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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 1, 2000

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Chris Komai - ckomai@janm.org - 213-830-5648

"A Jive Bomber'S Christmas" Returns With New Cast At Japanese American National Museum In December

Los Angeles

The Japanese American National Museum is proud to announce the return of the popular musical show A Jive Bomber’s Christmas with an all-new cast set for seven performances in early December at the National Museum’s facility, 369 E. First Street, in Little Tokyo.

Since its debut in 1993, the original musical co-written and co-directed by Saachiko and Dom Magwili received critical plaudits and has already become a holiday tradition at the National Museum. The musical takes place during World War II in a U.S. concentration camp that unconstitutionally imprisons Japanese Americans. During the holidays, a group of inmates try to overcome the despair of their situation and their own political differences by putting on their own Christmas show. Besides being a musical, the show has a definite message.

“We wanted to reconcile two groups that came out of the camps,” explained Saachiko, “the 442nd veterans and those who opposed the draft, the No-No Boys. Feelings on both sides were very hard and are still strong today. We wanted to say that they both made courageous choices in a situation that was unconstitutional and oppressive. In the show, we say that while they were fighting fascism in Europe, those back home were fighting bigotry. That was our message in the play. Our goal was to create a place for reconciliation.”

A Jive Bomber’s Christmas combines original songs with popular tunes from the 1940s. After several successful years, the musical will welcome an entirely new cast. Set to perform are Kat Nakano, Kelly Miyashiro, Myracris Ocenar, Ritchie Santos, Casey Kono, Aaron Takahashi, Michael Palma, and Kurt Kuniyoshi. Randy Guiaya is the musical director.

“It’s like when the old Star Trek show made way for the new one,” observed Dom Magwili, Saachiko’s husband. “There was the classic Star Trek and there was The Next Generation. This is our Next Generation. New actors mean a new energy. It means the excitement of the first time. With the five original cast members, one actor would play at least two roles and sometimes even three. This time, with eight actors, in many cases, we are using one actor for one character.

“The songs that were once done as solos may be sung by different characters or maybe done as a group,” Dom continued. “There will be adjustments to adapt to the new actors, but the story we told before was pretty good. We intend to maintain the structure, the spirit, and the heart of A Jive Bomber’s Christmas.”

Dom Magwili noted that this production provides an important insight to what Japanese Americans actually experienced during World War II. “With the coming of the movie Pearl Harbor, the event that propelled America into World War II and herded Japanese Americans into camps, it’s important to have something that offers a different point of view.”

Audiences often leave A Jive Bomber’s Christmas humming the tunes that they just heard. Some National Museum volunteers have been known to attend more than one show because they enjoy the musical so much. Yet the seriousness of the subject matter remains the heart of the story.

“Even today, in the year 2000, not many young people, whether Japanese American or non-Japanese American, know about the camps,” Saachiko revealed. “Not many plays address this subject matter any more, so that makes this show very special. We honor the enduring spirit of those who spent those years behind barbed wire. We honor their determination and their laughter.”

A Jive Bomber’s Christmas will be performed on December 8, 9, and 10, and December 14, 15, 16, and 17. Weekend performances begin at 2 p.m., while weekday shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $12 for National Museum members, $15 for non-members, and $9 for seniors (62 and over), students, and groups of 10 or more. For more information, call the Japanese American National Museum at 213.625.0414.

 

 

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