CATS presents “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” on April 16-May 9 in Nevada City

Community Asian Theater of the Sierra begins its 21st season with a dramatic and poignant production of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a book written by Jamie Ford and adapted for theater. It is playing April 16-May 9 at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City.

CATS’ show marks the California premier of a theatrical production based on the best-selling 2009 novel about a shameful period of U.S history, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a historical fiction. Henry Lee’s memory takes him from 1980s Seattle to his childhood as a Chinese-American student in an exclusive all-white school in the 1940s. Isolated and bullied, Henry finds comfort in the unlikely figure Keiko Okabe, a Japanese student.

Because of the Japanese invasion of China, Henry’s father forbids their friendship, and despite increasing hardship, the friendship becomes a budding romance — only to be cut short by the Japanese evacuation and internment of Keiko’s family during World War II.

Forty years and a lifetime later, newly a widower, Henry struggles to bridge the gap between his Chinese father and his American son, between America past and present, and finally between the girl he loved and the woman who can finally give him peace.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was first commissioned, produced and developed in the “Book-It Style” by Book-It Repertory Theatre of Seattle. The “Book-It Style” transforms literary works into theatrical productions. CATS’ 2010 Elly Award winner, Snow Falling on Cedars, was performed in the “Book-It Style.”

Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens were interned during World War II. Located at the base of the majestic Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley, Manzanar has been identified as the best preserved of these camps.

In 1943, Ansel Adams photographed Manzanar at the suggestion of its director, his good friend and fellow Sierra Club member, Ralph Merritt. “The purpose of my work was to show how these people had overcome the sense of defeat and despair by building for themselves a vital community,” Adams said.

CATS plans a cultural-enrichment tour to Manzanar, Mono Lake and Bodie State Park on July 18-19. For more information, visit

(Photos: The Seattle production of “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Alan Alabastro, and Manzanar by Ansel Adams at U.S. Library of Congress)

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