Sondheim & Lapine’s Passion, Directed by John Doyle, Will Play Off-Broadway in 2013

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony Award-winning Passion, the musical of romantic obsession, will return to New York City in 2013 in the intimate setting of Classic Stage Company’s 199-seat home in the East Village, the not-for-profit company announced on Jan. 13. Tony Award winner John Doyle — who gave fresh life to Company and Sweeney Todd on Broadway — will direct.

CSC has been acclaimed in recent years for its productions of plays by Anton Chekhov and for David Ives’ Venus in Fur and New Jerusalem, works with roots abroad. Passion, a 1994 Tony winner for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, is drawn from Ettore Scola’s Italian film “Passione d’Amore,” and concerns an ugly, broken, grasping woman named Fosca who pursues a handsome soldier, Giorgio, who is already in love with beautiful but married Clara. The musical had a relatively short life on Broadway, but has since gained stature as a unique musical rumination on the nature of love.

 

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Charlie Chan: A Stereotype and a Hero (NY Times)

By CHARLES McGRATH

To many Asian-Americans, Charlie Chan is an offensive stereotype, another sort of Uncle Tom. Chan, the hero of six detective novels by Earl Derr Biggers and 47 Hollywood movies between 1926 and 1949, not to mention a 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, is pudgy, slant-eyed and inscrutable, and he speaks in singsong fortune-cookie English, saying things like, “If befriend donkey, expect to be kicked.” The California-born author and playwright Frank Chin, who has written essays denouncing Chan, would like to see him disappear altogether.

But Yunte Huang, who was born and grew up in China, can’t get enough of Chan and has written a book about his obsession: “Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History.” The book, which comes out from Norton next week, is part memoir, part history, part cultural-studies essay and part grab bag of odd and little-known details.

Biggers, who overlapped at Harvard with T. S. Eliot but did not exactly share his literary taste, said he got the idea for Chan while sitting in the New York Public Library in 1924 and reading about a real-life Honolulu detective named Chang Apana. Mr. Huang suggests that Biggers may have misremembered the details, but there is no doubt that Apana was the model for Chan, and Mr. Huang gives a full account of a life that was in many ways more interesting than the fictional version: born in Hawaii to Chinese parents, Apana moved to China and then back to Hawaii, where despite being virtually illiterate, he rose in the detective ranks of the Honolulu police. He wore a cowboy hat, carried a bullwhip and was said to leap from rooftop to rooftop like a human fly.

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