the stakes can sometimes be high, is absolutely vital. How does an actor learn to sustain imaginatively, physically and vocally when there’s an audience, when there are critics, when the President of Broadway is watching, unless she or he is able to do so in the marathon situation of an actual production? Artists need opportunities to run those marathons over and over. Unfortunately, for many actors of color, we don’t get to practice running marathons; we get a 50 yard dash and maybe the occasional 5K. (I could run with this running metaphor for forever.). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Tong (Jenelle Chu, left) whispers an invitation to Quang (James Seol, right). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Vietgone is a fucking marathon. 5 (plus) meaty, dense, fantastic roles that dare actors to bring EVERYTHING they have to bring the text (spoken and rapped) to life.

Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, front) and friend Nhan (Stephen Hu, back) embark on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas to California. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Lia:  Who do you play?
James: I play Quang. The motorcycle-riding, weed-smoking, ninja-fighting, helicopter-flying, superhero version of the playwright’s dad.

Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, right) and Nhan (Stephen Hu, center) get into an altercation with a redneck American biker (Jomar Tagatac, left). Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

As reference, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own dad. Like Quang, he was in the military (Korean and American). He’s got that Korean, older-generation, stoic exterior AND a soft, warm, loving, gooey, clowny center. Good inspiration for this character.

Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Quang (James Seol, left) is informed by Captain Chambers (Jomar Tagatac, center) of the USS Midway and his translator (Cindy Im, right) that he cannot return to Saigon. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

James: The Four Immigrants was a joy from beginning to end. Our director, Leslie Martinson, and composer/lyricist/book writer/overachiever, Min Kahng, were exceptionally collaborative and inspiring from the start. It’s a really earnest, beautiful piece about a little known chunk of American history, so all the more reason to tell the story.

From left, Phil Wong, James Seol, Hansel Tan and Sean Fenton star in “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga.” Kevin Berne/TheatreWorks Silicone Valley
From left, Phil Wong, James Seol, Hansel Tan and Sean Fenton star in “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga.” Kevin Berne/TheatreWorks Silicone Valley

I had done Kimber Lee’s Tokyo Fish Story at TheatreWorks the season prior. After the closing performance of Immigrants, I told Leslie that both experiences at TheatreWorks cumulatively taught me how to act. And it’s true. Everything I mentioned earlier about getting opportunities to grow in full production settings, I got in Palo Alto. Working on new shows, especially, requires such a specific skill set. Navigating conversations with creative teams, performing while maintaining a dramaturgical eye, trusting gut instincts.

Sushi protege Takashi (James Seol), sushi master (Francis Jue) and newcomers Ama (Nicole Javier) and Nobu (Linden Tailor) in “Tokyo Fish Story.” Photo by Kevin Berne
Sushi protege Takashi (James Seol), sushi master (Francis Jue) and newcomers Ama (Nicole Javier) and Nobu (Linden Tailor) in “Tokyo Fish Story.” Photo by Kevin Berne

KPOP
KPOP was epic. The folks at Ars Nova, Ma-Yi and Woodshed Collective are forces to be reckoned with. They will do EVERYTHING for their art. I was lucky to be a part of it all.

The members of girl group Special K (from left: Katie Lee Hill, Deborah Kim, Sun Hye Park, Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang and Susannah Kim). Photographs by Ben Arons.
The members of girl group Special K (from left: Katie Lee Hill, Deborah Kim, Sun Hye Park, Julia Abueva, Cathy Ang and Susannah Kim). Photographs by Ben Arons.
The rehearsal process, especially the tech portion, was understandably challenging. So many pieces needed to come together in very precise ways. Our final dress was almost four hours long. (Caffeine.) And the first week of previews was riddled with fire alarms going off. (Nerve-wracking.) Through it all, the creatives, cast, and crew hunkered down; the dedication was inspiring. Stage managers slept at Ars Nova to be able to start work early the next day. Our book writer fine-tuned scenes into the early morning. Crew members worked throughout the night to put the finishing touches on the expansive space.

Thankfully, the show attracted a really passionate audience. But it’s a testament to the exquisite abilities of everyone involved that it came together in such a meaningful, powerful way.

