The title “Mr. Yuniosh”i refers to the name of the character portrayed by Mickey Rooney in the 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, directed by Blake Edwards (Rooney’s former roommate). Rooney portrays Audrey Hepburn’s neighbor. It is a cringe-inducing characterization, in which Rooney dons yellowface and wears appliances to “play Asian.”
“Mr. Yunioshi” reverses the real-life event by casting Asian American actor J. Elijah Cho to play Mickey Rooney. Rooney is depicted here as something of a narcissist, at first believing he is being cast as the romantic lead opposite Ms. Hepburn. When it becomes apparent that he is being tapped to play the role of Mr. Yunioshi, Rooney has to deal with the question: Should he play the Asian character? We know from the cinematic record what he ultimately did, but our play shows how he arrived there.
Mickey Rooney acted in his first film in 1926 and his last in 2014. With over 100 film roles, his acting career is the longest in cinematic history. He received Oscars ® in 1939 and 1983. Unlike his frequent comedic movie personae, in real life he was a romantic leading man: The first of his eight wives was screen star Ava Gardner, and he had affairs with Norma Shearer, Betty Grable, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner and others.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” won Oscars for composers Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer and their song Moon River.
Elijah Cho is the writer, director and star of “Mr. Yunioshi”. National audiences recognize him for the character of Wonderboy, which he played for two seasons on AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire”. “Mr. Yunioshi” debuted at New York Fringe Festival in 2016. It won the award for Best Solo Show at the Hollywood Fringe in 2019. It has been performed in cities across the United States and in Sydney, Australia.
“Mr. Yunioshi” is an Official Selection of the Sierra Madre Playhouse Solo Shows Festival for 2023. Each performance will be followed by a question and answer session. Covid-19 safety protocols are being observed. As of this writing, this means that audience members will be required to wear masks inside the Playhouse auditorium.
“Mr. Yunioshi” plays January 27 – February 5, 2023. Fri. & Sat. at 8pm and Sun. at 2pm. Tickets are $45, Seniors $40 and Youth under 21 $25. Discount teen tickets (13-19) are available at $5 through the TeenTix Pass program. For more information visit SierraMadrePlayhouse.org or call (626) 355-4318. Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre , CA 91024. There is free parking available in lots behind the Playhouse and across the street, as well as street parking. There are several dining establishments just yards from the Playhouse.