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‘Tiananmen: The Musical’ will debut at Phoenix Theatre Company October 2023

Photo of Tiananmen The Musical

Success of ¡Americano! sets stage for next original American musical

Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

With all the ingredients of a memorable American musical set to premiere in 2023, the producers behind “Tiananmen” are announcing a formal reading in New York City — and a major addition to the creative team at work.

Wu’er Kaixi, who helped lead the protests in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and now lives in Taiwan as an activist for democracy, has joined the production as conceiver and creative consultant, according to a press release.

“It would be as if Lin-Manuel Miranda had Alexander Hamilton alongside as he created Hamilton,” Tiananmen author Scott Elmegreen said of Kaixi’s first involvement. “He has made our script better, more authentic and more powerful since we presented Tiananmen in New York last September and as we get ready for our world premiere at The Phoenix Theatre Company.”

Phoenix is where Tiananmen’s Lead Producer Quixote Productions, which is owned by Scottsdale public relations executive and entrepreneur Jason Rose, who also debuted ¡Americano! It recently completed its off-Broadway run at New World Stages as scheduled, with a total of 86 performances.

To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), President Obama participated in a roundtable discussion with a small group of DACA recipients in New York, NY, on May 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of The Obama Foundation)

¡Americano! success fuels allure of ‘Tiananmen’

The ¡Americano! composer, Carrie Rodriguez, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and the set was used by President Obama to celebrate the recent anniversary of his executive order to protect “DREAMers” living in the United States.

Darren Lee, who recently directed “Mr. Holland’s Opus” for the stage, will serve as director for “Tiananmen,” both for the reading and in Phoenix, where he will as double as the choreographer.

Music direction is by Steven Cuevas, previously of “Kinky Boots;” and the casting director is Melanie Tojio Lockyer. They join Mr. Elmegreen on the creative team with Drew Fornarola, who is contributing the music and lyrics.

Mr. Elmegreen is a lecturer at the University of Chicago, and Mr. Fornarola is best known as a composer for DreamWorks, the release states. They were most recently represented in New York by their play “Straight,” a New York Times Critics’ Pick now in development as a major motion picture.

Mr. Lee has directed and choreographed numerous productions around the country and internationally. He has performed in 11 Broadway shows.

“In light of the ongoing debate, indeed [the] fight between authoritarianism and democracy ‘Tiananmen’ is a brave and necessary work to remind us all of the hinge of world history that happened in Tiananmen Square at a time when China is trying to erase all that happened there from memory,” said Mr. Lee, a Chinese-American.

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