‘Sweet Karma’ at GTC

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A scene from Henry Ong’s “Sweet Karma.”

BURBANK — The West Coast premiere of “Sweet Karma,” a new play by Henry Ong, continues until July 20 at Grove Theater Center, 1111 W. Olive Ave., Burbank.

It’s a riveting exploration of the tragic life and death of an Oscar-winning actor who survived the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in war-torn Cambodia, only to be fatally gunned down in the streets of Los Angeles. Based on the true story of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who starred in “The Killing Fields.”

Fresh from a pre-Broadway development of the new musical “Allegiance,” Jon Jon Briones leads the cast. He was in the original London cast of “Miss Saigon,” and subsequently played the role of the Engineer in world-wide productions of that musical, including the U.S., U.K. and Asian tours, as well as in the Philippines and Germany; and in a return to London’s West End stage for its final year.

He was nominated for LA Weekly and Ovation best lead actor awards for “The Romance of Magno Rubio” at [Inside] the Ford. His other theater credits include “Allegiance” (Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, with Lea Salonga and George Takei), “Les Miserables,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Ragtime,” “Hamlet,” “Children of Eden,” and “Yellow Face” (Mark Taper).

Joining him in the cast are Rainbow Dickerson (Broadway company of “August: Osage County”), Pauline Yasuda (the 2013 winner of California’s Funniest Female competition), Kennedy Kabasares (“Dogeaters,” Center Theater Group/Playwright’s Arena),  Jully Lee (“Fabric,” “Chinese Massacre [Annotated]”) and Constance Parng (winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for best actress in a supporting role).

Ong’s plays have been produced around the world. His best-known works include “Madame Mao’s Memories” (produced in L.A., San Diego, London, Singapore and Edinburgh) and “Fabric” (produced by Company of Angels in L.A., the Singapore Repertory Theatre, and the Nomad Theatre in Surrey, England). An earlier version of “Sweet Karma” was produced by Queens Theatre in the Park in New York in 2010.

The current production, directed by GTC Artistic Director Kevin Cochran, is a special presentation of the GTC New Play Initiative. Past NPI productions directed by Cochran include “Film Chinois” (winner of the LA Ovation Award for best new play); “Blake…da Musical!” (winner of the LA Ovation Award for best new musical); R.R.R.E.D. (four LA Weekly nominations and a special selection at the New York Musical Theater Festival); “Bobby & Matt” (NY Backstage pick of the week at FringeNYC), and “Eternal Equinox” (Off-Broadway run at the 59E59 Theaters last March).

Upcoming shows:

Friday and Saturday, July 5-6, at 8 p.m.

Sunday, July 7, at 3 p.m.

Friday and Saturday, July 12-13, at 8 p.m.

Sunday, July 14, at 3 p.m.

Friday and Saturday, July 19-20, at 8 p.m.

General admission is $29.50. Discounts are available for students, seniors and Burbank residents. For reservations or more information, call (818) 528-6622, email [email protected] or visit http://www.gtc.org.

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