Off-Broadway Premiere: POOR YELLA REDNECKS (Manhattan Theatre Club; Written by Qui Nguyen)

Post image for Off-Broadway Premiere: POOR YELLA REDNECKS (Manhattan Theatre Club; Written by Qui Nguyen)

by Gregory Bernard on July 6, 2023

in Theater-New York


Manhattan Theatre Club has announced complete casting for the New York premiere of Poor Yella Redneckswritten by Qui Nguyen (Revenge Song) and directed by May Adrales (who also directed Nguyen’s Vietgone at MTC in 2016). Previews will begin October 10, 2023 ahead of a November 1 opening at New York City Center – Stage I.

In the award-winning Vietgone, Qui Nguyen recounted his parents’ hot and hilarious courtship in a Vietnamese refugee camp in 1975. Now, six years later, Tong and Quang are building new lives in a foreign land called Arkansas. But marriage is hard — especially when she’s having doubts and his first one isn’t over yet. A mom and dad balance big hopes and low-wage jobs, as old flings threaten to pull them apart. It all makes for a bumpy road to the American dream. From the world of Nguyen’s Vietgone, with its comic book and action movie influences, comes a play that melds a deeply personal story with the playwright’s trademark, killer humor. One family’s history makes for a raucously funny, deeply moving take on the immigrant story, told with hip-hop style.

Poor Yella Rednecks is co-commissioned by South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theatre Club. The creative team will include Tim Mackabee (scenic design), Valérie Thérèse Bart (costume design), Lap Chi Chu (lighting design), Shane Rettig (original music and sound design), Jared Mezzocchi (projection design), David Valentine (puppet design), Kenny Seymour (arrangements), and Alyssa K. Howard (production stage manager).

The cast of Poor Yella Rednecks will feature Jon Hoche (Vietgone, Life of Pi), Ben Levin (Vietgone, “Kung Fu”), Samantha Quan (Vietgone), Jon Norman Schneider (The Coast Starlight), Maureen Sebastian (The Best We Could: A Family Tragedy), and Paco Tolson (Vietgone).


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JON HOCHE returns to MTC after performing in the Off-Broadway Premiere of Vietgone and has collaborated with playwright Qui Nguyen for over a decade. Other credits include – Broadway: Life of Pi (Richard Parker Puppeteer, Associate Puppetry and Movement Director), King Kong: Alive on Broadway (Voice of King Kong/Puppeteer). Off-Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey 2 puppeteer); Soft Power (The Public Theater – Grammy Nominated); Vietgone (Manhattan Theatre Club); Soul SamuraiThe Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G (Ma-Yi Theater/Vampire Cowboys Theater); Hello, From the Children of Planet Earth (Playwright’s Realm). National Tour: Warhorse (Puppeteer/Puppet Captain). Regional: Revenge Song (Geffen Playhouse). TV: “Hello Tomorrow!” (Apple TV+) – @JonHoche

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BEN LEVIN’s MTC debut. Ben just wrapped a season-long arc on the CW series “Kung Fu”. Prior to that, he starred in the series Legacies for four seasons. Selected TV credits include “Arrested Development”, “Love”, and a recurring role on ABC’s “Time After Time”. He appeared in a supporting role in the critically acclaimed Independent Spirit Award nominated feature Test Pattern. Ben can also be seen in the Freeform/Hulu feature Turkey Drop. Other features include AllegiantAdmission, and Mike Birbiglia’s indie comedy Sleepwalk with Me. He’s thrilled to be reprising the role of Quang in Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, after starring in the 2018 production at the San Diego Repertory. Ben is New York City born and raised and is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Shout out to TADA Youth Theatre. In addition to acting, Ben makes music under the moniker Grasshapa, available wherever music is found. 

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SAMANTHA QUAN’s theatre credits include Poor Yella Rednecks (South Coast Rep); Vietgone (South Coast Rep, MTC); B.F.E. (Just Add Water Festival); Masha No Home (Ensemble Studio Theatre); An Infinite Ache (The Globe Theaters), workshops of To Red Tendons, Peerless, Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, Red Flamboyant, American Hwangap (Ojai Playwrights Conference); Monument: Or Four Sisters (A Sloth Play) (Boston Court New Works Festival).  Television credits include “Home Before Dark”, “Elementary”, “NCIS”, “The Mentalist”, “Blue”, “Suburgatory”, “Castle”. Film credits include 4 Wedding Planners, Sake Bomb, Good Grief and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

