Where the Mountain Meets the Moon tells the story of a young girl named Minli, who lives with her Ma and Ba in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain. As its name suggests, Minli’s homeland is a desolate place; among the few sources of color and delight in her life are the stories her Ba tells her, full of mythical creatures and legendary characters like the Jade Dragon and her children and the villainous Magistrate Tiger. These tales so captivate Minli that she doesn’t always tend to her chores conscientiously, much to her practical-minded Ma’s frustration.
One day, Minli spends one of the two coins her parents have set aside for her to purchase a goldfish from a mysterious peddler, who promises that the fish will bring Minli good fortune. Her mother scolds her for wasting her money on a fish—but then, much to Minli’s surprise, the goldfish speaks to her and provides information that sends her on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon. The Old Man knows the answer to every question, the goldfish tells her, and thus can provide the solution to the problem that plagues Minli’s village. Leaving a note for her parents, Minli sets out on a journey to the home of the Old Man of the Moon, at the top of Never-Ending Mountain.
Along the way, Minli meets a timorous dragon—named Dragon—who sprang to life from a painting created by the great artist Chen. Minli knows about Chen from one of her father’s stories about the origin of Fruitless Mountain. Dragon joins Minli on her quest, hoping the Old Man of the Moon can provide him with the answer to why he can’t fly.
Meanwhile, Ma and Ba set out on a journey of their own, to try to find their missing daughter. Ma is especially distraught by Minli’s disappearance and regrets that her own harsh words may have contributed to Minli’s decision to leave.
Minli proves herself both kind and brave as she takes on a series of challenges, making good use of the wisdom in her father’s stories and the help of some other characters that she and Dragon meet on their journey. They finally reach Never-Ending Mountain, whereupon Minli faces the greatest challenge of all when she learns that the Old Man of the Moon will only answer one question every 99 years. Which question will she ask? How will both she and Dragon find what they’re looking for? And will Minli ever be reunited with Ma and Ba?
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a musical by Min Kahng, adapted from Grace Lin’s Newbery Honor book of the same title (published in 2009). In writing the book, Lin was inspired by Chinese folk tales and wove a number of them into her Wizard-of-Oz-like story. The novel and the musical it has inspired demonstrate the power and wisdom of stories, especially the myths and legends that help us to make sense of the world we live in. In adapting the book for the stage, Min Kahng made use of both Chinese and Western musical forms and instrumentation.
SCR’s production of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is directed by Jennifer Chang, who is no stranger to SCR’s Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) program, although this is the first time she has directed one of its productions. She performed in TYA productions of Charlotte’s Web (2008), The Brand New Kid (2009) and Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (in which she stood in for another actor for several performances in 2009). A co-founder of LA’s Chalk Rep theatre company, Chang’s directing credits include Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone (East West Players), Jiehae Park’s Hannah and the Dread Gazebo (The Fountain Theatre) and Rajiv Joseph’s Animals Out of Paper (East West Players, Los Angeles Times Critic’s Choice).
Chang’s cast consists of seven actor/singers who are all new to SCR: Chloris Li (Minli), Aja Wiltshire (Ma and other characters), Randy Buiaya (Ba and others), Miller Tai (Dragon), Albert Park (Old Man of the Moon and others), Michael C. Palma (Magistrate Tiger and others) and Nicole Javier (Goldfish and others). The multi-talented cast sings under the music direction of Deborah Wicks La Puma (known to SCR audiences as a composer and/or music director on numerous TYA shows). The fight choreographer is Thomas Isao Morinaka.
The production’s designers include Tesshi Nakagawa (sets), Anthony Tran (costumes), Lonnie Alcaraz (lighting), Yee Eun Nam (video) and Melanie Chen Cole (sound). They have collaborated with director Chang to create a world whose sights and sounds are rooted in Chinese tradition while taking advantage of the opportunities the story provides for flights of fancy and imagination, sometimes inspired by our own contemporary culture.
Learn more about Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and buy tickets.