Shows F

FLOWER DRUM SONG a musical play in two acts by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joseph Fields, based on the novel by C.Y. Lee. Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Opened at the St. James Theatre, New York, 1 December 1958 with Miyoshi Umeki (Mei Li), Larry Blyden (Sammy Fong) and Ed Kenney (Wang Ta). Opened at the Palace Theatre, London, 24 March 1960 with Yau Shan Tung, Tim Herbert and Kevin Scott. A film version was issued by UniversalInternational Pictures in 1961 with Miyoshi Umeki, Jack Soo and James Shigeta. Palace Theatre, London - 24 March 1960. SYNOPSIS This less appreciated creation of Rodgers and Hammerstein is long overdue for re-evaluation. Leaving the world of the musical play, the writers reverted to musical comedy, in this case set in San Francisco's Chinatown. The story concerns the generation gap between the old world Chinese who cling to traditional values, and the new world Chinese who see themselves as Americans who should adopt Western values and lifestyles. The ending, in the tradition of all comedies, is happy with all the protagonists finding their true loves. STORY Act 1 In the house of Master Wang Chi Yang, a wealthy patriarch of San Francisco's Chinatown, his elder son Wang Ta explains to his aunt Madam Liang how his dreams are troubled by girls, and sings her an old familiar Chinese love-song that he is preparing for that evening's blind date (You Are Beautiful), and she joins in nostalgically. His father returns home, having just been robbed of a $100 bill - he finds life in America difficult, particularly the idea of using a bank instead of a box under the bed! Sammy Fong, a successful and completely Westernised young man, arrives to suggest to Wang that his 'picture bride' just arrived from Hong Kong would be better suited to Wang Ta, as she is too sweet and obedient for his combative tastes. He introduces Mei Li and her father Dr. Li; Wang is favourably impressed, the girl is from a good family and born in the right year -what is more, she can sing the well-loved Flower Drum Song, and modestly obliges (A Hundred Million Miracles). Ta's blind date is with Linda, a very Americanised Chinese girl, who makes a powerful pass at him (I Enjoy Being a Girl) and they agree to marry, if the necessary consents can be obtained. The next day, in Wang's house, all is bustle. A banker is counting Wang's cash to open an account for him, Wang is grudgingly being fitted for a Western suit for Ta's graduation ceremony and Helen Chao the seamstress (who is sweet on Ta) has arrived with his specially made gown. Mei Li is mesmerised when Ta enters, wearing gown and mortarboard, and as the family leaves for the ceremony, she sings "I Am Going to Like It Here". Wang has bought Mei Li a Western dress for the evening's party and Ta is obviously taken with her appearance (Like a God), but he has already invited Linda and her brother. At the party, Madam Liang leads many of the community in celebrating the great diversity of American life, which she calls "Chop Suey". Linda and her brother Commodore Frankie Low arrive; he confronts Wang with the news of Linda's engagement to Ta, which Wang roundly forbids. Mei Li, believing herself rejected by Ta, is recommended by the suddenly alarmed Sammy Fong "Don't Marry Me". Sammy is not taken in by Frankie and Linda, whom he instantly recognises as 'artistes' from his night-club, Linda also being his long-standing girl-friend. To cope with a situation that is fast getting out of control, he invites the Wang family to his club, where Helen Chao, who is also Linda's dresser, pines for Ta (Love, Look Away). Linda 'reveals' herself to the shocked