Oh, and I got to share a dressing room with James Saito and Dave Shih. The equivalent of being in a room with Al Pacino (Saito) and John C. Reilly (Shih).

Also, Tina Fey came; I held it together as best I could.

ALSO, Lin-Manuel Miranda came. It was like meeting the Queen.

James Seol plays JTM’s brand manager for its American transition. Photo: Ben Arons/Ars Nova
James Seol plays JTM’s brand manager for its American transition. Photo: Ben Arons/Ars Nova

Lia: I understand KPOP was a very personal experience. Please elaborate.
James: Around the time I graduated from acting school, there was this one week where I had three appointments (which was an anomaly in the first place; sometimes I went months without an audition.) No joke, all THREE auditions were for “the gay, Asian hairdresser.” Something about the repetition of that specific character stereotype strikes me as symptomatic of the time. If you had asked me then if a musical about KPOP, about Koreans and Korean-Americans getting to be human beings on a stage would succeed in NYC, I would have done a spit take.

This show was in so many ways a response to the years of misrepresentation and under-representation. As in, here was an exciting new musical created by and starring a LOT of Asians/Asian-Americans that followed the lives of Asians/Asian-Americans and offered as complete a portrait as any theater piece can.

The cast of KPOP  (© Ben Arons)
The cast of KPOP  (© Ben Arons)

Lia: What kinds of responses and feedback did you have from your audiences towards the show, the concept and your character?
James: The show developed a following. This is a little silly, but there was fan art. Fan art for an off-Broadway musical! Audiences were, by and large, super enthusiastic. Houses were diverse, responsive and accepting. The music and the immersive nature of the show were huge draws.

My character, Jerry, was… complicated. He dealt with a lot personal challenges related to assimilation and identity. As a result, his perspectives and treatment of some of the other characters could be uncomfortable to witness. Because we were all acting, basically, right up in audience members’ faces, the lines of reality/artifice could sometimes get blurred. Audience reactions were instinctive, unguarded, and, therefore, blunt. Some nights, I could feel an entire room of people turning on me. The looks of shock and disgust were hard to ignore (but, of course, I had to pretend not to notice.) I suppose it’s a good thing that people would come up to me after the show and exclaim what an asshole I was. I dunno if I ever got used to that.

Lia:  What you do find most challenging about being an actor?
James: I get in my own way a lot. Self-doubt is a consistent challenge. I’m pretty effusive when it comes to the work of my friends; I love witnessing their success. It can be super inspiring and motivating. But offering myself that level of support isn’t always so forthcoming. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to manage and counterbalance the negative thoughts. Having a solid support network of fellow actors helps. My family has also been really great about providing encouragement.

Also, money. I want more money.

Lia: Are there any other projects that you are involved with this year?
James: Once Vietgone ends, I’ll be heading back to NYC. Day-jobbery and auditioning.

About a month ago, the entire original cast and creative team recorded the Four Immigrants. The show was very well-received, and as a result, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley managed to raise the funds for us to assemble and record in Oakland. It was a hectic 48 hours, but I just heard a few of the tracks. They sound great!! I think the release date is sometime in June.

Lia:  Any directors, writers or plays that are on your wish list?
James: I should be more practical and keep an ongoing wish list of names and titles. I do keep a mental tally of work that inspires me. John Doyle’s recent Pacific Overtures, at Classic Stage. Ivo Van Hove’s The Crucible. Leigh Silverman’s staging of Violet.

Hmmm, I recently reread The Glass Menagerie; definitely on my bucket list.

Two hippies (Cindy Im, left, and Jomar Tagatac) smoke a joint. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Two hippies (Cindy Im, left, and Jomar Tagatac) smoke a joint. Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Single tickets (ranging from $25-$90) are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

The creative team for Vietgone includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic Designer), Jessie Amoroso (Costume Designer), Wen-Ling Liao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), Chris Lundahl (Projection Designer), Shammy Dee (Original Music), and Natalia Duong (Assistant Director).

Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn
Lia Chang. Photo by Lori Tan Chinn

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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James Seol, Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, and Jomar Tagatac Set for Qui Nguyen’s Irreverent Road-trip Comedy, VIETGONE at A.C.T.’s The Strand, February 21 – April 22

James Seol
James Seol
James Seol

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) continues its 2017-18 season with Qui Nguyen’s critically acclaimed play, Vietgone, Wednesday, February 21 – Sunday, April 22, 2018, at The Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street, SF, CA.

