Meet the 2013 cast members...

Kacey MayedaKacey Mayeda:
Margaret Shimada

Kacey Mayeda is a junior at Crossroads High School in Santa Monica. She fell in love with Manzanar the Musical at age six after seeing a concert reading and has been singing its songs ever since. This show has special importance to her because her grandfather was sent to Poston, a camp in Arizona, during World War II. Having previously gotten the chance to play Annie (Annie) and Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz), Kacey is honored to add Margaret as another classic American girl role. She would like to thank Dan Taguchi and Rus McCoy for this special opportunity, and Kym Hoy for being an incredible mentor and role model in this process.


Samuel ChenSamuel Chen:
Jimmy Ito, ensemble

Samuel Chen is thrilled to be working again with the extraordinary team of Dan and Rus after being a part of the cast of the original reading of Manzanar (gasp!) 10 years ago. Sam has been recently seen as Harvard in The Flower Drum Song (San Gabriel Valley Music Theatre).


Other favorite roles include Tobias from Sweeney Todd (East West Players), Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors (East West Players), Luke from Anything Goes (Musical Theatre of Southern California), and Smudge from Forever Plaid (Palmer Productions). Special thanks to Karyn and my family.


Jason Fong:Jason Fong photo
Yoshi "Jack" Shimada

East West Players productions include: Merrily We Roll Along, Cabaret, Pacific Overtures, Passion, and Little Shop Of Horrors.


Jason has performed with such groups as "The Grateful Crane Ensemble", “Cold Tofu”, “HereandNow”, and "EWP's Asian Pacific Tales”.


Jason is also a playwright, and is currently working on his sixth full length play. Thank you to Dan and Rus for allowing me to be part of this wonderful project!


Kym HoyKym Hoy

Kym Hoy is honored to have performed the lead role of "Margaret" for more than ten years and takes pride in mentoring the new actor who will be “Margaret Shimada” in this latest performance. This musical is so close to her heart as she has performed many versions of it, from full concert readings to abridged school tour versions, and for Stephen Schwartz at the ASCAP workshop.


Kym attended Depaul University Theatre School and graduated from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She had her professional debut in Singapore with the musical Sing to the Dawn for which she also recorded the cast album. She performed as Pocahontas in the live stage show at Disneyland. She fulfilled a long time dream and played the role of "Kim" on the 2nd National Broadway Tour of Miss Saigon. She then got to share the stage with Bernadette Peters, Angela Landsbury and Rita Moreno performing in the Actors Fund Concert Tap your Troubles Away which was also recorded, adding to her list of cast albums. Other favorite stage roles include "Audrey" in Little Shop of Horrors at East West Players and "Keiko" in Velina Hasu Houston's play Calling Aphrodite at the International City Theatre in Long Beach. TV appearances include Guest Stars on CSI:NY, NCIS, and a recurring role on General Hospital. She thanks Dan and Rus for letting her be a part of this amazing piece for all these years.




Blake KushiBlake Kushi:
Harry Ueno, Ensemble

Blake Kushi is originally from Hilo, Hawaii. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Theatre and Music from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Blake studied at the Atlantic Acting School (L.A.) and trained in improvisation at iO West and the Upright Citizens Brigade. In 2010, he toured southern California in the one-man show, Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi. Most recently Blake played “Coach Sakamoto” in the February 2012 premiere of Three Year Swim Club at East West Players. The play was such a success that East West Players remounted Three Year Swim Club that very summer.


His theatre credits include Ten Thousand Years by John Ridley, Calling Aphrodite by Velina Hasu Houston, Resting in Pieces by Sam Bobrick, and Conjunto by Oliver Mayer. Blake made his movie debut in the mockumentary, Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee, directed by Justin Lin. His television credits include a guest star on the Emmy-winning Pushing Daisies (ABC) and co-stars on Flash-Forward (ABC) and Dollhouse (FOX). Blake has also acted in numerous webisodes, music videos, industrials, commercials, and films. For more information on Blake Kushi, please visit and “Like” his page at: .



