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David Henry Hwang’s ‘M. Butterfly’ at South Coast Repertory

Lucas Verbrugghe as Rene Gallimard and Jake Manabat as Song Liling in “M. Butterfly. (Photo by Jordan Kubat)

COSTA MESA — “M. Butterfly” by David Henry Hwang, directed by Desdemona Chiang, is being presented through June 8 by South Coast Repertory at the Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Dr. in Costa Mesa.

When this rich, compelling drama debuted on Broadway, it became an instant sensation, sweeping the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle ​awards. A married French diplomat. A mysterious Chinese opera diva. A passionate 20-year affair. Inspired by true events, this break-out hit by the author of “Chinglish” and “Golden Child” proved much more than a steamy tale of seduction. Obsession, perception and the allure of fantasy make for a remarkable tale of espionage and betrayal described as “visionary” by The New York Times.

Jake Manabat (​Song Liling) is making his SCR debut. His theater credits include “M. Butterfly” (Song Liling understudy, Broadway), “Rent” (national tour, Benny Company), “The White Snake” (Guthrie Theatre and Wuzhen Theatre Festival), “The Provok’d Wife” (American Repertory Theater), “M. Butterfly” (The Production Company, LA Weekly Theatre Award nomination, Best Actor), “M. Butterfly” (Capital Repertory Theatre), “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (West Virginia Public Theatre), Jen Silverman’s “Crane Story” (Playwrights Realm), “Charles Mee’s Gone” (59E59 Theatres), “Milk-N-Honey” (3-Legged Dog), workshops of Philip Himberg’s “Paper Dolls” (The Public Theater), “The Long Season” (Huntington Theatre Company), and readings with The Lark and Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood playwrights collective.

His television credits include “Bored to Death” (HBO, GLAAD Media Award nomination, Outstanding Individual Episode), “Madam Secretary” (CBS), “Dietland” (AMC), “Lilyhammer” (Netflix), “Hunting Season” (Vimeo, Independent Series Award, Best Ensemble), “The Lair” (HereTV) and “The Neighborhood” (pilot). Manabat received his MFA from the A.R.T. Institute/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute at Harvard University.

​Lucas Verbrugghe (​Rene Gallimard) is making his SCR debut. He most recently appeared in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of “An Entomologist’s Love Story” by Melissa Ross. His Los Angeles theater credits include Alena Smith’s “Icebergs” at Geffen Playhouse (Ovation Award nomination), “Seminar” at the Ahmanson Theatre and Jon Caren’s “Need to Know” at Rogue Machine Theatre.

His New York credits include “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “The Ritz” on Broadway; “Love Labour’s Lost” and “Macbeth” at The Public Theater; Robert Askins’ “Permission” at MCC Theater; “The Common Pursuit” at Roundabout Theatre Company; Leslye Hedland’s “Assistance” at Playwrights Horizons; and the world premieres of “boom” by Peter Sinn-Nachtreib and “Oohrah!” by Bekah Brunstetter.

His film credits include “Our Idiot Brother”; “Lazy Eye”; “A Woman, a Part”; “A Birder’s Guide to Everything”; and “Point and Shoot” (short). His television credits include the upcoming “Dickinson,” “Splitting Up Together,” “Ten Days in the Valley,” “Grimm,” “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: SVU.” He has an MFA from New York University.

The cast also includes Aaron Blakely, Melody Butiu, Stephpen Caffrey, Nike Doukas and Juliana Hansen. Ensemble: Annika Alejo, Yoko Hasebe, Andres Lagang and Sophy Zhao.

Hwang’s stage works include the plays “Yellow Face,” “Kung Fu,” “The Dance and the Railroad,” and “FOB,” as well as the Broadway musicals “Aida” (co-author), “Flower Drum Song” (2002 revival) and Disney’s “Tarzan.”

He is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is America’s most-produced living opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards.

He is a writer/consulting producer for the Golden Globe Award-winning television series “The Affair” and is currently penning the live-action feature musical adaptation of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” for Disney Studios.

Hwang serves as head of playwriting at Columbia University and as chair of the American Theatre Wing. His newest work, “Soft Power,” with composer Jeanine Tesori, premiered in 2018 at Center Theatre Group and will open in New York this fall.

Showtimes: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Post-show discussion on Tuesday, May 28. ASL-interpreted performance on Saturday, June 1, at 2:30 p.m.

Recommended for high school and above. Contains smoke and haze effects, adult language, sexuality and nudity. Running time: Approximately two hours, including one intermission.

For more information, call (714) 708-5555 or visit

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