Watanabe Returns to ‘Extraordinary Chambers’

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The cast of “Extraordinary Chambers” (from left): Esther Chae von Zielbauer, Manny Fernandes, Erika Phillips, Greg Watanabe, Albert Park.

SAN DIEGO — Greg Watanabe is featured in Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company’s production of “Extraordinary Chambers” at the 10th Ave. Theatre, 930 10th Ave., San Diego.

Upcoming performances: Wednesday through Saturday, June 19-22 and 26-29, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, June 23 and 30, at 2 p.m.

David Wiener’s “Extraordinary Chambers” is the story of an American couple who travel to Cambodia for a business trip, but become personally entangled with Khmer Rouge victims and survivors. The genocide, complicity, survival, greed and love collide in this play that shines a light on the Cambodian experience and asks: How far are we willing to go to survive?

The cast consists of Watanabe as Dr. Heng, a suspected Khmer Rouge official, Esther Chae von Zielbauer as Rom Chang, Erika Beth Phillips as Mara, Albert Park as Sopoan, and Manny Fernandes as Carter. The director is Seema Sueko.

In 2011, Watanabe was nominated for an Ovation Award for his portrayal of Sopoan, a survivor of the “killing fields,” in The Geffen Playhouse’s production of “Extraordinary Chambers.” Francois Chau, who played Dr. Heng, was also nominated.

“It’s been amazing to work on this play again and especially with this theater company, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company,” Watanabe told The Rafu Shimpo. “I feel like the director, Seema Sueko, really wanted to explore the bonds of love between the Khmer characters, because that was a common thread among survivors — love was the thing that allowed them to keep going, to keep surviving.

“Exploring Dr. Heng has been so gratifying. I get to do this play that I love so much from a completely different perspective. It’s been great.”

Watanabe’s other theater credits include “The Ballad of Yachiyo” (Public Theater-New York, “The Summer Moon” (A Contemporary Theater), “No-No Boy” (adapted by Ken Narasaki), and “The Happy Ones” (South Coast Rep), for which he was nominated for an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for best featured performance.

He previously appeared at Mo’olelo in “How I Got that Story” and “Yellow Face,” which earned him a San Diego Theater Critics Circle nomination. Most recently, he appeared in “Golden Child” (Signature Theater, New York).

His television and film credits include “Watch Over Me,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Reno 911!,” “Criminal Minds,” “Only the Brave,” “Americanese,” and “Life Tastes Good.”

Watanabe is also a member of the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, an Asian American comedy troupe. A documentary about them, “Mighty Warriors of Comedy,” won a Northern California Emmy.

Tickets for “Extraordinary Chambers” are $30 general; $22 for students and seniors (65 and over) and groups of 10 or more. For non-profit groups of 10 or more, the cost is $15. Group rates only valid for reservations made at least 24 hours in advance.

Post-show talks will be held on June 19 (“Cambodian Women in the Political Sphere”) and June 20 (“A Conversation About Global Justice”). A pre-show talk with Debroah Klochko, executive director of the Museum of Photographic Arts, will be held on June 27 at 7:15 p.m.

For more information, call (619) 342-7395 or visit http://moolelo.net.

 

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