Pacific Overtures

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Music Direction by Jonathan Goldberg
Scenic Design by Janie E. Howland
Costume Design by Gail Astrid Buckley
Sound Design by Andrew Duncan Will
Lighting Design by Karen Perlow
Choreography by Micheline Wu
Mask Design by Brynna Bloomfield
Violence Design by Ted Hewlett
Production Stage Manager: Nerys Powell
Assistant Stage Manager: Geena M. Forristall

 

Season sponsored by Barry Bluestone, Lee and Diana Humphrey, and

Production sponsored by Ronald Sudol & the estate of Toni-Lee Capossela
Director Spiro Veloudos sponsored by Glenda & Bob Fishman
Music Director sponsored by Jo-An Heileman
Music sponsored by Richard Rousseau
Choreography sponsored by Ernesto & Melissa Anguilla
Costumes sponsored by Richard & Sally Zeckhauser
Actor Lisa Yuen sponsored by Tim & Linda Holiner

Box Office: 617-585-5678 | boxoffice@lyricstage.com
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Summary

This startling, entertaining, and thrilling masterpiece puts a cap on Spiro Veloudos’ multi-year Sondheim Initiative. An unlikely friendship is forged between a samurai, Kayama, and an Americanized fisherman, Manjiro, during Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 mission to open trade relations with isolationist Japan. The two friends are caught in the inevitable winds of change and tell the story of Japan’s painful and harrowing Westernization. A highly original, inventive, powerful, and surprisingly humorous theatrical experience.

“Musical theater at its most intellectually challenging.  Extraordinary songs!”   – NY Times

“It’s enthralling to see Sondheim’s songs work so magically well!” – Huffington Post

Act I

Conceived as a Japanese playwright’s version of an American musical about American influences on Japan, Pacific Overtures opens on July 1853. Since the foreigners were driven from the island empire, explains the Reciter, there has been nothing to threaten the changeless cycle of their days. Elsewhere, wars are fought and machines are rumbling but in Nippon they plant rice, exchange bows and enjoy peace and serenity. President Millard Fillmore, determined to open up trade with Japan, has sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry across the Pacific.

To the consternation of Lord Abe and the Shogun’s other Councillors, the stirrings of trouble begin with the appearance of Manjiro, a fisherman who was lost at sea and rescued by Americans. He returns to Japan and attempts to warn Abe of the presence of warships in the waters around Okinawa, but is instead arrested for consorting with foreigners. A minor samurai, Kayama Yesaemon, is appointed Prefect of the Police at Uraga to drive the Americans away – news which leaves his wife Tamate grief-stricken, since Kayama will certainly fail. As a Fisherman, a Thief, and other locals relate the sight of the “Four Black Dragons” roaring through the sea, an extravagant Oriental caricature of the USS Powhatan pulls into harbor. Kayama is sent to meet with the Americans but he is rejected as not important enough. He enlists the aid of Manjiro, the only man in Japan who has dealt with Americans, and disguised as a great lord, Manjiro gets an answer from them: Commodore Perry announces that he must meet the Shogun within six days or else he will shell the city. Facing this ultimatum, the Shogun refuses to commit himself to an answer and takes to his bed. Exasperated by his indecision, his Mother, with elaborate courtesy, poisons him.

With the Shogun dead, Kayama devises a plan by which the Americans can be received without technically setting foot on Japanese soil, thanks to a covering of tatami mats and a raised Treaty House. He and Manjiro set off for Uraga. Kayama has saved Japan, but it is too late to save Tamate. He returns home to find her dead from seppuku.

Commodore Perry and his men disembark and demonstrate their goodwill by offering such gifts as two bags of Irish potatoes and a copy of Owen’s “Geology of Minnesota”. The negotiations themselves are observed through the memories of three who were there: a warrior who could hear the debates from his hiding place beneath the floor of the Treaty House, a young boy who could see the action from his perch in the tree outside, and the boy as an old man recalling that without a silent watcher history is incomplete. Initially, it seems as if Kayama has won; the Americans depart in peace. But the barbarian figure of Commodore Perry leaps out to perform a traditional Kabuki “Lion Dance”, which ends as a strutting, triumphalist, all-American cakewalk.

