BY JUDITH VAN PRAAG
Examiner Arts Writer
You’re cordially invited to attend the wedding of Ms. Elizabeth Ko and Mr. Harold Chinn. You don’t know these people, nor their parents? Not to worry. Whether you’re an old friend or new on the scene, Elizabeth and Harold, together with the rest of the “Sex in Seattle” cast will be more than happy to welcome you to Episode 12: “My Ultra Quirky Asian American Wedding.”
This being the fifth consecutive year of Sex in Seattle, the popular episodic sitcom may very well be the longest running show in town.
Back in 2001 playwright Kathy Hsieh, Moi, Serin Ngai and Amy Waschke put their heads together and created “Sex in Seattle,” the episodic theater production.
“We didn’t see ourselves represented in local pop culture. There were no Asian American bands, there were no theater shows with actors portraying us … So we decided to create a show ourselves,” said Kathy Hsieh on opening night.
In five years time, “Sex in Seattle” evolved from showing dating experiences of four Asian American women — Elizabeth Ko, Tess Matsudaira, Jenna Sheng and Shari Song — to some characters getting married, separated, divorced and married again. Others just keep on dating.
In Episode 12, Hsieh and her present day story line conspirators, Dawn Box and Lisa Marie Nakamura, present some typical Asian American issues. Mr. and Mrs. Ko, for instance, are pretty clear about their preference: a Chinese husband for their Elizabeth, and Harold Chinn’s folks insist on a Chinese heir. But the playwright also cooks up situations that are not race related. Tess’s husband Zane, who turned out to be gay, now is bi after all, or is he? And Jenna feels conflicted about her feelings for Nathan, while cousin Chloe lacks self-esteem and therefore throws herself at men.
All of which makes me think that you’ve got to see for yourself who precisely is doing what to whom. Having only been introduced to the show this 12th episode, your reporter was dazzled by the whirlwind of comedic and tragic-comedic scenes and intrigues.
That people from all different walks of life (and races) recognize the situations the characters find themselves in was clear during a performance of the “Ultra Quirky Asian American Wedding.” A comedy’s success is after all measured by the laughter and sounds of interaction from the audience.
There’s not a dull moment; the ensemble’s actors have a good sense of comedic timing. There are some sexy moves, and thanks to Mike Premo’s tight directions, the show runs like a train. Video projections between scenes make for entertaining intermezzos, Roger Tang’s soundtrack sets the mood and lighting designer Courtland Premo marks the scenes. Above all “Sex in Seattle” shows great teamwork.
“Sex in Seattle” is rated PG-17 for sexual innuendo and nefariously naughty behavior, and counts some of its followers as red-hatted ladies, dressed in purple. In other words, you don’t have to be of generation X or Y to enjoy the performance.
If you’re in for more participation than merely sharing your laughter, consider SIS PRODUCTIONS’ invitation to join the whole troupe, on Friday, Nov. 4 between the 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. performances, “for a lively panel discussion on the dynamics of race when it comes to dating and marriage.”
“My Ultra Quirky Asian American Wedding” is performed by: Jose Abaoag, Chloe Ahn, Daniel Arreola, Leilani Berinobis, Gigi Jhong, Aya Hashiguchi, Kathy Hsieh, Patrick Scott, Richard Sloniker, Ray Tagavilla. Presented at Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, Seattle. Through Nov. 19, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Reservations: (206) 323-9443, [email protected]. www.sexinseattle.org.