Cast and Creative Team Set for AN AMERICAN SOLDIER at Perelman Performing Arts Center

An American Soldier will premiere in New York during AANHPI Heritage Month with performances starting May 12 through May 19, 2024. 

By: Feb. 29, 2024
Cast and Creative Team Set for AN AMERICAN SOLDIER at Perelman Performing Arts Center
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The Perelman Performing Arts Center has revealed the complete and creative team for An American Soldier at the new performing arts center at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.  An American Soldier will premiere in New York during AANHPI Heritage Month with performances starting May 12 through May 19, 2024. 

An American Soldier will feature principal cast members Hannah Cho, Alex DeSocio, Nina Yoshida Nelsen and Brian Vu. Ensemble members include Ben Brady, Cierra Byrd, James C. Harris, Shelén Hughes, Joshua Sanders, Christian Simmons and understudies, Misoon Ghim, Luke Harnish and Angela Yam.

An American Soldier features scenic design by Daniel Ostling, costume design by Linda Cho, lighting design by Jeanette Yew and multi-media design by Nick Hussong, joining the previously announced creative team members Huang Ruo (composer), David Henry Hwang (libretto), Carolyn Kuan (conductor), and Chay Yew (director).

On October 3, 2011, Chinese-American Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found dead in a guard tower at his base in Afghanistan. Based on his story and the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers, this New York City premiere opera tells the powerful true story of a young soldier from Manhattan’s Chinatown who sought to serve his country, only to find his biggest threat was the very people who swore to protect him.

Told through the multidimensional music of Huang Ruo (M. Butterfly, Book of Mountains and Seas) with libretto by Tony and Grammy winner David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Soft Power), and directed by Obie Award winner Chay Yew (Cambodian Rock Band, Sweatshop Overlord), An American Soldier is a powerful and unforgettable experience.

About the Company

Hannah Cho 

(Josephine Young). Hannah Cho (soprano) has appeared with Daejeon Opera as Nedda in Pagliacci and WQXR in their “Young Artists Showcase.” Other roles in her repertoire include Violetta (La traviata), Musetta (La bohème), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), and the title role in Cavalli’s La Calisto. Lauded for her “ringing and expressive” voice, Ms. Cho is deeply passionate about new works and art song. 

Alex DeSocio

(Sgt. Aaron Marcum). Hailed by The New York Times for his “buttery, booming baritone,” Alex DeSocio joined Houston Grand Opera this season in the world premiere of Intelligence (Travis cover). He has also been featured in La bohème (Marcello), Die Zauberflöte (Papageno), the title role in Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro (Count Almaviva), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Figaro), La


(Dandini), Carmen (Moralès), Roméo et Juliette (Mercutio), L’elisir d’amore (Belcore), Don Pasquale (Dr. Malatesta), and Pagliacci (Silvio). 

 Nina Yoshida Nelsen 

(Mother Chen). Hailed as a “richly powerful singing actress” (Broadway World), Nina Yoshida Nelsen captivates audiences with her world-class voice and magnetic stage presence. This season, Ms. Nelsen joins Indianapolis Opera for the title role in Carmen, sings Melissa in Alcina with Seattle Opera, sings Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Opera Carolina, joins Utah Opera as Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, and is excited to sing Mother Chen in An American Soldier at the PAC. 

 Brian Vu 

(Private Danny Chen).  Described by The New York Times as having an “ample and pleasing tone,” tenor Brian Vu is an exciting performer recognized for his vocal and dramatic abilities. In the summer of 2023, Mr. Vu joined the Glimmerglass Festival to sing the title role in Candide. Engagements in the 2023-2024 season include singing Alfredo Germont in La traviata, portraying Rodolfo in La bohème with Opera in the Heights, and joining the Phoenix Symphony for Messiah.  

Ben Brady 

(Trial Counsel Major Rose/ Spc. Austin Haldemann/ Spc. Julian Swanson/ Pvt. Randall Pinkton/Ensemble).  This season, Ben Brady appears in the workshop of Mason Bates’ The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Sheldon Anapol) with the Metropolitan Opera; Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin); Il barbiere di Siviglia (Bartolo); Les contes d'Hoffmann (Luther, Crespel and four villains cover); Norma (Oroveso cover); Pelléas et Mélisande (Arkel/the Physician); and Tosca (Sciarrone). Prior engagements include La bohème (Colline), Die Zauberflöte (Speaker), L'elisir d’amore (Dulcamara), Das Rheingold (Fafner), Fidelio (Rocco), Macbeth (Banco), and Nabucco (Zaccaria).

