PASADENA — “The Great Leap” by Lauren Yee is being presented by Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave. in Pasadena, through Dec. 1.
Urgent, sharp-witted and fast-paced, “The Great Leap” is an unforgettable night of theater. As two men from different cultures reunite and find themselves at a crossroads – one man struggling to keep his career alive and an old friend flourishing in a career he never wanted – a young Chinese American gets lost in the Tiananmen Square protest and finds himself at the accidental center of international attention. All three men must face their past and struggle to find their own personal victories in this compelling drama directed by Tony Award winner BD Wong.
Grant Chang is thrilled to make his West Coast debut at the Pasadena Playhouse. A native New Yorker, he minored in educational theater at New York University and studied acting at HB Studios. He’s most recently known for his recurring guest star role as Grant in “Mr. Robot.” Theater: “Marian Jean” (NYTW), “The Nanjing Race” (Abingdon Theatre Company), “A Shot Away” (Red Fern Theatre), “Mame” with Sandy Duncan (Barrington Stage Co). Television: “Deception,” “The Knick,” “House of Cards,” “Daredevil,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Film: “Off Jackson Avenue,” “The Cut Runs Deep,” “Finding You,” “Dark Horse,” “Feel.”
Justin Chien is originally from Taiwan and has a BFA in acting from USC. He recently appeared in “Valley of the Heart” at the Mark Taper Forum. Chien is a co-founder of Rogue Shore Pictures, where he has written, directed, and acted in various award-winning short films, including “Tiger of the White Sun,” “Reverallium,” and “Continuum,” which won Outstanding Short Film at the 2019 Chinese American Film Festival.
James Eckhouse most recently starred on Broadway opposite Bryan Cranston in the Tony Award-winning drama “All the Way” and as Don Knotts in the HBO series “High and Mighty.” This fall he appears opposite Rita Wilson in “Simple Wedding” and in “Pencil Town.” Eckhouse directed last season’s highly acclaimed comedy “American Hero,” a co-production with IAMA Theatre in the Carrie Hamilton. Other theater credits include: “Red Line” (IAMA), “The Escort” (Geffen Playhouse), “The Goat” (Mark Taper), “Mother Courage” (La Jolla), “Six Degrees of Separation” (Old Globe), and “The Downside” (Pasadena Playhouse). He has appeared in dozens of TV shows and films, and is perhaps most well-known to TV audiences playing Jim Walsh on the original “Beverly Hills 90210.” He has a BFA in drama from the Juilliard School.
Christine Lin is honored to make her Pasadena Playhouse and especially grateful to Wong. A Chicago suburbs native, she originated the role of Miss Zhao in David Henry Hwang’s “Chinglish” on Broadway and at the Goodman Theatre. She has also worked with CalArts CNP at the Huntington Library, Cincinnati Playhouse, Nashville Rep, Firefly Theater & Films, InFusion Theatre, Halcyon Theatre and Stir-Friday Night! Television: “The Blacklist,” “Limitless,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Following,” “Alpha House,” “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.” Film: “Big Words,” “Blowtorch,” “Listen Up Philip.” Education: Steppenwolf West, Second City Chicago Conservatory, UCB NYC/LA, BSE degree in electrical and biomedical engineering, Duke University.
Lauren Yee’s “Cambodian Rock Band,” with music by Dengue Fever, premiered at South Coast Rep, subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Signature Theatre, Portland Center Stage and Jungle Theatre. “The Great Leap” has been produced at the Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, Atlantic Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Arts Club, InterAct Theatre, and Steppenwolf with future productions at Long Wharf and Asolo Rep. Honors include the Doris Duke Artists Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, Horton Foote Prize, Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton, and the No. 1 and 2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List. She’s a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, New Dramatists members, Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and Playwrights Realm Alumni playwright. TV credits include “Pachinko” (Apple); “Soundtrack” (Netflix). Current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, and South Coast Rep. BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD.
BD Wong’s Broadway credits include “M. Butterfly” (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Clarence Derwent, Theater World Awards), “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and “Pacific Overtures.” He authored the critically acclaimed memoir “Following Foo” (Harper Entertainment); directed and co-wrote “Alice Chan” (La Jolla Playhouse POP Tour), “The Yellow Wood” (NYMF) and “Speak Up Connie” (All For One Festival). Off-Broadway: “As Thousands Cheer,” “Shanghai Moon,” “A Language of Their Own.” Television: “Mr. Robot” (Emmy and Critics Choice nominations), “Something’s Killing Me,” “Gotham,” “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” “Law & Order: SVU” (11 seasons), “Oz,” “All-American Girl,” “Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens (January 2020). Film: “Bird Box,” “Focus,” “The Salton Sea,” “Mulan,” “Seven Years in Tibet,” “Father of the Bride.” Principal photography for Jurassic World 3 (his fourth of the “Jurassic” franchise) begins in 2020. Currently directing the ongoing workshop of “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” the musical adaptation that he co-wrote with composer Wayne Barker, at the Wilson Center of Performing Arts in Wilmington, N.C. He sits on the boards of trustees of Rosie’s Theater Kids and the Actor’s Fund of America.
A co-production with East West Players, the play runs two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Showtimes: Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. (no show on Nov. 28); Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. (plus 7 p.m. show on Dec. 1).
Talkback with the cast on Tuesday, Nov. 19. “From the Great Leap to Tiananmen Square,” a talkback with UCLA Professor Sean Metzger, on Tuesday, Nov. 26.