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A BUSY OCTOBER

A BUSY OCTOBER

By Gerrye Wong   October   17, 2018

 

Excitement came to San Francisco when the new production of MISS SAIGON hit the Orpheum Theatre stage recently.  I was delighted to have this beautiful love story of the Vietnam War years return because not only does it bring back a romantic moving story of two lovers, but it also gives audience members a sense of the futile times during the Vietnam war.  So many of the younger generation seen in the audience the night I was there were learning for the first time the plight of the Vietnam people during this futile war and the role US Army soldiers had in being stationed there during lonely times.

The musical Miss Saigon is an epic story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim.  In a bar run by a notorious character called The Engineer, Kim meets an American G.I. just before the fall of Saigon.  Leading the large cast of 42 members, Red Concepcion was a very impressive Engineer in the starring role and Emily Bautista gave a very moving performance as Kim, bringing tears to many an eye at the finale. The exciting scene where the helicopter descends to carry out the last US soldiers before Saigon fell is always a breath-holding moment.   This San Francisco production at SHN Orpheum Theatre will run through November and not to be missed.     $40 Rush tickets may be available at $40 mobile Rush tickets by downloading TodayTix in the Google Play Store.

 

CLASS REUNION TIME

Years go by, friendships fade, and memories dim come 65 years after graduating from junior high school, but to 215 excited alums, this was the year to renew old acquaintances and recall memories of long ago.  Program Chairman Helen Kwan excitedly told us that Francisco Junior High School’s 65th Class Reunion was a year in the planning stage, as organized by her, co chair Dick Wong, and committee members Genevieve Chan, Emily Chin, Paul and Maxine Fong, Carolyn Hee, Alvin and Charlene Joe, Benson Kwan, Dawson and Esther Lee, John Lee, Vincent and Suzy Lee, Eva Leong, Jean Mar, Avis See-tho, Jackson and Mayo Yu.

Co Chair Dick Wong welcomes fellow reunion friends to the Hawaiian themed party.

Held at the Foster City ABC Restaurant, the event started off with a bang as the committee made a grand entrance to “Celebration” music armed with neon lighted rods and blinking leis.  For entertainment inbetween lots of nostalgia talk, Emily Chin and Avis See-tho hula-ed to “Hawaii 5-0” music.  Following their performance, some happy go lucky fellas, among them Ken Gee, Dawson Lee, and Wayman Wong,   joined in the rollicking “Hukilau” hula themselves.  Mel Lee chronicled all at the reunion so that as memories fade more, and eyes and ears begin failing, there will be photos to remind the 65th class reunion members what a great time was had in 2018.

 

 

A 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

To herald the 40th anniversary of when President Jimmy Carter officially signed into law a Joint Resolution of the Congress of the United States designating a week in the month of May to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders culture and heritage,   the 2018 Mayors APA Heritage Celebration Committee organized a gala dinner at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.  Headed by Committee Coordinator Claudine Cheng, Celebration  Co Chairs Al Perez and Thomas Li gathered hundreds of supporters to not only celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month, but to honor two community organizations for their services through the years.

Claudine Cheng, welcomes OCA SF and OCA SM members to APA Heritage event.

Honored that evening were the Japanese American Citizens League and the OCA – Asian American Pacific American Advocates. The JACL is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry.  The OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

Board Chair Scott Adams and San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu welcomed all, with Guest Speakers San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Assembly members Hon. David Chiu and Hon. Phil Ting continuing the remembrance of the time in 1992 when the Heritage Month celebration was finally institutionalized when Congressman Horton introduced legislation (HR 5572) designating “May of each year as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month”.

THE PLEASURES OF EATING

ACCT President Doris Lum welcomes Al & Jeanie Lee, Aaron & Maelene Wong to membership dinner.

When the Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers (ACCT) gather together, of course, the main ingredient to it success is the fine foods present.  At its recent members meeting at Chef Chu’s Restaurant in Los Altos, over 100 of its members and friends gathered for a fine luncheon feast. Long-standing President Doris  Lum welcomed the diners, while active VP Frank Jang photographed all of the special dishes prepared for this culinary crowd.

