Photo Flash: First Look at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's World Premiere of THE FOUR IMMIGRANTS
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley kicks off its 48th season with the World Premiere of The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga. Drawn from one of the first ever graphic novels, set to an infectious ragtime and vaudeville score by local composer/lyricist Min Kahng, the comic musical follows four Japanese immigrants in a world of possibility and prejudice: turn-of-the-twentieth-century San Francisco. From a tumultuous earthquake to an exhilarating World's Fair, the quartet pursues the American Dream, despite limited options in the land of opportunity. Directed by TheatreWorks Associate Artistic Director Leslie Martinson, and developed at TheatreWorks' 2016 New Works Festival, the World Premiere of The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga will be presented July 12-August 6, 2017 (press opening: July 15) at Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. For tickets ($40-$100) and more information the public may visit TheatreWorks.org or call (650) 463-1960.
Check out brand new photos of the cast below!
Min Kahng is an award-winning Bay Area playwright and composer whose produced works include Where the Mountain Meets the Moon: A Musical Adaptation, The Song of the Nightingale, Tales of Olympus: A Greek Myth Musical, and Story Explorers. Kahng adapted this musical from Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama's The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924, a work that chronicled the Issei, the first generation of Japanese immigrants to arrive in America between 1885 and 1924. After extensively researching the history of cartoons, Japanese-American history, and theatre and musical styles of the era, Kahng began writing the musical in 2014 at TheatreWorks' Writers' Retreat, where he worked closely with the translator of the graphic novel, Frederik L. Schodt. The work was presented at the 2016 New Works Festival where it proved to be an audience favorite. The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga was selected to receive an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Kahng's previous work, The Song of the Nightingale, an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Nightingale, was praised as an "enchanting, must-see musical" by The Mercury News. He has been featured in American Theatre Magazine as one of the "9 Musical Theatre Writers You Should Know." Kahng is a recipient of the Theatre Bay Area Titan Award for Playwrights and is a resident playwright with Playwrights Foundation. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Theatre Communications Group, Theatre Bay Area, and Theatre for Young Audiences USA.
Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama's original 1931 comic book, The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924 tells the true adventures of four young Japanese men in America, and it is arguably one of the first true comic books, or graphic novels, published in the United States. Kiyama began the work in 1927 when he exhibited a series of hand-drawn colored pages titled Manga Hokubei Iminshi ("A Manga North American Immigrant History") which depicted the lives of Kiyama and three friends in San Francisco between 1904 and 1924. While visiting Japan in 1931, Kiyama had his work printed in black and white. That year he brought it back to San Francisco, where he self-published it as Manga Yonin Shosei, or "The Four Students Manga." Frederik L. Schodt discovered Kiyama's work in a library in Berkeley around 1980. After much research, he completed a translation of the book in 1997, and it was published by Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, retitled The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has assembled an outstanding cast for this production. Kiyama's Four Immigrants will be played by James Seol, Hansel Tan, Sean Fenton, and Phil Wong. Playing Henry is James Seol, who returns to TheatreWorks where he was seen in last summer's reading of The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga, as well as in the mainstage production of tokyo fish story. A graduate of the Juilliard School, Seol's work on and Off-Broadway includes productions such as Around the World in 80 Days, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, Stuck Elevator, Ten, and others. He has appeared at regional theatres including The Woolly Mammoth, Hartford Stage, Paper Mill Playhouse, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and in The Orphan of Zhao at A.C.T in San Francisco.
Photo credit: Kevin Berne
Catherine Gloria and James Seol