Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Jo Mei, James Saito, Sue Jin Song, Harriet Harris and More Celebrate Opening Night of The World of Extreme Happiness

The Manhattan Theatre Club’s world premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness, the new play by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, directed by Eric Ting, opened on February 24, 2015, at MTC’s New York City Center – Stage I (131 West 55th Street). The MTC cast of The World of Extreme Happiness features Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Jo Mei, James Saito, and Sue Jin Song. This co-production with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre began previews Tuesday, February 3, 2015, and will continue performances through Sunday, March 29, 2015.

The elegant World of Extreme Happiness cast members Telly Leung, Francis Jue, Jo Mei, Jennifer Lim, Sue Jin Song and James Saito. Photo by Lia Chang

The elegant World of Extreme Happiness cast members Telly Leung, Francis Jue, Jo Mei, Jennifer Lim, Sue Jin Song and James Saito. Photo by Lia Chang

I celebrated with the cast and creative team at the opening night party at Brasserie 8 1/2. Check out the festive photos below.

Unwanted from the moment she’s born, Sunny (Jennifer Lim) is determined to escape her life in rural China and forge a new identity in the city. As naïve as she is ambitious, Sunny views her new job in a grueling factory as a stepping stone to untold opportunities. When fate casts her as a company spokeswoman at a sham PR event, Sunny’s bright outlook starts to unravel in a series of harrowing and darkly comic events, as she begins to question a system enriching itself by destroying its own people.

Critically acclaimed in a workshop production at London’s National Theatre, The World of Extreme Happiness makes its world premiere in a co-production with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. “Hard-hitting and bruisingly funny” (Time Out London), this epic new drama by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig is as fierce and unflinching as the world it examines.

What the critics are saying:

“An odyssey through contemporary China.”
The New York Times
“EYE-OPENING. How fortunate we are to live in a country where plays like this can exist.”
NY1
“A UNIFORMLY STRONG CAST.”
NY1
“FASCINATING and PROVOCATIVE.”
TheaterMania
“A FASCINATING LOOK INTO MODERN CHINA.”
TheaterMania
“PUNGENT and PASSIONATELY WELL-ACTED.”
The Record
“CHILLING & UNYIELDING, WITH GREAT REALISM. COWHIG captures at once the allure of freedom and its unattainability.”
Talkin’ Broadway
“Intelligent & Powerful.”
Variety
“A Sophisticated & Smart Story.”
The Chicago Tribune

Matt Bradford Sullivan, Dr. Zhivago executive producer Randy Adams, It Shoulda Been You's Harriet Harris and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

Matt Bradford Sullivan, Dr. Zhivago executive producer Randy Adams, It Shoulda Been You’s Harriet Harris and Francis Jue. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team for The World of Extreme Happiness includes Mimi Lien (scenic design), Jenny Mannis (costume design), Tyler Micoleau (lighting design), and Mikhail Fiksel (sound design).

Opening night with The World of Extreme Happiness - actor James Saito, playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, cast members Sue Jin Song, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, and actress Jo Mei, sound designer Mikhail Fiksel, and director Eric Ting. Photo by Lia Chang

Opening night with The World of Extreme Happiness – actor James Saito, playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, cast members Sue Jin Song, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, and actress Jo Mei, sound designer Mikhail Fiksel, and director Eric Ting. Photo by Lia Chang

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, MTC has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past four and a half decades, MTC productions have earned numerous awards including six Pulitzer Prizes and 19 Tony Awards. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two Off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). Renowned MTC productions include Casa ValentinaOutside MullingarThe Assembled PartiesVenus in FurMaster ClassGood PeopleThe Whipping ManTime Stands StillThe Royal FamilyRuinedCome Back, Little ShebaBlackbirdShining CityRabbit HoleDoubtProofThe Tale of the Allergist’s WifeLove! Valour! Compassion!; A Small Family BusinessSylviaPutting It TogetherFrankie and Johnny in the Clair de LuneCrimes of the Heart; and Ain’t Misbehavin.’ For more information on MTC, please visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

A Kung Fu reunion: Big Love's Emmanuel Manny Brown, Francis Jue, Clifton Duncan, The King and I's Christopher Vo and Kristen Faith Oei. (not pictured: Cole Horibe and Bradley Fong) Photo by Lia Chang

A Kung Fu reunion: Big Love’s Emmanuel Manny Brown, Francis Jue, Clifton Duncan, The King and I’s Christopher Vo and Kristen Faith Oei. (not pictured: Cole Horibe and Bradley Fong) Photo by Lia Chang

Signature’s Production of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, starring Cole Horibe, Phoebe Strole and Francis Jue, extends through April 6, 2014 
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu 

TICKETING INFORMATION

Tickets for The World of Extreme Happiness are available by calling CityTix at 212-581-1212, online by visiting www.nycitycenter.org, or by visiting New York City Center box office (131 West 55th Street). All tickets are $85.

