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Flower Drum Song (Hwang Version)

"To create something new, we must first love what is old..."

  • Full Length Musical
  • Drama

  • Time Period: 1950s
  • Target Audience: Appropriate for all audiences
  • Set Requirements: Unit Set/Multiple Settings

  • Performance Group:
  • Elementary School / Primary, Community Theatre, High School/Secondary, Professional Theatre, College Theatre / Student, Church / Religious Groups

  • Accolades:
  • Nominee! 3 Tony Awards (2003)
"To create something new, we must first love what is old," claims Mei-Li in Tony Award-winner David Henry Hwang's new adaptation of this Rodgers and Hammerstein jewel. The sentiment is obviously shared by the author himself, who has created something dazzlingly new while honoring the original material.

Mei-Li flees Mao's communist China after the murder of her father and finds herself in San Francisco's Chinatown. This naive young refugee is befriended by Wang, who is struggling to keep the Chinese opera tradition alive despite his son's determination to turn the old opera house into a swingin' Western-style nightclub.

A unique blending of American razz-ma-tazz and stylized Chinese opera traditions creates a beautifully theatrical tapestry. The wonderful score, by turns lushly romantic and showbiz-brassy, retains all of its luster in this lovely new version of an American classic. Mei-Li's gradual assimilation is informed by her realization that the old and new can coexist when there is respect for both. It is in that spirit that R&H Theatricals makes available both the original and new versions of FLOWER DRUM SONG.


"FLOWER DRUM SONG continues to live and breathe, and sing, as joyously as it did three and a half decades in the past...Revolutionary for its time, it continues to be so in ours."

Inside Asian America

"Rodgers has composed one of his more persuasive scores, and Hammerstein has written lyrics that are moody and amusing...a delight; everything about it is just right."

New York Daily Mirror

"Another notable work by the outstanding craftsmen of our musical theatre...a lovely show, an outstanding one in theme and treatment."

New York Daily Mirror
Premiere Production:

In 1958, Flower Drum Song opened at the St. James Theatre, New York, and ran for 600 performances.

In 2002, a new version of Flower Drum Song with an updated book by David Henry Hwang opened at the Virginia Theatre, where it ran for 169 performances and received three Tony nominations.

  • Casting: 5M, 3F
  • Casting Attributes: Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle), Minority casting, Roles for Children
  • Casting Notes: A large singing-dancing chorus consisting of Citizens of the People's Republic of China, Communist Party Members, Mei-Li's Father, Soldiers, Refugees, Chinese Opera Company Members, Immigrants, Showgirls, Chorus Boys, A Ghost Couple, Stage Manager, Photographers, Reporters, Factory Workers, Emigrants, Warrior Dancers, Maiden Dancer, Wedding Guests and Citizens of San Francisco Chinatown.
  • Chorus Size: Large

  • This version of Flower Drum Song is set in China, and San Francisco’s Chinatown, 1960. All of the characters are Chinese or Chinese American. It is this author’s hope that these roles be cast with actors of Asian ancestry whenever possible. -David Henry Hwang.

    The use of make-up or prosthetics to alter an actor's ethnicity is prohibited.

    WU MEI-LI - a new immigrant from China, in her twenties
    WANG CHI-YANG - a Chinese opera actor and immigrant to San Francisco, in his fifties
    WANG TA - his Chinese American son, in his twenties
    CHIN - an old family friend of the Wangs, a Chinese man in his sixties
    LINDA LOW - a Chinese American showgirl, in her twenties
    HARVARD - a Chinese American, in his twenties
    MADAME RITA LIANG - a Chinese American talent agent, in her forties
    CHAO HAI-LUNG - a new immigrant from China, in his twenties
    MR. CHONG - the Chinese American owner of the On Leock Fortune Cookie Factory
    MR. LEE - a Chinese American restaurant owner


  • Name Price
    Perusal Material Shipped immediately. This is optional. Order Now

    1 x Libretto/Vocal Book
    1 x Piano Conductor Score

    Rehearsal Material Shipped a minimum of 3 months before the last performance. This must be hired as a condition of the License to produce this show.

    20 x Libretto/Vocal Books
    2 x Piano Conductor Scores

    $550.00 +$135.00/pm
    Orchestration Material Shipped a minimum of 1 month before the last performance. This is optional.

    1 x Piano Conductor Score
    1 x Reed I (Doubling: Flute, Alto FLute, Piccolo, Dizis in C, D, Eb, F (high) & B, Bamboo [Bonsuri] Flutes in E (low), F 9high) and G)
    1 x Reed II (Flute, Clarinet & Alto Sax)
    1 x Reed III (Oboe, English Horn, Flute, Clarinet & Tenor Sax)
    1 x Reed IV (Bass Clarinet, Bassoon & Baritone Sax)
    1 x Horn
    1 x Trumpet I (Doubling Flugelhorn)
    1 x Trumpet II (Doubling Flugelhorn)
    1 x Trombone (Doubling Bass Trombone)
    1 x Guitar (Acoustic, Archtop, Electric, Banjo, Ukulele, Mandolin and Pipa)
    1 x Keyboard (see Keyboard Book for breakdown)
    1 x Harp
    1 x Drums
    2 x Percussion (Cymbals, Triangle, Xylophone, Toms, Concert Bass Drum, Gongs, Bell Tree, Finger Cymbals, Crotales, Cabasa, Glockenspiel, Vibraslap, Vibraphone, Timpani, Dragon Drums, Marimba, Bamboo Chimes, Rain Stick, Brass Bell, Castanets, Shakers, Congas, Temple Blocks, Mark Tree, Wood Blocks, Sarons, Guiro, Tambourine, Bongos, Baos, Cow Bell, Whip (Slapstick), Ratchet, Tuned Water Bowl)
    1 x Violin I (Doubling Violin)
    1 x Violin II
    1 x Viola (Doubling Violin)
    1 x Cello (Doubling Ehru)
    1 x Bass

    $350.00 +$135.00/pm
    Lib/Vocal Book 10 Pack Shipped with (or after) Rehearsal Material. This is optional.

    10 x Libretto/Vocal Books

    $50.00 +$50.00/pm