Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Mu’s landmark 21st Season features a brand new Taiko Concert, Lauren Yee’s The Tiger Among Us, and Rick Shiomi’s Award-Winning comedy Yellow Fever

Mu Performing Arts has announced the lineup for its 21st season of theater and taiko from the heart of the Asian American experience. This season marks founding Artistic Director Rick Shiomi’s final year at the helm of the company. Events celebrating Shiomi’s work in taiko and theater will coincide with the opening weekend of each production throughout the 2012-2013 season. These events will include special guests and retrospectives focusing on Shiomi’s development as an artist and administrator starting in the early days of the Asian American theater movement.

Rick Shiomi (Photo by Lia Chang)

Rick Shiomi (Photo by Lia Chang)

Rick Shiomi was already an accomplished playwright, taiko drummer, and community organizer when he co-founded Theater Mu in 1992, which premiered its first New Eyes Festival of staged readings at Intermedia Arts in downtown Minneapolis. Since that time, Mu Performing Arts has grown to become one of the largest Asian American performing companies in the nation, garnering critical acclaim and a burgeoning audience base along the way. Mu’s company model is unique in North America in that it encompasses both a taiko drumming ensemble (Mu Daiko) and a professional theater company (Theater Mu).

The first production in the 3-show subscription series is Mu Daiko at the Cowles Center (November 9-11, 2012). Following last season’s record-setting concert and statewide tour, Mu Daiko Artistic Director Iris Shiraishi leads the Japanese drumming ensemble in their Cowles Center debut. The concert will feature a medley of works composed by Mu Daiko founder Rick Shiomi and all of the heart pounding high energy rhythms and movement that audiences have come to expect from Mu Daiko.

In January 2013, Mu Performing arts welcomes award-winning playwright Lauren Yee back to the Twin Cities with the world premiere of her newest play, The Tiger Among Us (January 25-February 10, 2013). Presented at Mixed Blood Theatre, the play looks at the cultural disconnect felt by an isolated Hmong American family living in rural Minnesota as two siblings seek to blend traditional Hmong family values with modern life. Yee has been a Dramatists Guild fellow, a MacDowell Colony fellow, and a member of the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. She has also been a finalist for the Heideman Award, the Jerome Fellowship, the PEN USA Literary Award for Drama, and the Wasserstein Prize. This production is funded and commissioned by the MAP Fund. Mu produced Yee’s comedy, Ching Chong Chinaman, to great audience and critical acclaim in spring 2009. Katie Ka Vang (Playwright/Performer: WTF, Hmong Bollywood) will serve as Assistant Director and Cultural Consultant.

R.A. Shiomi's award-winning play Yellow Fever.

R.A. Shiomi’s award-winning play Yellow Fever.

Mu closes its mainstage season with R.A. Shiomi’s Yellow Fever (March 9-24, 2013). Rick Shiomi will direct the noir comedy in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater. Yellow Fever launched Shiomi’s theatrical career when it was produced Off-Broadway in 1982. Later produced at Theater Mu in 1994, the plot follows Sam Shikaze, a Japanese Canadian detective in Vancouver as he attempts to solve the disappearance of the Cherry Blossom Queen. Along the way Shikaze wrestles with bitter memories of the internment of Japanese-Canadians, racist organizations and an unexpected romance. New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow said the show “scores both as parody and a comedy mystery” and selected it as a Critic’s Choice. The cast includes Mu regulars Kurt Kwan (Sam Shikaze), Sara Ochs, and Eric Sharp, as well as Wade Vaughn and others. Yellow Fever will mark the fourth Mu production to be presented in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio.

The three show subscription series includes:
Mu Daiko at the Cowles Center
Iris Shiraishi, Mu Daiko Artistic Director
November 9-11, 2012
The Cowles Center for Dance

World Premiere Commission
The Tiger Among Us
by Lauren Yee
directed by TBA
January 25-February 10, 2013
Mixed Blood Theatre

The Guthrie Theater presents a Mu Performing Arts production of
Yellow Fever
by R.A. Shiomi
directed by Rick Shiomi
March 9-24, 2013
Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater

Tickets on sale now for Mu Daiko at the Cowles Center and Yellow Fever. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1 for The Tiger Among Us.
For more information or to purchase tickets call 651.789.1012 or online at

In 2011, Mu Performing Arts published a new anthology of plays through Temple University Press, Asian American Plays for a New Generation. Six of the seven plays included were commissioned and/or produced by Mu. Each season, Mu produces three mainstage plays and one mainstage taiko concert, along with numerous artist development programs and other special events. Celebrating its 21th Anniversary mainstage season, Mu Performing Arts continued its string of ‘Best of’ top end of year picks by The Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press, with last year’s musical offering Little Shop of Horrors. In the last three seasons, seven out of nine productions have been listed on end of year lists.

