Cincinnati Playhouse Explores the History of the Asian Immigrant Experience through the Eyes of THE CHINESE LADY Beginning March 30

PIP_The Chinese LadyCINCINNATI (March 28) – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will open THE CHINESE LADY by Lloyd Suh, the first show in the Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre since the opening of the mainstage theatre complex, beginning March 30. (Previews are March 28 and 29; the show runs through April 30. Opening night is March 30.)  Inspired by a true story, the production paints a unique and surprising portrait of the U.S. as seen through the eyes of the first Chinese woman to set foot on American soil in 1834.

“THE CHINESE LADY offers an eye-opening look at the experience of Asian and Asian American women in the US that calls for empathy and understanding of cultural differences by tracing the experience of Afong Moy nearly 200 years ago to our present day,” says Osborn Family Producing Artistic Director Blake Robison.

The story blends historical accounts with a deep exploration of character and culture through the experience of Afong Moy, a 14-year-old girl brought to the U.S. in 1834. She was placed on display like an exhibit and then sent on a tour across the nation.

New York Theater called THE CHINESE LADY, which premiered off-Broadway in 2018 at Ma-Yi Theater Company, “a gently amusing, lyrical, yet sharply pointed play.” New York Theatre Guide praised the production as “an evocative exploration of cultural difference.”

Suh’s script breaks the traditional bounds of autobiographical storytelling by following Afong Moy from the 19th century to the present day. All the while, she walks us through American history with a singular point of view, striking a rare balance between poetic darkness and humorous moments of whimsy.

“We’re having a lot of fun playing with the fact that Asian American women are always performing,” explains director Jess McLeod. “Whether you’re Afong Moy in 1834 or me, an Asian American woman walking down the street in 2023, we’re forced to be in conversation with Asian stereotypes because we’ve been silenced and kept from the public eye — other than stories about Asian women written by white men with their own agendas.”

As Moy’s character says in the production, “It is a beautiful thing to look at something long enough to fully understand it. But it is so much more beautiful to be looked at long enough to be understood.”


Sami Ma (Afong Moy); Albert Park (Atung); Yuchi Chiu (Understudy); Elizabeth Chinn Molloy (Understudy)


Jess McLeod (Director); Se Hyun Oh (Set Designer); Hahnji Jang (Costume Designer/Cultural Consultant); Lee Fiskness (Lighting Designer);  Fan Zhang (Sound Designer/Compositions); Stephanie Klapper, CSA (Casting Director); Brandon T. Holmes (Stage Manager)


Tickets begin at $35. Preview performances take place March 25, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. Performances will take place on Tuesday-Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. A matinee will be offered April 12 at 1 p.m.   To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit Patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled: dial 711 to connect to the Box Office via Ohio Relay Services.


Stay after select performances for a behind-the-scenes discussion with members of the artistic team.

  • Sun, April 2 at 2 p.m.
  • Sun, April 9 at 2 p.m.
  • Wed, April 12 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Thu, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.


The Chinese Lady is suitable for ages 13 and up. As Afong May tells her story, she doesn’t shy away from authentic and unfiltered descriptions of historical violence and cultural exotification.


Production Sponsor is Ohio National Financial Services. Artist Sponsor is Mark and Rosemary Schlachter. Rosenthal Shelterhouse Season Sponsor is The Vonz Family. Season Sponsor of New Work is the Rosenthal Family Foundation.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of almost 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation.



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