Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Mu Performing Arts Presents World Premiere of Lauren Yee’s The Tiger Among Us at Mixed Blood Theatre, January 24 – February 10, 2013

Mu Performing Arts is presenting the world premiere commission of The Tiger Among Us, by Lauren Yee (Ching Chong Chinaman), directed by Ellen Fenster (Pillsbury House Theatre, Gremlin Theater, Phoenix Theater Project). The Tiger Among Us previews January 24, opens on January 25 and plays Thursday -Sunday through February 10, 2013 at Mixed Blood Theatre (1501 South 4th Street, Mineapolis, MN 55454). Single tickets start at $10 (students and children under 18), $18 seniors, and $22 adults, and are now on sale by calling Mu Performing Arts at 651-789-1012 or by visiting

Photography © Aaron Fenster, 2012

Photography © Aaron Fenster, 2012

The Tiger Among Us cast features Maxwell Thao (Mu: Into the Woods, Stages Theater Company, TigerLion Arts) as Pao and Gaosong Vang (Mu: Into the Woods, WTF) as his younger sister Lia, two Hmong American teens growing up in rural MN with their father portrayed by Saikong Yang (WTF). Sheng Kong, Claire Bancroft and Garry Geiken (Jungle Theater, Gremlin Theatre, Park Square Theatre) round out the cast.

November in Minnesota: to bored high schooler Lia, it’s just another unbearably cold month. But for Lia’s troubled father, November means the start of the hunting season and a chance to capture what has eluded him his entire life. For her entrepreneurial brother Pao, each day offers the opportunity to scratch out a new way of living in this rural landscape. But soon, Lia finds herself caught between her responsibilities and her dreams. And just outside their door, something is about to break.

The creative team for The Tiger Among Us includes Ron Albert (Scenic Designer), Mike Kittel (Lighting Designer),Andrea Gross (Costume Designer), Katharine Horowitz (Sound Designer) and Kellie Larsen (Props Designer), with assistant direction by Kathy Mouacheupao (former Executive Director of CHAT: Center for Hmong Arts and Talent.

Playwright Lauren Yee ( is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and UCSD. This is Yee’s second collaboration with Mu after the successful world premiere of Ching Chong Chinaman in 2009. She has been a Dramatists Guild fellow, a MacDowell Colony fellow, and a member of the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. Yee has also been a finalist for the Heideman Award, the Jerome Fellowship, the PEN USA Literary Award for Drama, and the Wasserstein Prize. Ching Chong Chinaman was a finalist for the 2008 Princess Grace Award and the winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s 2010 Paula Vogel Award and Kumu Kahua Theatre’s 2007 Pacific Rim Prize. Named one of the top 10 plays of the year by the East Bay Express and City Pages, the play has been produced at Artists at Play, Impact Theatre, Mu Performing Arts, the New York International Fringe Festival, Pan Asian Rep, and SIS Productions. The play has been published by Samuel French.

Ellen Fenster (Director) is a company member with Pillsbury House Theater and has served as director of the Chicago Avenue Project since 2007. Ellen is an artistic associate with the Illusion Theater where she has directed several new plays and for seven years managed the Lights Up! series, an annual performance event that features new work by emerging artists. As a teaching artist Ellen works in many area schools, is the resident creative movement instructor with theater e3 (a summer theater institute for children), and is the director of the South High Theater Program. Recent directing credits include Sea Marks and Burn This at Gremlin Theater and Art with the Phoenix Theater Project.

Kathy Mouacheupao (Assistant Director) is the former director of CHAT: Center for Hmong Arts and Talent. Founded in 1998, the company is the world’s first Hmong arts organization and serves an ever-expanding group of youth artists at its Saint Paul location.

The Tiger Among Us previews January 24, opens on January 25 and plays Thursday – Sunday through February 10, 2013 at Mixed Blood Theatre (1501 South 4th Street, Mineapolis, MN 55454). Single tickets start at $10 (students and children under 18), $18 seniors, and $22 adults, and are now on sale by calling Mu Performing Arts at 651-789-1012 or by visiting

Mu was first founded in 1992 as Theater Mu, a theater company dedicated to bringing Asian American voices to the stage in the Twin Cities at a time when Asian American theater did not exist in the area and the Asian American community was rarely recognized. After forming Mu Daiko, a taiko drumming ensemble, the company rebranded itself as Mu Performing Arts, reflecting their broad artistic base of theater, taiko, and artist development. Mu Performing Arts remains Minnesota’s only pan-Asian performing arts organization, and has grown into the second largest Asian American performing arts company in the United States. 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 21st Anniversary mainstage season, Mu Performing Arts continued its string of ‘Best of’ top end of year picks with last year’s musical offering Into The Woods, named #6 on City Pages‘ Top Ten Plays of 2012!. In the last four seasons, eight out of ten productions have been listed on end of year lists. Last September, Mu Performing Arts’ Artistic Director Rick Shiomi was honored with the Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Other articles on Mu Performing Arts:
Mu Daiko Performs at The Cowles Center in Minneapolis, November 8-11, 2012
Mu Performing Arts’ Artistic Director Rick Shiomi takes home Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement
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
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
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
Mu Performing Arts’ Little Shop of Horrors on 2 ‘Best of’ Lists; Women in Arts Panel on 1/29, in Conjunction with Mu Daiko’s 15th Anniversary Concert and Tour
Mu Daiko 15th Anniversary Concert and Minnesota Tour, February 9-19, 2012
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
Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at Library of Congress Features Photos of Thom Sesma’s Makeup Transformation as Scar in Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas, Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East Starring BD Wong, David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish, and Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri’s Bakwas Bumbug! on View Through August 2
“Asian American Plays for a New Generation”, A New Anthology of Asian American Plays Is Subject of Book Talk

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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