Chef Lawrence Chu himself introduced each of his specially prepared menu offerings, while telling of his own restaurant’s history.  Speaking of his good friend, Martin Yan and his television programs, he laughingly added, “If Yan Can Cook, so can Chu”.  Sharing his many acclaimed recipes, Chef Chu was kept busy autographing copies of is cookbook for a line-up of member buyers.

Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers President Doris Lum, right, welcomes Calvin and Gerrye Wong to October event at Chef Chu’s.

East Bay resident Lena Fong reminded me that she was one of the original founders of the group a couple decades ago, and seen enjoying the lunch that day were Treasurer Edith Jew, Al Low and Ginger Lai, Al and Jeanie Lee, Tamiko Wong, John and Connie Young Yu, Wanda Ching,  Hank Quock, Joyce Chan, Aaron and Maelene Wong. Check the club’s website if you want to join and enjoy its monthly dining out events if you’re a foodie like the members seem to be.

Chef Lawrence Chu signs book for Jeanie Lee

Chef Lawrence Chu was asked about his son, Jon Chu’s recent movie success, “Crazy Rich Asians”, and he shared that the stars had held their premiere press conference at the restaurant, and proudly declared the all-Asian cast film is still among the top ten in ratings after two months of showings.  Wanda Ching and I proudly gazed at the huge movie poster autographed by the stars holding a prominent place in the restaurant lobby.

Wanda Ching and Gerrye Wong admire Crazy Rich Asians poster at Chef Chu’s Restaurant.

 

SAN FRANCISCO’S FAMED SAM WO ALIVE AGAIN

First time visitors to Sam Wo Restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown hosted by Jonathan Leong.

The name Sam Wo Restaurant elicits many memories for the elder generation of nights enjoying its midnight snacks of noodles, “guen fun” noodle rolls, and tangy tomato beef chow mein.  The famed rude waiter Edsel Ford Fong is no longer there, but the restaurant is still bustling with foodies who don’t mind the crowded conditions and sitting on the hard wooden original stools.

Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Leung hosted Chenda Chhi and friends introducing them to their first times at Sam Wo, whereas my friends, the Dr. David Yees, Pat Lum, and Ben and Joyce Tom remembered coming to the original restaurant during their single dating days in the 1950-60s.  History of the original restaurant is on the walls for old diners to reminisce on, and for newcomers of a younger clientele to learn from.

Friends, the David Yees, Ben Toms and Pat Lum reminisce about younger days spent dining at the old Sam Wo

Cynthia Yee and Pat Chin were also enjoying a late night “siew yeh” snack that evening, having just enjoyed a concert at the Herbst Theatre by pianist Ryan Ahern along with the rest of us.  Ahern entertained a packed theater with his repertoire of music from Broadway tunes to boogie woogie to classics, backed by talented members of his band who travel with him performing on cruise ships and Las Vegas.

 

Pianist Ryan Ahern is welcomed to San Francisco by Emily Chin, Pat Chin, Cynthia Yee and Bea Wong.

ON THE STAGE

San Francisco Playhouse is having a busy stage with interesting materials offered to San Francisco audiences.  Christopher Chen’s intriguing “You Mean To Do Me Harm”, playing now is a personal and political dialogue between and among two interracial couples of Asian-American and Caucasian backgrounds. Story is of an unemployed white guy who’s done tech work in China and is married to Chinese American Samantha who heads up a global organization where Ben once worked. Running through November, Chen’s clever script is easily believable and realistic while also exploring undercurrents of human emotions and interactions.  Coming up for holiday enjoyment is lighthearted Mary Poppins at the San Francisco Playhouse opening November 14 for family viewing. SF Playhouse is at 450 Post Street in downtown San Francisco’s Kensington Park Hotel.  Box Office: 415 677 9596.

AIDA STAR OF Broadway by the Bay rehearses for opening night.

, ends its 2018 season with the four-time Tony Award winning AIDA.  AIDA features the soaring score by pop legend Elton John, with lyrics by Sir Tim Rice, who is well known for penning blockbusters Aladdin, Evita and Beauty and the Beast.  AIDA has a short run of only 9 performances, beginning November 2, so rush to get your tickets now.  The beautiful Fox Theatre is the venue for Broadway by the Bay at 2219 Broadway St. in downtown Redwood City.  Ancient Egypt will come to life in dazzling fashion in this production, so don’t miss this wonderful revival by BBB cast of local performers.  Broadway by the Bay inspires local talent through the power of musical theater and is the only major musical theatre company between San Francisco and Palo Alto producing large-scale musical productions using local talents.

