Meet the Cast of "M. Butterfly"

Tania Thompson
 | Apr 30, 2019
The Cast of M. Butterfly

THE CAST: Aaron Blakely, Juliana Hansen, Jake Manabat, Lucas Verbrugghe, Nike Doukas and Stephen Caffrey in ​M. Butterfly. Not pictured: Melody Butiu.

The cast of M. Butterfly (May 11-June 8, Segerstrom Stage) brings a wealth of experience to David Henry Hwang’s multi-award-winning play. Several are veteran SCR actors, others have been in national tours for shows like Rent, Once, and seen on Broadway in Doctor Zhivago and The Ritz​. One actor has been in three prior productions of M. Butterfly including the 2017 Broadway revival and others are making their SCR debuts.


Lucas Verbrugghe
My character is Rene Gallimard. He is a French diplomat who grew up, like many men, being told what a man should be: dominant, adventurous; someone who doesn't take “no” for an answer. But those things don’t seem to come easily to him and he struggles to find his place in the world.
At SCR, I’m making my debut.
My other credits include Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Ritz (both on Broadway); An Entomologist’s Love Story; Icebergs; Need to Know; Love’s Labour’s Lost; Macbeth; Our Idiot Brother; “Ten Days in the Valley;” “Grimm;” “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: SVU.”
I’m excited to be in M. Butterfly because, even though it was written in 1986, it still resonates strongly today. And with David Henry Hwang’s new draft, the play hits different notes than it did 30 years ago. I’m excited to work on this new production that has an eye toward gender and feels fresher today than ever.
My favorite opera is ... I’ve only seen one opera in my life—Prokofiev’s The Gambler at the Met in New York City. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t understand what was happening. The stage was covered in green felt and looked like a poker table. I left at intermission.
Three words that describe me are Stop. Smell. Flowers. I have come to realize that, as I move through life, that I like to take my time with things. I like to process, marinate and sometimes stew over things. The sense of smell is important for me because it quickly takes me to memories and triggers my imagination. Roasting meat, paint thinner, manure, sea air. Flowers. Because, you know, who doesn’t like flowers?!


Jake Manabat
My character is Song Liling who, without revealing too much of the plot, is a Chinese opera star. Song has a forbidden relationship with a French diplomat.
At SCR, I’m making my debut.
My other credits include the Broadway revival of M. Butterfly as Song understudy; M. Butterfly (Capital Repertory Theatre); M. Butterfly (The Production Company); Crane Story; Paper Dolls; The Long Season; “Madam Secretary;” “Bored to Death;” “Lilyhammer;” and “The Neighborhood.”
I’m excited to be in M. Butterfly to see what’s going to be born! Desdemona’s (Chiang, director) creative process with this talented and inquisitive cast has been deeply invigorating.
Three words that describe me are “No regrets.” Haha! That’s only two, but those are the two words that my twin brother and I have lived by since we were kids. When I die, I want to have no regrets.
Audiences after the show, I hope an audience member might think about what they would, ultimately, do for love.


Aaron Blakely
My characters are Marc, Pinkerton and I’m in the ensemble. Marc is an over-sexed, archetypal representation of masculine French culture and is a friend of Gallimard's from his youth. He's the lode stone for many of Gallimard's decisions concerning how he will be perceived and how he should proceed with Song. He's generous and cares for Gallimard's welfare, to a point.
My last appearance at SCR was How to Write a New Book for the Bible.
My other credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Photograph 51; Clybourne Park; Sense and Sensibility; The Lion in Winter; We Need to Talk About Kevin; “Z Nation;” “Grimm;” “The Librarians;” “Leverage;” and “The Man in the High Castle.”
I’m excited to be in M. Butterfly and work with this world-class artistic team.
My favorite opera is Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. The Russian Romantics do it for me!
Three words that describe me are insistent; dual; and sentimental. I can only say that these are the best, without revealing too much. I guess that means my fourth word would be: private.
Audiences after the show, I hope audiences will walk away identifying with the love that the main characters have for each other.


