Kennedy Kanagawa Will Now Lead Cast of Tiananmen: A New Musical | Playbill

Regional News Kennedy Kanagawa Will Now Lead Cast of Tiananmen: A New Musical

Kanagawa will co-star opposite Ellie Wang.

Kennedy Kanagawa and Ellie Wang

Kennedy Kanagawa (Into the Woods), previously cast as Wei in Tiananmen: A New Musical, has replaced Zachary Noah Piser in the leading role of Peiwen in the upcoming production, which begins October 4 at The Phoenix Theatre Company.

Piser, as previously reported, departed the production last month.

“I am proud to bring this powerful story to the stage,” says Kanagawa. “We have an amazing cast, and I can’t wait for our hard work to come to life at the Phoenix Theatre Company this October.”

Kanagawa will co-star opposite Ellie Wang (Allegiance), who plays Xiaoli. Wang adds, “This production is not just a celebration of art and storytelling, but a powerful reminder of the importance of courage, resilience, and the universal desire for freedom.” Opening night in Arizona is October 6.

The company will also include Grace Choi (Avenue Q), Austin Ku (Chinglish national tour), Michael Ching, Marc Oka (Flower Drum Song), Sy Chounchaisit (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical national tour), Brandon Gille, Kuppi Jessop, Danielle Mendoza, Michelle Chin, Raymond Dimaano (The King and I national tour), Alexi Ishida, Peter Eidler, and Rommel Pierre O’Choa (My Fair Lady).

Tiananmen: A New Musical, which has a book by Scott Elmegreen and music and lyrics by Drew Fornarola, weaves a love story against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Darren Lee directs and choreographs.

Wu’er Kaixi, who helped lead the protests in 1989 and now lives in Taiwan as an activist for democracy, is Tiananmen's conceiver and creative consultant.

“I believed in democracy when we took to the streets in 1989, and I think it even more so today. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing the events as a musical, and I hope it serves to ensure that the world remembers the unfinished business of this celebration of bravery,” said Kaixi in an earlier statement.

“It is a tremendous honor to work with Wu’er Kaixi on this story, which crystallizes some of the most important and broad conflicts that society and individuals grapple with today. At a time when democracy faces heightened challenges in America and around the world, we hope that this show will move audiences to reflect on love, freedom, and the big ideas that are worth fighting for,” added librettist Elmegreen.

The production will also have music direction by Kevin White, casting by Chelsea Anderson, scenic and projection design by Michael Downs, costume design by Lex Liang, hair, wig, and makeup design by Jason Hayes, sound design by Dave Temby, lighting design by Tim Monson, media design by Jake Pinholster, and associate direction and choreography by Kristine Bendul.

Click here for ticket information.

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