PASADENA — The Pasadena Playhouse will present the U.S. premiere of “Waterfall,” an epic new Broadway musical love story, featuring a distinguished international creative team.
Preview performances begin Friday, May 29, with the official press opening on Sunday, June 7, at The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave. in Pasadena. The production will then play Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in the fall, prior to reaching Broadway in 2016.
“Waterfall” is an epic love story set in Bangkok and Tokyo between the turbulent years of 1933 and 1939, as a monarchy falls in Thailand and Japan is on the brink of war. A young Thai student falls in love with the American wife of a Thai diplomat, and the story of their forbidden love parallels history as the new democracy of Siam moves into the vortex of the increasingly anti-American Japan.
“Waterfall” marks a groundbreaking collaboration between American and Asian theatrical artists. The musical, based on a contemporary classic Thai novel, “Behind the Painting” by Sriburapha, features book and lyrics by Tony Award-winner Richard Maltby Jr. (“Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Miss Saigon”) and music by Oscar-winner and two-time Tony Award nominee David Shire (“Baby,” “Big”). The production will be choreographed by Tony Award nominee Dan Knechtges (“Xanadu”) and directed by Broadway and Thai theatrical impresario Tak Viravan.
Viravan says, “This is a beautiful, epic love story that deals with the different cultures of the world. It touches people’s hearts with a beautiful score by David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr. It is a combination of the American musical and the authenticity of the Eastern world, but told for a Western audience. It combines all the beauties of the world with the different cultures of the world. ‘Waterfall’ is a rich, romantic, melodic piece of theatre. I hope audiences from Pasadena and Los Angeles will come.”
Viravan is the leading figure of Thailand’s burgeoning theater scene, where he has directed 14 musicals and plays and has presented many international touring productions. ‘Waterfall’ is adapted from an earlier musical, “Behind the Painting,” which Viravan directed in Thailand. He has also been a producer for several Broadway musicals, including the Tony-nominated revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (2011) and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” Viravan is also known in Thailand as a television producer/director and for music and artist management.
Sheldon Epps, artistic director of The Pasadena Playhouse, says, “I am tremendously excited that The Playhouse, in collaboration with Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, will have the great honor of presenting the American premiere of this evocative, romantic, and visually stunning new musical. It will allow us to extend our already strong diversity efforts through outreach to our Asian American community, while continuing to entice our existing audiences who will surely want to see the work of this dynamic creative team. Participating in the development and the nurturing of material of this caliber with such respected artists is one of the most exciting things that our theater can do. I look forward to a thrilling creative journey.”
“As the State Theater of California,” says Executive Director Elizabeth Doran, “we are proud to reflect and build bridges between the many diverse communities that represent our great state. This new musical will round out a season of shows that celebrates and amplifies this vision. ‘Waterfall’will provide audiences with a night of powerful, epic entertainment.”
Thai superstar Bie Sukrit Wisetkaew will make his American stage debut in “Waterfall.” From his discovery in 2006 on the Thai television talent contest “The Star,” Bie has become one of Thailand’s most famous and recognizable young talents, starring on stage, screen and television. As a recording artist, his credits include several top-selling albums and sold-out concert tours. Bie created the role of Noppon in the musical “Behind the Painting.”
The cast also features Emily Padgett, Thom Sesma, and J. Elaine Marcos.
Padgett was most recently seen in her critically acclaimed performance as Daisy Hilton in the 2014 Broadway revival of “Side Show.” Her other Broadway credits include “Grease,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Legally Blonde.” She originated the role of Alex Owens on the national tour of “Flashdance” and appeared in the 25th anniversary tour of “Cats.” She has also appeared on television in the FX series “Louie.”
Sesma’s Broadway credits include the original 1983 production of “La Cage aux Folles,” “Chu Chem,” “Nick & Nora,” “Search and Destroy,” “Man of La Mancha,” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” His additional New York credits include the recent off-Broadway production of “Craving for Travel.”
Marcos’ Broadway credits include “The Wedding Singer,” “Sweet Charity,” “Wonderful Town,” “Flower Drum Song,” “Miss Saigon” and “A Chorus Line.” She also played Lily St. Regis in the recent Broadway revival of “Annie.”
Other cast members include Celia Mei Rubin (“Matilda the Musical,” “Parade”), Colin Miyamoto (“Beauty and the Beast,” “How I Became a Pirate”), Darryl Semira (Mamma Mia!,” “Bombay Dreams”), Eymard Cabling (“Miss Saigon,” “The King and I”), Jordan De Leon (“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Footloose”), Kay Trinidad (“The Little Mermaid,” “Bare”), Kenway Kua (“Wicked,” “The Frogs”), Kimberly Immanuel (“Crazy for You,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost, the Musical”), Koh Mochizuki (“Mary Poppins,” “Aida”), Leon Le (“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” “West Side Story”), Lisa Helmi Johanson (“Avenue Q”), Marcus Choi (“Wicked,” “Flower Drum Song”), Minami Yusui (“Mary Poppins,” “Lysistrata Jones”), Riza Takahashi (“The King and I,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie”), Rona Figueroa (“Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables”), and Steven Eng (“The King and I,” “Pacific Overtures”).
The performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets, priced from $47 to $87, are available online at http://PasadenaPlayhouse.org; by calling (626) 356-7529; or by visiting the box office Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. during non-performance dates. On performance dates, the box office is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.
Talkback Tuesdays at The Playhouse (June 9, 16 and 23) is a post-show series in which a panel of community experts and esteemed guests discuss and explore selected themes of the show with the audience.
Post-Show at the Playhouse (June 21 following the 2 p.m. performance) includes members of the cast and crew, as well as any creative or design team members who are present. It acts as a question-and-answer session between the audience and the participating members of the production.