Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Jun. 4-29: Tony Award–winner BD Wong Leads Cast of A.C.T.’s U.S. Premiere of Orphan of Zhao, a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse

BD Wong (photo by Lia Chang)

BD Wong (photo by Lia Chang)

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) culminates its 2013–14 season with the U.S. premiere of James Fenton’s acclaimed adaptation of The Orphan of Zhao, a classic Chinese legend that has its roots in the fourth century BCE. Directed by Carey Perloff and starring Tony Award–winner and San Francisco’s own BD Wong (making his A.C.T. debut), The Orphan of Zhao is an epic story of self-sacrifice and revenge. In the aftermath of a political coup, a country doctor is forced to sacrifice his own son in order to save the last heir of a noble and massacred clan. Often described as the Chinese Hamlet, this enduring tale was the first Chinese play to be translated in the West nearly 300 years ago and has inspired countless operas, plays, and movies. The Guardian praised Fenton’s adaptation as “haunting . . . [a] drama hewn out of a myth that speaks across the centuries,” and The Times of London called it “an emotionally piercing marvel.” The Orphan of Zhao will perform at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco) June 4–29, 2014. Press night is Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Tickets ($20–$120) are on sale now and may be purchased online at act-sf.org or by calling 415.749.2228.

Stan Egi

Stan Egi

Says Perloff: “Discovering The Orphan of Zhao was incredibly eye-opening for me, an insight into a vivid moment in Chinese culture and an introduction to a major classic of suspense and sacrifice rarely seen in the Western theater. The Zhao story has been told in China for a millennium, most recently in a vivid Chinese film called Sacrifice. Its arrival on the Geary stage, starring BD Wong, continues our exploration of Chinese culture with a remarkable company of Asian American actors and theater artists, including Stuck Elevator composer Byron Au Yong who is composing the many songs and live musical interludes in the production. We hope our audiences will be as transported and surprised by this stunning piece of world theater as we were when we first encountered it.”

Julyana Soelistyo. Photo by Lia Chang

Julyana Soelistyo. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast for The Orphan of Zhao includes Marie-France Arcilla (Stuck Elevator at A.C.T.; Working at Prospect Theater Company), Stan Egi (Golden Child off Broadway), Philip Estrera (third-year A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts student; A Christmas Carol at A.C.T.), Nick Gabriel (A.C.T. Resident Artist; Napoli! at A.C.T.), Cindy Im (Stuck Elevator and 4000 Miles at A.C.T.; The Snow Queen at San Jose Repertory Theatre), Orville Mendoza (Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway; Miss Saigon National tour), Paolo Montalban (Pacific Overtures and The King and I on Broadway), Brian Rivera (Yellowjackets at Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Macbeth at Sacramento Shakespeare Festival), Sab Shimono (Pacific Overtures on Broadway; original cast member of Mame on Broadway), Julyana Soelistyo (Tony Award–nominee for Golden Child on Broadway), Daisuke Tsuji (King Lear at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Dralion by Cirque du Soleil), and BD Wong (M. Butterfly; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit).

Sab Shimono

Sab Shimono

The creative team for The Orphan of Zhao includes scenic designer Daniel Ostling (Major Barbara and Stuck Elevator at A.C.T.), costume designer Linda Cho (2014 Tony Award nominee for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder; Two Gentlemen of Verona at The Old Globe), lighting designer Lap Chi Chu (Romeo and Juliet at California Shakespeare Theater; Other Desert Cities at the Mark Taper Forum), sound designer Jake Rodriguez (Rock ‘N’ Roll and Blackbird at A.C.T.), composer Byron Au Yong (Stuck Elevator at A.C.T.), with movement by Stephen Buescher (Head of Movement and Physical Theater at A.C.T.’s M.F.A. Program).

