‘The Immigrant’ will have its regional premiere at the Chenango River Theatre starting Friday, Aug. 16.
The play is the true story of Haskell Harelik, a Jewish immigrant who assimilated into a rural central Texas town without a single other Jewish family in 1909. “The Immigrant” is author Mark Harelik’s tribute to his grandparent’s courage, industry and ability in adapting to a strange and wonderful new country, presenters said in a media release.
In the play, Haskell, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, newly arrives in America through the port of Galveston and pulls his banana cart into the hamlet of Hamilton, Texas. Fleeing the vicious pogroms of his homeland, Haskell has sought refuge in the land of the free. Able to speak only Yiddish, alone in the middle of a staunchly Christian community, he begs for shelter.
His plea for help lands him at the home of the town’s banker and his wife, Milton and Ima Perry, who respond based on their own faith, and give him a place to stay, despite having just met him and having nothing in common except humanity.
Over the next 30 years, after Haskell eventually brings his wife Leah over from Russia, a friendship develops between the two couples. With Milton’s help in establishing his little fruit stand business and his subsequent storefront, Haskell and Leah make a home and raise their family in the tiny town, as their sons go on to make their own contributions to their adopted homeland.
Karla Hartley, the artistic director of Stageworks in Tampa, Florida, will direct. Joshua Cahn of Chicago will play the role of Haskell, with Paula Shtein of New York City as his wife. James Wetzel, most recently seen in “Papermaker” and “Taking Sides” at CRT, will play Milton. Molly Parker-Myers, who lives in the Hudson Valley area and has recently been seen at several upstate New York theaters, will play Ima.
Running through Sept. 8, tickets are $25 for all performances, except Saturday evenings, which are $27. The Aug. 16, 23 and 25 shows are sold out, except for donor level subscribers. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays, and Saturday, Aug. 17.
Free tickets are available to high school and full-time college students age 22 and younger. Up to eight seats are available for any performance except opening nights and Sundays.
Tickets can be purchased at www.chenangorivertheatre.org or by calling 607-656-8499.
Chenango River Theatre’s air-conditioned 99-seat theater is at 991 State Highway 12 in Greene.