Seven Angels Theater's THE IMMIGRANT -- A Touching Chamber Musical

By Karen Isaacs

Seven Angels Theater has a winner in a beautiful production of The Immigrant. This is a touching chamber musical about the life of Haskell -- a Jewish immigrant from Russia who in 1907 arrives in a small Texas town. It tells the story of his assimilation into the town and the unlikely friendship that develops between him and Milton, the town's banker and Milton's wife, Ima -- a staunch Baptist. Later, Haskell's wife Leah makes the difficult transition into this very foreign territory.

 

One can quibble at times about some of the events -- the musical goes from 1907 to 1942 but overall it is a moving piece of theater.

 

Originally, The Immigrant was a play written by Mark Harelik about his grandfather. In fact, Westport Country Playhouse performed it many years ago. Now, Harelik has adapted the play to a musical with wonderful lyrics by Sarah Knapp and music by Steven Alper. They manage to combine the Russian tonalities and the American musical idiom.

 

Artistic Director Semina de Laurentis has directed this with a deft hand. And this musical is ideal for the relative small stage of the theater.

 

The cast is terrific -- including lyricist Sarah Knapp as Ima. Composer Steven Alper is in the pit conducting the four person ensemble including a violin which adds a wonderful sound.

 

Max Bisantz is absolutely terrific as Haskell as is Rita Markova as his wife and Paul Blankenship as the banker, Milton.

 

The Immigrant is one of those theatrical productions that you absolutely should experience. And the Seven Angels production shows why this musical received several award nominations when it was produced off-Broadway.

 

The Immigrant is a t Seven Angels Theater in Waterbury through April 21. Go see it.

 

For more information or reservations, contact the box office at the theater.

 

This review aired on WNHU 88.7 fm and on wnhu.net


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