MainStreet Announces Cast & Creative Team For THE EMPEROR'S NIGHTINGALE!

The treasured tale by Hans Christian Andersen of a wise bird that helps save a kingdom gets a new twist in this adaptation set in 18th-century China. The West Coast Premiere of The Emperor's Nightingale by Damon Chua, directed by Tim Dang, opens May 4th and runs through May 19th at the Lewis Family Playhouse. Tickets are priced at $18.00 for General admission, and $16.00 for Seniors and Youth up to age 12.

This adaptation is set in China during the Qing Dynasty, and explores the coming-of-age of the prince who would one day become the Qianlong Emperor, one of the greatest rulers of Imperial China. The old Emperor tasks his two sons to show him who he should choose to succeed him as ruler of the land. Prince Hongshi is loud and brash and works with the unscrupulous Prime Minister to find shortcuts to win his father's favor. With the help of the wise and magical Nightingale, Prince Bao, after a few set-backs of his own, learns to care about his people and its history, becoming the leader who can help save the kingdom. Full of historical references as well as humor, the lessons learned are still relevant today.

In addition to the Nightingale, the story gets perspective from other animals, too. Two gossipy Pandas talk about everything going on in the kingdom, while the Tiger worries about having enough to eat.

The Emperor's Nightingale -Page 2 Nightingale also has bigger things on her mind, including the plight of the peasants, and what to do about the Europeans who are making maps of the kingdom for their own purposes.

MainStreet's production will include traditional Chinese images and sounds infused with a modern sensibility. The Nightingales' dialogue often uses a classical Chinese verse form called "Cipai", which sounds a lot like modern rap, so the original score (by Howard Ho) will incorporate traditional Chinese music with a very modern beat. Chinese calligraphy will be projected on scenery which at first glance appears very traditional but will also include some hidden surprises for a modern audience. The actors' movement, with choreography by Tom Tsai, will include elements of hip- hop. The Tiger, comprised of two actors, one playing the head, and one the tail, will also perform a version of a traditional "lion dance" as part of the proceedings!

The script calls for "color-conscious" casting, which means the entire cast is comprised of actors with Asian or Pacific Islander heritage. The talented, Equity company includes Christine Joy as the Nightingale, and Scott Keiji Takeda as Prince Bao. Miller Tai, Katy Tang, Shaun Tuazon, and Reuben Uy will round out the cast, playing multiple characters to help tell the story.

Playwright Damon Chua is a New York-based playwright, poet, fiction writer and producer. He is a member of The Public Theater Emerging Writers Group 2014-15 and Ma-Yi Theater's Writers Lab in New York. His stint at The Public Theater was supported by a Time Warner Foundation grant. He is the recipient of a 2015 Dramatists Guild Fund #writechange scholarship and a 2014 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently published by Samuel French, Smith & Kraus and the Proscenium Journal, Damon received an Ovation Award for Best New Play and has obtained support from UNESCO and the Durfee Foundation. Damon's plays have been staged in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and presented in several states. They also have been seen in London, Singapore and Toronto.

Director Tim Dang is producing artistic director emeritus of East West Players (EWP), the longest running professional theatre of color in the United States, which he led for 23 years. He is currently co-chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors' Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative. He is also co-director of the National Cultural Navigation Theater Project, researching sustainability models for theatres of color, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He is on faculty of USC School of Dramatic Arts for directing and dramaturgy. Last season he directed Nothing is the Same for Sierra Madre Playhouse and the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards at the Ace Hotel. East West Players directing credits include La Cage aux Folles, Beijing Spring (world premiere), A Little Night Music, Chess, Krunk Fu Battle Battle (world premiere), Mysterious Skin (Los Angeles premiere), Imelda: A New Musical (world premiere/New York premiere), Pippin, Equus, Voices From Okinawa The Emperor's Nightingale -Page 3 (world premiere), Passion (Los Angeles premiere), The Nisei Widows Club, Pacific Overtures (Ovation Award), Sweeney Todd (Ovation Award) and Into The Woods. He has also directed at Singapore Repertory Theatre, PanAsian Repertory Theatre (NY), GeVa Theater Center (NY), Mark Taper Forum New Works Festival, Celebration Theatre (LA), and Perseverance Theatre (AK).

The rest of the show's creative team includes Tesshi Nakagawa (Scenic Design), Jojo Sui (Costume Design), Brian Gale (Lighting Design), Howard Ho (Sound Design and original music) and Akeime Mitterlehner (Prop Design). Mireya ("Murry") Hepner has been MainStreet's Producer since the company's inception.

The Emperor's Nightingale runs Saturdays at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm (no 1:00 pm performance May 4th) and Sundays at 1:00 pm. The Playhouse also runs special weekday matinees for school children. Specially priced $10.00 tickets are available for the Foundation Family Saturday performance on May 4th. Foundation Family Flex pack tickets are just $12.00 if purchased in quantities of four or more for the same performance and are available for all MainStreet Theatre Company productions.

During the run of The Emperor's Nightingale families are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to interact more with the story through fun activities tied to the theme of the show. Every public performance will include pre-show activities and lobby displays, and children can meet the cast in the lobby for autographs after the show. The

Playhouse will be hosting a festive afternoon tea between the performances on Saturday, May 11th, just in time for Mother's Day. Ticket holders for The Emperor's Nightingale get a discount to the tea. MainStreet Theatre Company, included in American Theatre Magazine's 2016 list of "20 Theatres you should take your kids to," has been the resident Equity Company at the Lewis Family Playhouse since 2006, and is known for producing high quality and innovative productions of plays and musicals for the whole family.

An intimate, 560-seat venue, Lewis Family Playhouse is the crown jewel of the three-acre, 89,000-square-foot Victoria Gardens Cultural Center. The complex at 12505 Cultural Center Drive and is conveniently located off the I-15 at Foothill Boulevard, as a major anchor of Victoria Gardens with free parking available. The Box Office is open Monday through Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For more information - For additional information or to purchase tickets for any of our performances please visit www.lewisfamilyplayhouse.com or call (909) 477-2752 or (877) 858-8422.

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