The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga” A look at America then and now

By Camille Bounds

Image result for four immigrants manga TheatreWorksTheatreWorks starts its 48th season with a rainbow with the world premiere of “The Four Immigrants – An American Musical Manga” a fast moving delightful ragtime vaudeville comedy and heart wrenching story of four Japanese young men that meet and form a friendship on the ship that brings them to the Asian prejudicial San Francisco of the early 20th century from their rigid family existence in Japan.

Looking for freedom, happiness and willing to work hard at their individual abilities and to be successful in their optimistic American dream. They experience the 1904 San Francisco Earth Quake, the 1915 World’s fair, involvement with picture mail order brides and all the hurtful, frustrating ups and downs that the Asian encounted at that time in their American universe.

Image result for four immigrants manga TheatreWorksDirector Leslie Martinson moves this cast with a determination that brings out the best in her actors. Hansel Tan is the optimistic Charlie, Phil Wong is Frank, innocent and trusting, James Seol is Henry a quiet patient dreamer and artist, Sean Fenton as Fred a fast mover with high ambitions. Kerry K. Carnahan, Rinabeth Apostol, Catherine Gloria and Lindsay Hirata are the four energetic ladies backup and cover many roles from shimmy dancer to mail order brides to an assisting elder.

All execute Dottie Lester-White’s interesting choreography with liveliness and vigor. Min Kahng’s book, music and lyrics are cleaver and musically pleasant. Musical Director William Liberatore and his six fine musicians’ brings in a sound like twenty, Andrew Boyce’s set of moving walls with lighting by Steven B. Mannshardt brings in the usual first class TheatreWorks production.

“The Four Immigrants” will entertain and give you something to think about and wonder if the 21st century is so different to some new arrivals to our shores. Perhaps one day Washington to-day will learn the compassion that our forefathers meant in our Declaration of Independence.

Camille Bounds is the Arts entertainment and travel columnist for The Morgan Hill and Gilroy Life. She can be reached at: bounds17@gmail.com.