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Rachel LambertFrom Ithaca to Beijing to New York City and now back to Ithaca! Rachel Lampert's THE SOUP COMES LAST opens for previews on Sunday, November 29 and runs for thirteen performances through December 13th. SOUP is a delightful and hilarious memoir of Lampert's 1997 trip to China to stage the first-ever production of WEST SIDE STORY in the Peoples' Republic. This international backstage story filled with miscommunications and cultural missteps has been a long-time favorite with Ithaca-area audiences. When SOUP played for a month Off-Broadway, the New York Times said:

"The trip was a comedy of errors and unmet expectations, and Ms. Lampert shows a deft sense of timing and a keen ability to make you see a scene through mere description. And in a lovely, surprising ending, she gives you a chance to test how good your mind's eye is against the real thing. That's when you fully realize just how good her performance and writing were."

THE SOUP COMES LAST premiered at Kitchen Theatre Company in April 1998. It was commissioned by former KTC artistic director, Norm Johnson, and performed in Lampert's first season as artistic director.  She portrays a cast full of intriguing characters all coming together to put on a show under wildly challenging and marvelously human circumstances.

Lampert's performance was recognized with the SALT Award for Best Actress of the Summer Season 2004. The Syracuse New Times said, "Lampert demonstrates magisterial timing with her own material. Deepening her version in this rewrite of Soup, she also portrays what other characters were feeling." Bringing SOUP back this season celebrates a Kitchen-commissioned home-grown work created in the spirit of Kitchen Theatre Company's mission to nurture new work.

Rachel Lampert in The Soup Comes LastRachel Lampert in The Soup Comes Last

Directing the play is Kitchen Theatre Company Artistic Associate Emily Jackson. Jackson directed this season's I and You and last season's Count Me In and Physics Fair. Other directing credits include Stage Kiss, Cider Mill Playhouse; Scenes of Ascending, After Darks, PTP/NYC; Haunted, 2X4 in Repertory; How Steve Died, Rhapsody Collective, Crazy Like a Pumpkin and How to be a Dad, Worldwide Plays Festival. Emily's ongoing work includes adapting foreign language plays with collaborators and championing new play development. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Emily received her BFA from The University of Oklahoma's Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama.

"I have loved 'returning' to China, and working with director Emily Jackson has been terrific," says Lampert. "She brings fresh eyes to my 19-year-old story and finds new aspects of the story to explore." The set will have the original design by Dan Meeker, lighting design by Tyler M. Perry, costumes by Lisa Boquist, with original music composed by Mer Boel and sound design by Lesley Greene.  If you've seen it before, come back again. If you've never seen it, this is a great holiday season treat.

In conjunction with the performances of THE SOUP COMES LAST, Kitchen Theatre Company will present a number of ancillary events. Post-show talkbacks are scheduled for Sunday, November 29, Tuesday, December 1, and Wednesday, December 2 (preview performances), and Friday, December 11 (facilitated by Lee Rayburn of WHCU). On Wednesday, December 9th at 6:30 PM, there will be a pre-show talk by linguist, Andrew Joseph entitled "What Did You Say? a conversation about languages in contact and the limits of translation." Joseph is a PhD candidate in linguistics at Cornell University. His primary area of study is the historical development of the sound systems of languages of northeast Asia, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Joseph lived in China for several years, in part working as a translator and interpreter; he currently lives in New York City with his husband, actor Karl Gregory.

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