Actors Xana Tang and Zak Enayat are set to heat up the stage in Single Asian Female later this month, at the ASB Waterfront Theatre.
After sold-out seasons over the Ditch, the Auckland Theatre Company has made a stirring, bawdy, knockout version of the Australian hit and relocated the play to Aotearoa, telling the story from a Chinese New Zealand family's perspective, moving the setting from the Gold Coast to Mount Maunganui.
Written by award-winning Chinese-Australian writer Michelle Law, Single Asian Female has won applause for its authenticity, humour, tragedy and singalong karaoke tunes.
Tang, who starred in Disney's Mulan, plays classical violinist Zoe - one of two daughters of a first-generation Chinese immigrant and a single mother who's struggling to keep her restaurant afloat.
In the first rehearsal Tang and Enayat, who plays Zoe's love interest, Paul, say the chemistry was electric.
"Zak and I actually did a chemistry read for our final call-back audition and it went so well we were hi-fiving each other out the hallway," Tang told Spy. "Zak is incredibly likeable and it's not difficult to fall in love with him on stage."
Enayat says their first scene is a bedroom one and is steamier than the dumplings being cooked in the family restaurant downstairs.
"Zoe and Paul have both been on a string of other unsavoury dates and are very compatible in a lot of ways, so when they meet it's electric," Enayat says.
"I recently admitted to Xana that I am a big fangirl of hers. It helps because I get to channel my admiration for Xana through Paul, towards Zoe."
With the current movement in the States, Stop Asian Hate, both actors hope audiences have some takeaways from the play.
"Stereotypes are dangerous, not because they aren't true, but because you get an incomplete story and see it from only one perspective," Tang said.
"I hope audiences will laugh during our show and cry when they go home and connect the dots. I hope they enjoy recognising themselves in these characters and situations. I hope they continue to support us and become vocal about seeing different cultures on stage and on screen," she says.
Enayat said a lot of the play's values and beliefs were not specific to any one race or background.
"They are universal. It's a reminder that in a lot of ways, we are all the same. For anyone subscribing to general stereotypes based on race - it's an opportunity to broaden your knowledge, and your empathy," he said.