Full Cast and Creative Team Set for THE DRAGON KING'S DAUGHTER at the Kennedy Center

The production is directed by Chongren Fan and features choreography by Billy Bustamante.

By: Oct. 16, 2023
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Full Cast and Creative Team Set for THE DRAGON KING'S DAUGHTER at the Kennedy Center The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has revealed the full cast and creative team for the world premiere Kennedy Center -commissioned musical The Dragon King’s Daughter. Chinese dragon mythology and martial arts combine onstage inspired by Marcus Yi’s story about an unlikely young duo on a daring adventure. With direction by Chongren Fan (Artistic Director of Yangtze Theatre) and choreography by Billy Bustamante (Associate Director for Here Lies Love opening on Broadway), the musical features lyrics and music by Yi.

The show follows 12-year-old Kenny Li, who is being bullied at school. When he finds a magical tablet, he is transported to the Jade Kingdom where he meets Xing, the Dragon King’s daughter. Together, they go on a quest to save the world, finding courage and friendship along the way.

The Dragon King’s Daughter features Johnny Lee Jr. (Kenny Li), Michelle Cabinian (Xing), Eymard Cabling (Dragon King/Ensemble), Sally Imbriano (Auntie Qin/Ensemble), Leo Chang (Mao Han Ba/Ensemble), and Quynh-My Luu (Fox Spirit/Ensemble). The understudies are Ashley D. Nguyen, Jimmy Nguyen, Sarah Anne Sillers, and Jacob Yeh.

“I have always been a huge advocate of highlighting underrepresented voices and narratives in my work.” said Marcus Yi. “For the Kennedy Center to commission and produce a show that is written by an artist who is AAPI, and features a fully AAPI cast, is positive validation that together, we can create more equity in musical theater.”

The full creative team includes costume design by Yuanyuan Liang; scenic design by You-Shin Chen; lighting design by Venus Gulbranson; sound design by Ian Vespermann; Fight Choreography by Ryan Sellers; music direction by Tiffany Underwood Holmes; projection design by Patrick Lord; and props design by Luke Hartwood. Hope Villanueva is the Production Stage Manager, Maria Mills is the Assistant Stage Manager, Jess Hagy is the Production Assistant, and Gregory Keng Strasser is the Assistant Director.

This musical was developed as part of New Victory LabWorks at The New Victory Theater, powered by New 42.  It was then further commissioned and developed by the Kennedy Center for this world premiere production.

Tickets for the production are currently on sale via the Kennedy Center website, at the box office, or by calling 202-467-4600. 

The Saturday, December 16, 1:30 p.m. performance is a sensory-friendly performance designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families, including those with children with autism or other sensory sensitivities.

Following the performance on Saturday, November 18 at 1:30 p.m., patrons are invited to stay for a creative conversation where young audience members can ask questions and hear stories from the show’s artists and creative team.

Cast:

Eymard Cabling (Dragon King/Ensemble) is excited for his second TYA production at the Kennedy Center after playing Jane Goodall’s dog Rusty in Me…Jane! Off-Broadway: Honor (Prospect Theater Company). International Tour: King and I. North American Tour: Miss Saigon (The Engineer, u/s Thuy). Regional: She Loves Me (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek, Starlight Express, Mamma Mia, Mary Poppins, Newsies (Tuacahn Amphitheatre), Gold Mountain (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Allegiance (East West Players), Waterfall (Pasadena Playhouse & 5th Avenue Theatre). D.C. AREA: The King and I, Once On This Island, Pippin, Okuni Project, Brothers Paranormal (Olney Theatre Center), Pacific Overtures (Signature Theatre). Kennedy Center: Gravid Water. Film: Yes, And…. TV: America’s Most Wanted. Education: Carnegie Mellon University @eymardisonearth

Michelle Cabinian (Xing) is grateful to tell this AAPI story in her Kennedy Center debut and bring more diverse voices to the stage. She is passionate about all things “developmental” from collaborating with artists on new plays/musicals to mentoring young grads in their early careers to creating processes/training as an operations manager in the tech world. Cabinian dedicates this performance to her fellow mixed Asians and their journey in finding space and agency in telling AAPI stories. You can learn more about her work at www.michellecabinian.com. She would love to connect with you on IG at @michellecabinian!