Act II

The child emperor reacts with pleasure to the departure of the Americans, promoting Lord Abe to Shogun, Kayama to Governor of Uraga and Manjiro to the rank of Samurai. The crisis appears to have passed, but to the surprise of Lord Abe the Americans return to request formal trading arrangements. To the tune of a Sousa march, an American ambassador bids “Please Hello” to Japan and is followed by a Gilbertian British ambassador, a clog-dancing Dutchman, a gloomy Russian and a dandified Frenchman all vying for access to Japan’s markets. With this new western threat, the faction of the Lords of the South grow restless. They send a politically charged gift to the Emperor, a storyteller who tells a vivid, allegorical tale of a brave young emperor who frees himself from his cowardly Shogun.

Fifteen years pass as Kayama and Manjiro dress themselves for tea. As Manjiro continues to dress in ceremonial robes for the tea ritual, Kayama gradually adopts the manners, culture, and dress of the newcomers, proudly displaying a new pocket watch, cutaway coat and “A Bowler Hat”. But there are other less pleasant changes prompted by westernization. Three British Sailors mistake the daughter of a samurai for a geisha (“Pretty Lady”). Though their approach is initially gentle, they grow more persistent to the point where they offer her money (with insinuations of rape); the girl cries for help and her father kills one of the confused Tars. Reporting on the situation to the Shogun, Kayama witnesses Lord Abe’s murder by cloaked assassins and himself is killed by one of their number – his former friend, Manjiro.

In the ensuing turmoil the puppet Emperor seizes real power and vows that Japan will modernize itself. As the country moves from one innovation to the next, the Imperial robes are removed layer by layer to show the Reciter in modern dress. Contemporary Japan– the country of Toyota and Seiko, air pollution and market domination –assembles itself around him. “There was a time when foreigners were not welcome here. But that was long ago…” he says, “Welcome to Japan.”

Photos

Cast & Crew

Kai Chao — Commodore Perry, Dutch Admiral, Guard, Second Geisha, Older Samurai, Samurai Guard

Kai Chao (Ensemble) is making his Lyric Stage debut. Kai returns to Pacific Overtures after performing in a production with the Irvine CLO many years ago, earning him a Los Angeles Dramalogue Critic’s Award.  He recently performed in The Joy Luck Club (Umbrella Stage Company).  Some of his favorite productions regionally and locally include Mary Poppins, A Chorus Line, Mame, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Beauty and the Beast, Bye, Bye Birdie, and Cabaret.  He also enjoyed performing with Disney Entertainment.  Kai is always thankful for the love and support from his husband, Al. 

Sam Hamashima — Manjiro

Sam Hamashima (Manjiro) is making his Lyric Stage debut in one of his favorite shows. Recent credits include Vietgone (Studio Theatre), Girlfriend (Detroit Public Theatre), and Comfort Women: A New Musical (Playwrights Horizons). Originally from North Carolina, Hamashima received a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan. Thanks to The Price Group and family at YoungArts. Much love to Mom, Dad, Ellie, and Grace. samhamashima.com @SamHamashima

Alexander Holden* — Russian Admiral, Third Councilor, Merchant, Sailor, Soothsayer, Third Geisha, Second Sailor, Assassin 2

Alexander Holden* (Third Councilor, Merchant, Sailor, Soothsayer, Third Girl, Russian Admiral, Second Sailor) is a Boston-based actor making his Lyric Stage debut. Alexander’s Boston credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Dream Role Theater Company), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (New Players Theatre Guild), Annie Get Your Gun (The Cannon Theater), Nutzzcrackin’ Immigration Nationalization (Arts Emerson). Regional credits include The Merry Widow (Bear Valley Music Festival). Alexander has studied Vocal Performance at Carnegie Mellon University and is excited to be part of this production!

