Monday, July 24, 2017

"The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga" NOT RATED

Min Kahng's "The Four Immigrants" tells the story of four Japanese nationals who come to America in the beginning years of the Twentieth Century. It is based on a manga, or cartoon series, drawn by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama in the 1920s. The artist is one of the four characters depicted in our story.

We can assume that Act One would have been better had we been able to take the music in context with the cartoon story; as it is, the computer foul-up on Opening Night left the songs to stand perilously on their own. Act Two was better, when we could see the cartoons, the actors settled into their roles and their songs felt less derivative. We very much liked "Furusato," a more traditional song sung by the ensemble without attempts at the pseudo-ragtime that haunts the rest of this score.

We enjoyed the ensemble, but particularly Phil Wong as Frank (The Footware King), who stands out as the most accessible and understandable of the four.


The San Francisco Theater Blog has decided to not rate "The Four Immigrants," as technology sadly rendered this performance unrepresentative of the final product. The show was a hit at last year's New Works Festival so we are certain it will find its footing.

"The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga"
Lucie Stern Theater
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Through August 6, 2017

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