A comedy of beauty pageants, unrealistic expectations, and the business of family, Belvoir Street Theatre presents the world premiere of Miss Peony by Michelle Law in the Upstairs Theatre from 1 July, before a national tour.
Miss Peony is a bold new comedy about our good old need for connection – to family, the past, the future, each other.
Lily’s grandmother was a beauty queen back in Hong Kong. She doesn’t care that times have changed, and that Lily lives in a new country and a new century. She sees a granddaughter caught between worlds.
So Poh Poh pushes Lily into entering the highly competitive Miss Peony, and no matter how hard Lily tries to wriggle out of it, her grandma won’t take no for an answer. And to make matters worse, she’s a ghost.
Creatively diverse as a writer, author and performer, Michelle Law is set to flex her artistic muscles in the lead role of Lily in Miss Peony. Law was recently acknowledged as “Most Influential Young Asian-Australian” in the Arts & Culture category, joining brother Benjamin as a recipient.
She has excelled across multiple disciplines over her career, with widespread acclaim for Single Asian Female (2019 – present), co-creation on award winning SBS series Homecoming Queens and author of Asian Girls are Going Places (2022).
“I wrote Miss Peony with my non-English speaking grandmother in mind. I wanted to share this story about cultural and generational gaps with her, and I hope many other Chinese-speaking grandparents can share it with their children and grandchildren too,” said Michelle.
As in real life, the characters will switch between three different languages English, Cantonese and Mandarin – with all three surtitled.
“Around 5% of the Australian population has Chinese ancestry, and for more than 200 years we have been part of this nation’s history. But so few of our stories are part of Australian theatre. I can’t wait to share Miss Peony with our communities and continue building on the history of Chinese diasporas,” said Michelle.
Directed by Courtney Stewart (who starred in Belvoir’s Single Asian Female and directed STC’s White Pearl), Miss Peony’s dynamic cast features Michelle Law alongside Gabrielle Chan (SBS’s Hungry Ghosts, STC’s Chimerica), Jing Xuan-Chan (SBS’s The Family Law), Mabel Li (SBS’s The Tailings), Shirong Wu (Cursed!) and Charles Wu (Secret City, Doctor Doctor, Harrow).
Originally set for stages in 2020, an Australian tour by Belvoir Street Theatre in collaboration with AsiaTOPA, Arts Centre Melbourne and Queensland Performing Arts Centre presents a comeback moment for the Miss Peony team.
“I’m so excited to finally be sharing Miss Peony with Australia after two false starts due to Covid. Third time’s a charm, right?,” said Michelle. “This year we’ll be touring our debut season, bringing all of the glitz, glamour and ghostliness of Miss Peony to cities across the east coast of Australia.”
“Miss Peony will be performed in English, Cantonese and Mandarin (with surtitles in all three languages), making it inclusive for multilingual friends and family members. Join us at the theatre for an evening of laughter, tears, and pageantry!”
Director: Courtney Stewart | Featuring: Gabrielle Chan, Michelle Law, Mabel Li, Charles Wu, Shirong Wu, Jing Xuan-Chan | Set & Costume Designer: Jonathan Hindmarsh | Assistant Set & Costume Designer: Keerthi Subramanyam | Lighting Designer: Trent Suidgeest | Composer: Dr Nicholas Ng | Sound Designer: Julian Starr | Associate Sound Designer: Zac Saric | Assistant Director: Nicole Pingon | Choreographer: Kristina Chan | Singing Teacher: Sheena Crouch | Vocal Coach: Laura Farrell, Amy Hume | Fight Director: Nigel Poulton | Intimacy Coordinator: Chloe Dallimore | Production Dramaturg: Carissa Licciardello | Additional Dramaturg: Polly Rowe | Translator: Samantha Kwan | Subtitling & Mandarin Translator: Dr Jing Han | Cantonese Translator: Sylvia Xu | Stage Manager: Gayda De Masa | Assistant Stage Managers: Ayah Tayeh, Wun Zee
Upstairs Theatre – Belvoir Street Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street,
Season: 5 – 29 July 2023 (previews: 1 – 4 July)
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Following the Sydney season, Miss Peony will be presented at Arts Centre Melbourne (2 – 20 August), Canberra Theatre Centre (23 – 26 August), Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong (30 August – 2 September) and Geelong Arts Centre (6 – 9 September).
Image: Belvoir Street Theatre presents Miss Peony by Michelle Law – photo by Daniel Boud