A.C.T. will offer numerous InterACT events—many of which are presented free of charge—in association with The Suit that will give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while making a whole night out of their evening at the theater. Visit act-sf.org/interact to learn more about subscribing to these events throughout the season:

      • Bike to the Theater Night Wed., June 4
      • Prologue: Tue., June 10, 5:30 p.m. Get inside the artistic process at this lively preshow discussion with A.C.T. artistic staff.
      • Theater on the Couch: Fri., June 13, following the 8 p.m. performance Led by Dr. Mason Turner, chief of psychiatry at San Francisco’s Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, this exciting postshow discussion series explores the minds, motives, and behaviors of the characters and addresses audience questions.
      • Audience Exchanges:Tue., June 17, 7 p.m. | Sun., June 22, 2 p.m. | Wed., June 25, 2 p.m. After the show, stick around for a lively Q&A session with the actors and artists who create the work onstage.
      • OUT with A.C.T.:
        Wed., June 18, following the 8 p.m. performance
        The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and enjoy free drinks and treats at this popular afterparty.
      • Symposium:Saturday, June 21, 2 p.m. You’re invited to join us after the show for a lively discussion! A.C.T. invites you to join us in the theater immediately following your performance for a discussion and Q&A with a local expert. The discussion will be moderated by A.C.T. dramaturg Michael Paller. Can’t make it to the event? We’ll be streaming it live online!
      • Wine Series:Tue., June 24, 7 p.m.
      • PlayTime: Sat., June 28, 12:30 p.m.

The Orphan of Zhao is a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, CA, with performances, July 8-August 3, 2014.

Paolo Montalban

Paolo Montalban

Orville Mendoza. Photo by U-Shin Kim

Orville Mendoza. Photo by U-Shin Kim

A.C.T.’s production of The Orphan of Zhao is sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management, National Endowment for the Arts, and United Airlines. The Orphan of Zhao is made possible by executive producers Jo S. Hurley; Jack and Susy Wadsworth; Nola Yee; producers Marcia and Jim Levy; Robina and John Riccitiello; Dr. and Mrs. Gideon Sorokin; Laney and Pasha Thornton; Aaron Vermut and Adriana Lopez Vermut; and associate producers Richard Davis and Bill Lowell; Marcia and Geoffrey Green; Betty Hoener; Sue Yung Li and Dale Ikeda; Merrill Randol Sherwin; Beverly and Loring Wyllie; with additional support by Hafner Vineyard; Pause Wine Bar; and Piazza Market Catering.A.C.T. would like to acknowledge its 2013–14 company sponsors Frannie Fleishhacker; Priscilla and Keith Geeslin; Mr. and Mrs. John Goldman; Ambassador James C. Hormel and Michael P. Nguyen; Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; Burt and Deedee McMurtry; Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock; Patti and Rusty Rueff; Ms. Kathleen Scutchfield; Mary and Steven Swig; Jeff and Laurie Ubben.