Cierra Byrd 

(Private Stanton/Ensemble).  American, Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Cierra Byrd is a recent graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. In the 2023–2024 season she returns to the Metropolitan Opera in Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones while also joining the company for their production of Madama Butterfly; she joins Houston Grand Opera for their production of Jake Heggie’s Intelligence; and is excited to be at PAC NYC for Ruo’s An American Soldier.

James C Harris

(Sgt. Lucas Brown/ Pvt. Roman Parker/ Sgt. Jackson Blakemore/ Pvt. Bryan Johnston/Ensemble) is a multifaceted singer and actor based in New York City. He has been seen Off-Broadway, regionally, and on operatic stages across the east coast, including appearances with Spoleto Festival USA, Opera Philadelphia, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Recent theatre includes Sunday in the Park with George at Axelrod PAC. James is a graduate of Westminster Choir College (BM) and Manhattan School of Music (MM) and a proud AEA and AGMA member.  

 Shelén Hughes

(Private Sonia Gonzalez/Ensemble). Bolivian Soprano, Shelén Hughes has a passion for social service and music in life. Previous credits include Servillia (La Clemenza di Tito, Mozart), Atalanta (Handel’s Atalanta), Inez (Mercadante’s I Due Figaro), Snegurochka (Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka), Micaëla (Bizet’s Carmen), Magda (Puccini’s La Rondine), her Carnegie Hall debut (2019) and her NYFOS debut (2022). Ms. Hughes holds degrees from the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, she was a young artist at the 2019 Gstaad Menuhin Festival and a 2022 Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Ms. Hughes is the founder of "Voices for Bolivia", a growing international non-profit organization for those in need in Bolivia, fully funded by classical music. 

Joshua Sanders 

(Defense Lawyer Major Baker/ Pvt. Roderic Carter/ Spc. Cameron Rodriguez/Ensemble). This season, tenor Joshua Sanders joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago in La Cenerentola (Don Ramiro cover); Los Angeles Opera in Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio cover); Opera San José in Roméo et Juliette (Roméo) and Il barbiere di Siviglia (Count Almaviva); Nashville Opera in Die Zauberflöte (Tamino); and the Metropolitan Opera in the workshop of Mason Bates’ The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Sam Clay). Internationally, he has sung with Teatro Regio Torino and Deutsche Oper Berlin. 

Christian Simmons

(Military Judge/ Pvt. Washington/ Pvt. Manny Davis/Ensemble). This season, Christian Simmons joined Deutsche Oper Berlin: Carmen (Zuniga),Anna Bolena (Rochefort), Tosca (Sciarrone), Gianni Schicchi (Betto and Guccio), Nabucco (High Priest), Die Zauberflöte (2nd Armored Man), Madama Butterfly(Commissioner), Lohengrin (Noble), and La traviata (Messenger); Atlanta Opera: La bohème (Colline); and Santa Fe Opera: Rusalka (Vodnik cover). Prior engagements include Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro), Aida (King), Rigoletto (Sparafucile), L’incoronazione di Poppea (Seneca), Roméo et Juliette (Duke), Il trovatore(Ferrando cover), Blue (Policeman), and The Wiz (Lion).

Misoon Ghim

(u/s Mother Chen). Hailed by The New York Times, Korean-American mezzo-soprano Misoon Ghim has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch. Known for her versatility, she has portrayed characters like Suzuki, Rosina, and Cherubino, and delivered alto-solos in major works by J.S.Bach, Mendelssohn, and Mahler at venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Kimmel Center. Ghim has served as a voice teacher at Curtis Summerfest and is an affiliated artist at Haverford College.

Luke Harnish 

(u/s Sgt. Aaron Marcum). Praised for his “luxuriant baritone” (San Diego Story) and “securely produced bass” (Opera Today), American bass-baritone Luke Harnish has performed with Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Sarasota Opera, Nashville Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Wichita Grand Opera, among others. He returns to Santa Fe Opera this summer, singing roles in La traviata and the World Premiere of Gregory Spears’ The Righteous. Previous repertoire highlights include Schaunard, Bartolo, King Melchior, Zuniga, Onegin, and Papageno. 

