From an Artist’s Perspective: Thom Sesma on Waterfall

“I’ve been associated with Waterfall from its initial reading around a coffee table in Manhattan in 2011,” says Thom Sesma, the Broadway star who plays the role of Chao Khun, Katherine’s older husband in the romantic new musical. Sesma fell in love with the work and participated in several subsequent readings and workshops in the years that followed, leading finally to a collaboration between Pasadena Playhouse and The 5th Avenue Theatre this year.

“I’ve been associated with Waterfall from its initial reading around a coffee table in Manhattan in 2011,”

Thom Sesma…says Thom Sesma, the Broadway star who plays the role of Chao Khun, Katherine’s older husband in the romantic new musical. Sesma fell in love with the work and participated in several subsequent readings and workshops in the years that followed, leading finally to a collaboration between Pasadena Playhouse and The 5th Avenue Theatre this year. The musical is a unique collaboration between Broadway greats and Thai entertainment powerhouses, from Tony Award-nominated writing duo Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire to media mogul Tak Viravan and pop superstar Bie Sukrit. “It’s not without its challenges,” Sesma laughs. “There’s language and cultural differences that need to be bridged within the very distinct context of creating an American musical. But given that the show, at least on one level, is about cultural distinctions, the challenges are always worth it—for the piece itself, and for each individual artist. Broadening one’s horizons intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, if you will, is nourishment for a creative person. It’s even more so for a creative team, and invaluable for a piece like this.”

Waterfall had its first fully staged presentation at the Pasadena Playhouse this summer. The creative team will take what they learned from audiences there and make changes to the story, the design and the staging. But Sesma knows that the heart of this musical will never change. “The show is unapologetically about unqualified love—which is not to say its simple-minded or naïve or manipulative. But it asks audiences to be open to the simple idea of how romantic love can be transformative to an individual and how that can change the world.”

And of the audiences who saw the show in Pasadena, Sesma raves “they loved it. It’s a credit to the writing, too,” he adds, “that this very ‘traditionally’ romantic love story is wrapped up in a kind of mystery that kept the audiences so engrossed. So many people came up to me and said this was like a great Cinemascope romance that sweeps you away to another time and place. It has one of the most glorious and rhapsodic scores in musical theater in years. Some of these songs are beautiful beyond description.”

by BRIDGET MORGAN, Public Relations & Communications Manager

Author: The 5th Avenue Theatre

The Nation's Leading Musical Theater

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