Hailed as a “raucous, immensely moving comedy” by the New York Times, Vietgone is a modern twist on the classic story of boy meets girl. In this irreverent new comedy, three young Vietnamese immigrants leave a war-torn country for an eye-opening road trip across the bewildering and foreign landscape of 1970s America.

A vibrant mash-up of audacious language, pop-culture references, and kick-ass romance, Vietgone is an action-packed road trip that shifts gears instantaneously from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. Following sold-out houses at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club, this sexy, sassy, freewheeling ride, backed by original hip-hop and Motown rhythms, will roll into The Strand in an all-new production this February.

Single tickets (ranging from $25-$90) are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at act-sf.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Vietgone is a humorous and heartwarming play that reexamines the Vietnam War and tracks the refugee experience in an entirely new way through a mash-up of uniquely unconventional styles-from hip-hop and comedy to martial arts and video,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. “We are delighted to introduce San Francisco Bay Area audiences to playwright Qui Nguyen and director Jaime Castañeda and look forward to partnering with the Vietnamese community on a number of cultural events throughout the engagement.”

Under the direction of Jaime Castañeda (Associate Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse), Vietgone features (in alphabetical order) Jenelle Chu, Stephen Hu, Cindy Im, James Seol, and Jomar Tagatac.

The creative team for Vietgone includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic Designer), Jessie Amoroso (Costume Designer), Wen-Ling Liao (Lighting Designer), Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer), Chris Lundahl (Projection Designer), Shammy Dee (Original Music), and Natalia Duong (Assistant Director).

In connection with Vietgone, A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events-many of which are presented free of charge-that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while having an entire night out at the theater. Visit act-sf.org/interact to learn more about subscribing to these events throughout the season.

• Bike to the Theater Night:
Wednesday, February 21, 6:30 p.m.
Providing a greener alternative to theater transportation, A.C.T. and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offer free valet bike parking, as well as a special discount on tickets, for these select performances.

• Tech Night:
Thursday, February 22, 5:30 p.m.
Join us at a neighborhood bar for a happy hour with hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and mingling with industry contacts and theatergoers before walking over to A.C.T.’s Geary Theater for the 8 p.m. performance.

• Prologue:
Tuesday, March 6, 5:30 p.m.
Before the curtain goes up, get a sneak peek at the artistic process at this fascinating preshow discussion with the director and artistic staff.

• Audience Exchanges:
Tuesday, March 13, 7 p.m. | Wednesday, March 28, 2 p.m. | Sunday, April 1, 2 p.m.
After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.

• OUT with A.C.T.:
Wednesday, March 14, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular after-party.

• Theater on the Couch:
Friday, March 16, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
This exciting postshow discussion series addresses audience questions and explores the minds, motives, and behavior of the characters.

• Community Day:
Saturday, March 17, 4 p.m.
Join us for a celebration of Vietnamese food, music, and culture.

• Wente Vineyards Wine Series:
Tuesday, March 27, 6:30 p.m.
Before the show, raise a glass at this wine-tasting event featuring the Bay Area’s hottest local winery.

• PlayTime:
Saturday, April 14, 12:45 p.m.
Before this matinee performance, get hands-on with the artists who make it happen at this interactive theater workshop. A.C.T.’s production of Vietgone is made possible by executive producers Jerome L. and Thao N. Dodson and Nola Yee; producers Carlotta and Robert Dathe and Anne and Michelle Shonk; and associate producers Dr. and Mrs. Richard E. Geist, Helen M. Marcus, and Rick and Anne Riley.

A.C.T. would also like to acknowledge its 2017-18 season presenters Frannie Fleishhacker; Priscilla and Keith Geeslin; Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; Burt and Deedee McMurtry; Arthur Rock and Toni Rembe; Mary and Steven L. Swig; Jeffrey W. and Laurie Ubben; season partner PG&E; lead education partner Wells Fargo; Season Airline Sponsor United Airlines; and Official Hotel Sponsor Hotel G.

 

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