Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band Rocks On Thru 2/11

Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band, by Ma-Yi Theater's Michi Barall, Lyrics by Paul Lieber and Matt Park, Directed and originally conceived by Jack Tamburri

Opening to a full house on January 21, Peer Gynt and The Norwegian Hapa Band follows a modern day Peer (Matt Park) across the globe as he chases and runs away from women, lies cheats and steals to make his fortune, and searches for true meaning. Written by Ma-Yi Writers Lab Member, Michi Barall, the play departs humorously from Ibsen’s six hour classic verse dram, but carries many of the themes of the original through live original music performed and sung by a talented cast. GET TICKETS

Theatre Pizzazz credits the show and crew with a big thumbs up:


Matt Park is transfixing and electrifying in the title role of Peer, a true rock star complete with guitar skills. Also co-composer, he audaciously leads the company through the ups and the downs as Peer’s stories gallop apace. Park’s physical commitment and range matches his fiery and imaginative inner life. Playing all of the women Peer finds himself in trouble with, Angel Desai is dynamic and vibrant, not to mention a killer violinist. Mia Katigbak is commanding and quite a force as Peer’s mother, among other roles, and steps in to tickle the ivories. Rocky Vega fills Solvay, the love of Peer’s life, with breathtaking vitality. Her voice blends styling likened to Regina Spektor and Charlotte Martin, and she’s a talented pianist. The chemistry between Peer and Solvay is just heart-wrenching. Paul Lieber, sharing the composer hat with Park, is always in the moment, whether bandleader, guitarist, or a smorgasbord of acting roles. On drums and mandolin, along with dance captaining and taking on a variety of wacky characters, Titus Tompkins is a knockout. Last but certainly not least, Uton Onyejekwe goes cross-gender as a youthful and warm Helga. This performance beautifully contrasts his strong-willed other roles, in addition to the band’s bassist. 

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RALPH B. PEÑA is the current Producing Artistic Director of Ma-Yi Theater Company.

Recent directing credits include Among the DeadHouse Rules (Ma-Yi) The Orphan of Zhao (Fordham Theatre), Macho Dancer: A Musical (Cultural Center of the Philippines), Livin’ La Vida Imelda (Ma-Yi), Lloyd Suh’s The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO! (Cultural Center of the Philippines, Children’s Theater Co. and Ma-Yi, Off Broadway Alliance Award), Julia Specht’s Down Cleghorn, Joshua Conkel’s Curmudgeons in Love (EST Marathon), Mike Lew’s microcrisis(Youngblood, Ma-Yi), and House/Boy (Dublin and Singapore Theater Festivals). His theater work has been seen at The NYSF/Public Theater, Long Wharf Theater, Laguna Playhouse, NAATCO, Second Generation, Victory Gardens, and LaMama ETC, among others. He received an Obie Award for his work on The Romance of Magno Rubio. Ralph is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theater.


Ralph was born in Manila, the Philippines, to Alfonso S. Peña, and Josephine D. Bayron. He spent his younger years in Manila, and California, before moving permanently to the U.S. in 1984. During his time in the Philippines, Ralph helped found a street performance company called Bodabil, later renamed UP Peryante. The group, led by Chris Millado, used vaudeville as a form of protest theater against the Marcos dictatorship.

Ralph co-founded Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York City, in the summer of 1989, along with colleagues from the Philippines. He became Ma-Yi Theater’s Artistic Director in 1996. Since then, and in partnership with Jorge Z. Ortoll, Ma-Yi’s former Executive Director, Ralph has worked to make Ma-Yi Theater Company one of the country’s leading venue for new Asian American Theater.

Ralph was one of the lead organizers of the first U.S. Artist delegation to the 7th World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.


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