SALT LAKE CITY — Sometimes as a critic, writing a review can be a challenge. Not because a show isn’t outstanding, but because it is — and I hope I can encapsulate adequately the depth and breadth of the experience I had, and hopefully entice readers to support said production. Such was my experience preparing to write my review of Salt Lake Acting Company’s newest play Bald Sisters by Vichet Chum. It was my privilege to see a preview of the production which premieres April 12th and runs through May 5th.

Bald Sisters tells the story of a Cambodian-American family in the Dallas, Texas area in 2016 who are going through a lot of struggles. The Mother (named Ma) has just passed away and her daughters (the bald sisters of the title) are forced to gather and try to execute their mother’s final wishes. The only catch is older sister Him is fighting breast cancer and chemotherapy at the same time.

SLAC ; Salt Lake Acting Company ; Bald Sisters ; 2024

Bald Sisters plays at Salt Lake Acting Company through May 5, 2024.

If this seems like a lot for one play, there’s actually much more. Ma is a refugee who fled the Cambodian genocide of the late 70s and Him was old enough to remember the ordeal. Ma was pregnant with younger sister Sophea at the time, so Sophea obviously doesn’t remember anything but American life. This makes her a bit of an outsider within her own family and causes her to act out and rebel.

Even more than the challenges I’ve described, the play tackles a stillbirth child loss, infertility, racism, and infidelity. And yet with all of that heaviness it manages to not feel heavy. Chum does a wonderful job keeping the script calibrated so it doesn’t stay tense for long, but also doesn’t undermine the tension when it is needed. The carefully balanced tone allows us to feel like we’ve spent 85 minutes with an actual family that we can connect and relate with — not an easy task to pull off, but they absolutely did.

SLAC’s Bald Sisters takes a wonderful script and executes it with the skill that can be expected from one of our best local professional theaters. Ma is played by Keiko Shiosato Carreiro and despite dying at the outset of the play, is responsible for bringing a lot of the levity into the piece. She loves her daughters, and is trying to get them to communicate and hopefully understand where they came from. She also loves karaoke and belting out songs like “Rhythm of the Rain.” (I personally think this play has all the elements of a Broadway musical if anyone wants to take a crack at it.)

SLAC ; Salt Lake Acting Company ; Bald Sisters ; 2024

All photos by Laura Chapman courtesy of Salt Lake Acting Company

Wendy Dang has the more challenging role of playing the judgmental yet heavily burdened Him, and does so in memorable fashion. Both her and Audrey Pan as Sophea shaved their hair for the roles and feel believable as sisters. As someone who has three sisters myself, I easily connected with their dynamic — Dang’s performance as the oldest sister was especially authentic and vividly real.

The other two members of the cast of five are David Knoell as Him’s pastor husband, Nate, and Alec Kalled as Him’s landscaper named Seth. Both male actors are talented performers, but I do question how greatly the two characters added to the story. The characters seemed to take stage time away from Him and Sophea and their importance in the story. The thread of Nate introducing Christianity into the Buddhist family, for example, could have been simply discussed by the sisters without needing to be acted out.

Director Seonjae Kim keeps the staging simple and relies on the actors and the sharpness of the script to sell the scenes. The single set by scenic designer Gage Williams consists of Him’s home, and looks very convincing. There is a kitchen island, stove, fridge (although I don’t’ know who keeps their karaoke machine on top of the fridge) and remarkable little details like a Jesus statue that a pastor like Nate would definitely have in his main room.

All photos by Laura Chapman courtesy of Salt Lake Acting Company

In the program, Chum admonishes the audience to think about the story as not “just a Cambodian story (though it very much is!) but a story about you.” This is the greatest takeaway from Bald Sisters. The acting is first rate and the script fantastic, but in the end, it’s about the struggles of being a woman, sister, American and human being in our crazy stressful lives. Hopefully we can be like Ma and sing through the tough times.

Bald Sisters plays April 10-May 5th at various times at Salt Lake Acting Company (168 W 500 N, Salt Lake City). Tickets are $29-40. For more information, visit

These reviews are made possible by a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.