Sunday, June 14, 2015


 When the Pasadena Playhouse decides to go all in, the results are, by definition, spectacular.  With the new seats and the decision to employ not only a large company of mostly Asian actors, singers and dancers, but a complete orchestra in the pit, Southern California musical lovers are in for a treat. 

Richard Maltby Jr.’s WATERFALL explores artistic director Sheldon Epps’ goal of expanding diversity at the State Theater of California, doing it in a way that embraces Thai/Siamese culture as it was influenced by the Japanese in the years before World War II  and then. later into the war.  Thai newcomer, Bie Sukrit stars as Noppon, a Siamese kid who longs to be an American. He embraces the West with gusto and is encouraged by his pals.  Enter Katherine (Emily Padgett), a Carole Lombard/Ginger Rogers blonde, who falls immediately in the loving eye of Noppon.  Though she is married to an older man, Noppon, so smitten, finds himself  ironically, an escort for the beautiful woman.
(L-R) Emily Padgett and Bie Sukrit. Photo Credit: Jim Cox.
The love story that evolves is simple and sad.  Katherine confesses that her real love in life has been to paint.  Thus the beautiful image that sums up the play.  Given an afternoon to be alone, Noppon and Katherine explore a waterfall in the Thai countryside.  The practical waterfall is another coup for The Playhouse.  The orchestra could use a couple of umbrellas.  Sasavat Busayabandaht’s scenic design fills the stage with gorgeous surprises.

The cast and ensemble employ traditional Thai costumes by Wade Laboissonniere    as well as a beautiful display of kimonos which become problematic in the storyline.  Most impressive are the ensemble numbers, however none of the tunes by David Shire really leave one humming on the way out of the theatre. 

Co–director/choreographer Dan Knechiges and director Tak Viravan imbue the production with lively and intricate dance and musical numbers.  With the problems of the times advancing, there is never much of a feeling of danger beyond some cultural issues and the inappropriate connection between Katherine and Noppon. The show, however, is spectacular in scope and for those interested in the politics of the times and the interracial issues of Thai/Japanese connections, this is a must see, if for no other reason than to bask in the pageantry.

WATERFALL by Richard Maltby Jr.
The Pasadena Playhouse
39 South El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, California 91101
Plays through June 28, 2015
Tickets and Information:
626 356 7529

No comments:

Post a Comment