Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Three Year Swim Club, Encounter, TEA, Christmas in Hanoi and Chess set for East West Players 47th Anniversary Season

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work and the longest-running professional theatre of color in the country, kicks off its 47th Anniversary Season with the return of Lee Tonouchi’s Three Year Swim Club, a Los Angeles Times Critic’s Choice and LA Weekly Pick, back by popular demand.

Set on the island of Maui in the 1930’s, Three Year Swim Club becomes transcendent as the art of hula becomes the metaphor for competitive swimming. Inspired by the true life story of Soichi Sakamoto, who trained the youth of Maui to swim in the plantation irrigation ditches on their path to becoming Olympic champions. Directed and choreographed by Keo Woolford. Three Year Swim Club has performances, July 27-August 19, 2012, at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the UnionCenter for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St. in Los Angeles, CA. For tickets and more information, check out the website or call 213-625-7000.

This season, themed Spirited Away, includes the multidisciplinary Encounter by S.M. Raju and Aparna Sindhoor, the newly-reimagined TEA by Velina Hasu Houston, the world premiere of Christmas in Hanoi by Eddie Borey, and the Broadway musical CHESS, music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus Ulvaeus & lyrics by Tim Rice.

“As East West Players enters its 47th season, we celebrate and explore the notion of spirit,” says Tim Dang, EWP’s Producing Artistic Director. “From ghosts to human perseverance, these stories delve into the essence of spirit within the human mind and body – as our emotions conjure the multiple definitions of the word spirit.”

September 6-October 7, 2012
Encounter explores different confrontations – with the Divine, the Self, Bob Marley, Love, and the Military. In association with Navarasa Dance Theater in Massachusetts, Encounter mesmerized audiences during the National Asian American Theater Festival. It is now brought in its full version, continuing to expand EWP’s boundaries to include South Asian voices and multi-disciplinary forms such as Indian dance. By S.M. Raju and Aparna Sindhoor; Music by Isaac Thomas Kottukapally; Directed & Choreographed by Aparna Sindhoor and Anil Natyaveda; Inspired by a short story by Mahasweta Devi.

Velina Hasu Houston Photo credit: Pacific Rim Press

Velina Hasu Houston Photo credit: Pacific Rim Press

November 8-December 9, 2012
TEA is the critically acclaimed play about Japanese war brides from World War II now living in Kansas gathering for a farewell tea ceremony for one of their members who has mysteriously passed away. In honor of the play’s 25th Anniversary, EWP dares to present something different as Houston pens lyrics and adds original music to this classic play. By Velina Hasu Houston; Book and Lyrics by Velina Hasu Houston; Music by Nathan Wang; Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera.

February 7-March 10, 2013
Christmas in Hanoi is about a mixed-race family who returns to Vietnam for the first time since the war. One year after the death of their strong-willed mother, siblings Winnie and Lou travel with their Irish Catholic father and Vietnamese grandfather to re-connect with their roots. Whether they embrace that past or reject it, they are haunted by their own family’s ghosts and by the phantoms of Vietnam’s long history. Winner of the EWP Face of the Future Playwriting Competition. By Eddie Borey and directed by Jeff Liu.

May 9-June 9, 2013
CHESS: From the lyricist of Jesus Christ Superstar and the composers of Mamma Mia!, the story involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players – an American and a Russian – and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. All of this takes place within the context of the Cold War, as both countries vie for international chess victories for propaganda purposes. Music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus; Lyrics by Tim Rice; Directed by Tim Dang; Musical Direction by Marc Macalintal. Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players.

Additional funding is provided by Bank of America, the California Community Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, the Shubert
Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the LA County Arts Commission and the City of Los Angeles
Department of Cultural Affairs.

All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the UnionCenter for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Season
Subscriptions are available with General Subscriptions starting at $135. Wednesday, Thursday, Student, and Senior Subscriptions are discounted to $120. Preview Subscriptions are $89. Opening Night subscriptions include pre-show cocktails and a post-show reception and are $210. Season Subscription purchases and additional
information can be found at or by calling 213-625-7000. All plays and dates subject to change.

Other Articles by Lia Chang
West Coast Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish at Berkeley Rep stars Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge, August 24-October 7, 2012
Velina Hasu Houston’s Calligraphy Set for World Premiere at LATC
Rick Shiomi helms Mu Performing Arts’ Asian American Cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, July 17-August 5, 2012
Daniel Hsia’s Shanghai Calling, Simon Yin’s Supercapitalist & Michael Kang’s Knots to Screen at 35th annual Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) in New York, which runs July 25 – August 5, 2012
Tony Award – winning Playwright Terrence McNally to be feted at Westport Country Playhouse Annual Gala, September 24, 2012
Dian Kobayashi, Emily Kuroda and Jeanne Sakata set for Daniel Akiyama’s A Cage of Fireflies at 2012 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab
Epic Theatre Presents Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths, starring Joel de la Fuente, May 20-21, 2012
Photos: All-Access Pass to Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny with Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin De Jesus, John Tartaglia, Jason Graae, Curtis Holbrook, Eddie Korbich, Samantha Massell and Ken Page
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Tony Award – winning Playwright Terrence McNally to be Honored at Westport Country Playhouse Annual Gala, September 24, 2012
Richard Thomas and Boyd Gaines to star in An Enemy of the People at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre during Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2012-2013 Season
Multimedia: Exclusive photos and video of Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas -In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Photos: BD Wong, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Brandon Victor Dixon, Tom Viola at “Passing It On: An Evening of Mentorship to Benefit Rosie’s Theater Kids”
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (3pm) with Andre Bishop, Mary Beth Hurt, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Philip Kan Gotanda, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders, and more
Photos: Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (8pm) with Oskar Eustis, Patti LuPone, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, John Weidman and more
Photos: In Rehearsal with Director Bartlett Sher and the cast of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan
David Henry Hwang Set as Signature Theatre’s Residency One Playwright for the 2012-2013 Season
Photos: In Rehearsal with BD Wong at Dixon Place for Live Concert Recording of Herringbone
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Oskar Eustis, BD Wong, Brian d’Arcy James, Francis Jue, Jennifer Lim and Leigh Silverman at WNYC’s The Greene Space
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2012 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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