Asia Society cast of HEADING EAST in rehearsalConcert cast of HEADING EAST in rehearsal, 2010.

HEADING EAST

An American History

Music by LEON KO
Book and Lyrics by ROBERT LEE

Music by LEON KO
Book and Lyrics by ROBERT LEE

  • News

    Open or Close
    La Jolla Playhouse presented a reading of HEADING EAST in New York City on April 10, 2013, co-directed by BD Wong and Robert Lee with musical direction by Kevin Stites and featuring Cindy Cheung, Jackie Chung, Lori Tan Chinn, Deborah S. Craig, Andrew Cristi, Daniel J Edwards, Steven Eng, Brooke Ishibashi, Kennedy Kanagawa, Windson Liong, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Thom Sesma and BD Wong.
  • Synopsis

    Open or Close
    HEADING EAST presents an alternative American history beginning with the arrival of the Chinese in 1849.

    Siu Yee, a brazen young Chinaman, discovers America and crosses the Pacific to seek his fortune in the California goldfields. Determined to be a genuine “American success”, the impulsive Siu Yee proceeds to charm, connive and bluster his way through the major events of the next century and a half in pursuit of this moniker which remains always tantalizingly out of reach. Although the narrative spans nearly 150 years, its characters age over the course of a single lifetime, bearing witness to the Gold Rush, the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, the San Francisco Earthquake, the Great Depression, two World Wars, the Red Scare, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam and the microcomputer revolution. With each decade come new challenges, and new competition as Siu Yee begins to rage against subsequent waves of immigrants out to “steal” his piece of the American pie.

    The two-bit tycoon is accompanied on his journey by his tradition-bound wife Lee Fung who disapproves of his obsession with all things American, his hapless friend Ma whose inability to shed his Chinese peasant ways keeps him perpetually one step below on the socio-economic ladder, Ma’s long-suffering wife who drowns her sorrows by composing bad Chinese poetry, and Michiko, a progressive-minded Japanese picture bride determined to make a difference in the world.

    As his frustrations mount, friends, family and traditions are cast aside or pushed away, until Siu Yee finds himself adrift and alone. It is only through confronting the spirits of his past that he is able to understand how their story and his form the quintessential American story—the immigrant story—and to embrace his place within the American tapestry.

    The 1982 murder of auto-worker Vincent Chin gives rise to the Asian American movement, signaling the end of one history and the beginning of another; and as the curtain falls we are left with Lee Fung’s words to her husband: “This land is only a vessel, for you to fill. America does not bring us meaning. We bring meaning to it.”
  • Production history

    Open or Close
    The first version of HEADING EAST was first performed at East West Players with the following cast:

    Reggie De Leon (MA, YOUNG VOICE); Chanel Akiko Hirai (CHINESE MUSICIAN, MINER, MA’S WIFE); Alvin Ing (YEH-YEH); Yumi Iwama (MRS. NG, JASMINE, RALLYGOER 1, MRS. LAI); Radmar Agana Jao (TIMOTHY, SIU YEE); Kurt Kuniyoshi (STOREKEEPER, NATIVE SON 1, IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL, PAK); Emily Kuroda (DIANA, MOTHER); Sabrina Lu (LEE FUNG); Jenny Murano (MICHIKO); Ted Szeto (FORTUNE TELLER, SALESMAN, KO, BANK MANAGER, NATIVE SON 2, IMMIGRANT, KIM, CHARLIE, CARLOS, DR. LAI, RALLYGOER 2); Ke’o Woolford (CHANG), VOICE

    Opening night: May 29, 1998

    Directed by Glen Chin; Musical Direction by Greg Chun; Produced by Roberta Chin; Set Design Akeime Mitterlehner; Costume Designer Dori Quan; Lighting Designer G. Shizuko Herrera; Sound Designer Miles Ono; Property Master Ken Takemoto; Stage Manager Ricardo Figueroa

    ❃ ❃ ❃

    A revised version of HEADING EAST was first presented in concert at Asia Society in New York with the following cast:

    Cindy Cheung (VEGETABLE SELLER, MOTHER HOW, JASMINE, CUSTOMER 2, MRS. LAI); Lydia Gaston (MOTHER); MaryAnn Hu (MA’S WIFE, IRISH GIRL); Fay Ann Lee (LEE FUNG); Ming Lee (STORYTELLER, FORTUNE TELLER, BANK MANAGER, BAILIFF); Angela Lin (PASSING PEASANT, MINER, IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL, CHINESE NEWSBOY, IRISH GIRL, DIANA); Kelvin Moon Loh (STOREKEEPER, KO, CARLOS, JUSTICE, CUSTOMER 1); Manu Narayan (SALESMAN, NATIVE SON, KIM, CUSTOMER 3, DR. LAI); Hazel Anne Raymundo (MICHIKO); Jon Norman Schneider (HOW MING HAW, LEONARD); Rodney To (MA)

    Opening night: May 24, 2010

    Directed by Darren Lee; Music Direction by James Sampliner; Production Design by Lex Liang; Lighting Design by Philip Rosenberg; Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg; General Management by Seth Goldstein; Stage Management by Jenny Slattery

    HEADING EAST Asia Society concert artwork.

