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Hangar Theater opens Great Leap this week

  • / Updated:
  • Concetta Durso 

The Hangar Theater recently announced the opening of The Great Leap, previewing August 10 and running through August 20, on a street basketball court built inside the Hangar Theatre on the Niederkorn Stage.

An award-winning play by Lauren Yee, The Great Leap tells a story about family and the immigrant experience in American sports through fast-paced, witty dialogue, is not to be missed. The Great Leap imagines the fictionalized circumstances of a friendship basketball games pitting Beijing University against the University of San Francisco in China in the late 1980s, and the relationship between two rival coaches and an ambitious young basketball player from the neighborhood. This athletic political play combines the personal with the historical, in a story inspired by the short-lived basketball career of the playwright’s own father.

The production is appropriate for ages 12 and up and includes some adult language.

The Hangar’s production previews on Thursday, August 10th and runs from Friday, August 11th through Sunday, August 30th. 

“I have always been “jealous” of sports, wishing theater could somehow occupy the space that sports do in our world” Director Natsu Onoda Power comments for the program, “Sports have incredibly active fan culture; sports audiences achieve a true sense of participation and community; there is a sense that everyone present somehow has stakes and effects on the outcome of the event. People who love talking about sports are comfortable to do so with strangers, which brings people together. At sports events, we see incredible, superhuman abilities on display and we marvel at it. This is also true of theater, but at times, the craft of theater — in performance as well as in design — is meant to make the skills invisible. …Our production will hopefully recreate the sense of speed, athleticism, and elegance of this sport not by mimicking it but evoking it through design, verbal dexterity and of course movement.”

The Great Leap is the fourth Mainstage production of the Hangar Theatre’s 2022 season following School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Cabaret, and Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812.

“This season, we’ve found ourselves looking at pivotal moments of change in the stories we’re telling on stage,” explains Hangar Theatre Artistic Director Shirley Serotsky. “Sometimes these are very personal moments, and sometimes they are major changes on a global scale. The Great Leap gives us both, and wraps up the riveting story-telling in snappy dialogue, unexpected characters, and striking theatricality. I had the great honor of working with playwright Lauren Yee almost a decade ago. She’s a remarkable writer and a distinct voice for our time. She also has a history with the Hangar–her play In a Word was produced in the Hangar’s Wedge Series in 2010.” 

The four members of The Great Leap cast include Ray Yamamoto who is featured as the hot-headed basketball star Manford, Norman Garcy Yap* as Wen Chang, the coach of the Beijing University Team, Jim Shankman* as Saul, coach of the University of San Francisco team, and Eileen Doan* as Connie, Manford’s cousin and a UC Berkeley Grad student. Casting in conjunction with Michael Cassara, Casting Director. 

Joining Natsu Onoda Power on the artistic team are Anita Stewart†, Set Designer, Nicole Wee†, Costume Designer, Alberto Segarra†, Lighting Designer, Kathy Ruvuna, Sound Designer, and Dylan Uremovich, Projections Designer.

*Member of the Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

†Member of the United Scenic Artist, the Union of Designers, Artists, and Craftspeople in the entertainment and decorative arts industries.

Ticket Information 

Student discounts and Pay-What-You-Will tickets are available for every performance of The Great Leap. Learn more or buy now at

For tickets or more information about the rest of the Hangar’s 2022 Mainstage Season, please call 607.273.2787, or visit

Performance Schedule

Preview Thursday August 10

7:30 PM

Opening Friday August 11

7:30 PM

Saturday August 12

2:30 PM and 7:30 PM

Sunday August 13

2:30 PM

Tuesday August 15

7:30 PM

Wednesday August 16

7:30 PM

Thursday August 17

7:30 PM

Friday August 18

7:30 PM

Saturday August 19

2:30 PM and 7:30 PM

Closing Sunday August 20 

2:30 PM