In 2014, Artistic Director Michael Ritchie approached Tony Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright David Henry Hwang to commission a new work for Center Theatre Group’s 50th Anniversary. After collaborating with Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Shrek the Musical; Caroline, or Change; Fun Home), Tony Award-nominated director Leigh Silverman (Yellow Face; Chinglish; Violet), and Tony Award-winning choreographer Sam Pinkleton (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Amélie; Significant Other), Soft Power—a 2020 Pulitzer Prize finalist—had its World premiere at the Ahmanson in 2018 as a co-production with The Public Theater. Soft Power was the latest in David Henry Hwang’s long-running relationship with Center Theatre Group, which includes the World premieres of Flower Drum Song in 2001 and Yellow Face in 2007 at the Mark Taper Forum.
Soft Power turns the classic East-meets-West musical on its head by putting the traditional American musical through the Chinese perspective. Like much of Hwang’s work, Soft Power explores identity and cultural appropriation. Inspired by the racism imbued in The King and I, where a white woman travels to Siam to teach the king how to be civilized, Soft Power inverts that power relationship by creating a world approximately 100 years in the future in which China has superseded the U.S. as a cultural power. Not only is this achieved through the storytelling, but also through the music. Tesori’s score pays homage to the sounds of classic Broadway in order to depict how China has appropriated the American musical form. Inspired by the events of the 2016 election, Soft Power also explores the ideas of independence and democracy—the songs "Democracy" and “Election Night” are our featured Scenes from the Vault selections.
Did you know that you can visit The Music Center to drop off your ballot? Registered Los Angeles County voters can cast their ballots in-person or drop off their mail-in ballots. The Vote Center will be open for the extended voting period from October 24 through November 2, and on Election Day, November 3, 2020. The Vote Center is located in Stern Grand Hall on the second level of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Enter through the main lobby doors, accessible from Jerry Moss Plaza. Restrooms will be available to voters. Learn more about voting in Los Angeles here.