Lea Salonga, George Takei, and Telly Leung in "Allegiance" on Broadway. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

East West Players’ Season to Celebrate Collaborations and ‘Allegiance’

A full season of coproductions will feature the Broadway musical’s L.A. debut, two world premieres, and a beloved revival.

LOS ANGELES: East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian-American artistic work, has announced its 2017-18, its 52nd. The season’s theme, “The Company We Keep,” is borne out by an ambitious program of coproductions with other L.A. companies, including Rogue Artists Ensemblethe Robey Theatre CompanyJapanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC), and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, including two world premieres, an acclaimed revival, and the Los Angeles premiere of an award-winning Broadway musical.

“For our 52nd anniversary season, I thought a lot about the company we keep—the vital artistic and community partnerships that have supported and nurtured East West Players over the past 52 years,” said EWP artistic director Snehal Desai in a statement. “To that end, we are offering something no other theatre company is doing: an entire season of coproductions. These extraordinary works reflect on and refract a wide range of Asian Pacific Islander experiences as seen through the lens of gender, race, and sexuality. We don’t shrink or hide. Instead, we stand taller, unafraid, and, most importantly, together.”

The season commences with the world premiere of Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin (Oct. 5-Nov. 5), a special event presented in association with Rogue Artists Ensemble. Written by Lisa Dring, Rosie Narasaki, and Chelsea Sutton with Rogue Artists Ensemble, and directed by Rogue’s Artistic Director Sean T. Cawelti, Kaidan Project is a multi-sensory, site-specific experience refracting ancient Japanese ghost stories through a modern, multicultural lens, and will be performed at secret 1920s-era warehouse in the middle of L.A., to be revealed only after tickets have been purchased.

The next collaborator, Robey Theatre Company—which explores, develops, and produces plays written about the global black experience—will copresent a revival of Yohen (Oct. 26-Nov. 19 at EWP’s David Henry Hwang Theater), written by Philip Kan Gotanda, directed by Robey producing artistic director Ben Guillory, and starring Danny Glover. The play follows a long interracial marriage tested by the husband’s retirement from the U.S. Army.

Then EWP and the JACCC will present the L.A. premiere of the Broadway musical Allegiance (Feb. 21-April 1, 2018), with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione. Allegiance, inspired by the true childhood experiences of TV/social media icon George Takei, tells the story of a family whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese Americans are interned during World War II. It will be performed at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre in downtown L.A.

The season closes with the world premiere of Nathan Ramos’s As We Babble On (May 31-June 24, 2018), presented in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center, about a first-generation Asian American struggling to find his voice as his writing career stalls. Performances will be held at David Henry Hwang Theater.

Founded in 1965, EWP is the nation’s premier Asian-American theatre organization, producing artistic work and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific Islander (API) experiences.

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