Elaine Hom — Second Councilor, Second Observer, Second Officer, Priest, Assassin 1

Elaine Hom (Ensemble) is making her Lyric Stage debut.  She was most recently seen in Allegiance (SpeakEasy Stage), Diamonds Unstrung, Falling (Boston Theatre Marathon), An Infinite Ache (Glass Ceiling Theater), and Bye Bye Birdie (Weston Friendly Society of the Performing Arts). Elaine has also directed and choreographed shows in the Boston area and coaches dance at Sereda DanceWorks. By day, Elaine works in content marketing and is a freelance PR consultant for Boston theaters. Many thanks to this cast and crew, and her never-ending village of support! 

Carl Hsu* — Kayama

Carl Hsu* (Kayama) is making his Lyric Stage debut. His credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (Ogunquit Playhouse, Engeman Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House), Anything Goes, Mame (North Shore Music Theatre, Riverside Theatre), a benefit reading of Sarah Ruhl’s The Oldest Boy (Central Square Theatre), and many more. Based in New York City, Carl is beyond thrilled to perform the work of his favorite composer/lyricist in his favorite city. Master of Fine Arts from the Boston Conservatory and a proud member of AEA. 

Brandon Milardo — British Admiral, Fisherman, Guard, Sailor, Old Man, First Noble, First Lord, Third Sailor, Samurai Guard

Brandon Milardo (Ensemble) is a Boston-based actor and musician who has previously appeared at the Lyric Stage in Road ShowCity of Angels, and The Mikado. Additional theater and operetta credits include The Real Inspector Hound (Bad Habit Productions), Once on This Island (Mssng Lnks), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Boston Midsummer Opera), and Threepenny Opera (Commonwealth Opera). He has also appeared on stage in operas with Boston Midsummer Opera, Boston Opera Collaborative, Cape Cod Opera, Metrowest Opera, and Commonwealth Opera. 

Gary Thomas Ng* — Shogun’s Mother, Madam, American Admiral, Grandmother, Warrior, British Sailor

Gary Thomas Ng* (Mother, American Admiral, Grandmother, Warrior, British Sailor, Madam) returns to the Lyric Stage where he was last seen in Hold These Truths. Recent regional credits include 1776 (New Rep), Gooney Bird Greene (Wheelock Family Theatre), and Allegiance (SpeakEasy Stage).  Other favorite credits include Beauty and the Beast, Billy Elliot (Wheelock Family Theatre), Sideshow (Lyric Stage), Miss Saigon, Grease, Joseph/Dreamcoat, Footloose (Ogunquit Playhouse), Children of Eden (NSMT), and the Far East tour of Cole Porter’s Aladdin. Gary is also a photographer whose works include production photos for Ogunquit Playhouse and Gloucester Stage.

Jeff Song* — Abe, Thief, First Officer, Physician

Jeff Song* (Abe, Thief, First Officer, Physician) is making his Lyric Stage debut. Regional acting credits include Once (SpeakEasy Stage) and work with Fresh Ink Theatre, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Wheelock Family Theatre, Company One, and American Repertory Theater. Jeff can also be heard on the NPR storytelling podcast Circle Round. Credits as Composer/Music Director/Musician include Vietgone (Studio Theatre, DC) and Mary Zimmerman’s The White Snake (Baltimore Center Stage). He is currently a music consultant for Imagination Stage (DC). Jeff has appeared on over a dozen recordings – his original music featured on radio, TV, and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. As bassist for Ute Lemper, Jeff performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival, L’Opéra de Vichy, and The Palermo Festival di Verdura. Jeff holds an M.M. from New England Conservatory of Music.

Karina Wen — First Observer, Shogun’s Wife, First Geisha, Boy, Girl, Son

Karina Wen (Ensemble) is making her Lyric Stage debut. Recent credits include The Joy Luck Club (Umbrella Stage Company), Bye Bye Birdie, Guys and Dolls, and A Chorus Line (Priscilla Beach Theatre), and In the Heights (Wheelock Family Theatre). Originally from Lexington, Karina is a rising senior at Brandeis University, where she is double majoring in theater and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