Nina KasuyaNina Kasuya:
Aki, Gracie Gillian, ensemble 

Nina Kasuya was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and has been singing since she was three years old. Nina attended the Hamilton High School Academy of Music and now studies Ethnomusicology, with an emphasis in World Music, and a minor in Music Industry, at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Nina regularly performs around California with various bands and artists, including performances at Yoshi’s Jazz Club Oakland (2010, 2011) and Café Cordiale (2012).

Nina is the Music Director of Medleys a Cappella, UCLA’s community service based a Cappella group, and sings in several of UCLA’s performance ensembles (Balkan Women’s Ensemble, Vocal Jazz Combo, Gospel Choir). This summer, Nina was the performance mentor for the US Performing Arts summer musical theatre camp. She also will be featured on several tracks on the upcoming album of Dumfoundead, an LA based Hip-Hop artist. Nina is honored to be a part of this production of Manzanar, and hopes to continue to pursue and fulfill all of her musical goals. Previous theatre experience: (Mac Duff/Lady Mac Duff), Into the Woods (Giants Wife), Gypsy (Rose), Merrily We Roll Along (Gussie Carnegie), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Gymnasia), Les Miserables, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun. 


Brian Mulligan:Brian Mulligan photo
Richard McAlester, Guard, Louis Frizzell, Dir. Merritt, ensemble

Brian has performed Off Broadway and at regional theatres across the US and Canada, including the Riverside Shakespeare, New Mexico Rep, Birmingham Theatre, Charlottetown Festival, East West Players and Odyssey Theatre. His film credits include White Oleander, Soul Plane and Armageddon. TV credits include Big Love, Charmed, Malcolm in the Middle, The Practice, Dragnet, DaVinci's City Hall (series regular), and several national commercials.


He teaches acting and improvisation at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, where his directing credits include Dust, The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Servant of Two Masters. His direction of Evolution of a Kiss won Best of the Hollywood Fringe in 2011. Brian is the proud husband of Yumi Iwama and father of twins Kieran and Clara.


Helen H. OtaHelen Ota:
Aunt Fumiko

Helen H. Ota is the Artistic Director and a performer of COLD TOFU, the nation's premier Asian American comedy improvisation group. She also produces and performs in musicals through Yes, And … Productions – a production company she co-founded with Michael C. Palma. Their recent productions were the Los Angeles premiere of Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon and Songs for a New World  by Jason Robert Brown.


Helen’s other stage credits include Ching Chong Chinaman (Artists at Play), The Betrayed (Grateful Crane Ensemble) and of course, Manzanar: Story of an American Family.



Ai Goeku Cheung: Mieko Shimada 

David Cheung:Greg Nakamura, ensemble
Halley Kim: Gladys Gillian, Lisa Sue, ensemble

Kurt Kuniyoshi: Toyo Shimada, Harry Ueno

Bill Mustard: Ralph Lazo, ensemble

Kori Mustard: Ensemble, Margaret’s granddaughter Brandi

Kyle Mustard: Sam Shimada (Act I), ensemble
Shaun Shimoda: Kenji Kishi, Fred Tayama
Julia May Wong: Gloria Gillian, Female Shopper #1, Margaret's daughter-in-law Susan, ensemble







“You’ve taken a challenging subject and have fashioned it into a compelling and original show. Throughout, the dialogue, book writing and structure are very good. I like the fact it took a while for Pearl Harbor to happen. When you got to it, because you spend time with this happy family, it landed for me in a way I didn’t anticipate. It was a gutsy choice that paid off for you. The music is very interesting and successful throughout. The blend of the pentatonic scale with American chords, its kind of Japanese but it’s kind of American. It was very successful!”

Stephen Schwartz 

(Wicked, Godspell, Pippin)DreamWorks/ASCAP Workshop in Los Angeles 

February 10, 2012