LOS ANGELES – Honolulu youth theater company Ohana Arts and the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) will premiere the revival production of Ohana Arts’ signature musical Peace On Your Wings on August 5-6 at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, downtown L.A., the epicenter of Japanese and Japanese American performing arts.
Inspired by the true story of Sadako Sasaki and her 1,000 origami cranes, the musical follows the lives of Sadako and her middle-school classmates in 1950s post-war Hiroshima.
The L.A. shows, which will take place exactly 78 years from the date of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, capture the challenges of adolescence and the power of friendship in the face of real-life gravity, and most of all, how Sadako’s dreams for a better tomorrow teach the children—and the world—about courage, love, and peace.
Sadako Sasaki was 2 years old when the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Ten years later, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Following the Japanese tradition that says anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes is granted a wish, Sadako and her friends embarked on a quest to fold a thousand cranes to bring her back to good health. Sadako became an international symbol for peace, inspiring a youth movement to have a memorial built in Hiroshima in honor of all child victims.
Peace On Your Wings’ original musical score was written by Los Angeles native Laurie Rubin, who is Ohana Arts Co-Artistic Director and lyricist, and Ohana Arts Executive and Co-Artistic Director and composer Jennifer Taira. The score combines modern pop with Japanese influences to create an uplifting and unforgettable experience. New songs will be debuted in the 2023 remounting of the show, which originally premiered in 2014. The show is directed by Cari Taira, co-founder of Ohana Arts along with Jennifer Taira and Rubin; choreography is by Danielle Hannah Bensky.
The show has enjoyed consistent, sold-out houses and enthusiastic responses from audience members. Watch the all-youth cast discuss the powerful meaning behind the production here.
Notes Rubin, “While Peace on Your Wings features an all-youth cast, there is nothing childish about its message. During these times, when nuclear weaponry is being used so freely as a threat in the international arena, Sadako’s story needs to be told more urgently than ever to raise global consciousness. Our cast are youth ambassadors giving voice to this movement through musical theater.”
“JACCC is proud to be the only West Coast venue for this production of Peace On Your Wings,” says JACCC’s President & CEO, Patricia Wyatt. “Especially as anti-Asian hate crimes are spiking throughout our state and war continues in Ukraine and elsewhere, we draw inspiration from the musical’s youth actors, who are relying on all of us to become ambassadors for peace.”
“Peace On Your Wings tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who lost her life after months of suffering at the hands of someone else’s war and yet through it all didn’t stop caring about others and appreciating every moment,” notes Wyatt Tamamoto, a high school junior who plays Masahiro Sasaki, Sadako’s brother who is still living. “It serves as a wake-up call to bring us back real fast because in order to build a better future we sometimes need to look at the past and be shaken by what we find there.”
Peace On Your Wings has been the subject of two mini-documentaries by NHK (Japan’s national news network) and has been featured on KTLA news, Broadway World, Huffington Post and MidWeek (cover story) among others.
Following the run of shows in Los Angeles, the production will make its Japanese debut in Hiroshima in September. Several senators from Hawaii will accompany the Peace On Your Wings cast on a mission of peace and connection.
About Peace On Your Wings
Peace on Your Wings first premiered in November 2014 in Honolulu, and enjoyed a sold-out statewide tour in January-February 2015. Due to popular demand, the show returned for an August-September 2015 encore in Honolulu and Los Angeles on the 70th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In 2016, the show made its East Coast debut at New York’s Lincoln Center; in 2017, traveled to Northern California; and in 2018, took the stage in Sacramento. Peace On Your Wings has been recognized with a Certificate of Commendation from the City Council of Honolulu, an award from the United Nations Association of Hawaii, and a proclamation from the City & County of Honolulu proclaiming August 6, 2015, as “Peace On Your Wings Day.” For more information, visit peaceonyourwings.com.
About Ohana Arts
Ohana Arts is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2010, providing high-caliber training for youth ages 6-18 with a mission to cultivate peace through the universal language of the arts. Local- and mainland-based teaching artists are invited to join the faculty of instructors, directors, music directors, and choreographers for the annual Ohana Arts summer program. Its Youth Theatre Company commissions, produces, and tours original works telling stories from the youth perspective focused on themes of diversity, including Peace On Your Wings.
About Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC)
Founded in 1972, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center weaves Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture into the fabric of the Japanese American communities in Los Angeles. JACCC remains firmly rooted in Little Tokyo, providing a vital place to build connections between people and cultures, locally and internationally.
Through inclusive programs and authentic experiences, the JACCC continues its traditions and nurture the next generation of innovative artists, culture-bearers, and thinkers. Follow the JACCC on social media @jaccc_la.