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The Immigrant

The Immigrant (Theatre 40; 99 seats; $ 18 top) Theatre 40 presents a drama in two acts by Mark Harelik. Directed by J. David Krassner; set design, Thomas Buderwitz; lighting design, Jim Call; costume design, Rosendo Ross Fuentes. Opened, reviewed Aug. 24, 1996; runs through Oct. 6, 1996. Running time: 2 hours , 15 min. Cast: Artur Cybulski (Haskell), Elizabeth Meads (Ima), Bill Gratton (Milton), Amy Beth Cohn (Leah). This revival of playwright Mark Harelik's poignant portrait of his immigrant grandfather, deftly executed by a strong cast and director J. David Krassner, is both touching and timely. First produced in Denver in 1986, the play had a successful run at the Mark Taper Forum and has become a staple of regional theater companies over the years. It tells the simple story of Haskell Harelik (Artur Cybulski), the playwright's grandfather, who arrived in the small town of Hamilton, Texas, in 1909, a young Jewish refugee in a very strange land. It was Haskell's good fortune to land on the doorstep of banker Milton Perry (Bill Gratton) and his wife Ima (Elizabeth Meads), who embodied the best elements of Christian America. The Perrys rented a room in their house to the itinerant peddler, then helped to set him up in the dry goods business. With the profits from the business, Haskell was able to bring over his wife Leah (Amy Beth Cohn) and build a life in Hamilton, raising a family of children and grandchildren. While the conflict between the American, gentile Perrys and the immigrant, Jewish Harelik is never glossed over there are both subtle culture clashes over diet and pitched battles over politics the essential humanity of each of the characters comes shining through in this piece. There are no political caricatures here, only real human beings with their own hopes and fears. The production is a solid rendition of the piece, with strong performances from each of the cast members. Cybulski is a warm and winning actor, playing with only slightly more reticence than the ebullient Harelik, who performed the role at the Taper. Gratton is outstanding as the avuncular Milton Perry, who has a gruff manner but a heart as big as Texas. Meads is very strong as Perry's Baptist wife, capturing in a glance and a lilting phrase all the subtext of her loving but poignant character. And Cohn is also fine as the bewildered immigrant wife, torn from her family and thrown into a frightening cultural wilderness. Director Krassner, who understudied the Haskell role at the Taper production, clearly knows this play well, and finds each of the emotional beats with subtlety and finesse. The set, designed by Thomas Buderwitz, is too complex and cumbersome for this small production, resulting in several opening night set-related glitches.

The Immigrant (Theatre 40; 99 seats; $ 18 top) Theatre 40 presents a drama in two acts by Mark Harelik. Directed by J. David Krassner; set design, Thomas Buderwitz; lighting design, Jim Call; costume design, Rosendo Ross Fuentes. Opened, reviewed Aug. 24, 1996; runs through Oct. 6, 1996. Running time: 2 hours , 15 min. Cast: Artur Cybulski (Haskell), Elizabeth Meads (Ima), Bill Gratton (Milton), Amy Beth Cohn (Leah). This revival of playwright Mark Harelik’s poignant portrait of his immigrant grandfather, deftly executed by a strong cast and director J. David Krassner, is both touching and timely. First produced in Denver in 1986, the play had a successful run at the Mark Taper Forum and has become a staple of regional theater companies over the years. It tells the simple story of Haskell Harelik (Artur Cybulski), the playwright’s grandfather, who arrived in the small town of Hamilton, Texas, in 1909, a young Jewish refugee in a very strange land. It was Haskell’s good fortune to land on the doorstep of banker Milton Perry (Bill Gratton) and his wife Ima (Elizabeth Meads), who embodied the best elements of Christian America. The Perrys rented a room in their house to the itinerant peddler, then helped to set him up in the dry goods business. With the profits from the business, Haskell was able to bring over his wife Leah (Amy Beth Cohn) and build a life in Hamilton, raising a family of children and grandchildren. While the conflict between the American, gentile Perrys and the immigrant, Jewish Harelik is never glossed over there are both subtle culture clashes over diet and pitched battles over politics the essential humanity of each of the characters comes shining through in this piece. There are no political caricatures here, only real human beings with their own hopes and fears. The production is a solid rendition of the piece, with strong performances from each of the cast members. Cybulski is a warm and winning actor, playing with only slightly more reticence than the ebullient Harelik, who performed the role at the Taper. Gratton is outstanding as the avuncular Milton Perry, who has a gruff manner but a heart as big as Texas. Meads is very strong as Perry’s Baptist wife, capturing in a glance and a lilting phrase all the subtext of her loving but poignant character. And Cohn is also fine as the bewildered immigrant wife, torn from her family and thrown into a frightening cultural wilderness. Director Krassner, who understudied the Haskell role at the Taper production, clearly knows this play well, and finds each of the emotional beats with subtlety and finesse. The set, designed by Thomas Buderwitz, is too complex and cumbersome for this small production, resulting in several opening night set-related glitches.

The Immigrant

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