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Finding his way in The Yellow Wood

Lia Chang

A new musical, The Yellow Wood, by Michelle Elliott and Danny Larsen, has taken root at The Acorn Theatre in New York. Directed by BD Wong and presented by the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) and Gold Modern, performances run through October 1, 2007.

Randy Blair, Jason Tam and Caissie Levy in The Yellow Wood. Photo by Lia Chang

Randy Blair, Jason Tam and Caissie Levy in The Yellow Wood. Photo by Lia Chang

The triple threats Wong has assembled for his directorial debut include Jason Tam, Yuka Takara, MaryAnn Hu, Randy Blair, Caissie Levy, Paul Clausen, Jill Abramovitz, Elizabeth Lundberg, Sean Bradford, Dennis Moench, Scot Fedderly, and Marnie Schulenburg.

Jason Tam and Caissie Levy in The Yellow Wood. Photo by Lia Chang

Jason Tam and Caissie Levy in The Yellow Wood. Photo by Lia Chang

Jason Tam stars as seventeen-year-old Adam, a biracial Korean American with ADD. It’s a brand new school day, and Adam decides not to take his Ritalin to prove to himself he has beaten his disorder. He’s also saddled with taking care of his brainy little sister Gwen (Yuka Takara) on her first day at his school, navigating the class president elections with his best friend, Casserole (Randy Blair) and trying to memorize Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ to recite for his English class. Struggling to get past the first line ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…’ his hyperactive imagination takes hold and manifests itself in all kinds of scenarios in a yellow wood that has appeared. While trying to get the poem completely memorized by seventh period, he makes a connection with Willis (Caissie Levy) who has ADD and has stopped taking her Ritalin too. Encouraging him to follow his impulsive urges, they embark on a fantastical journey, while he attempts to embrace his Koreanness, reconcile his dysfunctional family relationships and his ADD.

Jason Tam and MaryAnn Hu in The Yellow Wood. Photo by Lia Chang

Jason Tam and MaryAnn Hu in The Yellow Wood. Photo by Lia Chang


The Yellow Wood has a fresh appeal with tunes that continued to stick in my memory long after I had left the theater. As Adam, Tam effectively evokes angst and confusion, followed by acceptance and understanding as he comes to terms with all of his different parts. He and Caissie Levy as Willis have a sweet energy together as she encourages him to break out. Yuka Takara is a petite powerhouse as Gwen, Randy Blair is hysterical as Casserole, Jill Abramovitz is deliciously evil as the wicked English teacher and Mary Ann Hu’s rendition of the song ‘On a Roof in Korea’ has a special resonance.

Performances are at The Acorn Theatre at 410 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue. Limited engagement through October 1; remaining shows are September 25 @ 4:30pm, 28 @ 8pm, 29 @ 1pm and October 1 @ 4:30pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through www.nymf.org or by calling 212-352-3101.