On Sunday, October 1st we were honored to have some guests in the audience with a very special connection to the Titanic. Here is, in brief, the story of their ancestor.
There were only six Chinese survivors among the Titanic’s third-class passengers. One of them, Wing Sun Fong, was among the last few rescued from the freezing waters of the North Atlantic as he clung to a piece of debris. After a few life reroutes, Mr. Fong eventually ended up in Janesville, Wisconsin, just 20 minutes from The Fireside, where he founded the Cozy Inn, a very popular Chinese restaurant in the area. Wing’s son Tom continues running his father’s restaurant where they celebrated their 100-year anniversary last year. Spearheaded by cast member Matthew Liu, also of Chinese descent and a Titanic superfan, a group from the company enjoyed dinner at the Cozy Inn and invited Mr. Fong to be our guest for the show. He and his daughter, Samantha, enjoyed Sunday’s matinee and graciously took time to pose for some photos after the show.
As Matthew mentioned in his post show address, this serendipitous connection moved him greatly. “I’m really honored to have gotten the chance to meet Tom at his restaurant and have him here with us to see the show,” remarked Matthew. “Tom had lots of tales to share about his father and the survivor that he was, facing all the hardships both Titanic and post-Titanic as a Chinese immigrant in the anti-Chinese prejudices of early 1900’s USA. I will forever cherish these inspiring insights. In fact, the ensemble character I play in the 3rd-class passengers’ number, we’ve established as Tom’s father. Transparency and representation are crucial both on stage and off and with these erased stories finally re-emerging, I’m so excited to be able to honor and tell Wing Sun Fong’s story.” His story is also part of a documentary titled “The Six” that chronicles the history of those six Chinese survivors.
Matthew also plays bandleader Wallace Hartley who performs on violin helping to calm the passengers in the frightful final minutes of the ship’s demise, thus the tuxedo as he’s pictured after the matinee with Tom and Samantha Fong. He’s an extremely talented performer trained at the Julliard School and we’re thrilled to have him here making his Fireside debut in TITANIC, running through October 29th.