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Mekong Joe


JOSHUA TREE, CA - The Hi-Desert Cultural Center is thrilled to announce the opening of its new 2012-2013 Season with the live theatrical production, Mekong Joe, running September 21-23rd. Written by playwright and actor Stephen Stajich, the production stars Joseph Wandell, a well-known Hollywood actor born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother and an America GI father. His true and miraculous story, featured on NBC's Dateline, is touchingly retold in this theatrical production that is touted as, "An evening of theater that speaks to our shared humanity." This play is a dynamic, moving, and upliftingly funny story told from the human side of war… and all of it is absolutely true. It's a professional-quality production that is not to be missed!

In Vietnam in 1968, Tran Than Hai was born to a Vietnamese mother, from an American G.I. father. Six years later, he and his brother were two of the many children airlifted out of Saigon during Operation Babylift just hours before the fall of the city to the Vietcong. Adopted by a mid-western, military couple, he became "Joe" and his older brother became "Tony." But as an Amerasian boy, Joe grew up feeling like he never truly belonged; and as a young adult, Joe landed in Los Angeles, where he became an actor in film, TV, and the stage -- where he was often cast as a Latino, which further intensified his shaky sense of identity. Thirty years after the war, both Joe and Tony were tearfully reunited with their birth mother in Vietnam at the very airport where they dodged sniper fire as children.

The production's star, veteran actor Joe Wandell, has acted in numerous TV shows – ER, CSI Miami, JAG, Melrose Place, and 24 Hours to name a few, and major film and stage. In addition to creating live theater, the show's playwright and director, Stephen Stajich, has also worked with Politically Incorrect, Reba, Daddy-O and The Prairie Home Companion. The production team also includes co-producer Donnie L. Betts, promotional coordinator Cheryl Montelle, and the many volunteers of the Hi-Desert Cultural Center.

Friday and Saturday's performances begin at 7:00 p.m. and the Sunday matinee begins at 2:00 p.m. Doors and a full no-host bar open an hour before each performance. Tickets are $19 for general seating and $23 for seating in the front two rows. Military and students with I.D. receive a $2 discount to Sunday's matinee. The Hi-Desert Cultural Center's state-of-the-art Blak Box Theater is located behind the Kaye Ballard Theater at 61231 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree. For more information and/or to purchase tickets online, visit or call the Box Office at 760.366.3777.

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