Based on C.Y. Lee’s 1957 novel, Flower Drum Song played its first performance at the St. James Theatre on December 1, 1958. The production made history: It was the first time a Broadway cast featured a majority of Asian-American actors, singers and dancers. Following over a thousand performances on Broadway and the West End, Universal Pictures released the film adaptation on November … Read More
In a daring 2002 revival, Flower Drum Song made its first return to Broadway in over 40 years, in a sumptuous production starring Lea Salonga. The bold new imagining featured a brand-new book adapted from the original libretto by the widely acclaimed Chinese American playwright David Henry-Hwang. The Broadway revival’s Grammy-nominated cast album features stunning, fresh orchestrations by Don Sebesky, … Read More
Shortly after the original motion picture premiered in New York City, the film’s soundtrack was released with new, rousing orchestrations by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby. In this era of movie musicals, screen actors were often dubbed with professional singers, which is why the songs were credited to the characters rather than the actors. On this soundtrack, American opera star … Read More
While the original Broadway production continued its run, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song made its West End Premiere at London’s Palace Theatre on March 24, 1960, where it would run 464 performances, through spring of the following year. For its debut across the pond, Jerome Whyte replicated Gene Kelly’s original direction and Robert Lowe stepped in as conductor and … Read More
Part of the original score of Flower Drum Song, “The Other Generation” was not included in the 2002 Broadway revival version. In this charming number lampooning the generation gap, Liang and Wang complain about their younger family members.
Mei-Li returns, telling Ta that “the love of the flower boat maiden does not turn the scholar into a god. He has always been a god.” Acknowledging and declaring his love for Mei Li, Ta finally recognizes his own strength.
Seeing no serious romantic interest from Ta, Mei Lin has decided to return to China and marry Chao. Standing on a dock, surrounded by other Chinese men and women preparing to sail home, she tells herself she’s better off without love.
Wang (now known as Sammy Fong) and Rita Liang share a moment at a Chinese restaurant. Despite their growing attraction, they warn each other not to get too close.
Onstage at Club Chop Suey, Wang – in his stage persona of “Sammy Fong” – appears in a new act. Dressed as a chef, he performs an outlandish nightclub number featuring dancing chopsticks and chorus girls in take-out cartons. Ta, appalled by the display, feels his father has traded dignity for financial success.
Harvard, a young man who has agreed to make all the costumes in exchange for a features spot, just isn’t cutting it in his sailor number. Wang assumes the role himself and expertly leads the company with charm and finesse.