UPDATING OLD MUSICALS FOR THE ASIAN AMERICAN STORY
COLE PORTER YOU IGNORANT SLUT
- •Hello, Dolly! | Jerry Herman, etc.Takes place in and around San Francisco. Auntie Dolly is a well-known matchmaker, and mothers know it. Well-to-do Howard runs the largest grocery in town, and Charlie and Barry are his clerks. Everything proceeds as usual. (Half the show takes place at an upscale seafood restaurant anyway. What could be more accurate?)
- •Guys and Dolls | Frank Loesser, etc.Takes place in NYC Chinatown. Sarah is still a missionary and Sky is a Hong Kong highroller. Adelaide's mom still lives on the mainland, which is why Adelaide only communicates with her via writing. But her mom is ecstatic she found a nice boy to marry. Nathan is deeply in debt because of gambling but also student loans. The Biltmore Garage is actually a bike repair shop where Chinatown gangsters hang out.
- •The Music Man | Meredith Willson, etc.In River City, there's only one thing for the youth to do and that's study. Study math, study writing, study SAT prep, and no one runs a study group like Marian. If you are tired of school studying, you can study piano with her. Harold, trying to make it big so his folks won't be so mad he went into business instead of law, charms her while conning the whole town. Eventually, Marian teaches him that studying hard will get you to the right place, and he learns to play piano and lead the band.
- •My Fair Lady | Lerner and Loewe, etc.What is more relevant than trying to lose one's accent to fit in with the dominant society??????
- •Crazy For You | Gershwin and Gershwin, etc.Bobby is still a big NYC banking exec, but he stumbles upon a Chinese mining town in his mother's banking holds in California. He learns of their persecution at the hands of the 49ers, and tries to help them doing what he does best: MUSICAL THEATRE!!!
- •Annie | Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin, etc.Ms. Hannigan runs a foster home in Queens. Because of new Chinese one-child policy, she has an influx of melt-your-heart girls who can sing, dance, and polish your floors. Mr. Warbucks is a millionaire who has traded in the Shanghai markets for years; he offers to take Annie there to find her parents. City glamour, multiplied by two.
- •Mary Poppins | The Sherman Brothers, etc.Mr. and Mrs. Banks are tiger parents, so the children have too many after school activities. Mary Poppins is an illegal immigrant but she has a British accent, thanks to imperialism. She doesn't have any kids of her own, but she knows that the Banks children need to learn how to play.
- •Camelot | Lerner and Loewe, etc.A mythical kingdom with diverse casting, in the style of the 1997 Wonderful World of Walt Disney's Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella television special. In fact, bring back Paolo Montalban as Merlin.
- •Footloose | Kenny Loggins, etc.Takes place in a small town in California's Central Valley. Ariel's dad is the school principal, and she's supposed to be studying to get into a good college, not throwing away her life on the arts, like her older brother did. He wanted to be a filmmaker but died from gang violence in Los Angeles. Ariel wants to be a dancer, and Ren used to be on the Asian fusion hip-hop team at his old school in Los Angeles, but obviously Ariel's dad is none too keen on these big city boys.
- •West Side Story | Stephen Sondheim, etc.Retitled "West Coast Story," takes place during Japanese internment. Star-crossed love between Japanese American boy and the daughter of a high ranking military official. Suddenly, the shock of Pearl Harbor means his family is sent to concentration camps, even though they are loyal Americans. He kills her father in an escape attempt; he is brutally beaten back by prison guards, including her golden boy brother seeking vengeance, etc. Tragic ending remains, amidst the vast California desert.
- •A Chorus Line | Marvin Hamlisch, etc.Stories about rigorous tiger parents ("At the Ballet"), the emasculation of Asian men (Paul), trying to look "more white" (Val), etc. Almost all of them have technical theater experience because "that's where the work is," and Cassie was lucky enough to tour on South Pacific. The director is so very sorry, because they were all so wonderful to share their stories, but he can only take one Asian chorus member. Chosen one rotates nightly, like in the original production.
- •Rent | Jonathan Larson, etc.Honestly, there is nothing to update. We could just cast this with Asian American actors and it would hold up perfectly.