William Poole and Ai Nguyen in ReACT Theatre's Prelude to a Kiss. • Photo by Mariah Brougher
William Poole and Ai Nguyen in ReACT Theatre’s Prelude to a Kiss. • Photo by Mariah Brougher
David Hsieh
David Hsieh

Third time’s a charm—so ReACT Theatre hopes as they remount Craig Lucas’s 1990 romance play Prelude to a Kiss for the third time. First produced by ReACT in 1994, and then again in 2008, this latest presentation occurs as the play enjoys its 25th anniversary. “Prelude to a Kiss was one of our very first productions when our theatre started 22-plus years ago,” said David Hsieh, ReACT Theatre’s Artistic Director. “It has always been a popular success for us, and many who have missed our previous stagings have hoped we would bring it back in the future.”

This re-staging is partially the result of serendipity. “We had a last minute opportunity to do a show in January at West of Lenin, and with the talent pool we had available, it just made sense to kick off our new season with this show,” Hsieh said.

Hsieh will again serve as director, but this time, ReACT is offering a twist: “This is the first time we’re staging the revised Broadway version from the recent revival,” he said.

Combining the familiar with the new is appealing to Hsieh: “It’s always great to be able to revisit a script you know really well and work with new artists to present a new production,” he said.

It isn’t just the revival version of the play that is new, Hsieh said, but also our local community of theatre artists who will participate in the production. “Ai Nguyen, who plays the lead ingenue Rita, wasn’t even born when our first production premiered back in 1994,” he said.

In contrast, other participating artists have links to prior ReACT productions of Lucas’s play. “One of our actresses, Eloisa Cardona, has appeared in every single performance of this play that we have done,” Hsieh said. “When we originally staged it, she was actually far younger than her character’s age, but now, over twenty years later, it is finally about right.”

Hsieh said he believes these casting choices support the theatre company’s mission. “Our company is known for our ethnic diversity in casting, and with prior stagings, our casting was very diverse,” he said. “With this staging, I wanted to increase that even more.”

But Hsieh found that this goal was far from simple. “It wasn’t an easy task because of scheduling challenges and some artists I had really hoped to cast not being available,” he said. “But in the end, everything worked out.“
Now Hsieh is enjoying sharing the ensemble’s work with audiences. “I’m always surprised how many people I mention it to have never even heard of it at all,” Hsieh said.

He added: “It’s been great sharing the show with a whole new generation of artists … and hopefully a new generation of audiences.” Now local audiences will have that chance.

‘Prelude to a Kiss’ runs from January 8 to February 7, at West of Lenin, 203 North 36th Street, Seattle. For more information, visit www.reacttheatre.org.

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