Forbidden City West is an original musical on 100 years of Chinese-American Experience through the life and times of legendary entertainer Jadin Wong. In 1940, she was featured in Life Magazine as the exotic star of the night club, The Forbidden City, in San Francisco. And into her 90's, she still headed her own talent agency for Asian performing artists in upper Manhattan. Married to the Broadway producer, Eddie Dowling, in the 1960s, Wong was dubbed 'the most photographed Chinese girl in the U.S.', her black and white photos with such Hollywood luminaries as Welles, Crosby, Powell, Hope, etc. graced numerous pages. Wong helped to create and popularize the 'dragon lady' image of the Chinese female in a long, tight gown, slits thigh high, and chopsticks in her hair--an image that became a fixation in the public imagination in the West.
Wong's colorful life includes: jumping off a small military plane over the Black Forest, being found and brought to safety a few hours later, then going on stage to entertain two thousand American G.I.s in Austria; running away from home at age 14 to take dancing lessons; creating the 'dragon lady' image with the aid of her English dance teacher; and trying to restart her career as a stand-up comic.
The fiesty young woman proved to be a peerless survivor, outlasting three husbands and braving the male-orientated Chinese community that condemned and ignored her, continuing to dispense advice today to scores of young Asian actors who are gradually gaining visibility. The musical is intercut with the dramantic changes in China as well as some of the reflections and dreams of living here in the US.
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