Jonathan & Kimbirdlee Fadner's Original Work for the Children's Theatre

TODAY: World Premiere, The Monkey King, Another Breakout Musical at MST&DA

Updated 44 weeks ago David Stone
TODAY: World Premiere, The Monkey King, Another Breakout Musical at MST&DA
Photo credit: Irina Island Images

Last year, Common Man Musicals delivered the World Premiere of Northanger Abbey, a worked inspired by Jane Austin's posthumously published novel that unpacked the drama and updated it for contemporary audiences. Northanger sold out, and now, its creative team, Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner, team with Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance's Children's Theatre to repeat the magic with an all-new work, The Monkey King.

Originally commissioned by MST&DA Executive Director Kristi Towey for the Howe Theatre, The Monkey King also won a New Works Grant from the Queens Council on the Arts. 

Related: Broadway Bound? The Monkey King: A Kungfusical

TODAY: World Premiere, The Monkey King, Another Breakout Musical at MST&DA

Leading up to its premiere, the creative team dropped The Monkey King's subtitle.

Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner share writing credits for the musical with all the music springing from the fertile imagination of Jonathan. Kimbirdlee, recently signed on a MST&DA's Assistant Executive Director, directs.

Their new musical, the Fadners explain " a theatrical retelling of an ancient Chinese legend infused with a clever storyline and heart-pumping music.  The legend has entertained all ages for centuries with a cast of mythical creatures that can transform and transcend earthly realms and triumph amidst epic battles.  But can you imagine what happens when the King is born and he is… a woman!?"

Two separate casts are filled out by 40 youngsters privileged to perform original work written just for them.

The show has powerful ambitions.

"The Fadners were inspired to adapt a traditional Chinese folktale, The Monkey King, into a modern tale that offers a new perspective on an old way of thinking," says a press release. "Their mission is to send out a positive and powerful message in a time where people of all ages, races and genders are bombarded by questions of identity and equality."

Keeping to the mission, MST&DA's Children's theatre arranged for the kids to contribute physical elements for the stage, taking part in "a free Saturday workshop called 'Set the Stage,' led by talented Roosevelt Island prop designer Ning Chang. The Set the Stage kids worked together to build set pieces, make weapons, rocks, trees and masks."

In rehearsals now, The Monkey King's premiere, next month, is the first step in a hoped for progression to wider audiences. A main stage production is already planned for later this summer. After that, the future is unlimited.

And Roosevelt Island has a chance to be there at the start.

Kimbirdlee & Jonathan Fadner with their future creative team.
Kimbirdlee & Jonathan Fadner with their future creative team.
Photo credit: Irina Island Images

Six performances are planned, beginning on May 11th. Additional information, showtimes and tickets are available here.

The Monkey King Creative Team:

Written by Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner


Jonathan Fadner


Kimbirdlee Fadner

Music Director

Jonathan Fadner

Asst. Director & Stage Manager

Kaitlyn Abdul

Costume Design

Amelia Dombrowski

Lighting Design

Andrew Trent

Graphic Designers

Jerry Fadner and John Dougherty


Irina Island Images

MST&DA Executive Director

Kristi Towey

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