But too much of director Jon Lawrence Rivera’s production feels episodic. The flashback scenes play as narration, not drama. Characters come and go so quickly it’s hard to connect with any of them, and a few performances are flat. Houston, who has written cannily about cross-cultural relationships, can’t bring her characters here to sustained life.
Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times
The piece is brimming with so many thoughtful important ideas and themes concerning race, belonging, tradition, assimilation, identity, and freedom discussed by five very strong characters that it is exasperating when an acclaimed director like Rivera egregiously mishandles a grand opportunity to showcase something powerful.
Jesse David Corti – Stage and Cinema
After East West Players’ momentary misstep with September’s Encounter, Tea, With Music returns the premier Asian-American theater to accustomed form, bringing fresh new life to Houston’s best-known play while at the same time giving birth to a brand new musical that elucidates, entertains, and enchants in equal measure.
Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA
Its world premiere at East West Players (through December 9), under Jon Lawrence Rivera’s direction, is a well-paced chamber piece showcasing five fine actors with superb voices.
Cristofer Gross – TheaterTimes
Adam Blumenthal’s hazy lighting is emotive, and each member of the cast’s emotional ascent to the play’s climax is flawless. As the five of them, forces joined, appear upstage, the last shred of that stereotype of the meek and mild Japanese bride is eradicated — reason enough to see this powerful, polished premiere.
Rebecca Haithcoat – LA Weekly
TEA, WITH MUSIC
East West Players
At the David Henry Hwang Theater
Union Center for the Arts
120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles
8 p.m. Wednesdays though Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; Ends Dec. 9, 2012
Tickets: $31-$41; 213-625-7000
Running time: 90 minutes
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