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EWP Night Market to Honor Ridley-Thomas, Watanabe

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theater of color and the largest producer of Asian American theatrical work, is pleased to announce that its signature EWP Night Market season kick-off event on Saturday, Sept. 15, will honor Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (2nd District) and actor Gedde Watanabe.

Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gedde Watanabe

Co-hosted by actress Mouzam Makkar, EWP Night Market will feature tasting stations hosted by local restaurants, followed by an evening of performances. Proceeds support EWP’s artistic and educational programs.

“As we usher in our exciting 53rd Anniversary Season, ‘Culture Shock,’ it felt fitting to honor these two incredible leaders who have been trailblazers in their careers,” says Snehal Desai, EWP producing artistic director. “Every step along the way, they have fought to give visibility to communities of color and shifted the narrative and the lens by which we have been perceived. They have been incredible allies, leaders, and activists in both their work and personal lives, and we dedicate this year’s EWP Night Market to them.

“We are also proud to highlight local businesses in Little Tokyo and Los Angeles, as well as feature some amazing Asian American artists, including welcoming Mouzam back to our stage since she had her EWP debut four years ago and is now one of the most in-demand actresses in town.”

Ridley-Thomas has been re-elected twice to the Board of Supervisors since being elected in 2008. He previously represented the 26th District in the California State Senate, where he chaired the Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development; served as chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (2008); and led the caucus in unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration with counterparts in the Latino and Asian Pacific Islander legislative caucuses.

He served with distinction on the Los Angeles City Council for nearly a dozen years and served two terms in the California State Assembly. His extensive career and legislative work have addressed economic and workforce development, healthcare, public safety, education, budget accountability, consumer protection, and civic participation.

Watanabe, who has been acting since 1974, is a member of the original Broadway cast of “Pacific Overtures” (1976), originating the roles of Priest, Girl, and The Boy. He has since appeared in a number of films and TV series, and is known for playing Long Duk Dong in “Sixteen Candles” (1984), playing Hiroshi on “Sesame Street” (1988-1991), voicing Ling in the Disney animated film “Mulan” (1998), and having a recurring role as Yoshi Takata on NBC’s “ER” (1998-2002). Most recently, he played Zaza in EWP’s production of “La Cage aux Folles” (2015).

Makkar can be seen playing the series regular role of Loni Kampoor in the new ABC drama “The Fix,” co-written by Marcia Clark, premiering in 2019. She was last seen in the series regular role of Britney in the NBC comedy “Champions,” created by Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy. Other TV credits include recurring roles in “The Exorcist” (Fox), “The Vampire Diaries” (CW), “The Following” (Fox), and “Chicago Fire” (NBC).

Her film credits include “She’s in Portland” and “Freelancers Anonymous,” both premiering in 2018.

EWP Night Market will be held at EWP’s David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St. in Little Tokyo. Cocktails and tasting stations will be available starting at 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. for VIP early access). The evening continues with performances at 7:30 p.m.

EWP Night Market is a benefit performance. Levels of sponsorships are available ranging from $1,200 to $5,000 with VIP tickets, reserved seating, early access, and recognition in the program card. Individual tickets for cocktails and the show are available for $250 VIP for reserved seating in the Preferred Orchestra section, $200 general for reserved seating in the Orchestra section, and $125 for reserved seating in the balcony. For information about sponsorship and ticket opportunities, email Development Manager Dora Quach at

Performers will be announced soon. Sponsorship packages and individual tickets may be purchased at or by calling (213) 625-7000, ext. 14.

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