East West Players' Beijing Spring Returns for 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre
Radmar Jao, center, as Deng Xiaoping, surrounded by the hardliners (Nancy Lam, left, Carissa Dizon, Jason Ko, Marc Oka, Cailan Rose and Jay Gamboa).
East West Players
A decade and a half after it debuted, East West Players' sung-through musical Beijing Spring returns to the demonstrations at Tiananmen Square, this time with echoes of contemporary unrest in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Directed by East West Players artistic director Tim Dang, who's also the show's lyricist, the story follows the son of a revolutionary (Daniel May) and his girlfriend (Nicole Barredo), who become embroiled in the student protests that eventually led to one of the bloodiest crackdowns in China's modern history.
The revolutionary's father (Radmar Agana Jao), a former dissident, provides epistolary guidance as the noose of China's hardline politics tightens around the young lovers.
Joel Iwataki's score moves nimbly from lively debates to mournful elegies, but the play's format and lyrics allow for limited development of these broadly sketched characters. Marcus Choi's choreography, used to great effect in "Meeting Tonight" and "Harden the Hardline Part 1," at other times lacks urgency. Jao is outstanding doubling as an erstwhile rebel and repressive leader Deng Xiaoping.
East West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., dwntwn.; through June 15. (213) 625-7000, www.eastwestplayers.org.
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