East West Players bring anime and hip-hop influences to the Tony Award winning PIPPIN by WICKED composer Stephen Schwartz

PIPPIN receives a new twist when it opens Wednesday May 14, 2008 at East West Players (EWP), as the final production of its 42nd Anniversary Season, Navigating Home. Tim Dang directs this musical in EWP’s unique style, incorporating theatre anime visuals, hip-hop dance influences, and contemporary music arrangements.

“I’ve been looking forward to doing this production for over a year now,” said EWP Producing Artistic Director, Tim Dang, “Anime and hip-hop are emerging forms for live theater, and when I looked at the story of PIPPIN, it just clicked. Colorful characters, music with a great contemporary beat, evoking Fosse dance moves of today just seemed to go hand in hand with the concept. The play has a darker edge to it, but it makes you think how today’s values have changed from decades ago. We’re living in a more complex world. Do all of us crave to be remembered? Or can we be happy to live a simple life?”

PIPPIN is the story of Charlemagne’s eldest son, Pippin who embarks on a journey to find his true calling in life. As he is guided by the Leading Player, Pippin faces the challenges of war, sex, politics, love and family. As Pippin searches for direction in life, he is drawn towards the “Grand Finale” that has promised to wow the audience and earn him an unforgettable place in history.

Director Tim Dang has been the Artistic Director of East West Players since 1993. His directing credits at East West Players include Sweeney Todd (2006), Equus, Imelda: A New Musical, Passion, Pacific Overtures (Ovation Award, Garland Award) and Sweeney Todd (1994, Ovation Award, Drama-logue Award). Dang has also directed at Sinagpore Repertory Theatre, Asian American Theater Company, Mark Taper Forum New Works Festival, Celebration Theatre, and West Coast Ensemble.

Collaborating with Dang is musical director Marc Macalintal, and choreographers Blythe Matsui & Jason Tyler Chong. With their artistic skills they will bring the hip-hop, anime and contemporary music to life on the stage.

The role of Leading Player will be played by Marcus Choi, whose Broadway credits include FLOWER DRUM SONG, WICKED and SWEET CHARITY with Christina Applegate. The role of Pippin will be played by Daniel May whose Broadway credits include FLOWER DRUM SONG and has toured nationally in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE.

The cast of PIPPIN will also feature Gedde Watanabe performing the role of Berthe, Pippin’s exiled grandmother. Gedde Watanabe is most well-known for his role in Sixteen Candles as Long Duk Dong, playing a foreign exchange student in Molly Ringwald’s home. He has performed in numerous commercials, TV shows, and films including Mulan, Edtv, Alfie, and a re-occurring role on ER.

Additional cast members are Jenn Aedo, Kari Lee Cartwright, Ryyn Chua, Cesar Cipriano, Mike Hagiwara, William Jay, Blythe Matsui, Maegan McConnell, Mike Moh and Chloe Stewart. The design team consists of; set designer Alan Muraoka, costume designer Naomi Yoshida, lighting designer Dan Weingarten, property master Ken Takemoto, and stage manager Ronn Gosswick.

To accommodate the new contemporary arrangement of the music, Musical Director Macalintal will be operating a computer synthesizer. Also in the “band” will be DJ LinoType who will be mixing music on turntables and Vince Reyes who will be playing guitar.

All performances of PIPPIN will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. PIPPIN opens Wednesday, May 14, 2008 and closes on Sunday, June 8, 2008. Opening night will be accompanied by a pre-performance cocktail reception and a post show reception with the cast and creative team, catered by Japon Bistro. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Previews are Thursday - Saturday, May 8 – 10 at 8pm and Sunday, May 11 at 2pm. An American Sign Language-interpreted performance is scheduled for Sunday, June 1, 2008. The Pay-What-You-Can Performance will be held Thursday, May 15 at 8 pm. Two performances are currently sold out, Friday, May 9th & Friday, June 6th.

General ticket prices are $50 in the orchestra and $45 in the balcony. Preview tickets are $25 for all seats. Opening night tickets are $75 for all seats. Tickets are currently on sale. For ticket purchases or more information, please call East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or visit www.eastwestplayers.org. Senior, student and group discounts are available. Dates and details are subject to change.

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Copyright 2008, Roger W. Tang

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