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Flower Drum Song

Reviews of the Movie and Book

Andrew Le

on 7 September 2012

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Transcript of Flower Drum Song

Flower Drum Song (1961) Flower Drum Song (2002) By David Henry Hwang By Rogers and Hammerstein II Overview How do the critics feel about Hwang's modern rewrite in comparison to the original playwrite? "The marquee and your Playbill may refer to the show as Flower Drum Song, but this is light years away from the show that Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II envisioned. It's also as different as can be from the show [...] that opened on Broadway in 1958." -Matthew Murray
Talkin' Broadway "Hwang has taken the old 1950s mainstream Chinese American musical and its representation of Chinese Americans and altered them into something new. Hwang's version in 2001 thus steers Asian American theatre in a more promising direction." -Sun Lee
University of Southern
California "wholly revised and gleefully self-aware" -Los Angeles Times "while not perfect, an exhilarating accomplishment" -The Hollywood Reporter "Hwang's book lacks much of the charm, warmth, and wit of the original, and never takes the high road where the low road will do" -Talkin' Broadway Reception of the musical scenes in the rewrite "The primary failing of the new libretto is that it never feels like an attempt to tell a story, but rather to just string songs together. Songs not written for situations in which they're used are never going to really work right in an entirely different story." -Matthew Murray
Talkin’ Broadway’s "The songs are thoroughly integrated into the revised story line. In this way, the musical's well-known songs and recognizable story line encourage the audience to enjoy the musical's familiarity." -Sun Lee
University of Southern California The underlying message/ theme "The new Flower Drum Song is […] more deeply feeling than the original. It manages to deliver pointed social commentary without being preachy. Embedded within these comic routines is a satirical deconstruction of race where stereotypes are appropriated by the very people being stereotyped and then exaggerated to reveal their folly." -Patrick L. Purdon
The Tech “A musical should be written about the Chinese immigrant experience, but "Flower Drum Song" is not that musical. It comes off as a trivial tale of romantic misconnections and of power struggles between the owner of a Chinese opera house and his son. It's hardly a likely immigrant story--for the Chinese or anyone else.” -Irene Backalenick
Back Stage So what do you think? Storyline change from original

Musical Numbers

Underlying message/ theme of the rewrite Bibliography Murray, Matthew. Rev. of Flower Drum Song. Talkin' Broadway's 17 Oct. ______2002: n. pag. Talkin' Broadway's Broadway Reviews. Web. 5 Sept. 2012. Lee, Sun H. "Flower Drum Song." Theatre Journal. The Johns Hopkins ______University Press, 13 Oct. 2001. Web. 5 Sept. 2012. Backalenick, Irene. "Flower Drum Song." REVIEWS Theatre. BackStage, 25 Oct. ______2002. Web. 5 Sept. 2012. Purdon, Patrick L. "A Bold New Story of Asian America." The Tech. N.p., 11 ______Feb. 2003. Web. 5 Sept. 2012. Overview “When actually engaged in the business of singing and dancing, Flower Drum Song has a
wholesome edge of gaudy appeal.” -John Cutts “As a film, it emerges a curiously affecting, unstable, and rather undistinguished
experience.“ -Variety Magazine “In short, there's nothing subtle or fragile about this "Flower Drum Song." It is gaudy and gaggy and quite melodic." -The New York Times Reviews on the Acting “The young women are all seen as sex objects, the Asian men were shown as sexless, unattractive, rude, passive and very penny pinching. What intrigued me about the second son character was that he definitely emanated homoeroticism. Adolescent guys dancing in sexually suggestive ways is rare” -Donna Han “The primarily romantic affairs of some unspeakably quaint Chinese-Americans with occasional choreographic excitement. Presumably, it is supposed to be lavish, but it all looks even more anemic than the Can-Can, Henry Koster directed.” -R.M. Hodgens
Film Quarterly Reviews on the Plot “For the plot rests on but a single joke and mood – how cute and funny Orientals are when trying to adjust to the American way of life – which it treats with a sledgehammer subtlety that has one wincing with embarrassment.” -John Cutts Reviews on the Music “Newman’s musical mastery is Flower Drum’s firmest and most tangible asset. The eye may be bored, but the ear never.” -John Cutts “The humor is derived from the spectacle of observing Orientals “adopting” American customs. It is as if we are being asked to note “how darling” or “how precocious” it is of them to undertake execution of American dances such as the rock ‘n’ roll, to comprehend the science of baseball, or to grapple with US idioms such as “American plan” or “that’s hop, pop.”” - Variety Magazine “As in most R&H enterprises, the meat is in the musical numbers. There are some bright spots in this area of the film, but even here the effect isn’t overpowering.” -Variety Magazine Han, Donna. "Flower Drum Song: Even Now It Hurts." Review. AsianWeek [San ______Francisco] 07 Aug. 1992: ProQuest. Web. 04 Sept. 2012 Cutts, John. "Flower Drum Song." Review. Films and Filming 8.6 (1962): n. pag. ______CineFiles. Web. 04 Sept. 2012. "Flower Drum Song." Review. Varsity 08 Nov. 1961: n. pag.CineFilms. Web. ______04 Sept. 2012. Hodgens, R. M. "Flower Drum Song." Film Quarterly 15.3 (1962): n. pag. ______JTOR. University of California Press. Web. 04 Sept. 2012
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