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JON NORMAN SCHNEIDER most recently appeared onstage in Keith Bunin’s The Coast Starlight at Lincoln Center Theater. Select New York credits include Catch As Catch Can (Playwrights Horizons), The Chinese Lady (The Public), Henry VI Parts 1-3 (NAATCO), Awake and Sing! (NAATCO/The Public), The Oldest Boy (Lincoln Center Theater), Lunch Bunch (Clubbed Thumb), A Map of Virtue (13P), among others. Regionally, he has worked at Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Alley, Alliance, Barrington Stage, Dorset Theatre Festival, The Goodman, Huntington, The Kennedy Center, Long Wharf, Magic, McCarter, Milwaukee Rep, Mosaic, Northern Stage, The Old Globe, and South Coast Rep. His film and TV credits include Bitter MelonManila Is Full of Men Named BoyThe Normals, HBO’s Angel Rodriguez, “The Endgame”, “Jessica Jones”, “Veep”, “30 Rock” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”.

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MAUREEN SEBASTIAN – – theatrical credits include, most recently, MTC’s The Best We Could: A Family Tragedy for which she received a Lucille Lortel nomination for Best Featured Performer in a Play; Vietgone (South Coast Repertory) ; Arabian Nights (Berkeley Repertory/Arena Stage); Thunder Above, Deeps Below (Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center/Second Generation); Now Circa Then (Ars Nova); Lonely, Im Not and Year Zero (Second Stage); and Soul Samurai (Vampire Cowboys/Ma-Yi). Television credits include “Love Life” American Gothic” (CBS), and Revolution” (NBC). She produced and starred in the web series “Pretty Precious Unicorns” and the short film “Second Province”. She co-created the podcasts “Gulp” and “A Guide to Freedom” with The North Star Fund. She is a member of May-Yi’s Writer’s Lab and The Gotham Film & Media Institute.

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PACO TOLSON is thrilled to return to Manhattan Theatre Club where he received a Lortel nomination for his work in Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone. Paco and Qui have enjoyed an artistic collaboration of over 18 years, and Poor Yella Rednecks will mark their ninth full production together. Select Off-Broadway Credits: Fiasco Theater’s productions of Knight of the Burning Pestle (Red Bull), Twelfth Night and Pericles (Classic Stage Company); The Unwritten Song (EST); Slavey (Clubbed Thumb); The Children of Vonderly (MaYi Theater); Soul Samurai (Ma-Yi/Vampire Cowboys). Regional: to the yellow house (La Jolla Playhouse); Fiasco’s Measure for Measure (Actors Theatre of Louisville); The Winter’s Tale and Vietgone (OSF); Peter and the StarcatcherVietgone, and Poor Yella Rednecks (South Coast Rep). Audio: (There’s) No Time for Comedy (Playwrights Horizons), The Memory Motel (Two River Theater), Witness (Paramount/Gideon Media), Play On Shakespeare’s Henry V, The Tempest, and Measure for Measure (Next Chapter Podcasts). Film and TV credits include “Billions”, “Law & Order: Organized Crime”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Prodigal Son”, “Search Party”, “The Good Fight”, “Madam Secretary”, “Happy!”, “The Code”, and 7 DAY GIG.

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QUI NGUYEN (Playwright) is a playwright, screenwriter, and co-founder of the pioneering geek theatre company, Vampire Cowboys. His plays include Vietgone, Poor Yella Rednecks, Bike Wreck, and the critically acclaimed Vampire Cowboys shows Revenge Song, She Kills Monsters, Soul Samurai, The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent GAlice in SlasherlandFight Girl Battle WorldMen of Steel, and Living Dead in Denmark. For TV/film, he’s written for Marvel Studios, Netflix, AMC, SYFY, and PBS. He most recently wrote Disney’s Raya and The Last Dragon (nominated for a 2022 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature), and he co-directed and wrote Disney’s Strange World in 2022.

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MAY ADRALES (Director) is a director, artistic leader, teacher and mother; she has directed over 25 world premieres nationally. Her work has been seen most recently at Second Stage (Rajiv Joseph’s Letters of Suresh), Manhattan Theatre Club (Anchuli Felicia King’s Golden Shield, Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone). Awards include: Ammerman Award at Arena Stage; TCG’s Alan Schneider award for freelance directors; Denham fellowship; New Generations Grantee. She is a Drama League Directing Fellow, Van Lier Fellow, WP Lab Director, SoHo Rep Writers/Directors Lab and New York Theater Workshop directing fellow.  She served as an Associate Artistic Director at Milwaukee Rep; Artistic Associate at The Playwrights Center; Artistic Associate at The Public Theater; and Director of Artistic Programs and Artistic Director at The Lark. She serves on the board of Theater Communications Group.  She is currently the Director of the Theatre Program and Assistant Professor at Fordham University.  MFA, Yale School of Drama. (

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