Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Turned Down Ashton Kutcher to Take The Road To Saigon and I'm Glad I Did

I almost didn't attend last week's opening night festivities of 'The Road to Saigon' at East West Players. I had gotten my dates mixed up and mistakenly agreed to attend a screening on that same night of 'Killers,' the upcoming thriller starring Ashton Kutcher. But while the chance to see Ashton shirtless was tempting, I did the right thing and decided to see 'The Road to Saigon' since that invitation had come in first. Also, my decision may have had something to do with the fact that they were serving homestyle barbecue at the 'Saigon' afterparty. I mean, Ashton's abs are hot but they're no match for a platter of succulent ribs in real life.

And I think I chose wisely. 'The Road to Saigon' is a clever, inspirational musical that chronicles the lives of three actresses who have played the role of Kim, the lead character in 'Miss Saigon' on Broadway and around the world. Through a mixture of monologues and musical numbers, Joan Almedilla, Jennifer Paz and Jenni Selma tell stories about their childhoods, families, professional travails and their auditions that landed them the coveted role. It's a little bit like 'A Chorus Line,' except there are only three characters and they're all Asian and female. Wait, I take that back -- this trio is so kickass it's more like 'Charlie's Angels.'

I brought along my 12-year-old daughter, and for me the best part was seeing how much she thoroughly enjoyed the show. She's an aspiring actress and drama student at her middle school, so the actress' stories were particularly relevant and inspirational. With the dearth of roles for Asians in the industry, it was great for her to see three performers who had broken through the barrier and achieved success. Equally important was that she got to hear about the hard work it takes to make it to the top -- hopefully she'll see that "more rehearsal time and less Facebook" is not just some annoying rule I made up.

As I mentioned, there was fabulous Asian-style barbecue at the afterparty and a bar serving a fantastic Lychee martini that is quickly replacing the Cosmo as my drink of choice (even if my daughter said those Lychees looked like eyeballs floating in my glass.) We ate, drank and mingled in the courtyard of the theater, which is a historic building -- the converted site of the former Union Church. A great night at the theater, wonderful food in a beautiful setting -- it was an amazing evening all around. And I didn't even think of Ashton Kutcher all night. Well, maybe just once.

'Road To Saigon' is playing through June 13

David Henry Hwang Theater
(Little Tokyo, downtown L.A.)
120 Judge John Aiso Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Click here for ticket information.

Here's a glowing review from The Los Angeles Times: "Road to Saigon is extremely specialized, virtually unclassifiable, and utterly enchanting. Don't miss it."

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