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Review: “Kung Fu” at Signature Theatre

February 25th, 2014 Comments off

Broadway blog editor Matthew Wexler gets a swift kick of theatrical brilliance at the visually stunning production of Kung Fu, a new play by David Henry Henry Hwang premiering at Signature Theatre. 

Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee in "Kung Fu" at Signature Theatre (photo: Joan Marcus) via the Broadway Blog.

Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee in “Kung Fu” at Signature Theatre (photo: Joan Marcus) via the Broadway Blog.

The American Dream has its price, and no Asian-American actor knew this better than Bruce Lee. Born in San Francisco but raised in Hong Kong, Lee returned to the United States at age 18 with $100 in his pocket and eventually made his mark as a master of martial arts (gung fu) as well as becoming a film and TV icon. Kung Fu, a new play by Tony Award-winner David Henry Hwang, brings Lee’s journey to life in a sensational theatrical production that merges traditional storytelling with Chinese opera, martial arts and stage combat.

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Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee in “Kung Fu” at Signature Theatre (photo: Joan Marcus) via the Broadway Blog.

Cole Horibe (So You Think You Can Dance) kicks it into high gear as Bruce Lee — a dynamic performance that catapults the play’s action with humor, intent and well-focused bravado. Following the course of Lee’s career from his arrival in San Francisco and return to Hong Kong and stints in Seattle, Los Angeles and scouting film locations in India in between, Hwang’s script efficiently propels forward while round-kicking back in time through flashbacks that offer insight into Lee’s childhood and the tense relationship with his father.

Francis Jue as Hoi-Chuen, Bruce’s father, appears in many of these scenes and lays the foundation for Lee’s work ethic and obsession for success. Jue matches the material with his sense of theatricality, as does the dream ensemble of actor/dancer/martial artists.

The creative team’s finely honed vision pulls together Sonya Tayeh’s choreography, Jamie Guan’s Chinese opera movement, Emmanuel Brown’s fight direction and Deborah Hecht’s dialect coaching — all under the watchful eye of director Leigh Silverman. While Horibe emits star power as the central character, the ensemble magically draws from an endless pool of talents to create Hwang’s world.

“This is America. Here is where change can happen,” says Lee at one point, but it was his return to Hong Kong that eventually enabled Lee to succeed in feature films. Hauntingly, Lee died at age 32, leaving the world to wonder what further dynamic creations he might have produced. Embodied by breakout star Cole Horibe, audience members can once again experience the legend of Bruce Lee.

Kung Fu
Signature Theatre
480 West 42nd Street
Extended through March 30

http://youtu.be/wwthVr0VvnQ

Three to See: February

February 3rd, 2014 Comments off

 

"The Bridges of Madison County"

“The Bridges of Madison County”

The Bridges of Madison County
If you’re looking for a lush, romantic Broadway musical, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown hope to score big with The Bridges of Madison County. Directed by Barltett Sher (South Pacific) and starring

Four-time Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Light in the Piazza) and Steven Pasquale (“Rescue Me”, reasons to be pretty), star in the soaring tale of romance and lost love takes place on the plains of the Iowa landscape circa 1965.

The Bridges of Madison County
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
www.bridgesofmadisoncountymusical.com

Take a sneak peek…

Kung Fu

Cole Horibe stars in David Henry Hwang's new play, "Kung Fu." (photo: Gregory Costanzo)

Cole Horibe stars in David Henry Hwang’s new play, “Kung Fu.”
(photo: Gregory Costanzo)

Incorporating dance and music into an exciting new form, Cole Horibe (“So You Think You Can Dance”) takes on the iconic role of real-life Bruce Lee, a young martial artist who comes to America from Hong Kong in the 1960’s with a dream as audacious as his talent: to become the biggest movie star in the world. To do so, he must struggle to overcome the West’s view of China as weak and backwards, and of Asian men as less than truly masculine.

The world premiere play by David Henry Hwang and directed by Leigh Silverman has created so much buzz that the production has already been extended. Also keep your eye out for choreography by Sonya Tayeh. 

Kung Fu
The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center 480 West 42nd Street
Through March 30.
www.signaturetheatre.org

 

pageantPageant – The Musical Comedy Beauty Contest
Returning for the first time to the New York stage in more than twenty years, Pageant features contestants desperately vying for a glittering tiara. With swimsuit, talent, and evening gown competitions – the show includes both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! Unlike some beauty pageants you’ve seen before, the female contestants are all played by men. And the audience gets to select the winner each night.

Fifty percent of ticket sales benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Pageant
The Red Lacquer Club
240 West 52nd Street
Monday nights; February 3, 10, 17, 24

Take a peek at Pageant in rehearsal…