Micheline Wu — Tamate (Kayama’s Wife), French Admiral, Priest, 2nd Councilor

Micheline Wu (Choreographer/Ensemble) is making her Lyric Stage debut. A Boston native, she trained and performed with the American Chinese Arts Society’s Traditional Chinese Dance Troupe for ten years. In contemporary dance, she received a Young Artist Grant from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, two artist residencies at The Firkin Crane in Ireland, and her choreography and dance films have been shown across the country. Theater performance credits include Allegiance (SpeakEasy Stage Company), My Fair Lady (New Bedford Festival Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (Priscilla Beach Theatre). M.F.A. Musical Theater, Boston Conservatory. @michelinewu

Lisa Yuen* — Reciter, Shogun

Lisa Yuen* (Reciter, Shogun, Storyteller, Emperor) returns to the Lyric Stage having appeared in Kiss of The Spider Woman, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  Local credits include:  The King and I (North Shore Music Theatre), Ragtime and Mary Poppins (Wheelock Family Theatre), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Theatre by the Sea) and New Rep.  Other credits include 7.5 years on Broadway (Miss Saigon and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.), 4 national tours (The King and I, Flower Drum Song, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Pirates of Penzance), Off-Broadway (Second Stage and York Theatre), Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, regional theatre (including Paper Mill Playhouse, The MUNY, PCLO, and Sacramento Music Circus) and TV/film including 23 episodes as “Rachel” on  All My Children, Body of Proof, The Martha Stewart Show, World Trade Center). Brookline mom to twins.  B.A. from UCLA.  Love and gratitude to Mom, Kevin, family, and friends.  

Spiro Veloudos — Director

Spiro Veloudos (Director), now celebrating his 21st season as Producing Artistic Director, directed The Roommate this season and Souvenir and Road Show last season. In previous seasons, he directed Company, Camelot, Sondheim by Sondheim, Peter and the Starcatcher, Sweeney Todd, City of Angels, Into the Woods (Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Awards for Best Director, Best Musical, and Best Ensemble), One Man, Two Guvnors, Death of a Salesman (IRNE Award for Best Play),The Mikado, 33 Variations, On the Town, Avenue Q (Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Ensemble, five IRNE Awards including Best Musical and Best Director), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Elliot Norton Award for Best Production and Best Director, five IRNE Awards including Best Director), Big River, Superior Donuts, Animal Crackers, Blithe Spirit, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Kiss Me, Kate, and many others. During his tenure, the Lyric Stage has earned numerous awards and honors including Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Musical Production, and IRNE Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Musical Production.  Spiro received the 2006 Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Salem State College, the StageSource Theatre Hero Award (2003), and was named Best Artistic Director by Boston Magazine in 1999. He is adjunct faculty in Performing Arts at Emerson College.

Jonathan Goldberg — Music Director

Jonathan Goldberg (Music Director) has won four IRNE Awards for the musical direction of Lyric Stage’s Kiss Me, Kate, Grey GardensMan of La Mancha, and A Little Night Music. Other Lyric Stage shows include Road Show, Sondheim on Sondheim, Sweeney Todd, Working, On The Town, The Mikado, Big River, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Follies, 1776, UrinetownThe Spitfire GrillSunday in the Park with GeorgeShe Loves Me, and Assassins, and ten seasons of the Lyric First Stage teen program. Jon is full-time faculty in the Musical Theatre program at Emerson College, and has been Music Director for numerous Emerson Stage productions. Other credits include Pacific Overtures (North Shore Music Theatre) and numerous productions at Wheelock Family Theatre (most recently Ragtime and Billy Elliot).

Janie E. Howland** — Scenic Design

Janie E. Howland** (Scenic Design) has called the Lyric Stage home for 25 years, having recently designed Little Foxes and Anna Christie. Other recent designs: Nat Turner in Jerusalem (ASP), Caroline or Change (Moonbox), Art Makes Sense CONSENSES Exhibit (Mass MOCA), Madeline’s Christmas (BCT), Urban Nutcracker (City Ballet). Other venues: Lynn Redgrave Theatre (NY), Emerson Majestic, New Rep, Weston Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Odyssey Opera, Central Square Theatre, Gloucester Stage, SpeakEasy Stage, Ohio Star Theatre, A.R.T. Institute, Boston Conservatory, Company One, Greater Boston Stage Company, Seacoast Rep, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, and Huntington Theatre Studio 210. Brandeis University M.F.A.; four-time Elliot Norton Award winner, four-time IRNE Award winner, adjunct faculty at Emerson College, Wellesley College. USA Local 829. janiehowland.com

