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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / World Premiere of ‘Waterfall’ Opening Night, Pasadena Playhouse June 7; The Independent Behind the Scenes

World Premiere of ‘Waterfall’ Opening Night, Pasadena Playhouse June 7; The Independent Behind the Scenes

by Terry Miller
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By Jennifer Schlueter

Photographs by Terry Miller

Photographs by Terry Miller

The Pasadena Playhouse presents the world premiere musical Waterfall, an epic 1930s love story set in Bangkok and Tokyo. Featuring a glorious romantic score from one of the creators of Miss Saigon, Richard Maltby, Jr., and an Academy Award-winning composer, David Shire, Waterfall plays May 29 through June 28.
Waterfall marks a groundbreaking collaboration between American and Asian theatrical artists. The musical will be directed by Broadway and Thai theatrical impresario Tak Viravan and co-directed and choreographed by Tony Award-nominee Dan Knechtges.
Waterfall was adopted from the Thai novel Behind the Painting by Sriburapha. Viravan loves its “universal love story” and was glad to direct a romantic musical, which, he claims, has become rare.
In 2008, the musical successfully premiered in Thailand. Viravan had connections to the US from studying in Boston for twelve tears, and was asked to bring his production to the Pasadena Playhouse, where Artistic Director Sheldon Epps was looking to feature a production which would appeal to our Asian communities in the surrounding areas.
The US team saw videos of the Thai production and wanted to create the same masterful set design, which scenic designer Sasavat Busayabandh accomplished. There will even be a real waterfall on stage (now, before anyone panics or complains due to California’s current drought conditions: it only runs recycled water).
The Independent interviewed Viravan after the exclusive press preview of Waterfall on Tuesday afternoon.
The director explained the challenges of this multicultural production were to combine the beauties of both the Thai, an Eastern, with the American, Western cultures, which meant presenting the best of both worlds without diminishing the other. During the rehearsals, they were especially “careful” to incorporate everything correctly and “open” to learn from one another. The whole team was able to explore each other’s interpretations and together, they achieved a truly unique multicultural collaboration, which was one of Viravan’s best learning experiences working with an international crew.
Compared to Thailand, production process in the US has time limits “because of the unions and stuff,” Viravan elaborates. “In Thailand, you have all the time you want.” However, the director also notes that he has learned a lot of techniques here.
Viravan laughs when he brings up a memory: One time, he told Maltby, Jr.: “You are so Thai.” Richard asked: “Is that a good thing?” Viravan answered: “Absolutely, I mean it in a good way!”

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Photos by Terry Miller
The international cast of 20 is led by Emily Padgett of 2014 Broadway production of Side Show and Thai sensation Bie Sukrit of The Star.

The Pasadena Playhouse will feature special events tied into their presentation of Waterfall with their highly acclaimed Talkback Tuesdays post-show conversations. For tickets and more information about Waterfall and Talkback Tuesdays, visit PasadenaPlayhouse.org or (626) 356-7529.

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