SHANGHAI LIL’S: A Heartwarming Musical Just What We Need

Casts of Shanghai Lil's at 11/16 Opening Party. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

On Nov. 16th, AsianInNY team took a trip to West End Theater at 86th street to see Shanghai Lil. We were greeted by Brett  Oberman from Keith Sherman & Associates.  It was a full house and we saw some familiar faces in the crowd including the well-respected Asian American photographer Corky Lee, and  Broadway actor/composer Jason Ma.

New York City Council Member Gale Brewer with Shanghai Lil's casts. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

Pan Asian Repertory Theater: Founded 35 years ago, to provide a forum for Asian American Artists to participate in American Theater by Artistic Producing director Tisa Chang,  is America’s first theatre to explore the Asian-American experience.  To celebrate the launch of their 35th season, Shanghai Lil’s is Pan Asian Repertory Theatre’s new production.

Tisa Chang who directed Shanghai Lil’s and created the dances in 1997, has re-envisioned a new production to introduce Chinese musical history of the 40′s for a new generation of audiences. Pan Asian Repertory commissioned Shanghai Lil’s with book and lyrics by Lilah Kan, music by Louis Stewart, directed by Tisa Chang, musical direction by Sarah Brett England, set design by Gian Marco Lo Forte, costume design by Kate Mincer, lighting design by Jiyoun Chang, and now adds choreography by Susan Ancheta, who also portrayed the dancing lead in the 1997 premiere.

4 leading actors of 1997 and 2011 Shanghai Lil's. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

Shanghai Lil’s is the right type of musical that we all need now to warm up our heart during the holiday season and during the depressing economic downturn.  It’s cheerful, it’s entertaining, and it’s inspiring.

After the opening night, there was also a Red Socks Award ceremony. The 6th Annual “Red Socks” Award recipient is Ching Valdes-Aran who is an OBIE Award winner and has appeared in many movies including Sex in the City 1 and TV shows Ugly Betty, Nurse Jackie, Rescue Me and more.

with director Tisa Chang. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

During the opening gala reception, we were lucky to be able to speak to director Tisa Chang whose dedication and love for theater has truly inspired us. Tisa embodies all the characters with optimism and friendship, and bring us the happiness even during the sad times of WWII. Through a cast of all Asian American performers, Tisa proves to us that when there is a dream, there is a hope.

Shanghai Lil's Opening Party. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

Shanghai Lil’s stars Jaygee Macapugay (last seen in Pan Asian Rep’s Imeldaand Broadway veteran Christine Toy Johnson (The Music Man, Grease!), with Leanne Cabrera, Whitney Kam Lee, Rebecca Lee Lerman, Timothy Ng, and Lisa Villamaria. This amazing all Asian American cast successfully transported audience to 1940’s San Francisco nightclub where we were part of the act as if we were the restaurant customers when the staff tried all they can to put on a great show to entertain us. The entire cast charmed us with song, dance and comedy! We truly enjoy the musical and the performance!

Pan Asian Rep’s Shanghai Lil’s runs November 11th – 27th at the West End Theatre (263 W. 86th Street between Broadway & West End Avenue in the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew, 2nd floor). For more info: visit

Broadway actor/composer Jason Ma and Broadway veteran Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

Shanghai Lil's 1997 original cast: Steven Eng and Timothy Huang. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

with actress Jaygee Macapugay. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

with actor Whitney Kam Lee. Photo by Kristopher Wuollett

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