Gail Astrid Buckley** — Costume Design

Gail Astrid Buckley** (Costume Design) returns to the Lyric Stage having designed The Little Foxes, My Fair LadyCat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Souvenir, among many others. Recent designs include the 11th annual A Christmas Carol (Hanover Theatre), Dialogue of the Carmelites (Boston Conservatory), Being Earnest, The Salonnières (Greater Boston Stage Company), and key tailor/shopper for the movie Honest Thief. Gail has received two Elliot Norton Awards and two IRNE Awards for Costume Design. Gail is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.

Karen Perlow** — Lighting Design

Karen Perlow** (Lighting Design) has been a Boston-area designer for over 25 years.  She returns to the Lyric Stage where favorite productions include The Wolves, The Little Foxes, Anna Christie, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Death of a Salesman, Water by the Spoonful, My Name Is Asher Lev, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Miss Witherspoon, Urinetown, the Musical, Dirty Blonde, and Lobby Hero. Earlier this season she designed Native Gardens (Merrimack Rep), and Fun Home and Once (SpeakEasy Stage). She is a three-time winner of the IRNE Award for Best Lighting Design (2009, 2007, 2002), and NYC SOLO Fest 2013.  Karen has taught Light Design at Northeastern and MIT. She currently teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages with the YMCA/ILC.  Member USA 829. She also proudly serves as the treasurer of the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund (TCBF.org).

Andrew Duncan Will — Sound Design

Andrew Duncan Will (Sound Design) previously designed for the Lyric Stage productions of Kiss of the Spider Woman, GypsyMurder for TwoCompanySondheim on Sondheim, Dear Elizabeth, Sweeney ToddInto The Woods, and One Man, Two Guvnors. Recent local sound designs include productions for Boston Public Works, Stoneham Theatre, Fresh Ink, Hasty Pudding, SpeakEasy Stage, Lyric Stage, Bad Habit Productions, Flotsam Productions, Gloucester Stage, Puppet Showplace Theater, Company One, New Rep, Fresh Ink, Commonwealth Shakespeare, The Poets’ Theatre, and A.R.T. Institute. Andrew received an M.F.A. in Sound Design from Boston University.

Brynna Bloomfield — Mask Design

Brynna Bloomfield (Mask Design) began her theater career twenty years ago as a set designer for the Lyric Stage. She is now excited to be included in this production as its mask maker. Brynna has been teaching mask making at Emerson College for sixteen years, and the works she is most proud of are the hundreds of masks made by her students. She thanks her mask mentor, Stanley Allan Sherman.

Ted Hewlett*** — Violence Design

Ted Hewlett (Violence Design) is an actor, fight director, and teacher. In New York City, he has performed in Shogun (original Broadway cast), as well as at Pan Asian Rep, Mettawee River Co., Lincoln Center Institute, and HERE. Regional theatre performance credits include Shakespeare & Company, Syracuse Stage, Kennedy Center, Elm Shakespeare Co., and Birmingham Theatre (MI). He has choreographed violence for the Off-Broadway run of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, as well as at the Shakespeare Theatre (D.C.), Berkshire Theatre Festival, Westchester Broadway Theatre, and Fulton Opera House. Select Boston credits include Huntington Theatre, SITI Company/ArtsEmerson, A.R.T., Actors’ Shakespeare Project, New Rep, SpeakEasy Stage, Boston Ballet, Boston Lyric Opera, Merrimack Rep, and North Shore Music Theatre. Film and TV credits include Hook, Army of Darkness, and Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Mr. Hewlett earned his M.F.A. in Acting from Brandeis University, and is on the full-time acting faculty of Emerson College.

Nerys Powell* — Production Stage Manager

Nerys Powell* (Production Stage Manager) was the AEA Assistant Stage Manager for Kiss of the Spider Woman and the Production Stage Manager for Breath & Imagination and The Little Foxes this season.  Nerys holds a B.A. in English Literature from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY and is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association. 

