Pasek & Paul’s award-winning song cycle comes to Shanghai

East West Theatre brings Benj Pasek & Justin Paul’s award-winning song cycle Edges to Shanghai for a run of shows later this month. We chat with producer Kim Cudd about the camaraderie of theatre, preparations for opening night, and life on the edge of change.

EastIndie: For those who aren’t already familiar with Edges, what’s it all about?

Kim Cudd: Edges is a really fun and thought-provoking song cycle by Pasek & Paul—the guys who did La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen. It’s all about people who are on the metaphorical edge of change in their lives. Each song is a self-contained narrative dealing with pretty universal struggles—vulnerability, the courage to change, runaway fiancés, expectant parents, fear of death, and the fear of never having lived.

EI: The show originated back in 2007 and has been steadily gaining fans ever since. What do you think it is about the show that has continued to connect with people?

KC: I think the themes are instantly relatable. We all face insecurities. We all crave making genuine connections with others. We all feel lost sometimes when facing big decisions. Edges faces all of these moments with wit and humor and a good dose of honesty.

EI: Where did the idea to stage the show come from and how did you end up bringing it to Shanghai?

KC: Our co-producer Christian Walker had the original vision for Edges in Shanghai. We didn’t have the resources to rent out a theater and build elaborate sets, so Christian set out to find a show—and a way to interpret a show—that could be set in an unconventional venue. It was also inspired by a cool production in Chicago called Shakespeare in a Bar where actors would have drinks in their hands and act out whole Shakespeare plays throughout a bar. The concept sounded fun and organic and he wanted to build on that idea with music. Edges just happened to be the perfect fit.

Both the audience and the characters are patrons of the bar and the whole place will be a playground for the show to be unleashed!

EI: What can we expect to see new or special about this particular version of the show?

KC: Bringing the characters to the setting of an actual bar instead of a stage was a really brilliant move on Christian’s part. There’s no fourth wall or dividing line between the actors and the audience. Both the audience and the characters are patrons of the bar and the whole place will be a playground for the show to be unleashed!

EI: The show is, of course, packed with a list of great songs. Are you able to pick a favorite?

KC: There are two songs in the show that hit me quite personally. “I Once Knew” pleads with an ailing mother to “hold on.” I lost my own mother suddenly about a year ago, so this song in particular is very emotional for me. “Along the Way” is similar. As a parent, the song speaks to a deep-seated fear I think a lot of us share—the fear that we’re screwing it up. Both of the actors singing these two songs are absurdly good at creating a space for the audience to get lost in the moment. I can’t wait to watch it happen.

EI: How have preparations for the show been going so far?

KC: Honestly, it has been a whirlwind. We’d been talking about doing this show for a very long time, but it wasn’t until this past March when we knew we might really be able to make it happen. Rehearsals have been a blast because we’re all friends outside of the show. Our music director Mary Ann Augustine has been amazing. She started teaching harmonies to the cast before we even had sheet music. She makes it all look so easy!

I can’t wait for the audience to witness the unique blend of chemistry and genuine camaraderie between cast members.

EI: What has been the most exciting part for you about putting on the show?

KC: Watching a great idea take shape through these incredibly talented people has been very exciting. The singers and I have been working together for a couple of years, so friendship and the joy of working together has been the real fuel for the show. I can’t wait for the audience to witness the unique blend of chemistry and genuine camaraderie between cast members.

EI: How has working on the show affected you personally?

KC: For me, I think it’s just been a fun opportunity to work with some hyper talented people.

EI: What are you looking forward to the most about opening night?

KC: Watching the audience connect with the actors. It’s a unique show where the lines between audience and actors get blurred just a little and it’ll be fun to watch that unfold.

EI: What do you hope people will take away from seeing the performance?

KC: I hope they take away what the best shows always supply—empathy. Also, I hope a sense of community and camaraderie can be built around shared fears and dreams the show expresses.

EI: Is there anything else about the show that you want to mention?

KC: Yes, Bordertown’s got a special Edges menu for that night—so come early for dinner!

East West Theatre’s production of Edges runs for three nights from Friday, May 25th, 2018 to Sunday, May 27th, 2018 at Bordertown (393 Weihai Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu 威海路393号, 近石门一路) in Shanghai. Check here for tickets and more information or visit East West Theatre’s website here to learn more about some of the other stuff they’re doing.


Michael Thede

Michael Thede

Founder & Contributor

Michael Thede is a Canadian writer and editor. He studied Film & Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario and is a graduate of the Writing for Film & TV program at Vancouver Film School. He is currently based in Shanghai, where he is also the founder and organizer of the Shanghai Screenwriters Workshop. WeChat: michaelthede78

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