Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: BD Wong Stars in the La Jolla Playhouse Production of Herringbone, 8/1-8/30

BD Wong stars in Herringbone at LaJolla Playhouse, August 1-30, 2009. Photo by Lia Chang

BD Wong stars in Herringbone at LaJolla Playhouse, August 1-30, 2009. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award-winner BD Wong (M. Butterfly; Law & Order: SVU) stars in the La Jolla Playhouse production of Herringbone, book by Tom Cone, music by Skip Kennon, lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh, directed by Roger Rees. Herringbone runs August 1 – 30 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre (press opening: Friday, August 7 at 8:00 pm).

Set during the Great Depression, this darkly comic, highly theatrical musical tells the tale of eight-year-old George, who, when taken under the wing of a vaudeville veteran, becomes possessed by the spirit of his mentor’s vengeful partner – and suddenly shows a remarkable affinity for tap dancing. As the play progresses, a climactic battle ensues over George’s mind, body and soul. The play is as much the story of young George’s possession as it is about the performance itself – witnessing the brilliant artistry of BD Wong in an electrifying evening of theatre, including fourteen entertaining song and dance routines and a stageful of characters, all played by Mr. Wong in a virtuoso performance.

The creative team includes Roger Rees, director; Dan Lipton, music director/conductor; Darren Lee, choreographer; Eugene Lee, set designer; William Ivey Long, costume designer; Christopher Akerlind, lighting designer; Leon Rothenberg, sound designer.

BD Wong won the Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards for his performance in the Broadway hit M. Butterfly. Additional Broadway credits include Face Value;You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Pacific Overtures. He is well known to television audiences from his recurring role on Law & Order: SVU. He has also appeared on HBO’s Oz and All-American Girl. His film credits include The Freshman, Father of the Bride (1 and 2), Jurassic Park, And the Band Played On, Seven Years in Tibet, Mulan (1 and 2), The Salton Sea and Stay. Author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Following Foo (The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man), published by Harper Collins, Mr. Wong has received community service recognitions from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian AIDS Project, GLAAD, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Association of Asian-Pacific American Artists,East/West Players, Second Generation.

Tom Cone’s (book) plays include Herringbone, Cubistique, Beautiful Tigers, Stargazing, Love at Last Sight and True Mummy. These plays have been seen throughout the United States, Canada, England and Australia. His adaptations of classic plays include Molière’s The Miser and Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, which premiered at the Stratford Festival where he was a writer-in-residence. His librettos include The Architect, composed by David MacIntyre; The Gang, composed by Peter Hannan; and Game Misconduct, composed by Leslie Uyeda. He is a co-founder of Song Room and a co-producer of CABINET: Interdisciplinary Collaborations. Mr. Cone has been the recipient of the Canada Council Award, the NEA, and the Drama League Award for Playwriting in New York. His new play, Donald and Lenore, will premiere at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, 2010.

Skip Kennon’s (music) credits include Herringbone (Williamstown, Playwrights Horizons, Hartford Stage, Edinburgh Festival, Prince Music Theater, St. Nicholas Theater); Here’s Our Girl (lyrics: Ellen Fitzhugh; workshop NYSF/Playwrights Horizons); Don Juan DeMarco (workshop, Seattle Rep); the one-act Afternoon Tea (book/lyrics: Eduardo Machado; INTAR). Music and lyrics: The Last Starfighter (Storm Theatre, New York Musical Theatre Festival); Blanco (Goodspeed, National Alliance for Musical Theatre); Feathertop (WPA Theatre, PA Stage); Time and Again (book: Jack Viertel; MTC, Old Globe, O’Neill Center); the one-act Plaisir D’Amour (book: Terrence McNally); and Disney’s DVD Premiere Award winner The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.

Ellen Fitzhugh’s (lyrics) musicals include: Grind, with Larry Grossman, directed by Harold Prince (Mark Hellinger Theater); Big Blonde, with Walter Edgar Kennon (developed at Playwrights Horizons and The Public Theatre); Paper Moon, with Marty Casella and Mr. Grossman (Goodspeed to Tokyo); and Muscle, with James Lapine and William Finn. Upcoming: Paradise Found, with Richard Nelson, Johann Strauss II and Jonathan Tunick, directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman; Los Otros, music by Michael John LaChiusa, directed by Jonathan Butterell (commissioned by Center Theater Group). Additionally, she contributed lyrics within Adam Guettel’s Myths and Hymns, songs (with Mr. Finn) for sequels to The Brave Little Toaster; as well as songs for the films That’s Dancing and The Great Mouse Detective, with Mr. Grossman and Henry Mancini. Ms. Fitzhugh has received numerous Emmy, Drama Desk and Tony Award nominations.

Roger Rees (director) co-directed La Jolla Playhouse’s acclaimed 2009 production of Peter and the Starcatchers. He served as the Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival from 2005 to 2007. As the Associate Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic Theater from 1984-1985, he directed numerous productions including Julius Caesar, Turkey Time and John Bull. Other credits include Red Memories (New York Stage and Film); Mud, River, Stone (Playwrights Horizons); The Merry Wives of Windsor, Love’s Labour’s Lost (Old Globe Theatre); Arms and the Man (Roundabout); Here Lies Jenny (Zipper Theater, Post Street Theater); The Taming of the Shrew (played Petruchio opposite Bebe Neuwirth), The Rivals, Simon Grey’s The Late Middle Classes, Anything Goes, The Film Society, Double Double, Herringbone (WTF, McCarter Theater); Treemonisha, Juniper Tree, White House Cantata, Collegiate Chorale; and the “Variety,” episode of Oz.

Performance times for Herringbone are Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:30pm; Thursday through Saturday, 8:00pm; and Sunday, 7:00pm. Matinees are held on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. Single ticket prices range from $30 to $65. Tickets are currently available by calling the Playhouse Box Office at (858) 550-1010 or online at

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