 

 

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE COMING TO SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco Opera cast rehearse on stage for It’s a Wonderful Life production.

If you’ve always loved the holiday story that comes out every year, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, then you should be as excited as I am about the West Coast premiere of a new San Francisco Opera commissioned work of a two act opera based in part of Frank Capra’s 1946 film.   This new opera has been revised since its Houston Premiere in 2016 and will come to San Francisco for nine performances through December 9, and opening November 17. The opera’s story line is also based in part on “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern.

Remember the story of George Bailey, who on Christmas Eve is contemplating suicide until the angel Clarence grants him a vision that restores George’s vigor for life?  To reconceive a movie onto an opera stage was a challenge for composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, with one main change made was changing angel Clarence to become Clara, so the opera has her soprano voice and a tenor voice for George as two main leads.  San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and Opera Dance Corps will be in this production, so get your tickets and mark your calendars for a wonderful holiday treat for you and your family to makes yours a” Wonderful Life!”

It is sung in English with English subtitles also.

 

IN THE MOOD FOR DANCING?

Broadway San Jose had the audiences raring to dance along with Gloria Estefan character in ON YOUR FEET, which played at San Jose Center for the Performing Arts for the past two weeks.  Millennials, seniors, young people were all rocking when her famous Conga song came on, and the splashy musical had superior dancing, singing and set decorations to thrill every audience member.   New General Manager Gretchen Feyer has put together a wonderful 10th Anniversary Season with CHICAGO opening November 16-18 followed by CINDERELLA November 30-Dec. 2 and THE LIGHTNING THIEF following. Kudos to Broadway San Jose for bringing wonderful musical shows to San Jose audiences at good prices with their season pass program.  Check BroadwaySanJose.com for price package for the last three shows of this successful 10th Anniversary season.

 

The U.S. Chinese Dance Association proudly announced acclaimed dance production coming called “The Family” performed by the prestigious Sichuan Province Song and Dance Theater Saturday October 20, 7:00 pm at San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts.  “The Family” is based on a semi autobiographical novel by Chinese author Ba Jin, long considered to be one of the most widely read Chinese writers of the 20th century and popular among China’s youth. In 2015 The Sichuan Province Song and Dance Theatre turned it into a dance drama, which won the highest Chinese performing arts awards – the Wenhua Award and the Hehua Grand Prize.  Artistic Director, Mr. Chuan He is a well known choreographer in China and has brought six principal dancers for this dance drama who are considered the top dancers in China today.  Don’t miss this unique performance. Tickts: https://sanjosetheaters.org/event/uscda-?instance_id=95113 or 925 487 8883.

 

LET’S HELP FULFILL A DREAM

 

Friends of Children With Special Needs asks the community to support its fundraising gala November 3  titled FULFILL OUR DREAM 2018.  This annual event which helps the non-profit organization continue its valuable programs for the 1000 families it serves at its Fremont and San Jose centers. FCSN began humbly in 1996 as a family support group, founded by a few families with children with special needs and other kindhearted community members.  In 22 years, it has grown to serve over 500 children and adults of many ethnicities with special developmental needs.

PHOTO   FCSN gala dinner

FCSN’s programs for toddlers to seniors are widely praised and oversubscribed because its services and staff show exceptional care and patience in working with those with disabilities.  Its Fremont Center is bursting at it seams and the group desperately seeks additional space to handle the great demands for their services.  You can help by attending their once annual event to show the kids and parents they have community support. I’ll be there rooting for this wonderful organization and hope you will join me. Albert Wang and I will be leading the Fund The Need Drive that evening and we need everyone to come and help fulfill FCSN’s dreams. Tickets for November 4 event: administration@fcsn1996.org .  For more information on the group’s programs and how you can help if unable to attend the annual benefit gala.

Website: www.fcsn1996.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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