On the heels of a smash success with the world premiere of “Odyssey,” adapted and directed by internationally-renowned writer and director Lisa Peterson, Marin Theatre Company continues its 2023-24 season with gusto in November.
Dragon Lady starts in the year of the Water Dragon on the eve of Grandma Maria’s 60th Birthday, “your most important birthday of your old people birthdays,” when Maria Porkalob Sr. must share the dark secrets of her fantastical life with her first-born grandbaby Sara “so they remember after you are dead.”
Through laughter, shock, singing, and tears, the two women discover that it is never too late to atone for pain we inflict on our loved ones and forgive ourselves for past regrets. Guided by the beats of her grandmother’s new karaoke machine, Sara portrays dozens of characters from Maria’s bittersweet memories and sensational adventures – from a Manila nightclub in the ‘60s to a modern-day Washington state trailer park.
This solo cabaret musical by Seattle-based storyteller and activist Sara Porkalob is the first in her trilogy of “matrilineal” musicals about her Filipino American gangster family; one play for each generation built around grandmother, mother, granddaughter, and her specific hero’s journey.
Dragon Lady is a funny and fearless tour-de-force in two acts featuring a live three-piece jazz ensemble on stage. Directed by Andrew Russell, this family tale comes replete with gangsters, murders and more that explores what it means to be an immigrant single mom in America.
Read more about Porkalob in an explosive interview she did last year with Jason P. Frank at Vulture. The 34-year-old Seattle writer and performer was candid about her experience playing Edward Rutledge in the gender-expansive Broadway revival of “1776.” She criticized the creative team for blind spots about both race and gender, and said the show wasn’t artistically fulfilling. She even admitted she gave only 75% of herself to the show. But during a recent interview with the Chronicle, Porkalob discussed how her life has changed since that Vulture story and how she’s ready to take back creative decision-making power with “Dragon Lady,” her solo show at Marin Theatre Company.
Next year brings “Bees and Honey” (Feb. 14-March 10) by Guadalís Del Carmen, co-founder of the Latinx Playwrights Circle. The West Coast premiere follows a Dominican couple who seem to be on the up-and-up — he with his auto shop, she poised to make partner at her law firm — till a sick parent must suddenly move in. If your love requires prosperity, the show asks, is it still love?
“Torch Song” (May 9-June 2, 2024), Harvey Fierstein’s two-act condensation of his 1982 “Torch Song Trilogy,” wraps up the season. MTC mounts the show, about a drag queen on the prowl for love and respect and trying futilely to escape the nagging voice of his mother, at a timely moment.