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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Launches 48th Season with Timely New Musical World Premiere “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga”

Jul 14, 2017
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley kicks off its 48th season with the World Premiere of “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga,” playing July 12 through August 6, 2017 at Lucie Stern Theatre (1305 Middlefield Road), Palo Alto, CA. Drawn from one of the first ever graphic novels, set to an infectious ragtime and vaudeville score by local composer/lyricist Min Kahng, this 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.



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.



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.



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.”



Hansel Tan makes his TheatreWorks debut as Charlie. Tan has performed Off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally. He is a previous member of The Flea Theater's repertory group of actors "The Bats" and worked at the Public Theatre and Ma-Yin in New York.



Sean Fenton reprises the role of Fred, following his performance at last summer’s New Works Festival. “The Four Immigrants” will mark the third Min Kahng work that Fenton has been a part of.

Also returning to “The Four Immigrants” is Phil Wong as Frank. Wong is a Bay Area actor who was last seen at TheatreWorks in this year’s “Oskar” school tours. He has worked in many regional theatres including The Lamplighters, Boxcar Theatre, and at the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival in “Taming of the Shrew.”



Reprising her role as Elder in “The Four Immigrants” is Rinabeth Apostol while Kerry Keiko Carnahan is making her debut at TheatreWorks as Kimiko. Also, returning as the Anti-Asiatic Leaguer, Catherine Gloria makes her mainstage debut at TheatreWorks, while Lindsay Hirata, who is making her TheatreWorks mainstage debut, reprises the role of Hana from last season’s New Works Festival.

For tickets ($40-$100) and more information the public may visit TheatreWorks.org or phone (650) 463-1960.

* * * * *

Photo caption: L-R: Frank (Phil Wong), Henry (James Seol), Fred (Sean Fenton), and Charlie (Hansel Tan) arrive in San Francisco in Min Kahng's “The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga” presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto, July 12-August 16, 2017.
(Photo credit: Kevin Berne)


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