Play sends timely message

At Sunday’s Mark Taper Forum opening-night celebration for “Flower Drum Song,” aud chat centered around the musical’s timely message of hope and patriotism.

Playwright David Henry Hwang, who did the rewrite on the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, agreed that “the timing certainly seemed to be good, (to discuss) being an American and the problem of assimilation.”

Co-lead Lea Salonga, who plays Mei-Li, echoed his sentiments: “It’s a very pro-American show. (Mei-Li) has her description (of what an American is). Linda has hers. Ta has his own.”

Said Jose Llana, who plays Wang Ta: “The issues are the same, but now people are willing to talk about them.”

Among those discussing the issues at Chinatown’s Empress Pavilion after-party were Taper artistic director Gordon Davidson; choreographer Robert Longbottom; author C.Y. Lee; cast members Sandra Allen, Alvin Ing, Jodi Long, Tzi Ma, Linda Dow and Allen Lu; plus guests Susan Egan, Ted Fields, John Lithgow, Bob Rehme, Mary Rodgers, and Patricia Richardson and Thomas Schumacher.

(Terry Tang contributed to this report.)

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