Back in May 2015, we produced a new play written by Jane Yeh. Imported Bride is an original comedy set in Los Angeles in the 1990s at the “Scholars Restaurant” in Chinatown, where everyone — from the owner to the wait staff — holds a master’s or doctorate degree.
Since we are unable to bring shows into the theatre for now, we thought we’d share this work with you now.
The great thing about producing a new play is that there are no preconceived notion of what it’s supposed to be like. The audience and actors don’t have “stars” to compare performances or characters to and as a director, you can start with a clean slate.
With this show, it was crazy how things just seemed to work out. While it may sound cliché, the whole group of actors were a dream cast. Funny, smart, talented and willing to bring their ideas to the table. I can’t thank them enough.
Here are the bios that appeared in the show program. Needless to say, since it’s been over 5 years since this was produced, they have all added more credits to their list of shows. It’s always a blast when I’m watching television and see one of them. I instinctively blurt out “Hey! I know him/her!”
We are happy to bring this to you free of charge, but of course, if you are so inclined to make a donation of any size, you can text TOCA25 to 44-321 or visit our website at torrancearts.org
Chang Jinyi (Writer)
Jane Yeh (Chang Jing Yi 張金翼) was a stay at home mom while her girls were growing up and started writing as a hobby. This hobby became her profession when she won first place in Taiwan’s prestigious United Daily News Literary Award in 1998 for her short story “Shrimp Dance” (聯合報短篇小說獎：第一名張金翼＜蝦舞＞). Since then, Jane has written and published several Chinese poems and books, the most recent one about twenty-nine cultural and historical sites in China. Jane is passionate about the arts, being the President of Honoring Asian Arts Productions, Inc. and Founder of the International Bowan Foundation. Jane approached the J. Paul Getty Museum in 2002 with the idea of providing museum guides in Chinese. Her wonderful idea was rewarded with the unique honor of helping the Getty Museum translate their print and audio “If You Only Have an Hour” guides into (Mandarin) Chinese with the first edition of the print guide recognizing Jane for all of her contributions. Jane also competed in the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation’s inaugural Dancing with the South Bay Stars, tying for third place. Jane feels very blessed that her first play “Imported Bride” is being brought to life by an exceptionally talented cast performing live onstage at the Armstrong Theatre on May 8 and 9, 2015.
The Cast (In order of appearance)
Alison Minami (Lai Qingping)
Alison Minami is a fiction writer, playwright, and actress. She has worked with Here and Now Theater Company, Next Stage Theater, East West Players Touring Company for Youth, and Grateful Crane Ensemble. She is a recent graduate of the Second City Conservatory of Hollywood. An avid storyteller, her work has aired on The Moth Radio Hour. She teaches writing at Santa Monica College.
Mike Hagiwara (Boss Chen)
Mike Hagiwara has appeared in more than 60 shows locally and nationally some of his favorites include “Tanarazuka”, “Company”, “Slice”, “No No Boy”, “Pippin”, “The Brahmin and the Tiger”, “Innocent When you Dream”, “Pacific Overtures”, “Passion”, “Cinnamon Girl”, “Sweeny Todd”, “Manzanar” and “A Jive Bomber’s Xmas”. His recent Film and Television credits include ”Miskatonic West” (Web Series Pilot), “The Haunted Hathaways”, ”Chasing Life”, ”Shameless”, ”the Bold and the Beautiful”, ”Southland”, ”Law and Order L.A”, ”Chuck”, ”How I Met Your Mother”, ”Greys Anatomy”, “ER”, ”Redline”, “Redrum”, ”Only The Brave”. His VO credits include ”Safeway Supermarkets”(Hawaii), ”Avatar”, “Jimmy Neutron”, “Marvel Legends”, ”Tomb Raider”, ”Drakes Fortune”, and “The Wild Bunch”.
Amy Shu (Liu Jinfeng)
Amy Shu is excited to be performing with the very talented and hilarious cast and crew of “Imported Bride.” She has performed in several East West Players’ Studio Lab Projects, TeAda’s “Delicious Reality,” Hereandnow Theater Company’s “Color Creation,” Long Beach Shakespeare Company’s “The Plot to Overthrow Christmas,” and in other local productions. She also has written and performed her own one-woman piece, “Mei Li,” in Vancouver, Canada. Amy would like to thank God, her family, and friends for being her support and personal cheering squad!”
