CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET
Currently in development
Musical adaptation of the New York Times Best Seller,
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Book by Lainie Sakakura
Music & Lyrics by Paul Fujimoto
From conception, this musical adaptation of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet has been in development for over 4 years.
Lainie Sakakura celebrates 30 years working in NYC but never once worked with an Asian American director, choreographer, composer, lyricist, music director, or producer. She dreamed of one day creating a quintessential Asian American musical. She began a search for an Asian American composer/lyricist. In 2014 a mutual friend introduced her to Beacon Hill/Seattle-raised, Franklin High School graduate Paul Fujimoto composer/lyricist/trumpet player! Paul told Lainie about his mother's favorite novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Lainie had never read a book that represented her like that before. Lainie's mother was an immigrant from Japan and her father was a Nisei imprisoned at Rohwer War Relocation Center during WWII with her Uncles and Grandparents.
2015 Sakakura/Fujimoto partnership was born! They immediately got to work brainstorming musical ideas. For 8 months they worked and recorded songs. While Lainie was performing on Broadway in The King and I (starring Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hare), two of the children in the show, Amaya Braganza (Keiko) and James Ignacio (Henry) would come record songs between shows. Aug 6, 2015 Paul and Lainie finally approached the author, Jamie Ford and pitched their idea. Almost a year later Aug 3, 2016 the option agreement was finished and signed!
2016-2017 Over the course of the next couple years other work and shows needed to be pursued, but the writers kept chipping away at their passion project. Wonderful, generous friends such as Jose Llana and Bernard Dotson would lend their voices to record songs as they worked. Lia Chang liachang.wordpress.com would generously document their journey.
2018 Step 1: First Table Reading was finally scheduled for June of 2018. Lainie took the lead producing, scheduling, casting, calling on dear friends to play the various characters. Tom Conroy music directed, Paul made rehearsal demos and met with all the cast members individually in advance to teach the music. Lainie wanted more Cantonese in the show and Fenton Li generously offered to translate and consult on the Cantonese scenes. Finally on Friday, June 8th everyone gathered in a room to hear their show out loud for the first time! We were thrilled. Cast: Jane Bernard, Andrew Chen, Wai Ching Ho, Kenny Ingram, Fenton Li, Ethan L. Phong, Mary Beth Purdy, Liam Kaznelson, Avelina Kiyome Sanchez, Alex Sanchez, Allyson Tucker, Joshua Turchin
2018 Step 2: After the successful table read, the writers decided to schedule a 29 Hr AEA reading for September, 17th. Jamie Ford wanted to see what we have been working on and we wanted to see how our work would play in front of an audience. Once again, Lainie produced and our 29 Hr AEA Reading would be completely funded by the writers. The biggest challenge besides funding is where do you find a 12 year old Chinese American boy that can sing and act like a dream without a casting director? Lainie was watching America's Got Talent and spotted Jeffrey Li singing, ‘You Raise Me Up’ and telling Simon Cowell he wanted to win so that he could get a dog. Lainie knew Jeffrey was the one! She went on a search to find him and long story short, Jeffrey flew in from Toronto to join Alan Ariano, Jane Bernhard, Rick Faugno, Kenny Ingram, Telly Leung, Fenton Li, Carol To Moy, Mary Beth Purdy, Alex Sanchez, Avelina Sanchez, Yuka Takara, Allyson Tucker, Joshua Turchin. Dir: Darren Lee, Music Supervisor: Mark Hummel, Music Dir: Shane Parus, Stage Manager: Debora Porazzi, Cantonese Consultant: Fenton Li, Genral Manager: Joey Monda
Monday, September 17th at the Playroom Theater in NYC, we had an emotional and joyful night presenting our musical to author, Jamie Ford and to our tight knit community of industry friends. We performed Act I and one song from Act II, Clear Across America performed beautifully by Telly Leung. Of course we couldn’t resist hosting a post show Wine and Cha Siu Bao reception that included Sesame Balls and Egg Tarts!
March 9, 2019 Table Read of the full show in NYC. We gathered incredible friends on a Saturday afternoon to read and sing through our full script. We booked a room for 5 hours. That only gave us 2.5 hours to review music and scenes before running through the whole show! Everyone was amazing and we finished with 5 minutes to spare. Developing a musical takes time and resources. Every minute in a studio costs money. We are forever grateful to our friends that generously donate their time and talents to let us try out our material. Our newest Young Henry, Spencer Jones has wonderful, supportive parents that even flew him out from St Louis to read for us. His flight was delayed and he came straight from the airport. Then our Chaz, Josh Turchin also came running directly from the airport to rehearsal! Our rooms are always filled with love and talent. Paul and Lainie couldn’t be luckier.
This message of inspirtaion sent to us from a Chinese American actor, says it all: "If anything we have that can remotely speak of ALL OUR so-called 'Asian' American heritage. This is it. This piece unifies SO MUCH of it, its past, its future, its beauty, its pride, its place in a new American society that is RIGHT AROUND the corner, post 2020. This is for Avelina [Lainie's daughter] and all of her generation to have a legacy. A real actual ethnic legacy, instead of just being 'American', of being 'lost in whiteness'. So you do this, Lainie [and Paul]. Do it for all of us!"
Follow us as we continue on our journey to bring the musical version of our favorite book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford to the stage! New musical, CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET