Adapted from the two-character play An Infinite Ache by David Schulner, this musical utilizes a pop-rock score, by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda, to drive this play of familial tragedy, cultural nuances and love’s transformation over time. From misconstrued first impressions to unintended commitments, Pearl Sun (Hope) and Bryce Ryness (Charles) conduct this emotional roller coaster which flies through its 90 minutes and 17 songs with no intermission.
Arts in Color is proud to introduce its readers to Pearl Sun, who makes up half of the love puzzle that is Long Story Short. Pearl’s performance as Hope is beautifully powerful. It is moving to witness a portrayal of an Asian woman whose given circumstances consist of the majority of the character, while ethnicity plays a minor role.
AIC: Please tell us a little about your character, Hope, and how you came to find her within yourself throughout the process.
Pearl: Hope is an Asian-American aspiring actress turned therapist who hails from Los Angeles, CA. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and before I pursued a career in acting I was taking Psychology courses with an interest in becoming a counselor. Incredible parallels!
Hope encounters many twists and turns through the 90 minute show. Certain events shape her reactions, her physicality, her philosophies. All of the information provided by the original source material, An Infinite Ache by David Schulner, and the wonderful piece that Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn put together, shape my character and my portrayal.
AIC: What experiences of an interracial marriage does Long Story Short explore that’s unique to this musical?
Pearl: The larger issue that exists in the piece in regards to interracial marriage is that of identity. Both sides are seeking to withstand what may seem to be an erasure of their own cultural standards and ways of being. There is an immense fear of not being represented, understood, or respected both culturally and emotionally. It is less a clash of cultures and more a human desire to maintain a connection with ancestry.
AIC: What were/are some of the joys and challenges of being in a two person cast?
Pearl: The greatest challenge was finding a way to meet in the middle so that both of our voices would be heard. Both Bryce Ryness and I had different approaches to the material but we were always after the same goal. We wanted to tell the story as intimately and honestly as we possibly could. It can get extremely intense and passionate because we are trying to get at the gritty parts of the piece. This exchange must not discount the active role that our director Kent Nicholson played, who served as a mediator and ultimately guided us to an interpretation of the piece that we are very proud of. The joy comes when things finally gel and you can walk away saying, “Wow! We did it! We gave birth to something!”
AIC: Knowing that Long Story Short tells the story of a 50-year marriage, and having the honor to call you a friend and to know that you’re happily married, do you have any pieces of advice or secrets to share about how to be in a loving and lasting relationship that you’ve taken from this show and your own experiences?
Pearl: I can happily say that both the marriage in the piece and my own marriage to Johannes advise that relationships be filled with respect, communication, and trust. Those are my three pillars to stand on when it comes to making any relationship work, whether personal or professional.
AIC: We always have to ask! What does it mean to be an artist of color?
Pearl: Being an artist of color is both challenging and comes with great responsibility. I am constantly showing directors, writers, and producers that I am a viable option to play roles that aren’t meant for someone who looks like me. It is a deliberate choice that I make to push against playing stereotypical characters. All that said, I have been extremely fortunate to work with progressive creative teams. Just in my career in this business, I have witnessed increasing doors opening to artists of color in non-traditional roles. Although our presence in the world is more and more recognized each day, we still have much further to go to be represented equally and fairly.
AIC: Thank you, Pearl!
Long Story Short by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigado
Presented by Prospect Theater Company
Now Running at E5 Theaters
February 28 – March 29, 2015
Ticket info and more click HERE