Cross-Cultural Love Takes Center Stage in 'Waterfall'

by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang /
Bie Sukrit and Emily Padgett star in "Waterfall" the musical.
Bie Sukrit and Emily Padgett star in "Waterfall" the musical. Joan Marcus

The world premiere of “Waterfall” at Pasadena Playhouse in Southern California tells the story of an international cross-cultural love triangle between a Thai diplomat, his American wife, and the young Thai attache assigned to them as the monarchy in Thailand falls and Japan hovers on the brink of war in the 1930’s. The musical stars Thai superstar Bie Sukrit and Broadway veteran Emily Padgett in a rarely portrayed Asian male-Caucasian female romance.

“This is a beautiful, epic love story that deals with the different cultures of the world,” director Tak Viravan told local media. “It is a combination of the American musical and the authenticity of the eastern world, but told for a western audience. It combines all the beauties of the world with the different cultures of the world. Waterfall is a rich, romantic, melodic piece of theatre.”

With a grant from the Wallace Foundation, the Pasadena Playhouse also seeks to develop stronger ties with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Southern California and build audience by producing performances that resonate with these communities. Southern California is home to the largest Thai community outside of Thailand and America’s only Thai Town.

Based upon a contemporary Thai novel, “Behind the Painting” by Sriburapha, “Waterfall” is an international collaboration between Asian and American theatrical artists. An earlier version of the musical featured an all-Thai cast and focused on differences of social class, however, in preparing for international audiences, the character of the diplomat’s wife was rewritten as a Caucasian American to add an element of cross-cultural complexity and to represent America’s influence in the Pacific before World War II.

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