DIAMOND HEAD THEATRE
Kathryn Lee plays "the other woman" in the love story that's central to Diamond Head Theatre's production of "Flower Drum Song."
A different ‘Drum’
The Broadway musical has been revised to show more of the immigrant experience
Imagine going to see your favorite classic Broadway musical -- "South Pacific," "Camelot," "Les Miz" or whatever it might be -- and finding that important parts have been changed. The plot is different, the relationships between some of the characters have been altered, and a politically correct subtext has been added.
'FLOWER DRUM SONG'
Presented by Diamond Head Theatre
Place: 520 Makapuu Ave.
Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 6
Tickets: $12 to $42
Call: 733-0274 or visit www.diamondheadtheatre.com
Get ready for Diamond Head Theatre's production of David Henry Hwang's version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1958 hit musical, "Flower Drum Song."
This is the first time that Hwang's version has been staged in Hawaii, and DHT Artistic Director John Rampage describes the decision to rewrite a Broadway classic as "a very interesting story."
"This is the only time I know that a show has retained its name, retained all of its music, and had the script totally overhauled," Rampage says.
"'Flower Drum Song' has always been very popular here in Hawaii, but that was not the case on the mainland over the years. It had lost a lot of its luster, and it had suffered a lot of attacks about being politically incorrect because there was no one of Asian descent connected with creating it."
Although the show was a hit in 1958, as years passed it was "done considerably less than most of the other things in the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon," Rampage says.
When the plot was rewritten with a contemporary politically correct spin, one of the conditions was that all the original music remain, and that the title stay the same.
"In rewriting (the story), they tried to focus a little more on the problems of mainland Chinese people trying to assimilate into America -- which was brought up in the original, but they've tried to make it a little stronger."
And so, Mei-Li (a mail-order bride in the original) is now a Chinese opera singer who defected from the People's Republic of China and came to the United States. The object of her affections, Wang Ta, runs his father's theater, and Madame Liang (Wang Ta's aunt) is a talent agent.
Rampage says the story "still comes down to the love story between Ta and Mei-Li, with (the showgirl) Linda Low being the middle of the triangle. But it really is more about how difficult it was to be accepted as a Chinese person at that time."