Melody Butiu
My character is Comrade Chin and I’m also in the ensemble. Chin is a member of the Red Guard Communist Army, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I am the handler of Song Liling and serve as a liaison to my superiors in the Chinese Government. I am a fervent supporter of Chairman Mao and the Community Party.
My SCR credits include Sheepdog; Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience; A Christmas Carol; Shipwrecked! An Entertainment; Ivy+ Bean: The Musical; and Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells Batman Smells.
My other credits include Doctor Zhivago (Broadway); Here Lies Love (off-Broadway); Vietgone; Merrily We Roll Along; Sunday in the Park with George; Monstress; Helen; A Little Night Music; Golden Child; Hair; “The Kominsky Method;” “Modern Family;” “Gotham; “NCIS;” and “NCIS: LA.”
I’m excited to be in M. Butterfly to see how our cast and this production explore the complexities of gender and perception, the Western gaze on the Asian female and the notion of truth—and how slippery it can be. I’m also excited about the costumes—Song’s costumes.
My favorite opera? Well, I haven’t had the opportunity to see classic operas. But I have performed in modern operas with O-Lan Jones’ Overtone Industries including The Woman Who Forgot Her Sweater and Songs and Dances in Imaginary Lands. I also did a recent workshop for an exciting new opera called Iceland: The Hidden World.”
Three words that describe me are passionate (I feel very deeply, wear my heart on my sleeve and I have a full-throated laugh); thoughtful (I do my best to be mindful, to think things through, which sometimes leads to overthinking); and forgiving (I know that life can get messy and complicated, but I try to see things from different perspectives  and accept where I am and where others are).
Audiences after the show, I hope, will want to examine their own blind spots. We all have them, whether in our personal day-to-day lives or in how we perceive the world around us. I hope they’ll examine the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, who we should be, how the world works, what people think of us—these all shape everything in our lives—and yet they are just stories. Cracking open the myths we tell ourselves, shifting those stories, can have a profound effect on the world around us.


Stephen Caffrey
My characters are
Toulon, Judge, Sharpless and I’m in the ensemble. Toulon is a kindhearted diplomat, but he is a survivalist. The buck doesn’t stop at his desk; it gets passed right along.
My SCR credits include SHREW!; Shakespeare in Love and Bach at Leipzig.
My other credits include Yes, Prime Minister; The Seafarer; 36 Views; Red; One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Galileo; Heartbreak House; Henry IV; All’s Well That Ends Well; Longtime Companion; Cinema Verite; “NCIS;” “All My Children; and “Tour of Duty.”
I’m excited for M. Butterfly because it brought me back here and this is a very important play.
My favorite opera is Lakme (by Léo Delibes) because of its beautiful “Flower Duet.”


Nike Doukas
My character is Agnes and I’m in the ensemble. Agnes is Gallimard’s wife. She’s the daughter of an ambassador, so she’s very much at home in the life of a diplomat. She’s a great support system for her husband. She’s more than a bit dismissive of China and its people.
My SCR credits include Sense and Sensibility; All the Way; Yoga Play; The Prince of Atlantis; Major Barbara; Much Ado About Nothing; The Beard of Avon; and Blithe Spirit.
My other credits include Three Days in the Country; The Hothouse (as director at The Antaeus Company); and “Desperate Housewives.”
I’m excited to be in M. Butterfly because of the way that Desdemona (Chiang, director) and the designers are telling the story visually. This play takes place in the mind of Gallimard and in various locations and over decades. There’s Chinese opera, there’s post-revolution dance, there’s the French diplomatic scene—and all of this is evocative stuff and all quite beautiful.
My favorite opera is Madame Butterfly by Puccini. I saw the production directed by Anthony Minghella and found it so imaginatively theatrical and incredibly moving. And, of course, Puccini’s music is gorgeous!
Three words that describe me are Fully. Completely. Engaged. How I feel about life right now.
Audiences after the show, I hope, will have conversations about what love is, in all its permutations.


Juliana Hansen
My characters
are Renee, the Pinup Girl and I’m in the ensemble. Renee is a college student, studying Chinese, who meets Gallimard at an Embassy party. She’s smart, forward and intrigued by him. The Pinup Girl is from Gallimard’s childhood—she’s heightened reality and super fun!
My last appearance at SCR was Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Johanna).
My other credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (first national tour); Mary Poppins; Les Misérables; The Fantasticks; Here; “Star vs. The Forces of Evil;” “Unkitty;” and Toy Story 4.
I’m excited to be in M. Butterfly because it’s a provocative play and different from the kind of roles and projects I’m usually cast in. It’s really thrilling to expand my repertoire and be a part of something so deeply stirring.
My favorite opera is …. I wish I could say I had one! But I prefer ballet and am a huge fan of Matthew Bourne!
If I described myself in three words, I’d say drive (I do what it takes to make my dreams reality); heart (I have a huge capacity to love, and human relationship means more to me than anything else); and full-time/part-time (oh, that’s more than one word. But I’m a full-full-time actor, part-time voice teacher; part-time Disney performer and I’m back in school studying psychology!)

Dancers and Ensemble Members
All are making their SCR debuts

  • Annika Alejo
  • Yoko Hasebe
  • Andres Lagang
  • Sophy Zhao

Learn more about M. Butterfly and buy tickets.