Other articles on Mu Performing Arts:
Up Close and Personal with Rick Shiomi, Award-winning Playwright & Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
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
Randy Reyes Embraces his Passion for Storytelling as an Actor, Director and Theater Educator
Randy Reyes directs Mu Performing Arts’ production of EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM by A. Rey Pamatmat at Mixed Blood Theatre, March 13-April 1, 2012
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Photos: Opening Night of Mu Performing Arts’ Katie Hae Leo’s Four Destinies
Photos: Backstage at Mu Performing Arts’ Four Destinies by Katie Hae Leo
Photos: On the town with Rick Shiomi, Co-Editor of “Asian American Plays for a New Generation”, in D.C. & NY
Temple Press: Rick Shiomi recounts his tour for “Asian American Plays for a New Generation”
Mu Blog: Rick Shiomi’s Book Tour Logbook Reading on the road inside the book tour Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
Photos: Rick Shiomi Checks out Performing Arts Playwrights Series in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection of Library of Congress; Attends “Asian American Plays for a New Generation” Book Signing in NY on 7/29 “Asian American Plays for a New Generation”, A New Anthology of Asian American Plays Is Subject of Book Talk
Click here for more articles on Rick Shiomi.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Epic Theatre Ensemble Presents New York Premiere of Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths Starring Joel de la Fuente at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y, October 12-November 18, 2012
Greg Watanabe, Julyana Soelistyo and Jennifer Lim Lead the Cast of Signature Theatre’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child, October 23-December 2, 2012
David Henry Hwang to Receive the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the 5th Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards on October 29, 2012
Berkeley Rep’s Production Photos of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish, Starring Michelle Krusiec and Alex Moggridge, Extends through October 21, 2012
The Old Globe’s Production Photos of George Takei, Lea Salonga, Telly Leung and Paolo Montalban in World Premiere of Allegiance – A New American Musical
Three Year Swim Club, Encounter, TEA, Christmas in Hanoi and Chess set for East West Players 47th Anniversary Season
André De Shields Returns to The Laurie Beechman Theatre with I Put A Spell on You, October 5 and 12
Photos: Tonya Pinkins, André De Shields, S. Epatha Merkerson, Billy Porter and George C. Wolfe at 54 Below
Raul Aranas, Kate Baldwin, Brian d’Arcy James, P.J. Griffith, Bobby Steggert and Michele Pawk Set for New York Premiere of GIANT at The Public Theater, October 26-December 2, 2012
Video: Academy Award Winner Chris Tashima Talks About His Roles in Lily Mariye’s Model Minority and Lil Tokyo Reporter
Photos: 4 Wedding Planners’ Illeana Douglas, Kimberly-Rose Wolter and Michael Kang at Screen Actors Guild Foundation Conversations Series in NY
10 minutes with Sullivan & Son’s Jodi Long, Award Winning Actor and Filmmaker
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
Photos: 4 Wedding Planners’ Illeana Douglas, Kimberly-Rose Wolter and Michael Kang at Screen Actors Guild Foundation Conversations Series in NY
André De Shields Returns to The Laurie Beechman Theatre with I Put A Spell on You, October 5 and 12
MTC’s An Enemy of The People Starring Boyd Gaines and Richard Thomas Begin Previews at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Tony Award – winning Playwright Terrence McNally to be Honored at Westport Country Playhouse Annual Gala, September 24, 2012
Signature Theatre’s World Premiere of Sam Shepard’s Heartless Starring Lois Smith, Gary Cole, Jenny Bacon, Betty Gilpin, and Julianne Nicholson Extends through September 30, 2012
10 minutes with Sullivan & Son’s Jodi Long, Award Winning Actor and Filmmaker
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

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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