Leo Chang (Mao Han Ba/Ensemble) is a bilingual performer, educator, proud immigrant, and a strong advocate for International and BIPOC artists. Born and raised in Taiwan, where he co-founded an award-winning A Cappella Band - Guess what, Chang took a faithful leap to come to the U.S. to pursue his dream. Upon earning his M.F.A. in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University, he soon made his Off-Broadway debut in Revelation: The Musical. His performing career includes theater, films, commercials, street dance, a cappella, and event hosting. As an educator, Chang currently serves as an adjunct faculty at Marymount Manhattan College and has taught internationally, including La Jolla Playhouse, New York City Center, and National Taiwan University. You will when you believe. Dream BIG!  @jumpingleo

Sally Imbriano (Auntie Qin) is excited to rejoin the Kennedy Center TYA for Dragon King’s Daughter! DC AREA: KCTYA: The Mortification of Fovea Munson, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus; Nextstop Theatre Company: Lucky Stiff (Annabel Glick) [2022 Helen Hayes Nomination for Outstanding Lead Performer], Matilda (Mrs Phelps); Olney Theatre Center: Brother's Paranormal; Creative Cauldron: Always…Patsy Cline (Patsy), Disenchanted the Musical (Mulan); Adventure Theatre MTC: Winnie the Pooh (Eeyore); Imagination Stage: New Kid. INTERNATIONAL: Richard Burton Theatre Company: Company (Amy). Going for Gold Festival: The Last Queen of Paradise (Queen Liliuokalani); Edinburgh Fringe: Fleeced! The Musical. EDUCATION: MA Musical Theatre from The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. BMus in vocal performance from The University of New South Wales Sydney. Instagram: @sallyimbriano. sallyimbriano.com

Jonny Lee Jr (Kenny Li) is excited to be making his Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences debut! Some past acting credits include Pacific Overtures (Manjiro) at Signature Theatre, Eastbound (Yun) at the Village Theatre, Gold Mountain the Musical (Lit Ning) at Utah Shakespeare Festival, Shanghai Sonatas (Ming Kai), Miss Saigon (Thuy), and Next To Normal (Henry). @jonnyleejr

Quynh-My Luu (Fox Spirit) KENNEDY CENTER: RENT in Concert, Gravid Water. NYC: NYGASP: The Mikado (Yum-Yum).  DC: Ford's Theatre: Into the Woods (Rapunzel); Signature Theatre: Pacific Overtures (Tamate/British Admiral/Others), A Little Night Music(Mrs. Nordstrom), Daphne’s Dive (Jenn); Olney Theatre Center: Matilda (Acrobat), Sweeney Todd, Beauty and the Beast. REGIONAL: Arvada Center: Into the Woods (Cinderella); Geva Theatre Center: Sister Act (Sister Mary Robert), A Christmas Carol(Belle/Fred’s Wife/Martha); Virginia Repertory Theatre: Cinderella (Ella); Fulton Theatre: The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Interlakes Summer Theatre: Miss Saigon (Kim). EDUCATION: BA in Musical Theatre from James Madison University.  www.quynhmyluu.com.

