‘La Cage aux Folles’ Completes EWP’s 50th Anniversary Season

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Tim Dang’s final show as producing artistic director.

Carlos Chang (left) and Gedde Watanabe give a sneak peek at "La Cage aux Folles" at Monday's East West Players awards dinner and gala at the Universal Hilton. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

Carlos Chang (left) and Gedde Watanabe give a sneak peek at “La Cage aux Folles” at Monday’s East West Players awards dinner and gala at the Universal Hilton. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, completes its extended two-year 50th Anniversary Season Golden with the Tony Award-winning musical “La Cage aux Folles” for a six-week engagement.

“La Cage aux Folles,” with book by Harvey Fierstein, lyrics and music by Jerry Herman, and based on the book by Jean Poiret, was originally produced on Broadway at the Palace Theatre in 1983. Directed by Tim Dang in his final production as producing artistic director at EWP, with musical direction by Marc Macalintal (EWP’s “Chess,” “Krunk Fu Battle Battle,” “The Who’s Tommy”) and choreography by Reggie Lee (EWP’s “Follies,” “A Little Night Music”).

Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players and is produced in association with the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Additional funding is provided by The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation and the OUT Fund.

This multiple Tony Award winner for best musical about a gay couple who own a glitzy drag club is given a fresh, sleek and racy look that only EWP can deliver.

The charmed lives of Georges, the suave owner, and Albin, his high-strung star performer, are turned upside down when George’s son, Jean-Michel, returns with his fiancée, Anne. Cultures collide as Georges and Albin are introduced to Anne and her ultra-conservative parents in this jubilant musical that inspired the movie “The Birdcage.”

Gedde Watanabe

Gedde Watanabe

“Working with a fantastic ensemble led by Gedde Watanabe and Jon Jon Briones, this show represents the presence of Asian Americans in the industry. One is a Broadway veteran, the other is on his way to debut on Broadway with a cast of emerging talent ready to make their mark,” stated Dang. “Our 50th anniversary is a closing of one memorable chapter of EWP but the beginning of another. Taking the lead from one of the most memorable songs from the show, these are indeed the ‘best of times.’”

Briones (Georges) just completed starring as the Engineer in the 2014 revival of “Miss Saigon” in London’s West End, a role for which he has won many awards and was nominated for the prestigious Lawrence Olivier Award for Leading Actor in a Musical. He has appeared in EWP’s production of “A Little Night Music” as Fredric and also the Old Globe Theatre’s production of “Allegiance.” He will be making his Broadway debut in 2017 with “Miss Saigon.”

Watanabe (Albin) originated the role of the Boy in a Tree in the Broadway musical “Pacific Overtures” by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. He is also known for “Sixteen Candles,” “Gung Ho” and many more film and television projects.

Jon Jon Briones

Jon Jon Briones

Allen Lucky Weaver (Jacob) has performed Thuy in “Miss Saigon” and Angel in “Rent” in various regional productions across the country.

Other cast members include Michael Hagiwara as Edouard Dindon, Sharline Liu as Marie Dindon, Jinwoo Jung as Jean Michel, Audrey Cain as Anne, Grace Yoo as Jaqueline, and Cesar Cipriano as Francis.

The notorious Cagelles will be played by Christopher Aguilar, Carlos Chang, Jonathan Kim, DT Matias, and Alex Sanchez.

The design team includes Victoria Petrovich (set design), Anthony Tran (costume design), Karyn D. Lawrence (lighting design), and Cricket Myers (sound design). Props by Ken Takemoto. Stage manager is Ondina V. Dominguez.

All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St. (between First and Temple) in Little Tokyo. Previews are Thursday, May 12, through Saturday, May 14, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m. All preview seats are $28.

Opening Night is Wednesday, May 18, at 8 p.m. and includes a 7 p.m. pre-performance cocktail reception, and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team. Call theater for availability. “Pay-what-you-can” performance is on Thursday, May 19, at 8 p.m. A special talkback with the cast and creative team is on Sunday, May 29, immediately following the performance. The production runs until June 26.

Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at https://eastwestplayers.secure.force.com/ticket or by calling (213) 625-7000. Regular tickets range from $48 to $58. Student and senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

Special event: Celebrate the final performances June 22-26 with outgoing artistic director Dang with a Chinese buffet and drinks one hour before showtime Wednesday through Saturday night. At the closing performance Sunday, the buffet and drinks will occur after the performance with the cast/crew.

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