Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Production Photos: Kimber Lee’s tokyo fish story starring Sab Shimono, Lawrence Kao, Jully Lee, Eddie Mui and Ryun Yu at South Coast Repertory through March 29

From left, Lawrence Kao (Nobu), Sab Shimono (Koji), Ryun Yu (Takashi) appear in a scene from “tokyo fish story” at South Coast Repertory. BEN HORAK, SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

From left, Lawrence Kao (Nobu), Sab Shimono (Koji), Ryun Yu (Takashi) appear in a scene from “tokyo fish story” at South Coast Repertory. BEN HORAK, SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

South Coast Repertory is presenting the world premiere of Kimber Lee’s tokyo fish story, helmed by Bart DeLorenzo, and starring Sab Shimono (Kojii), Ryun Yu (Takashi), Lawrence Kao (Nobu), Jully Lee (Ama) and  Eddie Mui (Tuna Dealer Apprentice/Oishi/Toru/Daisuke/Yuji/Hirayama), on the Julianne Argyros Stage at South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, through March 29. Tickets are available at

Eddie Mui, left, and Sab Shimono in “tokyo fish story.” DEBORA ROBINSON, SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

Eddie Mui, left, and Sab Shimono in “tokyo fish story.” DEBORA ROBINSON, SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

Sushi Master Koji’s restaurant falls into decline as the new hip spot down the street packs customers in. His brilliant protégé Takashi could be the key to bringing glory back to the older restaurant, but out of respect, Takashi unwaveringly follows Koji’s instruction—despite the urgings of Nobu, his hip-hop obsessed assistant and Ama, a punked-out sushi chef trying to make her way in a man’s world. Ambition and tradition come to a head as they attempt to keep the restaurant open, fill their kitchen staff and strike a balance between art and commerce.

From left, Ryun Yu, Sab Shimono and Jully Lee in “tokyo fish story.” DEBORA ROBINSON, SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

From left, Ryun Yu, Sab Shimono and Jully Lee in “tokyo fish story.” DEBORA ROBINSON, SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

Kimber Lee

Kimber Lee

“I’m fascinated by the daily grind behind genius,” said playwright Kimber Lee. Lee also found inspiration in the art behind the food and has used it as a vehicle to reveal the relationships between her characters. “In this play, I was interested in exploring that daily ritual pursuit of perfection, and the way it might press on a relationship between a father and a son. There are such beautiful and painful ways that we hold on to each other and let each other go, even and especially in unspoken moments. And somehow, the food in the play carries those things in a very intimate way.”

Lee has also written the plays fight and brownsville song (b-side for tray), which premiered at the 2014 Humana Festival, with other productions at Lincoln Center Theatre/LCT3, Long Wharf Theatre and Philadelphia Theatre Company. In 2014, Center Theatre Group presented the world premiere of her play different words for the same thing, directed by Neel Keller. Her work has been presented by Lark Play Development Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The Old Globe and Dramatists Guild Fellows Program. Lee is a Lark Playwrights Workshop Fellow (2014-15), member of Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and is currently under commission at theatres including Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3, SCR, Denver Center Theatre Company and Hartford Stage. She received the 2014 Ruby Prize, the 2013-14 PoNY Fellowship, the 2014-15 Aetna New Voices Fellowship and the inaugural 2015 PoNY/Bush Theatre Playwright Residency in London.

Ryun Yu, left, and Sab Shimono in “tokyo fish story.” DEBORA ROBINSON,  SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

Ryun Yu, left, and Sab Shimono in “tokyo fish story.” DEBORA ROBINSON, SOUTH COAST REPERTORY

The design and creative team includes Neil Patel, scenic design; Christina Haatainen-Jones, costume design; Elizabeth Harper, lighting design; John Zalewski, sound design; Jason H. Thompson, projections; and Jerry Patch, dramaturg. The show’s production manager is Joshua Marchesi and the stage manager is Jenny Butler.

tokyo fish story
 is generously supported by Honorary Producers Samuel and Tammy Tang and Bill and Carolyn Klein.

