Not content with giving us good reason not to pay New York prices with last month’s striking production of “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” South Coast Repertory now brings us the So Cal premiere of another Broadway hit—namely “Chinglish” by David Henry Hwang. This cross-cultural comedy about a Cleveland businessman trying to resuscitate his sign company by making a deal in China treads familiar ground, but with a fresh and hilarious twist.
Hwang, who was inspired by a series of poorly translated signs on his own visits to China, has great fun with language; for those who don’t enjoy linguistic jokes, sex and politics are mined for a substantial amount of humor. Director Leigh Silverman keeps the laughs popping like Chinese firecrackers.
Alex Moggridge (as Daniel, the businessman) and Michelle Krusiec (Xi Yan, a savvy politician) are first-rate, and Celeste Den is amusing as a dimwit translator. David Korins’ scenic design is a marvel to behold, but that’s par for the course at SCR. Through Feb. 24; call 714-708-555.
There are also elements of Asian culture on display next door at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts—namely Japanese Kabuki theatre techniques—in the Hamburg Ballet production of “The Little Mermaid,” a So Cal premiere which performs Feb. 8-10.
And if you’re thinking, been there done that, having seen the 1989 Disney film, guess again. This one has nothing to do with the animated fable produced by the House of Mouse. What’s left to explore in interpreting the popular Hans Christian Andersen story post-Disney? Practically everything, it seems.
This is the dark side of the fairy tale, a sophisticated story of unrequited love, at least as Hamburg director and principal choreographer John Neumeier sees it. Commissioned by the Royal Danish Ballet to mark the 200th birthday of Andersen in 2005, it was subsequently revised by Neumeier, who says it’s ultimately about “stripping away illusion.” Call 714-556-2787.
More from Jordan:
Academy Award Losers, 1912-1939: Great Performances in the Oscar Hall of Shame, Vol. 1 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ARTJGOA
Disney’s ‘Peter Pan’ on Blu-ray, ‘Oz’ here, there and everywhere http://www.examiner.com/article/disney-s-peter-pan-on-blu-ray-oz-here-there-and-everywhere …
‘War Horse’ at Segerstrom Center, behind scenes on ‘Black Stallion’ http://www.examiner.com/article/war-horse-at-segerstrom-center-behind-scenes-on-black-stallion
Ionesco’s ‘Chairs’ at STAGES, Off-Center Festival at Segerstrom http://www.examiner.com/article/ionesco-s-chairs-at-stages-off-center-festival-at-segerstrom
Guirgis’ ‘MoFo’ in Costa Mesa, Genet’s ‘Balcony’ in Fullerton http://www.examiner.com/article/guirgis-mofo-costa-mesa-genet-s-balcony-fullerton
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