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Master Craftsman of Stage and Screen: Randall Duk Kim Returns to the Sitnik Theatre for "Tartuffe"

originally published: 02/14/2024

Master Craftsman of Stage and Screen: Randall Duk Kim Returns to the Sitnik Theatre for "Tartuffe"

Randall Duk Kim pictured in rehearsal for Tartuffe (Jordan Kaplan behind). Photo by Trevor Callahan

(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- In the vast landscape of entertainment, there are few individuals whose careers resonate as deeply and diversely as that of Randall Duk Kim. An actor of unparalleled skill. A luminary of both theater and film, Kim's journey is not just a chronicle of success but a testament to the enduring power of talent, perseverance, and passion. A true master of his art, Kim continues his journey as he returns to the Sitnik stage, Februrary 16 through March 3, to share with audiences his lifelong dedication to the theatre in the Centenary Stage Company production of Moliere’s Tartuffe.

Born in 1943 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kim's early life was marked by the fusion of cultures that would later enrich his performances. His upbringing instilled in him a deep appreciation for storytelling, a trait that would become the cornerstone of his illustrious career.

“My closest companion was my imagination and it made me perpetually restless, always hungry for stories—stories told to me, stories overheard, stories sent through the radio or projected onto screens or enacted before my eyes, stories I found in a myriad of books—I was insatiable. At age 10, I saw my first play, Oklahoma at the Honolulu Community Theatre...and it was ecstasy to see that make-believe could be ‘real’.” - Randall Duk Kim

When he was still in high school the University of Hawaii drama department, began a program they called the “Great Plays Cycle” where over the course of four years a student could see performances of eight of the greatest plays in the Western tradition. Hamlet and Oedipus Rex were among those in the cycle and at 16 years old, Randall Duk Kim credits seeing these performances live on stage had him falling passionately in love with the stage and knew then he would become a stage actor dedicated to the “classical” theatre.



 
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Kim's ascent in the world of acting was nothing short of remarkable. In 1964, he left Hawaii with a close friend, Charles Bright, with whom he would later co-found the American Players Theatre, and headed to New York City. He spent the following years filling his life with theatre attending countless performances in New York, San Francisco, and London. Kim honed his craft at the prestigious New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and later at the renowned American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. It was here that he began earning critical acclaim for his nuanced performances and commanding presence.

One of the defining moments in Kim's career came with his portrayal of the titular character in The King and I on Broadway. His rendition of the iconic role showcased not only his remarkable talent as an actor but also his ability to breathe new life into classic characters, captivating audiences with his charisma and depth. He has portrayed a wide variety of roles on the stage some of the most notable being, the title role in Hamlet, Kralahome in the revival of The King and I on Broadway (before he took on the aforementioned titular role in the same production), Andrew Kwong/Eng Tieng-Bin from the Golden Child and Wang in the Flower Drum Song.

Beyond his artistic achievements, Kim's contributions to the Asian American community cannot be overstated. At a time when opportunities for Asian actors were scarce, he blazed a trail for future generations, breaking down barriers and paving the way for greater representation in the industry. Kim starred in the first play written by an Asian American to be produced professionally in New York, The Chickencoop Chinaman by Frank Chin, which was mounted by The American Place Theatre in 1972. Then, in 1974 he starred in Chin's second play, The Year of the Dragon. Also, that year, he became one of the first Asian-American actors to play a leading role in an American production of a Shakespeare play when he played the title role in The New York Public Theater's 1974 production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Kim went on to play the title role in Hamlet at the Guthrie Theatre in 1978–79.

“These plays won’t let you go, you can’t go far from them, I mean when Hamlet gets you or Seagull gets you or any of these plays it’s like, you can’t shake it off. It suddenly becomes a part of your being. I mean, within me I now carry all characters that I have ever played. They’re a part of my being, they’re a part of who I am.” – Randall Duk Kim

However, it was not just on the stage where Kim left an indelible mark. His foray into film brought his talents to a wider audience, with memorable roles in movies such as The Matrix Reloaded where he portrayed ‘The Keymaker’ and Memoirs of a Geisha. Another notable film role was as the voice of Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda. In each performance, Kim brought a sense of gravitas and authenticity that elevated the storytelling, earning him a legion of fans and accolades from critics alike. Kim’s film credits are also extensive and some to note include: Prisoners in Time, The Replacement Killers, Lost Empire (aka the Monkey King), Anna and The King, Dragonball Evolution, The Last Airbender, and Ninja Assassin. TV audiences have seen him in Fringe, Person of Interest, and Elementary. His most recent credits are a mix of stage and screen such as: CSC’s professional production of Art (Spring 2018), An Enemy Of The People (2019), and John Wick 3 (2019). He is the voice of John in John and Sun-Hee in The Boys Presents: Diabolical (2022) and Wan Shi Tong in the new Avatar: The Last Air Bender (2024).

