Now playing at New York’s Public Theater, “Awake and Sing” is considered to be the finest of Clifford Odets’ plays. It premiered on Broadway in 1935. This revival is being performed by The National Asian American Theatre Company under the leadership of Artistic Producing Director Mia Katigbak and Associate Producer Peter Kim. This marks their 25th Season in residency with the Public Theater. Stephen Brown-Fried directs an all-Asian American cast. Scenic design is by Anshuman Bhatia, lighting design by Gina Scherr, costume design by Alexae Visel, and sound design by Toby Jaguar Algya.
“Awake and Sing” is about a three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Great Depression who are in search of a good life. Living conditions are tight and cramped as three generations of the Berger family occupy a small apartment in the Bronx in 1933 – 1934. Bessie Berger is the over- bearing matriarch of the family who deep down is concerned with preserving her family but has a miserable temper that leads to severe consequences. Bessie has shown that she can help achieve great things for her family as she previously helped her brother Morty go through law school which has helped him become a successful business man that the family turns to in times of need. Bessie’s husband, Myron, appears to be weak as he is reconciled to allowing his wife to run the family and the household in her rough shot manner. However, in some ways, he is the emotional heart of the family. Daughter Hennie Berger wants more out of life but when an unexpected pregnancy happens, she follows her mother’s instructions and marries hard working and diligent Sam Feinschneber and settles for a life of mediocrity. Other members of the household are Jacob, the grandfather who loves to listen to his Caruso records, son Ralph who works hard but dreams of more, and Moe, a decorated veteran from World War I who is not content to live a conventional life and is wildly attracted to Hennie. The play’s action takes place over a one year period which allows character development to surface and leads to an unexpected ending.
Be prepared to be won over by the acting in this play. The very fine cast includes Mia Katigbak who recreates her OBIE Award-winning role as the matriarch Bessie and is amazing to see in this play. Additional cast includes Sanjit De Silva, Mel Duane Gionson, Teresa Avia Lim, James Saito, Jon Norman Schneider, David Shih, Alok Tewari, and Henry Yuk.
Although it is set in 1933, the issues are still seen today thus making it a very relevant piece of work for new generations who are experiencing hard times both from the economy and from being immigrants.
More photos from the show can be seen on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LetsGoToTheTheater?ref=tn_tnmn
“Awake and Sing” is playing a limited engagement in The Public’s Shiva Theater (425 Lafayette Street). It will run through Sunday, August 2, 2015. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Public Theater’s website at http://publictheater.org.
Dinner Before the Show
Thanks to Olivia Clement who wrote this article on Playbill.com, I ate dinner at Dorado Tacos & Quesadillas. Located at 28 East 12th Street, Dorado is very casual with a small seating area. You give your order at counter and they bring it to you when it is ready.
I started with an order of chips, guacamole, and salsa which would easily feed two people. The chips were perfectly baked, the salsa was nicely seasoned, and the guacamole was to die for. I also ordered a Baja Original Taco (beer battered Atlantic whitefish with cabbage, crema, pickled onions, and salsa fresca) and a Grilled Fish (grilled mahi mahi with cabbage, crema, tomatillo & avocado salsa). The tacos are on small soft corn tortillas and they were delicious. That day, the special taco was a grilled salmon which I would like to have tried, but honestly, I was completely filled after eating what I described above. My bill was $13 and change. Not bad for a dinner in New York City!