in collaboration with Common Man Musicals
Theatre for Young Audiences Version, Video Project 2020
Written by Jonathan Fadner & Kimbirdlee Fadner
Directed by Steven Eng
Video and Sound Editing by Jonathan Fadner
Graphic Design by Jerry Fadner
Premiering August 29, 2020 at 5:00 PM
Kimbirdlee Fadner • Alex Lawrence • Charles Pang
Chrissy Pardo • Josh Shapiro • Tomo Watanabe
Jack and Charlie Fadner as the Narrators
Videos were created and recorded by each actor in their home and natural habitat during the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020, compiled and edited by Jonathan Fadner.
Notes from the Writers
This musical version of the legend of the Monkey King is so meaningful to me. Never before have I played a role where I felt so empowered and proud of the message that I was speaking and singing about. Never before have I been a part of such gracious, generous and talented casts and creatives. Never before have I been in a project that has received this much support and interest from our theatre community, and beyond! It all started with the spark of an idea as Jonathan and I read THE MONKEY KING to our son, Jack, as a baby. Thanks to the current social climate and Jonathan’s great insight, the Monkey King character became a girl who could be called a King! I am humbled and grateful to be able to step into the first ever female MONKEY KING role! Our musical has been fortunate to have many performances, workshops and productions already in just 3 years! And I feel like this is just the beginning! THANK YOU WITH ALL MY HEART to Jonathan for this gift, to Steven for his vision and commitment, to my monkey tribe and my family, to Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance & National Asian Artists Project for their ongoing support, and QUEENS THEATRE for believing in THE MONKEY KING PROJECT!!!
Kimbirdlee Fadner (left) and Jonathan Fadner (right) at the Queens Council on the Arts Awards Ceremony in 2018
There are almost no awesome roles in the musical theatre canon specifically for Asian American women. My wife is an awesome Asian American musical theatre Actress. When I was asked to write a new musical for Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance’s Children’s Program 3 years ago, my thoughts were as follows: What can I write that will empower the girls in our program? What’s a story that I love that will be super fun for kids to watch and perform? And finally, What can I write that will help with this lack of awesome roles for Asian women in musical theatre? What you are watching is the theatricalization of that thought process. This is the Monkey King, a chinese story, with the title role performed by an awesome Asian American Actress. All my love to Kimbirdlee, Jack, Charlie, my mom and Jerry and the other Fadners for being my rock at the top of the mountain.
Jonathan Fadner (Co-writer/Composer/lyricist) is a musical theatre writer and composer based in New York. His music for theatre has been performed at colleges, and theater's in California, Wisconsin, and New York. His songs have been featured by 54 Below, NYMF, Barrington Stage, MSTDA, Don't Tell Mama, Sardi's, The Duplex, and more. His one-act musical How Love Feels (Book and Lyrics Marella Martin-Koch) has been produced by National Asian Artists Project, Common Man Musicals, and at Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company. His full-length musical The Unspeakable Act (Book by Steven Hess, lyrics by Steven Hess and Jonathan Fadner, music by Jonathan Fadner) won best of Fringe in the San Francisco Fringe Festival. Jonathan's commission from Main Street Theater and Dance Alliance “The Monkey King” which he wrote with his wife Kimbirdlee Fadner, has been performed at Queens Theatre (directed by Steven Eng), and on Roosevelt Island. The Monkey King has also been produced in New York and California in multiple children's theaters. Jonathan is a 2018 recipient of a Queen's Council on the Arts New Works Grant. Jonathan also works all over New York as a teacher who specializes in creating new musical theater pieces with youth. www.jonathanfadner.com
