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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: “SOFT POWER” Overflows with Romance, Laughter and Cultural Confusions of the Golden Age of Broadway

Jun 29, 2018
by Kent Clancy
“SOFT POWER” is a musical and much, much more. It is a commentary on our times, comparing the Chinese view of our society (including guns and family) and the electoral process (including the 2016 election), to that of China. While it may sound prosaic, “SOFT POWER” is anything but. Rather, it is thought provoking, humorous, lively, timely, and just plain fun.

All this takes place in a fast-paced two-act play with song and dance. A between acts “panel discussion” between citizens of China and the United States is riveting all on its own.

A Chinese producer (played by Conrad Ricamora) is sent to Hollywood to convince a famous American playwright (played by Francis Jue) to be the writer for a proposed Chinese version of Sex in the City, with the city being Shanghai. Upon his arrival at “Hollywood Airport” he is accosted by thugs and then saved by an American who is also armed.

The playwright is of Chinese descent, born in America and has an American impression of China and its government, just as the Chinese producer has his impression of America and government. In an early meeting between the two, the playwright meets Zoe, the producer’s young American girlfriend Alyse Allen Louis), a would-be actress Zoe learns that the producer has a wife and family in Shanghai and will not leave them, so she leaves him.

It is the summer of 2016 and the playwright has tickets to a Hillary Clinton (also played by Ms. Louis) rally and he invites the producer to join him at the rally. The producer and the playwright go, and the song, dance and fun begin. The production is packed with clever songs that address our current political situation with humor as well as terrific dancing.

Others in the cast of “SOFT POWER” features Billy Bustamante (Miss Saigon), Jon Hoche (War Horse tour), Kendyl Ito (Matilda tour), Austin Ku (Chinglish tour), Raymond J. Lee (Groundhog Day), Alyse Alan Louis (Amélie), Jaygee Macapugay (School of Rock), Daniel May (Thoroughly Modern Millie tour), Paul HeeSang Miller (Miss Saigon), Kristen Faith Oei (M. Butterfly), Maria-Christina Oliveras (Amélie), Geena Quintos (Miss Saigon), Trevor Salter (Here Lies Love) and Emily Stillings (The King and I).

The creative team includes scenic design by Tony Award winner David Zinn, costume design by Drama Desk Award winner Anita Yavich, lighting design by Mark Barton, sound design by Tony Award nominee Kai Harada, orchestrations by Drama Desk Award winner and Tony Award nominee Danny Troob, dance arrangements by John Clancy, music supervision by Chris Fenwick, and music direction by David O.

“SOFT POWER” is unique, thought provoking, humorous, lively as can be, and is currently playing at San Francisco’s Curran Theater in San Francisco through July 8. Tickets are available by calling (415) 358-1220 or visiting SFCURRAN.com/soft-power.

* * * * *

Photo caption: Jon Hoche describes the electoral college in “SOFT POWER.” (Photo by Craig Schwartz)


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