Tickets start at $22. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 25 years of age and under, fulltime educators, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For complete information, visit:

Tickets: May be purchased online at, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or by visiting the box office at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. Performances run through March 29. Ticket prices start at $22.

Performance Dates, Times: 

Special notes: There are no Monday performances. There is no evening performance on Sunday, March 29.


o    Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15, March 21-22, March 28, at 7:45 p.m.

o    Tuesday-Friday, March 17-20, and March 24-27, 7:45 p.m.


o    Saturdays-Sundays, March 14-15, March 21-22, and March 28-29 at 2 p.m.

ASL-interpreted: Saturday, March 28, at 2 p.m.

Special Events:

      • Post-Show Discussions: Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18. Discuss the play with cast members of tokyo fish storyduring free post-show discussions led by South Coast Repertory’s literary team. Julianne Argyros Stage.
      • Inside the Season: Saturday, March 21, from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively two-hour session features in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from SCR’s production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into SCR’s production of tokyo fish story.The event includes a guided tour of the set. Julianne Argyros Stage. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.

Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Parking is available on Park Center Drive, off Anton Boulevard.

Upcoming ProductionsOf Good Stock by Melissa Ross, March 27-April 26; Mr. Wolf by Rajiv Joseph, April 12-May 3; Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice, May 8-June 7; and OZ 2.5 by Catherine Trieschmann, May 22-June 7. Pacific Playwrights Festival runs April 24-26. More information is available online:

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. Of SCR’s 487 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio.