Kimbirdlee Fadner (Monkey King, Co-writer) Recent theatre credits: THE MONKEY KING: A Modern Musical, role: Monkey King, INTO THE WOODS, role: Florida (both directed by Steven Eng), 1776, role: John Adams, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, role: Ghost of Christmas Past - fun fact: her son, Jack, played Tiny Tim! THE TEMPEST, role: Ariel (Marin Shakes) UPCOMING 2021 - THE ALCESTIAD, role: Death & Lachesis - NAAP DISCOVER SERIES & FRIENDS OF NAAP Cabaret (BAR THALIA/SYMPHONY SPACE/Lincoln Center). She plays the title role in THE MONKEY KING (co-written w/ Jonathan Fadner), w/ productions by National Asian Artists Project, Queens Theatre, MST&DA, 23 Elephants, Common Man Musicals. Assistant Executive Director/Head of Theatre Dept. (Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance) Executive Director/Cofounder (Common Man Musicals Theatre Co) Actor/Arts Outreach (Queens Theatre). She actively performs and pursues the development of new, progressive and meaningful theatre works. She has experience working with theatre and performing arts organizations in strengthening community diversity, producing new and established theatrical works, delivering high caliber theatre and arts education, and administering progressive and inclusive policies in the field of dramatic arts. Upcoming new works/adaptations projects include THE ALCESTIAD (w/ Magis Theatre Co), RICHARD II & THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. So grateful for collaboration with QUEENS THEATRE since 2017!! @kimbirdlee @mstda_ri @monkeykingthemusical www.kimbirdlee.net
Steven Eng (Director) QT debut. Steven most recently directed Romeo & Juliet at New York University. Other theater credits include shows with Common Man Musicals, National Asian Artists Project and Weathervane Playhouse. His acting work has been seen throughout NYC, regionally and internationally, and he is a co-founder of the nonprofit National Asian Artists Project. www.StevenEng.us
Alex Lawrence is originally from California, but has lived in NYC for over 15 years, making him either a Chill New Yorker or an Anxious Californian depending on where he is. He has most recently performed with New Light Theatre Project, National Asian Artists Project, and has participated in many developmental workshops. Alex is also an indoor cycling instructor and is the Executive Director of Trinity's Services And Food for the Homeless, an emergency feeding program in the East Village. He is so happy to be part of The Monkey King.
Charles Pang (Jade Emperor, Immortal Teacher) was born and raised in Hong Kong. Selected credits: The Monkey King: A Modern Musical (NAAP/Actors Temple Theater), Romance of the Western Chamber (TADA! Theater), The Story of Yu-Huan (Yangtze Rep/Theater for the New City), A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Vainglory Theatre Team), Pornography for the People (Spookfish Theatre Company/HERE Arts Center), Made in China (Wakka Wakka Productions/59E59), The Empress Dowager (Yangtze Rep/Theater for the New City), The Merry Wives of Windsor (The Drilling Company/Bryant Park Shakespeare), Hamlet (Allentown Shakespeare in the Park), Richard III (Gallery Players), Anything Goes (Phoenix Theatre), The King and I (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), An American in Paris (Arizona Broadway Theatre), Catch Me If You Can (Arizona Broadway Theatre), and for 5 holiday seasons, A Christmas Story: The Musical (National Tour). Many thanks to Jonathan, Kimbirdlee and Steven for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing new take on a Chinese classic, and much love to my family in Hong Kong and here in New York. www.charlespang.com
Chrissy Pardo is an NYC based singer and actor. She will be featured in Pan Asian Repertory upcoming production of Cambodian Agonistes. Thank you to Jonathan, Kimbirdlee, and Steven for making her a member of the monkey tribe! Let's kick some butt!
Josh Shapiro (Gatekeeper, Dragon King, Bixor). Off-Broadway: The Scarlet Savior (Stu). New York: Seven Days Between Heaven & Hell, Writer’s Blocked, South by South Death. Regional: Spamalot!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Seussical, HMS Pinafore. Writing credits: The Butler Convention, Robin and the Hood, Sinternet! The Musical (Book and Lyrics). Josh attended Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and holds an MFA in Musical Theater Writing, and teaches youth theater at MST&DA. He is also a piano tuner and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For Naomi.
Tomo Watanabe (Jogo) is thrilled to be back with the Monkey Tribe! She is a musical theatre actor/singer/voice instructor and originally from Japan. Her previous theatre credits include: Off-Broadway: The Little Mermaid, A Christmas Carol, and Alice in Wonderland; Regional and NYC: Into The Woods, Miss Saigon, and Gypsy. When she is not on stage, she is filming for her booming YouTube Channel, Hello, New York! Website: www.tomo-watanabe.com Instagram: @tomowatanabe
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