BWW Review: SURFING MY DNA by Jodi Long at NJ Rep is Authentic and Enthralling
New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep) is currently presenting Surfing My DNA by actress and playwright, Jodi Long. Directed by Eric Rosen, the solo show stars Jodi Long and features the musical talents of Yukio Tsuji. Long presents the fascinating, true story of her life by portraying her family, giving an insider's perspective of the entertainment profession, and revealing remarkable discoveries about her Asian heritage. This distinctive production will be on the Long Branch stage through May 26.
Jodi Long was "born in a trunk" to Larry and Trudie Leung. Trudie was of Japanese decent, while Larry was born in Australia to a Scottish mother and a Chinese father. The Leungs enjoyed a successful singing, dancing, and comedy act that appeared in Vaudeville, cabarets, and on the Ed Sullivan Show. Jodi's gift for the performing arts was realized in childhood when, at age seven, she had a role in "No Where To Go But Up" at The Winter Garden Theater. This was only the beginning of her career as she continued to star on Broadway and beyond. Jodi's journey is an inspiring one that takes audiences through her youth, education, performances, romantic relationships, the rise of the Asian-American theatre movement, and intriguing discoveries about her parents' backgrounds. Long's also tells of the challenges, both personal and professional, that she had to overcome on her path to success.
Jodi Long's presentation has just the right measure of humor, charm, and passion. The music by Yukio Tsuji is an ideal complement to the narrative. Throughout the dynamic show, Long deftly assumes a number of roles that include her parents, fellow performers, her mother's boyfriend, and many others. Striking moments include Jodi practicing tap dancing with her father; the story of her mother at the Japanese internment camp during WWII; learning to body surf at Bradley Beach, NJ; waitressing at O'Neills in NYC; her visit to Australia; and the passing of her mother.
The Production Staff has done a great job of creative a flexible setting that brings Surfing My DNA to the stage. They include scenic design by Jessica Parks; lighting design by Jill Nagle; sound design by Merek Royce Press; costume design by Patricia E. Doherty. The Stage Manager is Kristin Pfeifer; the Assistant Stage Manager is Adam von Pier; the Technical Director is Brian P. Snyder.
Surfing My DNA is an engaging production that does a beautiful job of documenting family stories and the interesting life Jodi Long. In the current times, when so many people are exploring their backgrounds, we applaud NJ Rep's Executive Producer, Gabor Barabas and the Company's Artistic Director, Suzanne Barabas for making the production available to metro area audiences.
New Jersey Repertory Company is located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch. Performances of Surfing My DNA are Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm; Sundays at 2pm. For tickets call 732-229-3166 or visit the Company's web site at http://www.njrep.org/.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of NJ Rep