Interview: Melody Her of AGAIN at Theater Mu

This production runs March 29th through April 16th

José Casas Receives Inaugural Dominic Orlando Playwriting Award

Local Hmong American playwright and theater artist Katie Ka Vang returns to Theater Mu for the world premiere of her and Melissa Li's musical, Again. Weaving together unlikely friendships, complex family dynamics, and original songs, Again runs Mar 31-Apr 16 at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis (previews Mar 29 & 30). The story begins when cancer survivor Mai See, a successful memoirist who can't seem to get her life together, meets Quest, an aspiring filmmaker who is battling chronic cancer herself. Inspired by Mai See's work, Quest asks her to star in her documentary. Although Mai See reluctantly agrees, they're both thrown for a loop when Mai See discovers she has relapsed.

We chat with Melody Her who plays Quest in this production of Again.

What is your favorite song in the show?

Composer and lyricist, Melissa Li, makes this such a hard question to answer! But if I had to choose my favorite song from the show, it would definitely be the finale. Not only does the song/choreography show the individual growth of Quest and Mai See, but you can also see how strong their relationship has gotten up to this point in the show. These two characters are facing what's most scary to them, but they realize that what they need the most is each other. It's a beautiful scene, and personally, I believe is the perfect way to close.

What is your favorite moment in the show

My favorite moment in the show is actually a part I don't want to spoil! The scene is comedic but, at the same time, also very heartfelt. It's when Maisee is reminded that those who love us are our home, and without it, we are just an empty shell. It's a great reminder that you can be brave and resilient, but also be vulnerable and ask for help.

What does it mean to be telling this story?

This musical comes from a deep and personal place in Katie Ka Vang's life as she is a cancer survivor herself, and it's an absolute privilege to be honoring this story with Theater Mu. It's stories like this that aren't highlighted in the Hmong community. A lot of the time, when illnesses arise, whether its mental or physical health, they're typically seen as curses or a punishment from God. The story of Mai See and Quest has so many layers to it, but what's important is making these stories-and the Hmong community-feel heard when a loved one or oneself is dealing with something like cancer. And what I love about this production is that you don't have to be Hmong to relate to it!

What do you hope audience members take away from seeing this production?

I hope people walk away from the musical and are reminded that it's okay to not be okay. Katie's writing shows the story of three incredibly resilient and strong women who are struggling with issues. And, while not everyone in the audience may have a direct connection with cancer, it's very much shown that no matter what you're going through, humans are not meant to go through it alone. We take it one day at a time and control what we can. In the meantime, building relationships makes it all worthwhile, and that's very important.

José Casas Receives Inaugural Dominic Orlando Playwriting Award

What are your favorite local spots?

I'm a little biased, but my brother co-owns a restaurant in East St. Paul called Juche. He and co-owner, Eddie Wu, serve these incredible Korean/American/Asian American-inspired dishes in a small, cozy joint right off Payne Avenue. Not only is the food delicious, but the people who work and cook are amazingly talented and welcoming.

Thank you Melody for your time!

For more ticket and show information, please click the ticket link button below.

Headshot courtesy of Melody Her

Production photo by Rich Ryan

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