Team AKA announces signings for the Kung Fu Panda live show

Kung Fu Panda & Team AKA; Gavin Degraaff, Ryan Ciappa, Zar Succarotte

As an association, we’ve long since prided ourselves on having some of the most dedicated, enthusiastic and engaged members out there. That’s why we at the American Karate Association are proud to announce that three of our expert team members have been officially signed on to the Kung Fu Panda live show. A fantastic honor for all involved, our booking members have been entered into an 18-month contract for the official show, which will debut at Venetian Macau later this year.

What is the Kung Fu Panda live show?

A contemporary display of expert martial arts set to an entertainment backdrop; the Kung Fu Panda live show takes its influence from the hit movie series of the same title. Featuring real-life high-level Kung Fu combined with musical theatre and live performance, the show is destined to be a spectacle beloved by children and families. With a cast of just 51 members, the auditions for the roles were tight, but Team AKA proved themselves up to the task by dazzling during the casting phase, earning three spots for the duration of the show’s running time.

With the script for the stage shows heavily relying on that of the hit trilogy of movies, it’s no surprise that cast members are expected to perform acrobatic and dramatic feats for the entertainment of a live audience. Transforming the 2D characters on the screen into real-life Kung Fu masters may have proven a challenge, but the result is sure to be nothing short of spectacular.

With the main cast played out with suits and face paint, the use of real martial arts in the show will be even more impressive, accurately translating the feats of the characters from screen to stage. Directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award Winner, Susan Stroman, and produced by Broadway Asia International for DreamWorks Animation, the show is guaranteed to be a hit thanks to its impressive design, fantastic choreography, and excellent cast. In fact, the Kung Fu Panda live show is employing some of the best and most performance-focused martial artists from around the world; making it all the more impressive that Team AKA has three contenders in their ranks.

Team AKA stars in Kung Fu Panda Live

When it comes to impressing the judges and exceeding the expectations of viewers, Team AKA is second to none. That’s why when four of our team members chose to go for gold, every one of them was offered a part in the soon-to-be hit musical extravaganza. While to popular and talented Brian Jansa chose to bow out of a contract for other professional opportunities, three of Team AKA are set to appear center stage during the 18-month running time of the show:

Zar Succarotte Circle Profile Headshot

Zar Succarotte

A dedicated and experienced martial artist from Delaware, Zar Succarotte has over 18 years of experience working with weapons-based martial arts, leading him to gain a second-degree Black Belt in Wushu, as well as being proficient in the use of broadswords, spears, staffs and more. For a live show like Kung Fu Panda, where bold and visible action is a must, Zar is uniquely qualified to provide a stellar performance that will leave audiences wanting more.

» @zarstagram_ on Instagram
Ryan Ciappa Circle Profile Headshot

Ryan Ciappa

An expert martial artists who began training at the age of four, Ryan Ciappa is a Chicago native with a first-degree black belt in Shorei Ryu, as well as numerous competitions under his belt. This commitment to martial arts, plus his mastery of the subject, make him a natural choice for professional-level displays that are required for performing in the Kung Fu Panda live show. With a goal of being an LA-based stuntman, this achievement is a step in the right direction for Ryan towards his Hollywood-based goals.

» @ryan.ciappa on Instagram
Gavin Degraaff Circle Profile Headshot

Gavin DeGraaff

With a first-degree black belt in Shorin Ryu, this Canadian native is an expert both with and without weapons, with a personal preference for the nunchaku. A relatively new competitor with six years of experience, Gavin DeGraaff is equipped with the enthusiasm and ambition to be noticed. Thanks to his commitment to creativity and out-of-the-box choreography, Gavin will be an invaluable addition to add movement and life to the Kung Fu Panda live show.

» @gavin_degraaff on Instagram

Credits » Stephen Renney 

Why we’re proud to be involved in Kung Fu Panda live

For many children and families out there, offering a new way to view martial arts as a form of entertainment is invaluable. It allows us to display the talents and discipline that Team AKA possesses, as well as providing a new way to introduce people to the concept of martial arts. While actually competing might not be for everyone, we want martial arts to be as accessible to newcomers as it is to old hands in the industry.

With shows like Kung Fu Panda Live, not only do our expert martial artists have a great way to make money out of doing what they love; they also have an opening to display their talents in a new arena. With Kung Fu Panda focusing on the more performative and vibrant side of martial arts, each Team AKA member will have ample opportunity to work in a different, choreographed and exciting environment.

With so many martial artists joining Kung Fu Panda Live from around the world to perform acrobatically, display their martial arts skills and demonstrate their talents, it’s an honor that three of our own Team AKA members are on that cast list. This shows just how world-class our top competitors are; and the fact that, when it comes to martial arts, it doesn’t have to be just a hobby. With shows like Kung Fu Panda live show, martial arts is just as much an essential part of the show thanks to its entrancing appearance and appealing acrobatics.

For those looking to learn more about the upcoming Kung Fu Panda live show, or to book tickets for a performance, online information will soon be available. You can find out more about the show here, or to find out more about what we do at the American Karate Association, or team AKA, get in contact with us today. We’re always keen to hear from budding martial artists, or those new to the world of martial arts.

Hunter B. Lyon Profile Headshot

By: Hunter B. Lyon, Vice President
American Karate Association
March 29, 2019

» @hunterblyon on Instagram


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