Northlight Theatre presents 'Po Boy Tango'

Article Pixel

Northlight Theatre presents the World Premiere of
Kenneth Lin's
Po Boy Tango
Directed by Chay Yew

 

World premiere play developed at Northlight blends traditional Chinese cuisine and African American "Soul Food"

Northlight Theatre continues its 2008-2009 Season with the World Premiere of Po Boy Tango by Kenneth Lin, directed by Chay Yew. The production, featuring Ken Narasaki, Jeanne Sakata and Jacqueline Williams, runs January 7-February 15, 2009 at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie.

A celebration of the human spirit and the joy of cooking, Po Boy Tango tells the story of Richie Po, a Taiwanese immigrant who turns to his estranged friend Gloria to help him recreate his mother's "Great Banquet." Despite the challenges of shark fin soup, duck po boy sandwiches and underlying cultural tensions, Richie and Gloria find common ground through their shared humor and the blending of traditional Chinese cuisine and African-American "Soul Food." Helped by lessons from Po Mama's television cooking show, the two discover a deeper understanding of food, culture and the nature of friendship.

Po Boy Tango comes to the Northlight stage for a full production after a successful workshop and reading as a part of the Northlight Interplay series-the third production to make such a transition (Lady, Better Late).

"Po Boy Tango was another of our Interplay readings that piqued our interest because of its fresh themes, unique characters, and unusual theatricality. I don't ever remember reading anything like Po Boy. The fact that it dealt with diverse cultures facing each other's prejudices and differences made it an interesting choice for our audience" says BJ Jones. "The need for nourishment, not just of the body but of the spirit and the soul, is central to Po Boy, and it celebrates The Commonality of all people and all cultures. The taking of a meal allows us to reach out to friends, affect rapprochement with adversaries, or simply settle into the silence that allows us to gather our strength "

Po Boy Tango is a recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. The funding supports an extension of the rehearsal period, with the goal of achieving a stronger first production, thereby increasing the chances of a continued life for the play.

Po Boy Tango is also the first installment of a three-year American Experience Series, generously underwritten by the Lehman Family. The American Experience Series is designed to present work that fully integrates both contemporary and historically significant events, bringing to life The Common desire to accomplish the dreams of disparate people. Social justice, tolerance, inclusion, and freedom, both religious and political, are the key factors in selecting work that speak to the ideals of the American Experience.

Po Boy Tango is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts' "Access to Artistic Excellence" program; the program encourages and supports artistic creativity, preserves our diverse cultural heritage, and makes the arts more widely available in communities throughout the country.

The design team includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Set), Rachel Laritz (Costume), Keith Parham (Lighting), and Andre Pluess (Sound). Lauren Hickman is the stage manager and the dramaturg is Meghan Beals McCarthy.

Kenneth Lin's (playwright) plays said Saїd, Agency, Sun Is The New Apollo, Po Boy Tango, Dovetail, and The Lynching of a White Man in Rural, CA have been produced, developed and/or commissioned by the ALLIANCE THEATRE, South Coast Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Wilma Theatre, P73 Productions, NY Stage & Film and Arena Stage. He is the winner of the Princess Grace Award, the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. Lin is an alumnus of Cornell University, the U.S. Fulbright Scholarship Program and the Yale School of Drama, where he was awarded the ASCAP Cole Porter Prize for Excellence in Playwriting.

Chay Yew (Director) Directing credits include productions at The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Huntington Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse, Empty Space, Portland Center Stage, Cornerstone Theatre, Geva Theater Center, Laguna Playhouse, East West Players, National Asian American Theatre Company, Ma Yi Theatre Company, Gala Hispanic Theatre, Singapore Repertory Theatre, and Smithsonian Institute, among others. His opera credits include the world premieres of Osvaldo Golijov and David Henry Hwang's Ainadamar (co-production with Tanglewood Music Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Rob Zuidam's Rage D'Amors (Tanglewood). Upcoming projects include the world premieres of Robert O'Hara's Antebellum at Woolly Mammoth and Universes' Ameriville at the Humana Festival. An alumnus of New Dramatists, he is on the Executive Board of Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and the recipient of the OBIE Award and Dramalogue Award for Direction.

Ken Narasaki (Richie Po) has appeared in over 50 plays, 20 with the Asian American Theater Company (San Francisco), as well as East West Players, the Boston Court, the Berkeley Repertory Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, the Mark Taper Forum, The Sundance Institute, the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, the Japan America Theatre, the Sacramento Theatre Company, Thick Description, the Asian Exclusion Act (now NWAAT), hereandnow, and many others. Film and TV appearances include Only the Brave, Zwei Profis (Germany), Ordinary Miracles, The Onion Sketch Movie, Passions, Judging Amy, The Young and the Restless, The District, Viva Vegas!, The Jamie Foxx Show, Party of Five, The Bold and the Beautiful, Deep Family Secrets, Hard, USA High, Weekly World News, Terminal USA, Chicago Hope, The Wash, Broken Words, Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes, Hot Summer Winds, Living on Tokyo Time, Unfinished Business, The Departure, The Color of Honor, Back to the Streets of San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and many others.

Jeanne Sakata (Po Mama), making her Chicago debut, recently performed in Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing at South Coast Repertory. An LA Ovation Award winner for Best Lead Actress for her cross-gender portrayal of Master Hua in Chay Yew's Red, Jeanne has performed with The Public Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, the Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Rep, the Intiman, A Contemporary Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage, and Arizona Theatre Company. Screen credits include guest starring roles on Desperate Housewives, ER, Threat Matrix, Line of Fire, Presidio Med, American Family, and Family Law. Last year, Jeanne made her debut as a playwright with the world premiere of her solo show Dawn's Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi at East West Players.