Understudies:

Ashley D. Nguyen (Xing u/s, she/her) DC AREA: Signature Theatre: King of the Yees(Lauren Yee), Pacific Overtures (Swing); Arena Stage: Ride the Cyclone (Swing); Olney Theatre Center: Dance Nation (Zuzu); The Kennedy Center TYA: The Day You Begin (Min—World Premiere); Keegan Theatre: Shakespeare in Love (Viola de Lesseps—Helen Hayes Nomination); Creative Cauldron: Into the Woods (Little Red); Studio Theatre: White Pearl (Ruki Minami u/s—World Premiere); Catholic University: A Little Night Music(Fredrika Armfeldt), The Wolves (#8), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee(Marcy Park). EDUCATION: BM in Musical Theatre from Catholic University. Instagram: @ashley.d.nguyen Website: ashleydnguyen.com

Sarah Anne Sillers (she/her) is grateful to be back at the Kennedy Center, where she last appeared in The Day You Begin. Select local credits include Signature Theatre: Sweeney Todd, She Loves Me, RENT; Olney Theatre Center: Kinky Boots (Trish), The Music Man(Amaryllis), Singin' in the Rain, Elf the Musical, Olney Outdoors concerts (Sounds of Judy, Sounds of Barbra, 90s Girl Groups, ABBA Tribute); NextStop Theatre Company: The 39 Steps (Annabella/Pamela/Clown); Ordinary Days (Claire), 45 Plays for 45 Presidents, A Grand Night for Singing; Monumental Theatre Company: Songs for a New World (Woman 2), Urinetown (Little Becky Two-Shoes); Avant Bard Theatre: Visible Language (Helen Hayes Award nomination, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical). EDUCATION: Princeton University. www.sarahannesillers.com @sarah.anne.sillers

Jacob Yeh is thrilled and grateful to now add The Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences to his credits.  DC Theater: King of the Yees (Signature Theatre), Vietgone, Chimerica, Edgar & Annabelle (Studio Theatre), Yellowface (Theater J), Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Rosencrantz & Guildenstern (Folger Theatre), East of Eden (Helen Hayes nom. supporting actor), An Act of God, Pride and Prejudice, White Rabbit/Red Rabbit (NextStop Theatre), How the Light Gets In, The Rainmaker, Dredgie McGee (HH nom, ensemble), Take Me Out, Shakespeare's R+J, The Farnsworth Invention (HH nom, ensemble), Trevor, Fuddy Meers, Game of Love and Chance (1st Stage Tysons), School For Lies, The White Snake, Journey to the West (Constellation Theatre).  Upcoming: The Chinese Lady (American Stage, Feb 2024) @jacobyeh (X) @jake.yeh (IG)

Creative Team: 

Marcus Yi is an award-winning theatre writer/composer/director and performer based in New York. Marcus was an inaugural member of the 92nd Street Y Musical Theater Development Lab Collective, a 2021-2022 New Victory LabWorks Artist, and a Resident Artist with the American Lyric Theater. He has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center, Queens Council on the Arts, American Lyric Theater, Atlanta Opera, Really Spicy Opera, and First Stage. His work has been seen at the New York Times Center, Green Room 42, The Duplex, National Opera Center, Midtown International Theater Festival, Planet Connections Theater Festivity, Fresh Fruit Festival, and the Midwinter Madness Theater Festival. 

Chongren Fan 范崇人(Director) is a New York-based bilingual stage director. Hailing from Shanghai, he is the Artistic Director of Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America. Off-Broadway: Citizen Wong; The Emperor’s Nightingale (Off Broadway Alliance Award nomination); Romulus the Great; 410[GONE]; Behind the Mask; Regional: Tiger Style!(TheatreSquared); Shanghai Sonatas in Concert (The Wallis); International: China Premiere Stones in His Pockets (Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre). Chongren was the Deputy General Manager of China Performing Arts Agency overseeing large scale live performances from China to USA from 2015-2020. He was a Jonathan Alper Directing Fellow at Manhattan Theatre Club and Resident Artist at Mabou Mines. He has been a guest lecturer at Barnard College and Yale School of Drama. Off-Broadway League EDIJ committee member. www.chongrenfan.com 