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia 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.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Mar. 8- 29: Pursuit of the Perfect Plate: tokyo fish story, by Kimber Lee, Premieres at South Coast Repertory starring Lawrence Kao, Jully Lee, Eddie Mui, Sab Shimono and Ryun Yu
Signature Theatre Company’s Founding Artistic Director James Houghton To Step Down After 2015-16 25th Anniversary Season
Photos: David Byrne, Alex Timbers, Jaygee Macapugay, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Adam Guettel, Sarah Saltzberg and More Celebrate Jose Llana’s Lincoln Center American Songbook Debut
Photos: In Rehearsal with Jose Llana; Set for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Debut
Stephen Adly Guirgis’s BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Starring Stephen McKinley Henderson, Victor Almanzar, Elizabeth Canavan, Rosal Colón, Liza Colón-Zayas, Michael Rispoli and Ron Cephas Jones, has performances through March 22 at Second Stage Theatre
Photos: “Swimming Awkward Moment,” the newest works by painter Arlan Huang at Trestle Gallery through March 27
Photos: Michael Mayer Helmed BROOKLYNITE Featuring Ann Harada, Matt Doyle, Nicolette Robinson, Andrew Call, Nick Cordero and More, Extends through March 29
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s AN OCTOROON, Starring Maechi Aharanwa, Pascale Armand, Danielle Davenport, Amber Gray, Ian Lassiter, Austin Smith, Haynes Thigpen, and Mary Wiseman, Extends Again Off-Broadway Through March 29
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents Rajiv Joseph’s THE LAKE EFFECT Starring Adam Poss, Nilanjana Bose, Jason Bowen through March 29
Save on Preview Tickets to Lincoln Center’s Revival of THE KING AND I Starring Kelli O’Hara, Ken Watanabe, Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, Conrad Ricamora, Paul Nakauchi and More
OBIE Award-winner Jojo Gonzalez, Jessica Almasy, Marcia DeBonis, Brad Heberlee, Sakina Jaffrey, Erik Lochtefeld and Babak Tafti Set for Ars Nova’s World Premiere of SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS, March 10 – April 11; OBIE Winner Rachel Chavkin to Direct
Dallas Summer Musicals to Stage THE KING AND I Starring Rachel York, Alan Ariano, YoonJeong Seong, Tami Swartz and More at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 3/20-4/5
Broadway Bound Doctor Zhivago Featuring Tam Mutu, Kelli Barrett, Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Lora Lee Gayer, Melody Butiu and More Kicks Off Rehearsal; Previews Begin March 27
Photos: Jeanne Sakata, Jeremy Guskin, Angela Sauer, Andrew Ross Wynn, Elyse Mirto and More Set for A Noise Within’s FIGARO, March 1-May 10 
Mar. 24: An Evening with Amy Tan at New-York Historical Society
Broadway Bound Doctor Zhivago Featuring Tam Mutu, Kelli Barrett, Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Lora Lee Gayer, Melody Butiu and More Kicks Off Rehearsal; Previews Begin March 27
Brandon J. Dirden, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff, Andrew Hovelson, Roger Robinson Set for World Premiere of YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE, written and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson at Two River Theater, April 11-May 3
George Takei & Broadway Bound ALLEGIANCE Create Indiegogo Campaign as Endowment for the Japanese American National Museum
Photo: Stan Egi, Ellen Crawford, Paige Lindsey White, Bruce Turk, Greg Watanabe and More in Jessica Kubzansky helmed PYGMALION at The Pasadena Playhouse through April 12; PYGMALION Themed Activities
Jon Tenney, Tessa Auberjonois, John de Lancie, Emily Ruth James and Kwana Martinez Set for World Premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s MR. WOLF at South Coast Repertory, April 12-May 3
Apr. 13: THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE Original Cast Album Release Party at Joe’s Pub will feature André De Shields, Adam Chanler-Berat, Kevin Mambo, Kyle Beltran, Ken Barnett, Britton Smith, Akron Watson and Juson Williams
Rebecca Naomi Jones kicks off run as Yitzhak in HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH on April 14
East West Players’ Honors Paula Madison of Madison Media Management LLC and “Fresh Off The Boat” Executive Producers Nahnatchka Khan and Melvin Mar on April 20
Tony Award® Nominees Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed to star in Rajiv Joseph’s GUARDS AT THE TAJ, helmed by Amy Morton, at Atlantic Theater Company, May 20-June 28
World Premiere Musical HAMILTON Transfers to Broadway; Previews begin July 13
Photos: National Black Theatre Festival 2013; NBTF runs August 3-8, 2015 and will include Act III – A Celebration of Life Reception saluting the late theatre icon Garland Lee Thompson, Sr.
Tony Award winner Lea Salonga and Telly Leung Set to Co-star with George Takei in ALLEGIANCE; Previews Begin at the Longacre Theatre on October 6
Photos: John W. Kuo, Jessica Hagedorn, and Neal Katyal Receive AALDEF 2015 Justice in Action Awards
Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 is the 2015 Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History 
Photos: Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Jo Mei, James Saito, Sue Jin Song, Harriet Harris and More at Opening Night of The World of Extreme Happiness
Video: Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks, Phylicia Rashad and More Share Stories in American Masters-August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand Documentary
THE GET DOWN, Baz Luhrmann’s New Drama Series Set in 1970s NYC That Gave Birth to Hip-Hop, Punk and Disco, to Premiere on Netflix in 2016 Ken Jeong to Star in ABC Medical Comedy Pilot ‘Dr. Ken’
Photos: Hudson Yang, Randall Park, Eddie Huang, Richard Lui, Lori Tan Chinn and More at #FreshOffTheBoat Viewing Party at The Circle NYC
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Advantageous, Oh Lucy!, Meru, Umrika, The Chinese Mayor, The Stanford Prison Experiment Among 2015 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners
Photos: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang, NEFA, Graham Sheffield CBE and Susan Stockton Receive 2015 ISPA Awards Photos:
Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More
THE WIZ Turns 40- Photos from Original Broadway Production and BC/EFA Gypsy of The Year Celebration Featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and More
Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
Crafting a Career
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

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