Reviews: “Cambodian Rock Band” at OSF/La Jolla Playhouse

At Oregon Shakespeare Festival:

“Ngo is riveting in every scene he is in as Chum. It is amazing to watch him transform from the young man we see in the 1970s, to the older man we see in 2008. It is a complete and beautifully subtle and realistic change by Ngo onstage. Ngo makes you care about his character every step of the way in a tour de force performance.”

Bill Choi – The Siskiyou Daily News


“I still don’t understand how Ngo consistently made his character lose 30 years when he left a 2019-based scene with his daughter and went back and took his youthful place in the rock band. I swear I saw gray in his hair when he was dad, standing just 20 feet from my seat. But, when he walked another 20 feet to take his place with the youthful band, there was no gray visible. How did he do that? Was it a trick by lighting designer David Weiner? Some magic happened. “A sensational Ngo aces older Chum’s English-As-A-Second-Language accent, his resiliency, and his Cambodian charm and younger Chum’s rocker’s exuberance, drawing from his Khmer Rouge-surviving parents’ lives…”

Galen Workman – Dangerous Common Sense


At La Jolla Playhouse:

“Joe Ngo is all but perfect as he pivots back and forth as dad and young musician”

Carol Davis – San Diego Jewish World


“Ngo’s performance, both with and without an electric guitar, is an unforgettable one.”

David L. Coddon – San Diego City Beat


“Joe Ngo, brilliantly morphing from young man to old, is outstanding as the father—a musician, jokester, prisoner, devoted dad, and a haunted man harboring horrible secrets. Ngo brings heart-rending authenticity to the role; his parents were teenagers forced into a Cambodian hard labor camp during the Khmer Rouge years.”

Pat Launer – Jazz 88.3 KSDS FM San Diego


“The entire cast is excellent, but the performance and physicality by Ngo is astonishing (as well as his playing the electric guitar).”

E.H. Reiter – Broadway World: San Diego