Flower Drum Song – 1958
Wang Chi Yang (Keye Luke), on elderly Chinese gentleman of the old school, living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, has difficulties coping with members of his household: his elder son, Wang Ta (Ed Kenney), is caught between Chinese traditions and the American way of life; his second son, Wang San (Patrick Adiarte), is entirely Americanized; and his sister-in-law, Madam Liang (Juanita Hall), is an ardent candidate for citizenship. Wang Ta reveals to his aunt that he wants to choose his own wife (“You Are Beautiful”). Mei Li (Miyoshi Umeki) has recently arrived from China with her father (Conrad Yama). She is a mail-order bride promised to Sammy Fong (Larry Blyden), owner of a local nightclub, The Celestial Bar. But Mr. Wang has other plans: he wants Wang Ta to wed a traditional Chinese bride and has just bought the marriage contract that tied Mei Li to Sammy Fong. Mei Li immediately charms Mr. Wang and Madam Liang with her flower drum song, “A Hundred Million Miracles.” Wang Ta, however, is smitten with Linda Low (Pat Suzuki), who exudes a particularly exuberant love of life (“I Enjoy Being a Girl”), and even though he knows very little about her, he proposes to her. Back home, he meets Mei Li who is instantly delighted with him (“I Am Going to Like It Here”). While Wang Ta recognizes that she is charming, he remains faithful to Linda and tells Mei Li how courting is done in America (“Like a God”). That night, graduation exercises for Madam Liang’s citizenship class take place in Mr. Wang’s garden, and Madam Liang compares the melting pot mixture of American ways with that American dish, “Chop Suey.” Linda shows up and Wang Ta announces that they are engaged, but soon after Sammy Fong reveals that he loves Linda and generously warns Mei Li about his own bad qualities (“Don’t Marry Me”). Sammy then invites the Wangs to The Celestial Bar, where Linda is a singer, knowing that once they realize who she is her engagement to Wang Ta will be canceled. Unaware of this machination, Linda celebrates life in San Francisco (“Grant Avenue”) and informs Sammy and her seamstress Helen Chao (Arabella Hong) that she is quitting the club to marry Wang Ta. Helen, who has silently loved Wang Ta for many years, is heart-broken (“Love, Look Away”). When the Wangs arrive at the club they are appalled by the show – a singer doing a rowdy number (“Fan Tan Fannie”), the master of ceremonies in an even rowdier song (“Gliding Through My Memoree”), and Linda performing a striptease (“Grant Avenue” – reprise). Dismayed by what they have seen, old Mr. Wang and Madam Liang express their exasperation at “The Other Generation,” and Mei Li and her father leave the house, determined now to hold Sammy Fong to his original marriage contract. But Sammy has already asked Linda to marry him, and she has accepted: both contemplate their future life together (“Sunday”). When Mei Li’s father presents his case to The Three Family Association, it is decided that Sammy must respect the terms of his contract with her. But Wang Ta realizes that he loves Mei Li and tells her so, while young Wang San and his friends puzzle over the difficulties their elders get into (“The Other Generation” – reprise). As the wedding ceremony between Sammy and Mei Li is about to start, Mei Li suddenly announces that the contract is and void since she entered the country illegally. She is now free to marry Wang Ta.
Madam Liang: Juanita Hall Liu Ma: Rose Quong Wang San: Patrick Adiarte Wang Ta: Ed Kenney Wang Chi Yang: Keye Luke Sammy Fong: Larry Blyden Dr. Li: Conrad Yama Mei Li: Miyoshi Umeki Linda Low: Pat Suzuki Mr. Lung: Harry Shaw Lowe Mr. Huan: Jon Lee Helen Chao: Arabella Hong Professor Cheng: Peter Chan Frankie Wing: Jack Soo Head Waiter: George Young Night Club Singer: Anita Ellis Dr. Lu Fong: Chao Li Madam Fong: Eileen Nakamura Children: Linda and Yvonne Ribuca, Susan Lynn Kikuchi, Luis Robert Hernadez. Ensemble: Fumi Akimoto, Paula Chin, Helen Funai, Pat Griffith, Mary Huie, Marion Jim, Betty Kawamura, Baayork Lee, Wonci Lui, Jo Anne Miya, Denise Quan, Vicki Racimo, Shawnee Smith, Maureen Tiongco, Mabel Wing, Yuriko; Jose Ahumada, Victor Duntiere, George Li, David Lober, Robert Lorca, George Minami, David Toguri, George Young.