Island audiences will soon be the first to watch a brand-new musical, The Monkey King, premiering at the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance (MST&DA) May 11-14.
Written by husband and wife team Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner, and supported by an initial commission from MST&DA Executive Director Kristi Towey, The Monkey King will be staged by the company’s Children’s Theatre.
Actors in the Children’s Theatre production of Monkey King.
In this modern retelling of an ancient Chinese folktale, The Legend of the Monkey King, a tribe is thrown into disarray when its new, much-anticipated king turns out to be, in fact, a girl. Clever and brave, the Monkey King must earn her tribe’s respect and inspire them to stand up to a realm of powerful, mythical beings that stand in their way.
The retelling is timely, and director Kimbirdlee Fadner says their mission was “to send out a positive and powerful message in a time where people of all ages, races and genders are bombarded by questions of identity and equality.”
The show opens Friday, May 11, at the Roosevelt Island Cultural Center’s Howe Theatre and runs for six performances.
The Monkey King features two casts with more than 40 performers between the ages of 8 and 12. “For young actors, it is a unique experience to be the first to perform this musical written just for them,” says Kimbirdlee.
Director Kimbirdlee Fadner (left) and Music Director Jonathan Fadner (center) on the set of The Monkey King.
Many of the performers and their families also helped create the set and props used in the show as a part of MST&DA’s Set the Stage workshop, led by Island prop designer Ning Chang. A beautiful, painted backdrop was designed by Kimbirdlee, who is a Chinese brush artist.
The Monkey King will offer six performances: Friday, May 11, at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, May 12-13, at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.; and Monday, May 14, at 7:00 p.m. Purchase tickets at www.mstda.org/monkey-king.html. Performances take place at the Howe Theatre, located at 548 Main Street.