Geena M. Forristall — Assistant Stage Manager

Geena M. Forristall (Assistant Stage Manager) returns to the Lyric Stage having previously worked on The Little Foxes, The Roommate, Anna Christie, Souvenir, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Select Boston credits include Our Dear Dead Drug LordThe Weird (Off the Grid Theatre Company), Henry V,I part 3The TempestJulius CaesarCymbelineA Midsummer Night’s Dream (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. (Company One), and the international tour of Kultar’s Mime. New York credits include Still at Risk (Theater for the New City) and Sleep No More (Punchdrunk NYC/Emursive). She holds a B.F.A. from Hofstra University, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity. gmforristall.com 

Michael Hisamoto — Assistant to Director

Michael Hisamoto (Assistant to Director) is a Boston-based theatre artist. Credits include Stage Kiss, Fast Company, Hold These Truths, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (Lyric Stage), Charlotte’s Web (Wheelock Family Theatre), Yellow Face (The Office of War Information), and The Ordinary Epic (Crose to Home Productions). Upcoming: King of Shadows (Flat Earth Theatre). In addition to his acting work, Michael was a Playwriting Resident at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival, and has directed or assisted on numerous productions across Boston. Michael believes in educating the next generation, teaching and having taught at multiple institutions, and happily offers career consultation free of charge to young artists of color. Michael is a graduate of The Orange County School of the Arts and Boston University.  michaelhisamoto.com

* denotes member of Actor’s Equity Association
** denotes member of United Scenic Artists (USA-Local 829)
*** denotes member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)

Press & Reviews

 

“All these years later, Sondheim’s genius continues to connect people and ideas in new ways revealing the best and worst aspects of humanity.”

An Important New Sondheim Overture | Berkshire Fine Arts

“Throughout the years I found myself going through the journey that Kayama is probably going through — I found myself more and more Americanized, to the point that when I go back to Taiwan, things start to feel foreign. That’s his journey, and I felt like that’s something I can identify with. It’s very interesting.”

Carl Hsu :: From Taiwan to Boston to ‘Pacific Overtures’ at the Lyric | EdgeBoston

“There’s been this fear that’s been passed down from generation to generation. What I love about Manjiro is that he is Americanized, very similar to me, at the beginning of the show and he has respect for Japan, but it’s a foreign land. To me, Japan is a foreign land; I’ve never been there, and that’s another whole project of mine, to sort of reclaim my history by going to the West Coast and [eventually] going to Japan. ”

Sam Hamashima on Sondheim, ‘Pacific Overtures,’ and Being a Queer Artist | EdgeBoston

“It’s a story that resonates today, just as it did when it opened on Broadway in 1976, eight months after the American evacuation of Saigon. ‘After this show, I feel I can learn anything,’ Carl Hsu said. ‘It has so much that is unexpected.’”

Sondheim fans get a see-worthy ‘Pacific’ at the Lyric | WickedLocal

“[A] intimate yet pointed Lyric Stage Company revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical about what used to be unabashedly called gunboat diplomacy….I was charmed!”

Lyric Stage Brings Finesse And Warmth To A Small-Scale ‘Pacific Overtures’ | WBUR’s The ARTery

“With book written by John Weidman, Sondheim’s clever music and delightful lyrics take the audience on a journey that starts with defiance, bullying, change, acceptance, and thrusts the country into its contemporary, westernized state. Quite funny at various times, the production is also a roller coaster ride of emotions that include sadness and poignancy as Japan is pummeled and eventually blown over by the winds of change along with the demonstration of cannon fire power.”

Susan Mulford reviews PACIFIC OVERTURES at the Lyric Stage | Independent Reviews of New England

“In a show about progress, the casting of an all-Asian company marks progress within the Boston theater scene, although it is nothing new for the Lyric Stage to champion diversity. ”

PACIFIC OVERTURES: Lyric Stage’s Sondheim Finale | Broadway World

“Pacific Overtures” showcases Sondheim’s unrivaled gift for composing songs – such as “Please Hello,” Pretty Lady,” and “Someone in a Tree” – that amount to compelling ministories in and of themselves, told with nary a wasted word.”