Billy Bustamante (Choreographer) is D.C. native and thrilled to be back at the Kennedy Center!  Bustamante most recently Associate Choreographed Here We Are off Broadway and assistant directed the Broadway production of Here Lies Love. Other credits: Notes From Now (Prospect), Whisper House (Civilians), Gold Mountain (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Into The Woods (Arden Theatre), Virginia Stage Company, Goodspeed, Lincoln Center, and NAAP. Broadway performing credits: Miss Saigon (Engineer alt.), The King and I (Lun Tha u/s). Off-Broadway/Regional: Soft Power and Here Lies Love at The Public Theater, Center Theatre Group, Arena Stage, Old Globe and Paper Mill Playhouse. He’s a co-founder of Broadway Barkada and on faculty at Jen Waldman Studio and Circle in the Square Theatre School. He is passionately committed to the development of new artists and building a more equitable world. BillyBustamante.com. Insta: @BillyBCreative

Ryan Sellers (Fight Choreographer) has been a teaching artist, actor, and director in the DC area since 2008. He has worked with Arts on the Horizon, MVCCT, and Synetic mentoring and educating youth through theater arts. He has directed for Arts on the Horizon, Synetic Theater, Synetic Teen Company, Creative Cauldron, MVCCT, and many local schools.  He has performed with several companies around the DC area, including Synetic Theater, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Constellation Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Arts on the Horizon, Imagination Stage, Adventure Theatre, Studio Theatre, Longarce Lea, and Creative Cauldron. Ryan is a proud company member of Arts on the Horizon.

Tiffany Underwood Holmes (Music Director) is pleased to return to KCTYA following last season’s production of Show Way. Selected area music direction credits include Songs for a New World, Falsettos (Rep Stage);  Miss You Like Hell (Baltimore Center Stage); Big River, Winnie the Pooh (Adventure Theatre); As You Like It, Shakespeare in Love (Keegan Theatre); The Last Five Years, john & jen, Mad Libs Live! (Red Branch Theatre) among many others. She is also a prolific coach, accompanist, collaborator, and voice teacher in the DMV area. 

You-Shin Chen (Scenic Designer) is thrilled to join the DKD team at The Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences. She is a USA-based Taiwanese scenic designer. As a theatre collaborator, she is committed to diversity and humanity. You-Shin centers humans, both the characters and the viewers, and their experiences in her process of creating a three-dimensional space. Her works have been seen across the continental US and Europe. Recent credits include: How To Defend Yourself (NYTW); Wolf Play (SohoRep & MCC, Lortel Awards); Red Velvet (STC, DC); Mlima’s Tale (St. Louis Rep); Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie (ArsNova, Lortel Awards); Troy Anthony’s The Revival: It Is Our Duty (The Shed, NYC); Walden (TheaterWorks Hartford, CCC Awards). Collaborator with the feath3r theory. Assistant professor at Muhlenberg College. USA829. Youshinchen.com. 

Ian Vespermann (Sound Designer) is a D.C. based Sound Designer, Composer, and Audio Engineer from New Hampshire. His recent works include Sweat at Keegan Theatre (sound designer), Monumental Travesties at Mosaic Theater (engineer), Angel Number Nine at Rorschach Theater (designer & engineer), Raisin in The Sun at VOCA (assistant designer & engineer), The Day You Begin at the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences (assistant designer), and 17 Boarder Crossings with Thaddeus Phillips (engineer). Vespermann has a BFA in Sound Design from The University of North Carolina School of The Arts, and a former Kenan Fellow at the Kennedy Center.  

