When award-winning actress and playwright Jodi Long took her first steps onto the Broadway stage in Sidney Lumet’s production of “Nowhere to Go But Up,” she was entering a professional world that ran through her family line. His vaudevillian parents had long walked the stage – in fact, as part of a popular song and dance number, they even appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in the 1950s.
By the time Long returned to Broadway as Madame Liang in the 2002 Broadway revival of Rodger and Hammerstein’s “Flower Drum Song,” she completed a circle started by her father – Larry Leung, who starred in the production Broadway original of the same musical 40 years earlier. And she went on to blaze her own trail – breaking down barriers by becoming the first Asian-born actor to win a competitive acting Emmy in 2021 for his role in Netflix’s “Dash and Lily.” Showbiz was Jodi Long’s destiny.
The new play “American Jade,” written and performed by Jodi Long, not only connects the dots between a daughter actress and her vaudevillian parents, but chronicles their fascinating lives, on and off stage, weaving their family history into a story that reflects both the joys and the difficulties of the immigrant experience in the United States over the past century.
“American Jade” brings all of her family history to life! With live music on stage from Yukio Tsuji (composer/house musician at LaMama ETC for over 25 years), along with spirited doses of humor, song and dance, Long takes us on a vaudeville journey into the past, discovering the imprints that family leaves on all of us. Written by Long and directed by Eric Rosen (Public Theatre’s “Venice”), “American Jade” will kick off Bucks County Playhouse’s 83rd season, May 20-June 11. The season marks the 10th anniversary of the Playhouse reopening after a lavish renovation in 2012. The official opening night performance is Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. The 2022 Bucks County Playhouse season is sponsored by Bank of America.
Executive producer Robyn Goodman, production manager Alexander Fraser and producer Josh Fiedler recently announced production details.
“American Jade” grew out of the documentary about Long’s vaudevillian parents, “Long Story Short,” which she wrote and co-produced. Produced by Patricia Richardson and directed by Christine Choy, the documentary played at film festivals everywhere, winning numerous awards including Best Documentary and the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
“We are thrilled that our return to a full production season at the playhouse begins with a new play. Jodi’s story is universal and anyone with a family will identify with her search for understanding through ancestry,” said Robyn Goodman, executive producer. “Developing new work and hearing new stories is essential to creating vibrant theater. It’s the perfect way to kick off the next decade of performances at the Playhouse.”
“I’ve been a fan of Jodi Long since I first saw her on Broadway with Patricia Richardson and Kevin Kline in ‘Loose Ends’ in 1979,” says production manager Alexander Fraser. “Jodi has a compelling story to tell that feels more relevant today than ever. We are delighted to welcome multi-talented director Eric Rosen to the Playhouse. I am so grateful to Pat Richardson for bringing us this fun and insightful piece. . , and I look forward to what promises to be a beautiful and moving production.”
Emmy winning for her role as Ms. Basil E in Netflix’s “Dash and Lily,” Long is a veteran of stage, film and television. She made her Broadway debut at age seven in “Nowhere To Go But Up” directed by Sidney Lumet, the first of five Broadway shows she went on to appear in as an adult: “Loose Ends with Kevin Kline, “The Bacchae” with Irene Papas, Stephen Sondheim’s “Getting Away with Murder” and the cover of “Flower Drum Song” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, for which she won an Ovation award at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
Many off-Broadway productions include “Old Money” (Lincoln Center) by Wendy Wasserstein, “Red and The Wash” (Manhattan Theater Club), “Golden Child” and “Family Devotions” (Public Theater) by David Henry Hwang and ” The Tooth of Crime”. (LaMaman). At Pan Asian Rep, she portrayed Titania in a multilingual production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Tisa Chang, “Rowher and Monkey Music” by Margaret Lamb. Long also performed in the Phillip Glass/David Henry Hwang 90-minute solo piece world tour, “A 1000 Airplanes on The Roof”.
She has appeared in films in Marvel’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings”, “The Tale” with Laura Dern (HBO), “Beginners” with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, “Patty Hearst” by Paul Schrader, Mike Newell’s “Sour Sweet”, “Striking Distance”, “Rollover”, and “The Hot Chick”.
In addition to “Dash and Lily”, Long appeared on television in “Sex and the City”, as “Okcha” in TBS’s “Sullivan and Son”, AMC’s “Falling Water”, Margaret Cho’s mother in “All American Girl”, “Café Américain” with Valérie Bertinelli, and “Miss Match” with Alicia Silverstone.
The creative team for “American Jade” includes stage design by Jack Magaw (“Relentless” at the Goodman Theater in Chicago), lighting design by Amanda Zieve (“Hamilton”) and sound design by Dan Moses Shreier ( “Flying Over Sunset”). Projection design is by Stivo Arnoczy and Stephanie Beattie. Libby Unsworth is production manager.
Single tickets for “American Jade” are on sale now. Tickets start at $65. Special rates for groups of 10 or more people. Subscription packages are still available. For more details and to purchase tickets, please visit buckscountyplayhouse.org or call 215-862-2121.
Steeped in a theatrical history that dates back to its founding in 1939 by a roster of theatrical royalty, Bucks County Playhouse celebrates the tenth anniversary of its reopening and restoration in 2012. With more than 75,000 patrons passing through its doors each year, the Playhouse leads the economic resurgence of New Hope and the surrounding community. In 2014, Tony Award-winning producers Alexander Fraser, Robyn Goodman and Josh Fiedler took over the Playhouse, reclaiming its reputation for attracting artists from Broadway and Hollywood. Playhouse productions of “Company” with Justin Guarini and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” by William Finn were named by The Wall Street Journal to its “Best of Theater” list for 2015. In 2018, The Wall Street Journal named again hailed the Playhouse and Artistic Associate Hunter Foster in its Best of the Year lists for its production of “42nd Street” and in 2019 called the Playhouse “one of the finest regional theaters on the East Coast”. Box office records were repeatedly broken by Signature Productions of “Steel Magnolias” directed by Marsha Mason, “Mamma Mia!” directed by John Tartaglia and “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story”, “Million Dollar Quartet”, “42nd Street” and “Guys & Dolls” (all directed by Hunter Foster). In 2021, the team developed and presented Candace Bushnell’s “Is There Still Sex in the City”, which the Playhouse later partnered with to relocate to New York. The creative teams who come to create new productions at the Playhouse are some of the most talented artists working in professional theater today and relish the opportunity to work on the historic stage where Grace Kelly, Robert Redford and Jessica Walter began their careers. .