East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, continues its 50th Anniversary Season, Golden, with the world premiere production of “Criers for Hire,” by playwright Giovanni Ortega and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera.
Aurora, Remedios, and Eugenia are three of the most sought-after professional funeral criers in Monterey Park. They are eager to welcome Aurora’s 14-year-old daughter Ligaya (nicknamed Gaya) from the Philippines into their world and teach her their somber trade. However, they soon realize that Gaya has the opposite effect on people, making them laugh instead of cry. What ensues is a hilarious and heartwarming story of cultural identity, generational conflict, and finding home in a new country.
“Playwright Giovanni Ortega has been one of our home grown artists who started out as an actor and slowly began to start writing and directing plays,” said Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of East West Players. “It has been a pleasure to see his career develop and now see him as a member of the theater department faculty at Pomona College.”
The cast features Giselle Tongi (Host, Kababayan Today), Joan Almedilla (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, EWP’sKrunk Fu Battle Battle, Tea with Music, Chess), and Nicole Barredo (Miss Saigon, EWP’s Beijing Spring).
Giovanni Ortega made his debut on the East West Players stage in 2005 playing the role of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in the hit musical “Imelda.” In 2011, Ortega wrote ALLOS, the story of Carlos Bulosan, which was commissioned by East West Players for its Theater for Youth Program. The following year, Chicago’s CIRCA Pintig Theater Company produced it as part of “Migrant Stories.” During the same time, East West Players included an excerpt of his work in its Theater for Youth touring production “Our American Voice.” His directing credits include East West Players’ New Works Festival and several productions at Pomona College including “Spring Awakening.” His acting credits include “Romance of Magno Rubio” at Inside the Ford and “Dogeaters” at Center Theatre Group. As an author, he took the literary artist category for FPAC Pahayag Project for the most sought after author with “Leaves from the Silverlake Barrio,” and a collection of his poetry was included in an anthology of mixed heritage writing in “Completely Mixed Up.” Ortega is a visiting assistant professor at The Pomona College Department of Theatre & Dance.
The design team includes set design by Christopher Scott Murrillo, lighting design by R. Christopher Stokes, costume design by Mylette Nora, sound design by Howard Ho, and props by Lily Bartenstein. Stage manager is Alyssa Escalante.
“Criers for Hire” is produced with a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Previews are Thursday, February 11 through Saturday February 13 at 8pm and Sunday February 14 at 2pm. All preview seats are $23.
Opening Night for “Criers for Hire” is Wednesday, February 17 at 8pm and includes a 7pm pre-performance cocktail reception, and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team. Opening Night is sponsored by Edison International. Call theater for availability. “Pay-What-You-Can” Performance is on Thursday, February 18. A talkback with the cast and creative team is on Sunday, February 28 immediately following the performance. The production runs until March 13.
Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling 213.625.7000. Regular tickets range from $28-$38. Student, Senior, and Group discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.