Watch company members Eymard Meneses Cabling, Albert Hsueh, Jason Ma, and Christopher Mueller perform Sondheim's "Someone in a Tree" in the music video above.
Featuring direction and musical staging by Signature Theatre Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard and musical direction by Alexander Tom, the cast will include Cabling as Lord Abe and others, Andrew Cristi (A Christmas Story) as the Mother of Shogun and others, Hsueh as Boy and others, Jonny Lee Jr. as Manjiro and others, Quynh-My Luu as Tamate and others, Ma (Sly Fox) as Reciter and others, Daniel May (Flower Drum Song) as Kayama and others, Mueller as Warrior and others, Chani Wereley as Madam and others, and Nicholas Yenson as Perry and others. Alex Koichi Beard, Joey Ledonio, Ashley D. Nguyen, and Ryan Sellers are swings.
The musical is set in 1853, after 200 years of stability, as Japan faces an American expedition determined to open the “floating kingdom” to trade.
“Nearly 50 years after its premiere, I’m thrilled to direct this beautiful, daring work for 2023,” Heard said in an earlier statement. “In the MAX Theatre, the ‘floating kingdom’ will be a pristine island with audience on all four sides. Our narrator is a contemporary Asian American man, who acts as a bridge to 1850s Japan and directs the nine-person ensemble in bringing the story to life. He encourages us to see things from a Japanese perspective: Commodore Perry and his sailors are frightening and alien; whereas Japan embodies calm and elegance, the foreigners bring with them disruption and violence. Our creative team includes wonderful artists with expertise in Japanese forms like Kabuki, samurai sword-fighting, and Taiko. As a half-Chinese person myself, I am fascinated by the sparks that fly—and drama that unfolds—when East meets West.”
Kirk Kanesaka is the Kabuki consultant, Yoshi Amao is the fight director, Mark H. Rooney is the Taiko consultant, Zach Campion is the dialect coach, and Eiji Miura is the musical dramaturg. Chelsea Pace is the resident intimacy consultant. Signature casting is by Jorge Acevedo, and New York casting is by Stewart/Whitley.
The creative team also includes production stage manager Kerry Epstein, assistant stage manager Katie Moshier, production assistant Stephen Bubniak, assistant director Aria Velz, associate costume designer Ashlynne Ludwig, associate music director Angie Benson, and keyboard programmer Alexander Greenberg.
Tickets are available at SigTheatre.org.