Subscriptions for MTC’s 2014-2015 season are available by calling (212) 399-3050 (Monday through Friday NOON – 9 PM, Saturday 10 AM – 3 PM) or online at www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

Extreme Happiness Photo vs Asian Family Photo: The World of Extreme Happiness cast members Jo Mei, Telly Leung, Francis Jue, director Eric Ting, production stage manager Winnie Lok, playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, cast members Sue Jin Song and James Saito. Photo by Lia Chang

Extreme Happiness Photo vs Asian Family Photo: The World of Extreme Happiness cast members Jo Mei, Telly Leung, Francis Jue, director Eric Ting, production stage manager Winnie Lok, playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, cast members Sue Jin Song and James Saito. Photo by Lia Chang

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

  • MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – SUNDAY, MARCH 1 (WEEK OF OPENING):Wednesday and Sunday at 7 PM; Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM. The curtain time for opening night on Tuesday, February 24 will be announced shortly.
  • MONDAY, MARCH 2 – SUNDAY, MARCH 8:Tuesday at 7 PM; Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
  • MONDAY, MARCH 9 – SUNDAY, MARCH 15:Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM; Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
  • MONDAY, MARCH 16 – SUNDAY, MARCH 22:Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM; Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM. There are only 7 performances on sale to the public this week.
  • MONDAY, MARCH 23 – SUNDAY, MARCH 29:Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM; Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
Francis Ya-Chu Cowhig. Photo by Lia Chang

Francis Ya-Chu Cowhig. Photo by Lia Chang

FRANCES YA-CHU COWHIG (Playwright). Cowhig’s plays have been produced at the National Theatre, Trafalgar Studios 2, and the Goodman Theatre. Her plays have been awarded the Wasserstein Prize, the Yale Drama Series Award, and the Keene Prize for Literature. She is currently under commission from Manhattan Theatre Club, the Goodman Theatre, and the National Theatre. Cowhig received an MFA in Writing from the Michener Center for Writers, a BA from Brown University, and a certificate in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte International. Her plays have been published by Yale University Press and Methuen Drama. She is a finalist for the 2014-2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and is currently a Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Manhattan Theatre Club.
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s THE WORLD OF EXTREME HAPPINESS Named Among 12 Finalists for the 2014-2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

ERIC TING (Director) is an Obie Award-winning director whose recent credits include Sam Hunter’s A Great Wilderness (Williamstown), Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud To Present A Presentation… (Soho Rep / Victory Gardens), Rising Son by Dick Lee (Singapore Rep) and The World Of Extreme Happiness (Goodman). Long Wharf Theatre Associate Artistic Director since 2007, Ting is a founding member of the artists’ collective INTELLIGENT BEASTS and a recipient of a 2012 MAP Fund Award with Meiyin Wang. Upcoming: Kimber Lee’s Brownsville Song(Long Wharf / Philadelphia Theatre Co) and Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (CTG). www.ericting.com

www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com

Follow MTC on Twitter: @MTC_NYC or on Facebook.

James Saito, Lia Chang and Francis Jue. Photo by Dave Shih

James Saito, Lia Chang and Francis Jue. Photo by Dave Shih

Jo Mei and Lia Chang. Photo by GK

Jo Mei and Lia Chang. Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

Related Articles:
Photos: MTC Run of World Premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, starring Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jo Mei, James Saito and Sue Jin Song; opens Feb. 24
MTC Run of World Premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, starring Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jo Mei, James Saito and Sue Jin Song
Rehearsal Photos: Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jo Mei, James Saito and Sue Jin Song in MTC Run of World Premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, February 3 – March 29
Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jo Mei, James Saito and Sue Jin Song Set for MTC Run of World Premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, February 3 – March 29 
Jennifer Lim, Ruy Iskandar, Francis Jue, Jodi Long, Jo Mei and Donald Li Set for Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Co-production with Manhattan Theatre Club of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Opens September 22
J.P. Chan’s A Picture of You, starring Jo Mei, Andy Pang, Jodi Long, Teyonah Parris and Lucas Dixon, opens on September 12 in Pasadena and Honolulu
Francis Jue, Bryan Cranston, Olympia Dukakis, Paul Daigneault, All The Way, The Jungle Book, The Flick, Tribes, Hairspray Among 32nd Annual Elliot Norton Award Winners

10 minutes with Sullivan & Son’s Jodi Long, Award Winning Actor and Filmmaker
Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 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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