The summer season at the Bucks County Playhouse – the New Hope, PA, theater’s 83rd – kicks off May 20 with American Jade, a new play written by and starring Jodi Long, the first Asian American to win an Emmy in any acting category.
Long won for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Daytime Fiction Program” for her portrayal of Mrs. Basil E in the Netflix series “Dash & Lily.” Over the course of a more than 60-year acting career, Long has had recurring roles and guest appearances on many of TV’s biggest hits, including “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Law & Order: LA,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “Sex and the City.”
She also has an extensive list of movie credits, including, most recently, Marvel’s Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.
Long made her Broadway debut at age seven in Sidney Lumet’s Nowhere to Go But Up.
American Jade brings her family’s story to life, chronicling their ups and downs among the various nooks of the entertainment industry and away from it. Long’s Chinese-Australian, tap-dancing father and Japanese-American mother were a popular nightclub act on the Chop Suey Circuit in ‘40s and ‘50s. They even appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” a career-defining moment for any entertainer in the 1950s.
“Jodi has a compelling story to tell that feels more pertinent today than ever before,” Alexander Fraser, the play’s producing director, told Broadway World.
At a time when we’re finally beginning to reckon with our country’s xenophobic and racist nature, American Jade explores the torment of those attitudes from the unique perspective of a celebrity minority. Long is, as we all are, a person molded not only by her personal experiences but also by the perceptions cast upon her. The resulting story, she says, is about persevering against insurmountable odds and relentless racism with grace and fierce determination.
The play grew out of a documentary about Long’s parents called Long Story Short, which Long wrote and co-produced. It played at film festivals all over, winning Best Documentary and the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Directed by Eric Rosen, American Jade is punctuated by moments of sharp humor and lively song and dance.
“Jodi’s story is universal, and anyone who has a family with her search for understanding through ancestry,” Robyn Goodman, the play’s executive producer, told Broadway World.
American Jade will play at the playhouse through June 11. You can buy tickets here.
This season marks the 10-year anniversary of the reopening of the playhouse after an extensive renovation.