APPLAUSE! Musicals in Concert


Music Richard Rodgers Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II Book Oscar Hammerstein II & Joseph Fields based on a novel by C. Y. Lee

Dates 4-8 April 2006 Venue Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Burnaby

Reviewer Ed Farolan

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway hit of 1958, Flower Drum Song, based on C. Y. Lee's novel, is a musical comedy set in San Francisco's Chinatown. The Broadway hit was later made into a movie in 1961 starring Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Miyoshi Umeki, and Jack Soo. This is an almost all-Asian cast, and the plot is about old-fashioned Chinese and modern Chinese-Americans clashing over tradition and trying to find romance.

Mei Li (Jaclyn Nishi), a Hong Kong picture bride, arrives in San Francisco to meet her husband Sammy Fong (Jimmy Yi), an Americanized Chinese night-club owner. However, Sammy is already romantically involved with the star attraction of his nightclub show, the sultry singer/dancer Linda Low (Jennifer Suratos). He tries to assign his marriage contract to Wang Ta (Ivan Tse), a handsome college student living in Chinatown. Ta, however, has his sights set on Linda as well, while Linda's seamstress Helen Chow (Tara Chen) is secretly in love with Ta. But all's well that ends well, and the romantic complications are happily resolved.

Despite the fact that the musical is semi-staged with a full cast and chorus who perform "on book," with minimal production / technical elements with the focus on the score, I found the production entertaining.

What is unique is that the cast of more than thirty only rehearsed for a week! Amazing, for a production this complicated with all the singing and dancing, Broadway-style! Pity, though that this sold-out show has only five performances. I hope they extend the show, because the opening night audience loved it. They screamed, wowed and totally enjoyed the performance.

Some of the more memorable songs include "I Enjoy being a Girl" sung beautifully by Suratos;"Love, Look Away," which was a very touching song performed magnificently by Tara Chen; and the funny "Don't Marry Me" by Jimmy Yi.

I enjoyed the performance of Elijah Sabadlan who played Wang Ta's brother Wang San. He surely made the audience laugh with his antics. Sharon Ong as Madam Liang was also a key factor in the success of this production, as she was the energy factor in this production.

Congratulations to Director Ryan Mooney, Stage Manager Joni-Hayden-Summerton, and Artistic Director Scott Ashton Swan for all their effort in putting up a really great show!

© 2006 Ed Farolan