Jacqueline Williams (Gloria B) has appeared at Northlight in Gee's Bend, The Miser, From the Mississippi Delta (also regional tour), and Born in the R.S.A. (Market Theatre of Johannesburg tour). She recently appeared in Court Theatre's Caroline, or Change and previously at Court in First Breeze of Summer, Fences (Jeff Award), and Electra (title role). Goodman: over 20 years of shows include The Story, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Amen Corner, Oo-Bla Dee, and Richard II. Other credits: Shoes, Waiting to be Invited (Victory Gardens); Fabulation, Yellowman (Next); and roles at Steppenwolf, Congo Square, Chicago Childrens Theatre, Apollo, Royal George and Chicago Shakespeare. Tours: ReGina Taylor's Crowns. Regional: LaJolla, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, Portland Stage, Berkeley Rep, ACT Seattle, and others. Broadway: Young Man from Atlanta. Off-Broadway: From the Mississippi Delta, The Talented Tenth. TV/Film: "Turks", "Prison Break", "ER," The Break Up, The Lake House, Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns and the upcoming Merry Gentleman (with Michael Keaton) and The Cache. Awards/nominations: Jeff, After Dark, Black Theatre Alliance, Sarah Siddons, Theatre School Career Achievement, American Arts Council, Helen Hayes.

Tickets for Po Boy Tango range in price from $25- $55 and are available by phone, (847) 673-6300, or online at www.northlight.org. The Box Office is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in Skokie. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. On performance days, the box office hours are extended through showtime. The Box Office is closed on Sundays, except on performance days when it is open two hours prior to showtime.

Curtain times are: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m (except January 27 and February 10).; Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. (except January 7 and 14) and 7:30 p.m. (February 4); Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. (except January 10) and 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (except January 25, February 1 and 15).

Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from The Allyn Foundation; the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; ComEd, An Exelon Company; Patrick and Anna M. Cudahy Fund; Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Northern Trust Charitable Trust; The Pauls Foundation; Polk Bros Foundation; Sanborn Family Foundation ; Dr. Scholl Foundation; Tthe Shubert Foundation; the Skokie Fine Arts Commission; the Sullivan Family Foundation; and The Chicago Community Trust.

Northlight continues its 34th season in 2008-09 as the fourth largest non-profit theatre in Chicago. Dedicated to enhancing the cultural life of the North Shore and Chicago, Northlight presents theatrical works which reflect and challenge the values and beliefs of the community it serves while continuing to grow its reputation for launching world premieres, new musicals, classic plays and intelligent dramas.

In its 34-year history, the organization has mounted over 160 productions, including over 33 world premieres, and garnered 140 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 24 Awards. As one of the area's premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality. For more information on Grey Gardens and Northlight Theatre, visit www.northlight.org.
(more/ Fact Sheet)

FACT SHEET
Title: Po Boy Tango
Directed by: Chay Yew
Featuring: Ken Narasaki, Jeanne Sakata and Jacqueline Williams

Dates:
Previews: January 7-14, 2009

Press opening: Thursday, January 15, 2009, at 7:30 p.m.
Regular run: January 16-February 15, 2009
Schedule: Tuesdays: 7:30 p.m. (except January 27 and February 10)
Wednesdays: 1:00 p.m. (except January 7 and 14)
Wednesdays: 7:30 p.m. (except February 4)
Thursdays: 7:30 p.m.
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 2:30 p.m. (except January 10);
8:00 p.m.
Sundays: 2:30 p.m.;
7:00 p.m. (except January 25, February 1 and 15)
Location: Northlight Theatre is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.

Tickets: Previews: $25- $50
Regular run: $25- $55
Opening night January 15: $75, includes a post-show reception with the company

The Box Office is located at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.
(847) 673-6300; www.northlight.org

Notes of Interest:
• Po Boy Tango comes to the Northlight stage for a full production after a successful workshop and reading as a part of the Northlight Interplay series-the third production to make such a transition (Lady, Better Late).

• Cooking tips are plentiful throughout the production as it brings together chefs specializing in Chinese cooking and Soul Food.

• Director Chay Yew is also a playwright, whose work includes Red, Porcelain, Wonderland, and A Language of Their Own. His plays have been produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Royal Court Theatre (London), Manhattan Theatre Club, Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, East West Players, and TheatreWorks (Singapore), among others.

• The cast features Chicagoan Jacqueline Williams, who recently appeared at Northlight in Gee's Bend and The Miser and at Court Theatre in The First Breeze of Summer. Jacqueline is an award-winning actor whose awards/nominations include: Jeff, After Dark, Black Theatre Alliance, Sarah Siddons, Theatre School Career Achievement, American Arts Council and Helen Hayes.

Jeanne Sakata is an LA Ovation Award winner for Best Lead Actress for her cross-gender portrayal of Master Hua in Chay Yew's Red. Now making her Chicago debut, she has performed with The Public Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, the Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Rep, the Intiman, A Contemporary Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage, and Arizona Theatre Company.

• Ken Narasaki frequently appears at the Asian American Theater Company (San Francisco). He has also worked at East West Players, Berkeley Repertory Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, the Mark Taper Forum, The Sundance Institute, the Brooklyn Academy Of Music and many others. He left his job at CAA in Los Angeles to accept this role at Northlight.

 



Related Articles View More Chicago Stories   Shows

From This Author Chicago News Desk