Venus Gulbranson (Lighting Designer) is a proud Filipino lighting designer based in NYC. She is thrilled to return to the Family Theater and its amazing staff, and to be sharing a magical Asian-American experience. Most notable works include Broadway’s New York, New York. Gulbranson has collaborated with Arena Stage, Signature Theatre, The Public, Ford’s Theatre, Soho Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse, Santa Fe Opera, and more. She is a Helen Hayes Nominee for her design of Tick, Tick... Boom! She is a member of United Scenic Artists 829 and is an advocate for underrepresented artists in the industry. Current obsessions include finding the best croissant and relearning Japanese with partner, Kiera. venusgulbranson.com

Luke Hartwood (Props Designer, he/him) is a queer Asian-American artist and designer based on unceded Manahoac Land (“Northern Virginia”). He is currently a freelance prop designer working in the D.C. area. Recent credits include The Chosen (1st Stage); The Mountaintop (Round House Theatre); Baño de Luna/">Luna and Kumanana! (GALA Hispanic Theatre); Angel Number Nine (Rorschach Theatre Company); and A Nice Indian Boy (Olney Theatre Center). lukehartwood.com @lukehartwood

Yuanyuan Liang (Costume Designer, she/her) is a Costume Designer, Fashion Stylist, and Visual Artist, with 15 years of experience working in theater, film, television and commercials. Liang performs services as a Costume Designer/Celebrity Stylist in distinguished projects that are produced by prominent companies in the industry. Liang has enjoyed the process of supporting directors, producers, and actors in realizing their creative vision through costume design. She has worked with actors from across the globe such as Kelsey Grammer, Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson), and Wendie Malick. Her recent productions include costume design for the Sci-fi feature film Lars Shrike Walks the Night(2023), starring Kelsey Grammer; World Premiere of Trouble The Water at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum (2022). Upcoming films include the Apple TV+ series Mayberry Man (2024). She earned a MFA in Costume Design from California Institute of the Arts. www.yuanyuanliang.com

Patrick W. Lord (Projections Designer) is thrilled to be back at the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences where he previously designed Earthrise, Voyagers, Digging Up Dessa, and Where Words Once Were. Other select credits include National Tours: On Your Feet, Hairspray. D.C. Area: Hamlet, Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theatre Company); Dinner and Cake (Everyman Theatre); The World Goes ‘Round, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, A Christmas Carol (Olney Theatre Center); On Your Feet (Helen Hayes Award), Fame (Gala Hispanic Theatre); Mnemonic (Theater Alliance); Fitting In, Outside the Lines (Arts on the Horizon). Regional: Thurgood (People’s Light); SuperYour, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (Skylight Music Theatre); Girl on the Train, Cinderella, West Side Story, South Pacific (Flatrock Playhouse). MFA, The University of Texas at Austin. www.patrickwlord.com @pwlord

Maria Mills (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to return to the Kennedy Center, where she first fell in love with theater. Recent theater credits include KCTYA: The Day You Begin; Constellation Theatre Company: Orlando, The School for Lies; GALA Hispanic Theatre: Revoltosa; and Chautauqua Theater Company: Indecent, Through the Eyes of Holly Germaine. She also works in dance and opera, including shows with the Peabody Institute: Peabody Dance Ensemble; The Washington Ballet: Giselle, Swan Lake, Nutcracker; and the Maryland Lyric Opera: Otello, Falstaff. She graduated with a BA in political science from American University.

Hope Villanueva (Production Stage Manager). Recently: King of the Yees (Signature Theatre), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Barrington Stage). A Nice Indian Boy (Olney Theatre Center). Off-Broadway: Who’s Your Baghdaddy?. National Tour: Rock of Ages, Young Frankenstein, My Fair Lady, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Bellobration. Regional/Other Selections: Romy & Michele: The Musical, Double Helix: A Musical (NYC Workshop), Rock of Ages Hollywood. WILD (ART, feat. Idina Menzel, Javier Muñoz). Our Town, Awake and Sing (Olney Theatre Center). The Day You Begin (Kennedy Center), Little Shop of Horrors (Idaho Shakespeare). Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Resident PSM. DMV Selections: BLKS (Woolly Mammoth), Twist Your Dickens (The Second City/Kennedy Center), Private, The Vagrant Trilogy, Paper Dolls, Queens Girl in Africa(Mosaic Theatre), Hand to God, Choir Boy (Studio Theatre). Endgame (Baltimore CenterStage Mobile Unit).




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