Michael Shen (Tang Shenghan)
He is honored to be a part of this witty and touching work of art with such a talented cast and crew. Multiple television, film, and commercial appearances, including Third Watch, Law & Order, The Young & the Restless, and indie cred. Many thanks to Alicia Ruskin and her team at KMR and Nicole Dernersesian of FireStarter Entertainment. Much love to his wife Erika and his boys Spencer and Elliott.
Doris Usui (Mrs. Chen)
Doris Usui is a native of Los Angeles, California. Her parents were immigrants from Canton, China. Doris is married and the mother of two grown children. She has starred in a variety of TV/Film/Commercials/Print. Some of her projects include: How I Met Your Mother, Strong Medicine, Senior Project, A Necessary Death, and a number of national commercials/print ads, i.e., Charles Schwab, Home Depot, Phillip Morris, SBC, Quaker Oats, Atelvia, Verizon, Wells Fargo, B of A, Chase, U.S. Trust Bank, Gilead, Avery, SCE, Univ. Phoenix . She was even on the cover of TIME Magazine (May ’05). Doris is also a comedy improv actor/director for April’s Fools Comedy Improv Troupe and hones her improv skills at the Second City Conservatory. She trained with Master Teacher, Howard Fine, Jean Louis Rodrique, Margie Haber, Courtney Burr, Stuart K. Robinson and Terry Berland. She loves combining her passion for improv into her acting projects. She is the quintessential “Asian Mom” in a number of films, TV, theater, commercials, and print. See her complete credits on Imdb or www.dorisusui.com. Doris’ parents owned a Chinese Restaurant called the Great Wall in North Hollywood for over 30 years (1960-1990’s). She worked there along with her parents and four brothers.
Michael Barnum (Li Haoran)
Performing since the age of four, Michael has always had a passion for the stage. Theatre credits include performances with Musical Theatre West, Skylight Theatre Company, OC Playwrights Alliance, California Repertory Company, and Artists at Play, among others. Favorite roles include: Hanschen in Spring Awakening, Henry in Next To Normal and Chip in The 25th Annual Putnam…Spelling Bee. Michael most recently debuted his solo show, A Sunday Afternoon Cabaret at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood. Next, he can be seen in the upcoming film, Going Back Orange set for release later this year. michael-barnum.com
Naoyuki Ikeda (Elder Chang)
Naoyuki Ikeda is a Japanese film actor, producer and writer. Born and raised in Nagoya, Japan, Naoyuki graduated from Tsuru University in 1992. After that, he worked at Disney Epcot Center in Florida for a year before becoming an English teacher in junior and high schools in Aichi and Kagoshima from 1995 until 2008. He moved to Hollywood in 2009 and started pursuing his childhood dreams of becoming a Hollywood film actor. He has been learning Meisner-Based-Technique at Playhouse West from 2010, which opened his eyes and he started acting more natural and being in the present. His featured film credits as an actor include; Fork You (2013), and The Bitch That Cried Wolf (2014) with the director Creep Creepersin, and Blue Dream (2013) with the director Gregory Hatanaka. And his featured film credits as a producer includes: Satanicus (2014) and Hunter (2014). He has also done several theatre productions in both Japan and LA including MUSICAL GONZA〜Bokyo-no-Uta〜(2009), SIAWASENO-HAKARIKATA (2011) and BURAI~Standing all alone~(2014). His upcoming featured film projects include Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance and Darling Nikki.
Acelina V. Kuchukova (Wang Aimei/Jun Li)
Acelina Kuchukova was born on April 7, 1983 in Karaganda in a family of professional financiers. Her father Vakhit Kuchukova was tragically lost, when she was only four years old; her brother Ayan tried to replace that loss and was helping their mother Nurilya Kuchukova to raise them both. While Acelina was getting her PhD in Finance, she attended more than ten world recognized pageants and won the Grant-pri Persona for the “Pantene” brand that she represented for a year. In 2009, Acelina became Miss Kazakhstan and traveled the world to represent her country on Miss World, Miss Universe pageants. In 2014, Acelina graduated from the one year program in acting at New York Film Academy located in Los Angeles, California. Currently she is working in the fashion and film industry.
