Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Jun. 4-29: Tony Award–winner BD Wong, Sab Shimono, Julyana Soelistyo, Stan Egi, Orville Mendoza, Paolo Montalban and More Set for A.C.T.’s U.S. Premiere of The Orphan of Zhao, a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse

The Orphan of Zhao starring Bd Wong has performances at A.C.T. though June 29, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

The Orphan of Zhao starring Bd Wong has performances at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater though June 29, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

BD Wong (photo by Lia Chang)

BD Wong (photo by Lia Chang)

Tony Award–winner  BD Wong comes home to San Francisco to make his American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) debut in 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 BCEat 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 or by calling 415.749.2228.

Helmed by A.C.T.’s artistic director Carey Perloff, 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.”

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.”

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).

BD Wong received the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Theater World, Clarence Derwent, and Tony Awards for his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly-an unprecedented achievement. His television credits include “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “All-American Girl,” “Oz,” “And the Band Played On,” and “Awake”. On film, Wong can be seen in Jurassic Park, The Freshman, Father of the Bride, Seven Years in Tibet, Executive Decision, The Salton Sea, Stay, and Mulan. On Broadway, Wong has performed in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Pacific Overtures. Regional theater credits include, Herringbone (Williamstown Theatre Festival, McCarter Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse). Upcoming projects include Focus (Warner Bros.), “The Normal Heart” (HBO), and Jurassic World (Universal). He is also the author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Following Foo…” (Harper Entertainment). Wong is a San Francisco native.

Carey Perloff is celebrating her 21st year as artistic director of A.C.T., and is known for championing innovative productions of classics and new writing for the theater. Perloff has directed a wide range of work at A.C.T., most recently including Elektra, Endgame and Play, Scorched, The Homecoming, Tosca Cafe (cocreated with Val Caniparoli and recently toured Canada), A.C.T.-commissioned translations/adaptations of Hecuba, The Misanthrope, and her own play The Colossus of Rhodes (Susan Smith Blackburn Award finalist). Her latest play, Higher, won the 2011 Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation Theatre Visions Fund Award and received its world premiere in 2012. Before joining A.C.T., Perloff was artistic director of Classic Stage Company in New York, which won numerous OBIE awards under her leadership. A recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the National Corporate Theatre Fund’s 2007 Artistic Achievement Award, Perloff received a B.A. Phi Beta Kappa in classics and comparative literature from Stanford University and was a Fulbright Fellow at Oxford. She will provide oversight and input throughout the project, disseminate the research findings to the theater community at large, organize the final convening, and formulate and oversee implementation for any next steps identified by the research.

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 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.

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. 415.749.2250.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
June 4: Garth Kravits, Lena Hall, Lesli Margherita, Wesley Taylor and More Strip Down with The Skivvies at 54 Below
Jun. 4-29: Tony Award–winner BD Wong, Sab Shimono, Julyana Soelistyo, Stan Egi, Orville Mendoza, Paolo Montalban and More Set for A.C.T.’s U.S. Premiere of Orphan of Zhao, a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse 
June 22 – July 27: Blair Underwood, Richard Thomas and Kristen Connolly Lead the Cast of The Old Globe’s Othello, helmed by Barry Edelstein 
May 31 – June 22: Annette O’Toole Leads Cast of Wendy Wasserstein’s “Third” Helmed by Michael Cumpsty at Two River Theater Company 
June 5-7: National Asian Artists Project To Present All-Asian Production of OLIVER! Featuring Raul Aranas, Anthea Neri, Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Cindy Cheung, Scott Watanabe, Virginia Wing, David Shih and More 
May 28 – June 29: Lisa Joyce, Henry Kelemen and CJ Wilson Join Mary McCann in Atlantic Theater Company’s OUR NEW GIRL
Jun. 23: The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall Features Chapman Roberts, Norm Lewis, André De Shields, Chuck Cooper, Brandon Victor Dixon and More
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
Branden Jacob-Jenkins’ Appropriate, Lisa Kron’s Fun Home, Sonya Tayeh, Emmanuel Brown, Mia Katigbak, K. Todd Freeman, John Earl Jelks Among 2014 OBIE Award Winners
Asia Flores Debuts Royal72Co Fashion Line at Pa’ina Lounge
Jun. 23: The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall Features Chapman Roberts, Norm Lewis, André De Shields, Chuck Cooper, Brandon Victor Dixon and More
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
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
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: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
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:
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
May 19: The Orphan of Zhao’s BD Wong and A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff in Conversation at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
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 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

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