Fiona is 29. She’s first generation Chinese American, happily subverting her father’s expectations via a successful, highly paid career as a lawyer, but she just so happens to be single. Her dad’s determined that she won’t hit 30 without having at least the prospect of a husband and so decides to intervene. Fiona has other ideas.
Hello Kitty Must Die is a brand new musical based on the cult novel by Angela S. Choi. Despite her father’s best effort, it’s one-time teen rebel Sean who catches Fiona’s eye as does his novel approach to problem-solving that seems to leave a string of casualties in his wake.
With tunes by Cecilia Lin and lyrics from Jessica Wu, the songs are fast, funny and catchily infectious including the best ode to a vibrator (the aptly named Mr Happy) that this reviewer has heard. A cast of five sashay, slink and strut their way through the tight choreography. Sami Ma as Fiona is suitably sassy but with a steely streak that helps her serve up her final act of independence. And Lennox T. Duong‘s Sean has all the devil-may-care swagger and disreputable but desirable panache of a young John Travolta.
The story’s pretty silly but the bite comes from the opening salvo. Chinese women (even American Chinese women) are often expected to be politely, quietly decorative (and brilliant cooks), a stereotype stealthily effectively perpetuated by the animated namesake’s ‘supercute’ adventures. Fiona’s determined to find her own way, even if it means taking her own virginity with a vibrator as a gesture of rebellion. And that’s why Hello Kitty must die. The fun in the musical comes from the knowing wink to, then subversion of, horribly outdated stereotypes.