Julie Tsui (Dancer)
Julie Tsui began training in Chinese folk dance, classical dance, modern dance at the age six. Always looking to promote and share Chinese culture through performing, Julie has danced in the Chinese community at Schools, Chinese American associations, senior centers, colleges, churches and business functions. Since 2002, she has been a member of American Chinese dancing association which has been awarded “The Best Dancing Group”. In 2014, her dancing group went to Beijing to compete in an international dance competition taking home the “All Star” honor at the China CCTV dance world. Julie has been working at CTITV for 15 years, and designs antique jewelry in her spare time.
Wu Zhao Nan (Dr. Yeh ChuanSung)
Wu Zhao Nan was born in Peking in 1925 and graduated from the Chinese University Department of Economics. Addicted to Chinese Opera at an early age he found himself attending performances as often as possible. In 1949, when he moved to Taiwan, Chinese Opera became a permanent career. Performing for nearly 65 years has brought Wu such recognition as: The Ding-Award, Golden Melody Awards, Heritage Award, Living National Treasure Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award at Lincoln Center. Recently, Wu obtained a Global Chinese Cultural Arts Heritage Award and the Republic of China Huaguang first prize.
Wu is honored to be collaborating with National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts this year as a consultant, teaching college students traditional Chinese Opera which has been lost for many years. Still, Imported Bride marks one of the most exciting performances for Wu as it will be a new experience on the stage.
Christian Wolf (Director/Producer)
Christian has produced and directed in Northern California, San Diego, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Some of his favorite projects include “Wait Until Dark”, “Inspecting Carol”, “Night Watch”, “Teachers Lounge” “Prelude to a Kiss” and “Butterflies Are Free”, some of which were also performed in Mexico. Producing projects include “Slueth”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Diary of Anne Frank”, “Arsenic and Old Lace” and many other plays, musicals and special events. As a producer, Christian has worked with such artists as Itzak Perlman, Queen Latifah, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Williams, John Aston, Vince Gill, Amy Grant. Christian has also performed magic, acted in a number of shows and managed performing arts venues throughout California. Currently the Executive Director of the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation and a board member for the Western Arts Alliance, Christian considers himself very fortunate to be working with such an amazing cast.
Grace C. Yeh (Producer)
In pursuit of the American Dream, Grace’s parents brought her when she was eight from Taiwan to San Luis Obispo as her Dad taught EE/EL at Cal Poly. She exceeded their expectations by earning a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley in three years, and a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law. Upon graduation, Grace started working for ExxonMobil. After completing her MBA on nights and weekends, she moved to corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas, and then to Beijing, China, on a special two-year assignment to set up Exxon China, Inc. Afterwards, she traveled much of the world for four years before becoming the Torrance Refinery Attorney in 2002. Grace has been an activist in every community in which she has lived. She is currently the President of the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation and a docent at the J. Paul Getty Museum, having also served ten years on the Torrance-South Bay YMCA Board of Directors. Grace was selected by the Switzer Center as the 2011 South Bay Woman of the Year for Community Activism. Grace is most thankful for the opportunities her parents, Jane and C.S. Yeh, have provided her and her sister, Ann.
Jon Acosta (Assistant Director)
Having worked under Christian Wolf as an actor, Jon is thrilled to be working alongside him as his Assistant Director. Audiences may remember Jon from his work alongside the talented group that performs yearly at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, most recently in the over the top Soap Opera Extravaganza, Tie the Knots Landing. He has been fortunate enough to share the stage with a number of stage and screen icons, including Stephanie Powers, and Shirley Jones. His favorite costars however, are the ones he goes home to everyday. He can be seen working with his beautiful wife, and two of his four amazing children in the Goo Goo Dolls Come to Me video.
Cast (In order of appearance)
LAI QINGPING Alison Minami
BOSS CHEN Mike Hagiwara
LIU JINFENG Amy Shu
TANG SHENGHAN Michael Shen
MRS. CHEN Doris Usui
LI HAORAN Michael Barnum
CHANG HONGRU Naoyuki Ikeda
WANG AIMEI Acelina Kuchukova
Dancer Julie Tsui
Dr. Yeh ChuanSung Wu Zhao Nan
Jane Yeh Chang Jinyi
JUN LI Acelina Kuchukova
Writer Chang Jinyi
Producer Grace C. Yeh
Director Christian Wolf
Assistant Directors Jon Acosta
Stage Manager Susan Lyon
Production Manager James Harper
Make-up artist Betina Newkirk
Assistant Make-up artist Marcie Rodriguez
Administration Sharon Sapigao
Armstrong Theatre Staff
Theatre Manager Anita Moisen
Technical Director Chris Adame