Lyric Stage navigates Sondheim’s ‘Pacific Overtures’ with a steady hand | The Boston Globe

“To this impressive cast of 11 for playing over 50 different characters and conquering Sondheim’s most challenging work, bowler hats off to you!”

All-Asian Cast Conquers Sondheim’s Ambitious All-American Musical ‘Pacific Overtures’ at Lyric Stage | The Theater Mirror

“Lyric’s artistic director Spiro Veloudos adds his artistic mark and contemporizes the story, without compromising authenticity.  The audience can experience the nuanced performances, participate more fully in the characters’ stories, and see the intricate detail of the painted screen panels. The panels rotate to form a series of backdrops in the stunning set designed by Janie Howland.”

Lyric delivers a lively “Pacific Overtures | Sampan News

“Veloudos’ work emerges triumphant, thanks to adroit casting and a versatile, talented ensemble. Also, his usual attention to detail, combined with his love for both Sondheim and the material, is evident at every turn. Lisa Yuen is just right as the Reciter, the narrator who provides an overview and who also doubles as the uber-powerful Shogun, the power behind the throne of The Emperor, disarmingly performed as a puppet ruler.”

Sparkling ‘Overtures’ Serves as a Sondheim Coda | On Boston Stages

“It is quite hard to produce this musical as beautifully as it is done here, and the director of this production and Lyric Stage artistic director Spiro Veloudos and his team are to be strongly credited for adding yet another strong interpretation of the Sondheim legacy to their roster.”

Pacific Overtures Review | Boston Arts Diary

“Change can be painful.  From a remote, peaceful, self-sufficient island to an economic powerhouse to the home of the 2020 Olympics, Japan has worn many faces and overcame many obstacles.  Pacific Overtures depicts the raw emotion and a sympathetic perspective on what that might have felt like along the way.”

Lyric Stage brings beauty and powerful perspective to Sondheim’s ‘Pacific Overtures’

“Lisa Yuen (the Reciter) and Carl Hsu (Kayama) both bring thoughtfulness, gravity, and maturity to their roles. But Sam Hamashima as Manjiro is the most exciting to watch and listen. His command of Sondheim’s language in “Poetry” is particularly satisfying. The three leads are backed by a strong ensemble who each perform a variety of roles. Brandon Milardo’s British Admiral–a wonderfully realized Gilbert and Sullivan caricature–is just one of many small but rich parts that help create the world of the musical through distinct character choices. The role is also one of several that effectively uses half-mask to other the strange Western newcomers.”

“PACIFIC OVERTURES:” SOLID, SAFE, SONDHEIM

“Make no mistake. This is not the controversial 2017 Off-Broadway revival by John Doyle (of no-frills “Company” and “Sweeney Todd” editions fame) that cut the distinctive number “Chrysanthemum Tea” and the menacing first act-closing “Lion Dance” by America’s Commodore Perry. Here the “Tea” song has the right dark humor. Micheline Wu’s crisp choreography gives Kai Chao riveting moments of fiery movement in Perry’s dance. By contrast, Veloudos and company are exploring the full richness of Sondheim and book author John Weidman’s conception and the striking poetry that runs through the musical’s evocative score.”

Brilliantly Adventurous and Rare Sondheim at Lyric Stage | Boston Theatre Wings

Pacific Overtures is a rich work, tackling large themes like imperialism and modernization while drawing a picture of a civilization on the brink of change through the sung stories of characters high and low—shogun and emperor, fisherman and samurai, sailor and admiral, geisha and merchant and thief. In this beautifully designed and performed production, Veloudos and the Lyric Stage have capped off their Sondheim project with a winner.”

“Pacific Overtures” — A Civilization on the Brink of Change | The Arts Fuse

Dramaturgy

TICKET PRICES

Day Center Section Side Section
Wed Mat $55 $38
Wed/Thur/Fri $71 $51
Sat/Sun $77 $57

May 10 — June 16
8:00 pm

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one intermission

Box Office: 617-585-5678

boxoffice@lyricstage.com

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