Angela Yam 

(u/s Josephine Young) is honored to join PAC NYC for this powerful production! Recent credits: Calisto (La Calisto, Opera Memphis), Johanna (Sweeney Todd, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Saratoga), Diana (Iphigénie en Tauride, Boston Baroque), Soloist (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, NYC Ballet). World premieres: Mumei (The Emissary, Opera Parallèle), Siren 1 (The Night Falls, BalletCollective), the Bird (ICELAND, LaMama), Agave (cover, The Lord of Cries, Santa Fe Opera). Education: Boston Lyric Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Santa Fe Opera. More at

 About the Creative Team

Huang Ruo 

(Composer). Composer Huang Ruo has been lauded by The New York Times for having “a distinctive style.” His vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, experimental, noise, natural and processed sound, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration using a compositional technique he calls “Dimensionalism.”  Huang Ruo’s diverse compositional works span from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and dance, to cross-genre, sound installation, architectural installation, multimedia, experimental improvisation, folk rock, and film. His music has been premiered and performed by the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, National Polish Radio Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Royal Danish Opera, Asko/Schoenberg, Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta, and conductors such as Wolfgang Sawallisch, Marin Alsop, Andrew Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, and James Conlon. 

His opera An American Soldier (with libretto by David Henry Hwang) has recently received its world premiere at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in June 2018, and was named one of the best classical music events in 2018 by The New York Times. His installation opera Paradise Interrupted was premiered at the Spoleto Festival USA in 2015 and was performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2016, with future touring planning for Europe and Asia. Another opera, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, premiered at the Santa Fe Opera in 2014.  His recent new opera M. Butterfly (with libretto by David Henry Hwang) received its world premiere with the Santa Fe Opera in 2022. His other upcoming new operas will be premiered and presented by the Seattle Opera, BAM's Next Wave Festival, Prototype Festival, Singapore International Festival of Arts, and the Hong Kong New Vision Festival, etc.  He served as the first composer-in-residence for Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and was the visiting composer for the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in Brazil. Huang Ruo was born in Hainan Island, China in 1976 - the year the Chinese Cultural Revolution ended. His father, who is also a composer, began teaching him composition and piano when he was six years old. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, when China was opening its gate to the Western world, he received both traditional and Western education at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. As a result of the dramatic cultural and economic changes in China following the Cultural Revolution, his education expanded from Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Lutoslawski, to include the Beatles, rock and roll, heavy metal, and jazz. Huang Ruo was able to absorb all of these newly allowed Western influences equally.  

After winning the Henry Mancini Award at the 1995 International Film and Music Festival in Switzerland, he moved to the United States to further his education. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in composition from the Juilliard School. Huang Ruo is a composition faculty at the Mannes School of Music in NY, and is the artistic director and conductor of Ensemble FIRE.  He was selected as a Young Leader Fellow by the National Committee on United States–China Relations in 2006.  Huang Ruo’s music is published by Ricordi. For more information about the composer and his music, please visit: (  

David Henry Hwang 

(Libretto). David Henry Hwang’s stage works include the plays M. Butterfly, Yellow Face (Broadway revival upcoming, Fall 2024), Chinglish, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the musicals Aida, Soft Power, Flower Drum Song and Disney’s Tarzan. Called America’s most-produced living opera librettist, he has written thirteen libretti, including five with composer Philip Glass and four with Huang Ruo. Ainadamar with music by Osvaldo Golijov will receive its Metropolitan Opera premiere in Fall 2024. Hwang was a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair and is currently creating and show running a new TV series, Billion Dollar Whale. A professor at Columbia University, Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a Grammy Award winner and two-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. 

Chay Yew 

(Director). New York credits include The Public Theater (Mojada, Oedipus el Rey, Durango, Ameriville, Low), Playwrights Horizons (Cool Dip in a Barren Saharan Crick), Signature Theatre (Cambodian Rock Band), New York Theatre Workshop (Sweatshop Overlord,The Architecture of Loss), Audible Theatre (Good Enemy), Rattlestick Theater (Draw The Circle), Playwrights Realm (My Mañana Comes), Ensemble Studio Theatre (Where Did We Sit on the Bus?), National Asian American Theatre Company (The House of Bernarda Alba) and Ma Yi Theatre (Last of the Suns). His regional credits include The Goodman Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Alley Theatre, Center Theatre Group, Hartford Stage, Denver Center Theater, Huntington Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Kennedy Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory, Empty Space, Portland Center Stage, East West Players and Singapore Repertory Theatre. 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 LA Philharmonic) and Rob Zuidam’s Rage D’Amors (Tanglewood). He is a recipient of the Obie Award for Direction. 

