This musical, written by the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein, is based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Chinese American author C. Y. Lee. The setting is San Francisco's Chinatown, with a basic theme being the struggle between Eastern and Western traditions, between the old and the new, littered with many love triangles.The Broadway production opened in 1958 featuring, for the first time in Broadway history, a mostly Asian cast. The musical was successful (as the novel had been), garnering six Tony Award nominations and spawning a London production, national tours and a 1961 musical film, but the musical and movie would fall out of favor as the civil rights era re-defined how minorities should be portrayed on film. That film was a success and added to the resume of new director, Gene Kelly. Asian American playwright David Henry Hwang reworked the story and music for a 2002 Broadway revival starring the wildly popular Lea Salonga of Les Miserables fame.
The original production of Flower Drum Song played at the St. James Theatre for a total of 600 performances, which garnered many Tony nominations and Tony wins for leading cast members.