A.C.T. subscribers enjoy incredible savings, unparalleled access, exclusive benefits, and personalized customer service. Subscribers save as much as 33 percent off single-ticket prices. Full-time students, educators, and administrators with valid ID save up to 50 percent off select packages. Senior discounts are available for certain series. A.C.T.’s competitive subscriber benefits include free ticket exchanges up to the day of scheduled tickets, priority seating, ticket insurance, access to convenient prepaid parking one block away from the theater, and discounts for neighborhood restaurants. http://www.act-sf.org/subscribe 415.749.2250.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder Leads 2014 Tony Award Nominations; Bryan Cranston, LaTanya Richardson, Mark Rylance, Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Leigh Silverman among nominees
Signature Theatre to Be Honored with the 2014 Regional Theatre Tony Award
Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang Receives $275,000 Doris Duke Artist Award
Photos: André Braugher, Ami Brabson, Christine Toy Johnson, Antoinette LaVecchia, Richard Topol, Victor Williams, Nikkole Salter, Elizabeth Van Dyke at Oni Faida Lampley’s Tough Titty at the Paradise Factory
Miss Saigon’s Francis Jue Receives Elliot Norton Award Nomination for Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actor
Apr. 22 – May 18: Working Theater Presents The off-Broadway Premiere of James McManus’ CHERRY SMOKE at Urban Stages
André De Shields, Mary Zimmerman, Among 4 Elliot Norton Award Nominations for Huntington’s World Premiere of The Jungle Book, a co-production with The Goodman
Photos: Bryan Cranston, Peter Jay Fernandez, Roslyn Ruff, Tamara Tunie, Leslie Uggams, Ruben Santiago-Hudson Celebrate All The Way Opening Night
Photos: AALDEF Honors Mari Matsuda, Aasif Mandvi, and John Chou in 2014 at 40th Anniversary Celebration
Jun. 22 – July 27: Richard Thomas and Kristen Connolly Set for Old Globe Debut in OTHELLO
Apr. 17-May 18: Tonya Pinkins and Roscoe Orman Lead the Cast of New Federal Theatre’s Off-Broadway Production of The Fabulous Miss Marie
Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz Presents “LADY” Featuring Lia Chang, Monica Garrido, Carolyn Holmes, Noel Simon’ Wippler, Linda Hudson, Adi Meyerson and Kathleen Doran
Photos: Harriet Harris, John Tartaglia, Christine Toy Johnson, Alan Muraoka, James Saito and More celebrate Ann Harada’s Debut at Lincoln Center in the American Songbook Series
Photos: Steve Rosen, David Rossmer, Hannah Elless, Vadim Feichtner, Cathryn Salamone, Ken Triwush and Kate Wetherhead Celebrate The Other Josh Cohen Opening Night
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Celebrating the Year of the Horse with David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu at Signature Theatre; Previews begin February 4, 2014
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
Photos: Backstage with Michi Barall and the cast of Regina Taylor’s stop.reset. at Signature Theatre
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Q & A with Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play’s Garth Kravits
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Other articles on BD Wong:
In Rehearsal with BD Wong at Dixon Place for Live Concert Recording of Herringbone
BD Wong Creates Kickstarter Campaign for his Live Concert Recording of HERRINGBONE, to be performed May 21-22 as a Benefit for Dixon Place
BD Wong to Star in Live Concert Recording of HERRINGBONE for Two Nights Only as a Benefit for Dixon Place, May 21-22
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
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: BD Wong in Rehearsal for “Passing It On: An Evening of Mentorship to Benefit Rosie’s Theater Kids”
The SFIAAFF30 Kicks Off with World Premiere of White Frog Featuring Booboo Stewart, Harry Shum, Jr., Joan Chen, Kelly Hu and BD Wong, at the Castro Theater on March 8
Tony award-winning actor BD Wong stars in NBC’s Awake; video preview and interview
Cindy Cheung Debuts SPEAK UP CONNIE…Her Solo Show, directed by BD Wong at Stage Left Studio, January 17-25, 2012
Extended through 8/23- “In Rehearsal” Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at Library of Congress Featuring Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East Starring BD Wong, Thom Sesma as Scar in The Lion King Las Vegas
OCA Awards Gala Photos: David Henry Hwang, Tamlyn Tomita, BD Wong, Dr. Bobby Fong & Tammy Duckworth
Dr. Bobby Fong, BD Wong and Tammy Duckworth to Receive Awards at National OCA Convention in NY on 8/6
Photo Preview of BD Wong and the Cast of Heading East at the Asia Society, 5/24-26
Broadwayworld.com Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
Multimedia: BD Wong, Anastasia Barzee, Clarke Thorell, Cindy Cheung and Orville Mendoza at Rattlestick Playwrights Theaters’ Musical Mix ‘n’ Mingle
BD Wong, Anastasia Barzee, Cindy Cheung and Orville Mendoza in Rattlestick’s Musical Mix ‘n’ Mingle
BD Wong Stars in the La Jolla Playhouse Production of Herringbone, August 1-30
David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng and BD Wong at the Asian American Writers Workshop Literary Awards

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 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 liachangpr@gmail.com

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