Highlights of Tim Dang’s tenure include (left) a hip-hop/anime/marital arts version of “Pippin” (2008), EWP’s highest-grossing production, and (right) “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (2001), set on Easter Island in place of Rome and remembered as EWP’s funniest production.

On Saturday, Aug. 17, East West Players, the nation’s largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work and the longest-running professional theater of color in the country, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Tim Dang as producing artistic director.

EWP broke ground in 1996 in Little Tokyo (at the former Union Church) under Tim Dang’s leadership.

This signature “One Night Only” event takes place at East West Players’ home in Little Tokyo, featuring some of the best talent to grace the EWP stage, along with dinner al fresco in the Aratani Courtyard, just outside the theater. Proceeds benefit the artistic/educational programs of EWP and the organization’s endowment.

In EWP’s 48 years, Dang is the third artistic director of the organization, succeeding Nobu McCarthy and taking the helm in 1993. Among the key milestones in his leadership, the most pivotal was growing EWP from a 99-seat theater on Santa Monica Boulevard in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles to a 240-seat, state-of-the-art, mid-size theater in its current location at the Union Center for the Arts.

“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. It’s gone by so quickly. I’m proud of what we as an organization have accomplished to raise the visibility of Asian Pacific Islanders through the performing arts but there is still a lot of work to be done,” says Dang. “Change is happening quickly in the world around us, and I hope our stories, our community, our artists will be more visible on stages all over America.”

Accomplishments to date under Dang’s tenure also include:

– Spearheading the inaugural convening of the National Asian American Theatre Conference hosted by EWP, which led to the creation of the national Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists (CAATA) in 2006;

– Throughout his tenure, widening the scope of Asian Pacific American artistic works produced onstage, such as the Vietnamese American play “Monster” (2002) and the South Asian play “Queen of the Remote Control” (2002);

– Expanding the EWP arts education and literary programs – Partners in Education and Arts Collaboration (PEAC), an after-school program for middle schools; the professional development program Alliance of Creative Services (ACTS), which connects artists to the entertainment industry; and the Writers Gallery, a partnership with the Japanese American National Museum.

Groundbreaking playwright David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly,” “Golden Child”) says, “Over the past 20 years, Tim Dang made certain that EWP, the nation’s oldest theater of color, would remain on the cutting edge of Asian American theater into the 21st century. As our community became more diverse, as our artists explored new forms and stories, Tim embraced change and innovation, never settling for playing it safe. He succeeded in honoring the past, while also setting the stage for the future.”

“Pacific Overtures” opened EWP’s new venue in 1998, and was the theater company’s highest-grossing production until 2008’s “Pippin.”

Hwang is also the namesake of EWP’s theater at the Union Center for the Arts.

Confirmed performers include:

• Joan Almedilla (“Miss Saigon” and “Les Miserables” on Broadway; most recently in EWP’s production of “Chess”);

• Elijah Rock (EWP’s “Chess”);

• Lito Villareal (EWP’s “Sweeney Todd,” NBC’s “The Winner Is”);

• Antoine Diel (EWP’s “Imelda” and “Sweeney Todd”);

• Keo Woolford (EWP’s “I-Land,” director of “Three Year Swim Club”; West End’s “The King and I”);

• Jenni Selma (“Miss Saigon” on Broadway);

• Ethan Le Phong (EWP’s “Pippin,” “Mamma Mia!” on Broadway, “King and I” West End);

• Orville Mendoza (“Pacific Overtures” – Broadway and EWP, EWP’s “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods,” “Passion”).

The show will be hosted by Reggie Lee (“Carousel” on Broadway; EWP’s “F.O.B.,” “Carry the Tiger to the Mountain,” “Pacific Overtures”; NBC TV’s Grimm).

Additional talent to be confirmed.

EWP is located at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles. The event starts at 6 p.m. with a hosted bar and reception, and dinner catered by Executive Chef Glen Ishii (Noe at the Omni Los Angeles, owner of Jist Café). It continues with the performance at 7:30 p.m., and concludes with a raffle drawing and dessert reception catered by Majestic Caterers.

Various levels of sponsorships are available, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Single tickets are $250 for VIP, $125 in the orchestra and $75 in the balcony. For more information on sponsorship and tickets, visit www.eastwestplayers.org or contact Development Manager Rosalyn Kawahira at rkawahira@eastwestplayers.org or (213) 625-7000, ext. 17.

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