Chinglish on Broadway: Hilarious And Yet Powerful

On a rainy Tuesday night, we took a trip to see the play Chinglish at Longacre Theater in Times Square.  Before we went, we already had positive expectations after hearing so many great reviews from the media coverage, especially the five Jeff Award nominations.  Surprisingly, Chinglish is much better than what we expected.  Chinglish doesn’t just have the funniest scripts but it’s nicely produced: the set, the cast, the stage, and smart caption display.  No wonder Chinglish took home a Jeff Award, Chicago’s highest theater honor, in the category of outstanding new play this year.

(Angela Lin, Larry Lei Zhang, Stephen Pucci)

As an Asian online news magazine and platform, we support every cultural event, performing arts and all Asian talents.  However, after watching Chinglish on Broadway, we have to say, this is one of the best play we’ve ever seen.  It’s not just a comedy, a play but it’s a reality.  It describes and shares many of the real life experiences we have heard from friends: in particular, the difficulty in conducting business in China.  For most people who have never done business in China, they believe the language is the main barrier when breaking into the Chinese business world; however, it’s the clash of cultures between East and West, and the complexities of the Chinese and American beliefs that makes up for the biggest business challenges in China.  The director of Chinglish, David Henry Hwang, brilliantly and successfully shares these very real viewpoints.

(Johnny Wu, Stephen Pucci)

David Henry Hwang whose playwrights include M. Butterfly (1988 tony Award, 1989 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Golden Child (1998 Tony Award nomination, 1997 Obie Award), Yellow Face (2008 Obie Award, 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist), and FOB (1981 Obie Award) is the preeminent Asian American dramatist in the U.S.  He also wrote the books for the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song and Disney’s Tarzan.  Besides, in opera, his libretti include Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadanar (two 2007 Grammy Awards), Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (Opernwelt 2007 “World Premiere of the Year”) and Howard Shore’s The Fly.  Now with Chinglish, David Henry Hwang has done it again.  Chinglish explores business, love, desire, tradition, gender, language, and culture difference, but in a way that makes you laugh and think from start to finish. It’s amazingly intelligent and entertaining!

(Gary Wilmes)

Chinglish on Broadway:

Story: In an effort to drum up contracts for his sign-making company, American businessman Daniel Cavanaugh travels to China and pitches his services to the city’s Minister of Culture. The city is building a new cultural center, and Cavanaugh is selling his ability to both manufacture the signage and ensure that the English translations are correct. With the help of a Western expatriate Peter Timms as his business consultant, he negotiates the tricky waters of Chinese business etiquette, but he must handle the romantic customs on his own with a beautiful married woman Xi Yan.

Playwright by David Henry Hwang
Directed by Leigh Silverman

Daniel Cavanaugh – Gary Wilmes
Peter Timms – Stephen Pucci
Minister Cai Guoliang – Larry Lei Zhang
Xi Yan – Jennifer Lim
Miss Quian, Prosecutor Li – Angela Lin
Miss Zhao – Christine Lin
Bing, Judge Xu Geming – Johnny Wu

Sets, David Korins; costumes, Anita Yavich; lighting, Brian MacDevitt; sound, Darron L. West; projections, Jeff Sugg and Shawn Duan; cultural advisers, Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith; Mandarin Chinese translations, Candace Chong; production stage manager, Stephen M. Kaus.

Longacre Theatre: 220 West 48th Street New York, NY

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