Carolyn Kuan

(Conductor). Recognized as a conductor of extraordinary versatility, Carolyn Kuan has enjoyed successful associations with top tier orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, and festivals worldwide. She has served as Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra since 2011. Upcoming and recent engagements include performances with the Baltimore Symphony, the Columbus (OH) Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.  Recently she conducted operatic productions that included Philip Glass’ Satyagraha with English National Opera, Harvey Milk with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Huang Ruo’s M. Butterfly with Santa Fe Opera. Carolyn Kuan holds the distinction of being the first woman to be awarded the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship by the Herbert von Karajan Centrum and American Austrian Foundation in 2003. 

Daniel Ostling

(Scenic Design). RECENT: Swan Lake (Australian Ballet, Melbourne/Sydney), Sleeping Beauty (K-Ballet, Tokyo), Eurydice (Metropolitan Opera/LA Opera), River/Cloud (Taipei), Lookingglass Alice (Lookingglass). NYC: Rusalka, Sonnambula and Lucia Di Lammermoor (Metropolitan Opera); Clybourne Park (Broadway/Tony nomination); Glorious Ones (Lincoln Center); Durango (Public); Metamorphoses (Broadway/Tony Nomination); Playwright’s Horizon, New Victory, Delacorte, BAM. REGIONAL: Goodman, Steppenwolf, Huntington, Shakespeare Theatre, ACT, Berkeley Repertory, Mark Taper, La Jolla, Oregon Shakespeare, Seattle Repertory, Alley, Arena Stage, Guthrie, Old Globe. INTERNATIONAL: Milan, London, Australia, Tokyo, Shanghai, Calgary, Taipei. OTHER: Ensemble, Lookingglass Theatre. Teacher, National Taiwan University.

Linda Cho

(Costume Design). Broadway: The Great Gatsby; Doubt; Harmony; Summer, 1976; Take Me Out; Grand Horizons; Anastasia (Tony nomination); The Great Society; A Gentlemen’s Guide… (Tony and Henry Hewes Design Awards, Outer Critics Circle nomination); The Lifespan of a Fact; Velocity of Autumn. Selected Opera: Turandot (Washington National Opera), The Dwarf (LA Opera), Samson and Dalila (The MET). Currently residing in NYC, this Korean-born designer is on the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing and teaches at NYU. MFA Yale School of Drama, BA McGill University and Paris American Academy.

Jeanette Yew

(Lighting Design) is an Obie Award recipient for sustained achievement in lighting design. She designs for theatre, dance, opera, musicals, music performances, and large-scale immersive installation. The New York Times described her designs as “clever” and “inventive.” PAC designs include Big Dance Group’sThe March and Circle Songs: A Holiday Concert Series. Opera: Madama Butterfly (Boston Lyric Opera), Blue (Detroit Opera), Desire (by Hannah Lash), Sweet Land(with Yuval Sharon), Thumbprint (LA Opera premiere, with Kamala Sankaram), and Don Giovianni (with Isabel Milenski). 

Nick Hussong

(Multi-Media Design). Creative Producer at Dwight Street Book Club and international designer. Broadway: Skeleton Crew (Tony nomination). Off-Broadway: Skeleton Crew, These Paper Bullets (Drama Desk nomination); Wet Brain (Obie Award); On That Day in Amsterdam (Drama Desk Nomination); White Guy on the Bus; Chick 6; Spiritus, Until the Flood. Other credits: Next to Normal; The Wizard of Oz; RENT!; Vietgone; To the Yellow House; Kleptocracy; Until the Flood (15 spaces regional/international); Haint Blu, Hair & Other Stories; Woman's Party; Grounded; and more. Other: Atlanta Opera, Virginia Museum of Art, David Zwirner Gallery, Marc Jacobs, Mass MoCA, Complex Magazine, AMC+, San Diego Shell, San Diego Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Tony Awards (CBS), Ask Ronna Podcast. Adjunct lecturer NYU Tisch. Yale MFA.

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