Staged Reading of The Astonishing Journey of Mabel Li and The Mysterious Ways of Lord Ba Tha Za

Marisa Marquez

Article by Alison Ng
Photo credit Jeffery P. Worley

On Monday, February 2nd, two things were to take place in Manhattan: another snow flurry and the first public staged reading of The Astonishing Journey of Mabel Li and The Mysterious Ways of Lord Ba Tha Za. Despite the snow, the entire reading still took place at the HERE Art Center.

Myra Sito Velasquez

The play, written by Myra Sito Velasquez, stars nine actors – Ching Valdes-Aran, David Shih, Jennifer Betit Yen, Marisa Marquez, Hansel Tan, Jojo Gonzalez, Jan Mizushima, Jon Hoche, Siho Ellsmore, and Brian Walters – who artfully perform over thirty different characters.

The Astonishing Journey of Mabel Li and The Mysterious Ways of Lord Ba Tha Za takes place in Village Loo, a small village in China. It begins with Su Yin (Marquez), a genuinely sweet woman, who is expecting her fourth child. When she gives birth to another girl, her husband Neighbor Han (Gonzalez) throws her and her child in the river to die. The neighbors, Mei Ling (Mizushima) and Ah Yut (Hoche), the couple who is also expecting a fourth child, hear Su Yin’s screams but do nothing in fear of angering Neighbor Han. As a result, Su Yin is not only furious with her husband, but also with her betraying neighbors, and curses them all before she dies.

Jennifer Betit Yen, David Shih

Su Yin returns to the mortal world as a vengeful ghost, but her curse has already affected Mei Ying and Ah Yut through their daughter, Ugh, who is named after her ugly appearance. Enter Lord Ba Tha Za, who offers Ugh beauty in exchange for a name change and a larger price. Ugh, desperate, agrees and becomes absolutely breathtaking. From there, the play unfolds in a whirlwind of love, lies, and loss.

Overall, Velasquez’s play is quite enjoyable. It has a diverse cast of characters that cover a wide range of people, such as the innocent, the superstar, the heartthrob, and the teenage boy. In addition to that, the overarching comic elements compliment the more serious themes of the story well. And of course, the actors do a wonderful job of bringing the story to life.

While The Astonishing Journey of Mabel Li and The Mysterious Ways of Lord Ba Tha Za, is still in works, you can find more information on Velasquez’s website at http://www.myravee.com.

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