In addition to his profound stage and screen career as an actor, one of Randall Duk Kim’s most notable contributions to the arts is his work with the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Randall Duk Kim and his wife, Anne Occhiogrosso have now devoted 40 years of their lives to classical theatre, through acting, directing, teaching, commissioning new translations of classic work, and developing a singular approach to classical text interpretation. This life-long dedication to classical theatre led to their founding the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, along with their founding partner Charles J. Bright, in 1979.

“Charles Bright, Anne Occhiogrosso, and I had a very big dream: to found and build an American, classical repertory company producing plays within the framework of a classical theatre research and training center. We incorporated in Washington D.C. in 1977, and in 1980 planted ourselves in Spring Green, WI. With high hopes and limited funds, we dove into realizing our dream...” – Randall Duk Kim (via his performing arts legacy project site)



 
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Kim served as the Artistic Director of the theatre for many years after its founding and under their combined leadership, the American Players Theatre received a Tony Award nomination in 1985 for “Outstanding Regional Theatre in America.” The theater spent its formative years and all those following training both adult and children in the art of the stage through various classical works. After many years of working with the American Players Theatre, Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso left Wisconsin to pursue even more theatrical endeavors, but last October, after a 25-year absence, they returned to celebrate the Folger Library’s national tour of Shakespeare’s first folio in The Pleasure of His Company.

In 2003 Randall Duk Kim was inducted into the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters and most recently, Mr. Kim has been invited to have his theatre/film/life journey remembered through The Performing Arts Legacy Project, through the Actors’ Fund. This legacy project contains Randall’s own words about his journey in life and in performing, as well as interviews and highlights of his incredible career. You can find it online here.

In addition to starring in the Centenary Stage Company production of Tartuffe as the protagonist of the play, Orgon, Mr. Kim also helms the production as the co-director alongside his wife, artistic collaborator, and American Player’s Theatre Co-founder, Anne Occhiogrosso. Occhiogrosso will also share the stage with Kim as Dorine. Kim and Occhiogrosso are joined by many familiar faces to CSC audiences including: Collen Smith Wallnau, Carl Wallnau, Diana Cherkas, Nick Bettens, Erin Clark, Luis Rodriguez, Jeremy Ashton, Kai Vialva, Malakii A. Layton, Olivia Tomlin, and Kylie Smith, as well as some new faces including: Jordan Kaplan and Mark Carovale.

“Whether watching Randall onstage or performing alongside him, one is awestruck by his disappearance into a role. He brings himself to a character, and they walk hand in hand onstage. The audience gets the gift of watching his performance and seeing their reflection—both the character in Randall, and the human in themselves. Randall truly holds “the Mirror up to Nature” and it’s an inspiring experience to be a part of—both as an actor, and a human being.” – Nick Bettens

If you wish to see Randall Duk Kim on stage and in person tickets for Tartuffe range from $25.00 – $29.50 for adults and $15.00 - $17.50 for students and children under 12. Performances will take place: Thursdays, February 22 and 29 at 7:30pm Fridays, February 16, 23, and March 1 at 8:00pm; Saturdays, February 17, 24, and March 2 at 8:00 pm; Sundays, February 18, 25, and March 3 at 2:00pm; with additional matinee performances on Friday, February 16 and Wednesdays February 21 & 28 at 2:00pm. Performances will take place in the Sitnik Theatre located in the Lackland Center of the Centenary University campus at 715 Grand Avenue, Hackettstown, NJ.

Centenary Stage Company is set to open their production of Moliere’s Tartuffe ̧ which stars many familiar names to CSC and some new ones. The cast includes: Collen Smith Wallnau, Diana Cherkas, Nick Bettens, Erin Clark, Luis Rodriguez, Jordan Kaplan, Carl Wallnau, Mark Carovale, Jeremy Ashton, Kai Vialva, Malakii A. Layton, Olivia Tomlin, Anne Occhiogrosso, as well as film, tv, and theatre actor, Randall Duk Kim.

The matinee performance on Friday, February 16th will feature special discounted tickets to Hackettstown Residents at the door for $10 each. All Thursday evening performances are also “Family Night” with special Buy-One-Get-One tickets available in person at the box office beginning at 5:30pm.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit centenarystageco.org or call the Centenary Stage Company box office at (908) 979-0900. The Centenary Stage Company box office is open Monday through Friday from 1:00-5:00 pm and two hours prior to performances. The box office is located in the Lackland Performing Arts Center on the campus of Centenary University at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ. Centenary Stage Company can also be found across social media platforms; Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter. Like and follow to receive the latest in CSC news and special offers.

The 2023-24 Season of Performing Arts events at the Centenary Stage Company is made possible through the generous support of the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, the Sandra Kupperman Foundation, the John and Margaret Post Foundation, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the CSC corporate sponsors, including Platinum Season Sponsor the House of the Good Shepherd, Silver Sponsors, Heath Village, Visions Federal Credit Union, Explore Warren, and Fulton Bank, and Centenary Stage Company members and supporters. 



 
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