Po Boy Tango is the story of Richie Po, an immigrant from Taiwan. His TV chef mother, who is still in Taiwan, has passed away and he wants to honor her with a traditional Chinese big feast. A decade ago, Gloria was hired to care for Richie’s cancer-stricken daughter, Emma, and she cares for both of them during this stressful time. When Emma recovered, Richie cut off all ties with Gloria, confusing and bewildering her.
Richie’s daughter is now grown up and about to get married. For Emma’s dowry, Ritchie would like to recreate the famous Great Chinese Banquet that his mother prepared for kings and heads of state. The only person Richie thinks can create the deli is Gloria, who is the best cook she knows. Gloria’s problem is that she is struggling to help her own son, Kelvin, a rising college basketball star who has engaged in a series of impulsive and possibly destructive behaviors. He dreams of having his own soul food restaurant. Richie uses this information to lure Gloria with an offer of her own restaurant to get her to make shark fin soup just like his mother did.
Sam Lye plays Richie Poe. Sam is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Drama. Sam has previously played Matt in The Fantastics at Taproot Theater and Chick in Waxwings at Book-it Repertory Theatre.
Michelle Blackmon stars as Gloria Bee in Po Boy Tango. She was last seen in the Seattle theater production of Cabaret at Reboot as Fraulein Schneider. Michel has extensive credits as an actor, director, choreographer and theater artist. We believe we have seen her in other local productions as well. She looked at ease on stage.
It’s always nice to see Aya Hashiguchi. We loved her in her silver and white hairdo as Po Mama, the Taiwanese TV cooking queen. In real life, she produced shows at the DukesBay Theater in downtown Tacoma. She and her husband, Randy Clark, have perfected limited-seater shows at DukesBay, where audience members are often just a foot or two from the stage. Their multiracial productions are well worth a visit.
David Hsieh is the director of Po Boy Tango. David dedicated this production to the memory of his father in China, who died during the rehearsal process, “and to all our beloved spirits.” David is the founder and artistic director of ReAct Theatre. He brings his deeply felt values to the welcoming audience of Tacoma Little Theatre, where diversity is best embraced through the stage and fusion of Asian and soul food. David says: “I run a theater that celebrates diversity. Live, love, laugh, learn, help others, forgive and enjoy.”
Burton C. Ewen is the scenic and visual designer. Blake R. York is the CTO. The stage and round table worked beautifully. . . showing a nice interior with rain falling outside, so we think the story could be set here in Tacoma. My only critical suggestion would be to lower the lights on either side of the stage and thus show the smaller area where the two characters live to make it feel simpler.
Po Boy Tango runs Friday through Sunday, February 5, 2023, for a total of 10 performances. Screenings on Friday and Saturday are from 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The performance on Sunday, February 5, 2023 at 2:00 PM will be interpreted in ASL.
Tickets are $27.00 (Adults), $25.00 (Seniors 60+/Students/Military), and $20.00 (Children 12 and under). Tickets can be purchased online at www.tacomalittletheatre.com or by calling the box office at (253) 272-2281. Group rates are available for 10 or more and special FLEX passes for 6 are only $145.00. TLT strongly recommends, but does not require, that visitors wear masks and be vaccinated.
There will be a special Pay What You Can performance on Thursday, February 2, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this performance are now available online, in person, or by phone.
Po Boy Tango is recommended for ages 12+.