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Tacoma Little Theatre to stage The Joy Luck Club

Ties that bind

LUCKY LADIES: Recollections to connect the generations at Tacoma Little Theatre. Press photo

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You might remember the title from movie previews in 1993. You might have read the book ... or rather your mom read it. Even if you've done neither, you've likely heard of The Joy Luck Club, the modern classic by Amy Tan about four young Chinese-American women, their traditional Chinese mothers and the hijinks that ensue as they try to understand each other.

And by hijinks, I mean touching moments and emotional breakthroughs.

The story is pleasantly complex as it features 16 separate, but related and often intertwining stories.

It's a story of mothers and daughters. It's a story about culture clash. But most importantly, it's a story opening Friday at Tacoma Little Theatre. From opening night until April 7, The Joy Luck Club will be on TLT's Main Stage.

"The main reason Tacoma Little Theatre chose to do The Joy Luck Club was to reach out to the Asian community as well as tell a beautiful and heartfelt story," says Sarahann Rickner, TLT operations director. "TLT chose to do Joy Luck because it is a direct adaptation by the director David Hsieh from the best-selling novel by Amy Tan. We wanted to produce a play that is ethnically diverse, that tells a universal story about the immigrant experience in America. It is also a story that relates to many women in its intergenerational dialog."

David Hsieh's adaptation of the play has also been on stage at Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center and Hsieh worked closely with TLT.

"The director and playwright of the show, David Hsieh, has been deeply involved from the very beginning," says Rickner. "He provided the script that he adapted from Amy Tan's book. He even had to adapt it for our stage and cast."

In fact, Hsieh received special permission from Amy Tan herself to adapt the script.

TLT's run of The Joy Luck Club has heavy crossovers with the local and wider Asian community, too. The cast is largely Asian or of Asian descent and most are from the Seattle area. Members of the cast have helped to reach out to the local community, especially Aya Hashiguchi, who plays Ying Ying in the play. Hashiguchi helped with show marketing, including attending local events to get the word out to the local Asian community in person.

To complement the show, there will also be an art show in the lobby of the theater. Art is by local artist Fumiko Kimura as well as members of the Haiga Adventure Study Group of Puget Sound Sumi Artists. All pieces on display are up for sale. The artwork features Asian-style methods, from Japanese sumi and haiga to calligraphy and collage. Visitors can view the artwork whether they attend a show or not. The lobby is open during box office hours - 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and during show performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $12.50 to $24.50, but if the budget is tight, don't despair. March 22 at 7:30 p.m., the theater will only charge what you can afford. That's right. You can see the play for whatever price you can afford to pay, whether this is $10, $5, $1 or nothing at all.


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