‘Dragon Lady’ Onstage at The Public (Tues., 2/13/24)

DRAGON LADY (one-person musical) by Sara Porkalob, directed by Andrew Russell. Pittsburgh Public Theater. Through February 25.

If memories of old Buck Rogers serials or Milton Caniff’s “Yellow Peril” comicstrips have you wondering how a contemporary musical can get away with the sexually-charged, racist trope “Dragon Lady” as its title, then your outrage will be assuaged by Sara Porkalob’s funny, solo musical about her Filipino grandmother. A Seattle artist, actor and writer, Porkalob created waves recently when criticizing the very same Broadway production of 1776 in which she was appearing. Moving on from that media scandal, Porkalob developed her own musical––make that plural—because Dragon Lady is actually the first of a trilogy she will soon complete. And it’s a sweet, sometimes soft, but often raucous tribute to her immigrant matriarch. Through dozens of characters she manifests in this musical ode, Porkalob tells the story of Maria, once a Manila nightclub singer whose lilting voice leads her to Washington State, where, along with five children, she struggles to bring joy and wisdom to those she loves. (Mature audience advisory.) Dragon Lady takes the O’Reilly stage at Pittsburgh Public Theater. 7 p.m. 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (C.P.O.)

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Prentiss Orr

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