OAKLAND -- Woodminster Summer Musicals will close its season with "Flower Drum Song," a remake of the Broadway show and movie that tells the story of a young woman who moves from China to San Francisco to start a new life.

It will be presented beginning Friday through next Sunday in the Oakland hills.

"We are very excited about producing this great show again," said director Joel Schlader of Producers Associates, which stages the summer shows. "We presented the Bay Area premiere of this version 10 years ago and were impressed by how much our audiences loved it. In fact, people have been asking us to do it again ever since."

Written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, the musical is based on a best-selling 1957 novel by C.Y. Lee, who wrote the story while living in San Francisco and working for two Chinatown newspapers. "Flower Drum Song" also was made into a popular movie in 1961. Playwright David Henry Hwang later revised the script in 2002 with a deeper focus on the challenges that immigrants face in becoming more American while maintaining their cultural traditions.

For Woodminster's production, Catherine Gloria plays the leading role of Mei Li, while Romar De Claro performs the part of Wang Ta, the Americanized elder son of a friend of Mei Li's father. Both actors had major roles in Woodminster's July production of "Les Miserables." Michael Horsley directs the music and Jody Jaron is in charge of choreography.


Advertisement

Makenzie Kan, 14, is a member of the ensemble and says being in the show has exposed her to her Chinese ancestry and what Chinatown used to be like.

"It's a somewhat serious musical at times, but it's also romantic," said the freshman at Alameda High School.

Ron Lew, another ensemble member and Alameda resident, says the show is a good way of sharing Chinese heritage because it highlights certain cultural and historic references with humor.

"I think it's a very, very funny show -- with some characters making fun of themselves," Lew said. "It's also very catchy. One of my favorite numbers is 'Chop Suey.' Also, the costumes are tremendous."

There's a lot to like about the production, other cast members say.

"The music in the show is stunning, especially 'Fan Tan Fannie,'" Pon said. "It's Rodgers and Hammerstein, so you can't go wrong."

Flower Drum Song "tells a universal story -- through Chinese immigrants -- about any one in a new situation, understanding the lay of the land and how you blend in with other cultures no matter where you come from," Pon said. "Its message is one of hope and dreams that can touch anyone."

if you go
What: "Flower Drum Song" presented by Producers Associates Inc. Woodminster Summer Musicals
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12-13; 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, 14
Where: Woodminster Amphitheater, 3300 Joaquin Miller Road, Oakland
Cost: $26 to $59 (children 16 and under free with paying adults)
Information: 510-531-9597 or www.woodminster.com