  • News

    Open or Close
    La Jolla Playhouse presented a reading of HEADING EAST in New York City on April 10, 2013, co-directed by BD Wong and Robert Lee with musical direction by Kevin Stites and featuring Cindy Cheung, Jackie Chung, Lori Tan Chinn, Deborah S. Craig, Andrew Cristi, Daniel J Edwards, Steven Eng, Brooke Ishibashi, Kennedy Kanagawa, Windson Liong, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Thom Sesma and BD Wong.
  • Synopsis

    Open or Close
    HEADING EAST presents an alternative American history beginning with the arrival of the Chinese in 1849.

    Siu Yee, a brazen young Chinaman, discovers America and crosses the Pacific to seek his fortune in the California goldfields. Determined to be a genuine “American success”, the impulsive Siu Yee proceeds to charm, connive and bluster his way through the major events of the next century and a half in pursuit of this moniker which remains always tantalizingly out of reach. Although the narrative spans nearly 150 years, its characters age over the course of a single lifetime, bearing witness to the Gold Rush, the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, the San Francisco Earthquake, the Great Depression, two World Wars, the Red Scare, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam and the microcomputer revolution. With each decade come new challenges, and new competition as Siu Yee begins to rage against subsequent waves of immigrants out to “steal” his piece of the American pie.

    The two-bit tycoon is accompanied on his journey by his tradition-bound wife Lee Fung who disapproves of his obsession with all things American, his hapless friend Ma whose inability to shed his Chinese peasant ways keeps him perpetually one step below on the socio-economic ladder, Ma’s long-suffering wife who drowns her sorrows by composing bad Chinese poetry, and Michiko, a progressive-minded Japanese picture bride determined to make a difference in the world.

    As his frustrations mount, friends, family and traditions are cast aside or pushed away, until Siu Yee finds himself adrift and alone. It is only through confronting the spirits of his past that he is able to understand how their story and his form the quintessential American story—the immigrant story—and to embrace his place within the American tapestry.

    The 1982 murder of auto-worker Vincent Chin gives rise to the Asian American movement, signaling the end of one history and the beginning of another; and as the curtain falls we are left with Lee Fung’s words to her husband: “This land is only a vessel, for you to fill. America does not bring us meaning. We bring meaning to it.”
  • Production history

    Open or Close
    The first version of HEADING EAST was first performed at East West Players with the following cast:

    Reggie De Leon (MA, YOUNG VOICE); Chanel Akiko Hirai (CHINESE MUSICIAN, MINER, MA’S WIFE); Alvin Ing (YEH-YEH); Yumi Iwama (MRS. NG, JASMINE, RALLYGOER 1, MRS. LAI); Radmar Agana Jao (TIMOTHY, SIU YEE); Kurt Kuniyoshi (STOREKEEPER, NATIVE SON 1, IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL, PAK); Emily Kuroda (DIANA, MOTHER); Sabrina Lu (LEE FUNG); Jenny Murano (MICHIKO); Ted Szeto (FORTUNE TELLER, SALESMAN, KO, BANK MANAGER, NATIVE SON 2, IMMIGRANT, KIM, CHARLIE, CARLOS, DR. LAI, RALLYGOER 2); Ke’o Woolford (CHANG), VOICE

    Opening night: May 29, 1998

    Directed by Glen Chin; Musical Direction by Greg Chun; Produced by Roberta Chin; Set Design Akeime Mitterlehner; Costume Designer Dori Quan; Lighting Designer G. Shizuko Herrera; Sound Designer Miles Ono; Property Master Ken Takemoto; Stage Manager Ricardo Figueroa

    ❃ ❃ ❃

    A revised version of HEADING EAST was first presented in concert at Asia Society in New York with the following cast:

    Cindy Cheung (VEGETABLE SELLER, MOTHER HOW, JASMINE, CUSTOMER 2, MRS. LAI); Lydia Gaston (MOTHER); MaryAnn Hu (MA’S WIFE, IRISH GIRL); Fay Ann Lee (LEE FUNG); Ming Lee (STORYTELLER, FORTUNE TELLER, BANK MANAGER, BAILIFF); Angela Lin (PASSING PEASANT, MINER, IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL, CHINESE NEWSBOY, IRISH GIRL, DIANA); Kelvin Moon Loh (STOREKEEPER, KO, CARLOS, JUSTICE, CUSTOMER 1); Manu Narayan (SALESMAN, NATIVE SON, KIM, CUSTOMER 3, DR. LAI); Hazel Anne Raymundo (MICHIKO); Jon Norman Schneider (HOW MING HAW, LEONARD); Rodney To (MA)

    Opening night: May 24, 2010

    Directed by Darren Lee; Music Direction by James Sampliner; Production Design by Lex Liang; Lighting Design by Philip Rosenberg; Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg; General Management by Seth Goldstein; Stage Management by Jenny Slattery

    HEADING EAST Asia Society concert artwork.

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