Monday, March 25, 2013

"THE IMMIGRANT" TAKES A JOURNEY TO FREEDOM

                                   Milton, Haskell, Leah and Ima, Photo by Paul Roth


The distance from Czarist Russia to rural Texas is 6000 miles and worlds away for a young immigrant named Haskell Harelik who wants to exchange the death filled pogroms for personal and religious freedom.  In 1909, Haskell lands in Galveston and starts pushing a cart filled with bananas he sells for a penny a piece and finds himself in the tiny town of Hamilton, exhausted, in front of the home of Milton and Ima Perry.  With Christian charity, the couple rent him a room and start him on a journey of Americanization as this Jewish man earns a living and saves to bring his wife Leah "home."

Let Seven Angels Theatre of Waterbury bring Haskell's story of faith and promise to life as it presents "The Immigrant" with music by Steven M. Alper and lyrics by Sarah Knapp, based on a true story about his grandparents by Mark Harelik.  This American chamber musical piece will play until Sunday, April 21.

Max Bisantz as Haskell is wonderfully convincing as the eager and anxious stranger striving to create a life for himself, exchanging fear of the past for hope for the future.  He is befriended by a good Baptist couple, Milton, an enterprising Paul Blankenship, and Ima, a love-filled Sarah Knapp, who open their hearts and home to this Jew, the first Jew they have ever known.

With encouragement and a financial loan from a friendly banker (Milton), Haskell soon becomes assimilated, forgoing his head covering and requirements to keep a kosher home, as he saves money to bring his wife Leah, a quietly supportive Rita Markova, to live.  When Leah finally arrives, she is dismayed to see how much Haskell has changed and even the good counsel of the Perrys does not easily soothe her mind.

As the Harelik family grows, their relationship with the Perrys undergoes a difficult test, one that takes years to resolve. The stirring music carries the  story along, while the inspiring tune "The Stars" unites the piece at the beginning, the middle and the end.  Semina DeLaurentis directs this fine quartet of actors in a moving story of faith, friendship and freedom.

For tickets ($30-42), call Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Hamilton Park Pavilion, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.SevenAngelsTheatre.org.  Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

A treat for the whole family is "Glam Kitty Squad," a musical spoof about a trio of kitties who transform themselves through glamor when night falls into crime-fighting cats, determined to save the world.  A special family 4 pack is $38 and includes free face-painting and free glam strands, all sponsored by Sundae Spa.

Discover the American dream in the eyes of a young Jewish immigrant, symbolic of all newcomers to this land, as he tries to capture it for himself and those he loves.

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