Kiwi-Asian friends rework Crazy Rich Asians to better reflect personal, cultural experiences

A group of Kiwi-Asian friends have reworked Hollywood blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, billed as a Hollywood game-changer, into a new theatre show after being disappointed with the film's narrative.

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I am Rachel Chu takes the film's "generic Hollywood story" and weaves in personal experiences with culture and identity. Source: 1 NEWS

Starring an all-Asian cast, the movie follows New York University professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she travels to Singapore to attend a wedding with her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), as well as vie for the approval of his crazy, rich family.

But actor Ravi Gurunathan wasn't convinced.

"She could have been Rachel from Friends, and everyone could have been white and it would have been the same thing, you know?" Mr Gurunathan said.

That led Mr Gurunathan, Amanda Leo, Nathan Joe and Angela Zhang to create the theatre show I am Rachel Chu, which takes the film's "generic Hollywood story" and weaves in their personal experiences with culture and identity.

"We thought, 'Let's do a show where we can put ourselves in the story. What does that look like? Instead of complaining, what would it look like if we tried to become Rachel Chu?'" actor and playwright Nathan Joe said.

They say the actors tell real stories of relationships, family and growing up in New Zealand.

Crazy Rich Asians, adapted from a best-selling novel, made almost $350 million at the box office, but it did far better with Western audiences than it did with Eastern ones.

The actors say the movie was a fun watch, and any representation is good representation, but they hope I am Rachel Chu will promote the discussion of diversity in Hollywood.

"Of course there are problems with it, but being such a box office success is such a good start," Angela Zhang said.

I am Rachel Chu opened at Auckland's Basement Theatre last night.