The Immigrant, The Musical
STEVEN LEIGH MORRIS · JUNE 27, 2012
Mark Harelik’s 2000 musical, based on his play first presented locally at the Mark Taper Forum in 1986, offers a warm and winning portrait of Russian-Jewish immigrant Haskell Harelik (Gary Patent), who settles in rural Texas in 1909, where his wife (Dana Shaw) bears three children. Inspired by the experiences of playwright Harelik’s grandparents, the tale centers around the close but ultimately tense relationship between Haskell and the kindly gentile couple (Anthony Gruppuso as banker Milton and Cheryl David as his open-hearted wife, Ima) who take the immigrant under their wings. They help the impoverished fruit vendor build a mercantile business, but a wedge develops between Haskell and Milton over differing cultural and political beliefs. Director Howard Teichman and a skilled design team make fine use of the intimate space. Less successful are the songs of lyricist Sarah Knapp and composer Steven M. Alper, which primarily feel prolonged and superfluous. Nonetheless, the rich and affecting ethnic flavor of this piece shines through via the uplifting narrative and splendid performances. West Coast Jewish Theatre at the Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through July 15. (323) 860-6620, wcjt.org.
LA Times Critics Pick
Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein
DARYL H. MILLER · JANUARY 27, 2011
“Photographs and paintings of Stein suggest an imposing presence, hinted at here in the tart, straightforward personality of the older Stein (Cheryl David) who’s giving the talk…
…the show beautifully conveys the notion that for Stein, as she might have put the matter in one of her famously circular sentences: Her life was her art was her life.”
The Orange County Register
Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude
ERIC MARCHESE · JANUARY 26, 2011
“Front and center of desai’s staging is Cheryl David as Stein in her prime (during the 1920s and ’30s). It’s hard to imagine this show without David. Eccentric and garrulous, her Gertrude, planted at a lectern, shares her thoughts, feelings and life experiences with us directly—often in a bemused, quizzical way.
And no one here does bemused and quizzical as well as David…”
NY Times Critics Pick
CHARLES ISHERWOOD · OCTOBER 22, 2004
“Several bits are funny despite the familiarity, as when Amy’s mother (Cheryl David) unleashes a volley of questions at her prospective son-in-law with the speed and accuracy of an ace machine-gunner. Later, Mrs Cohen’s own status as an imposter is revealed when Chris recalls a telling detail from their brief conversation: She paid retail for the Chanel bag! So it goes for two hours, with the play’s nimble cast dispensing regular nuggets of mugging, some appealingly goofy (Ms. David)…”
STEVEN STANLEY · MAY 20, 2010
“David is magnificent as Act One’s Sarah. When Mrs. Grosberg tells Rochelle (referring to Vincent’s wife of forty years), ‘That Yadwiga of his is ugly and dumb and poor and still, after forty years of suffering, he stands by her. A good man,’ you know precisely what kind of woman you’re dealing with. Spoken in a deliciously thick Russian/Jewish accent, David makes lines like these (Goldfarb at his most devilish and Sarah at her most passive-aggressive) positively zing, so much so that when later we see her break down and declare between sobs, ‘I am good girl, Artie. I am good girl,’ the effect is all the more stunning. Stunning can also describe David’s transformation into Act Two’s modern Canadian single mother, her terrific work goes a long way towards suspension of disbelief.”
“In 1961, fearsome Jewish mama Sarah Grosberg (played by Cheryl David with battle-axe aplomb) invites the mousy fiancée (Robyn Cohen) of her beloved son Artie (Patrick J. Rafferty) for tea and strudel…
Years later, Sarah’s granddaughter Jennifer (also played by David, in such a different breezy, open turn that she’s almost unrecognizable) journeys to China to adopt an orphan… Goldfarb’s play is mainly set dressing for David’s splendid tour de force twin performances as the steely matriarch and her neurotic, insecure granddaughter, turns which are beautifully nuanced and complex. As Sarah, David depicts an immediately familiar type, who’s as much a creature of her era as is the more immature-seeming, emotionally drifting Jennifer.”
From Door to Door
PAUL BIRCHALL · MAY 8, 2008
“When Mary (Cheryl David), the central figure in playwright James Sherman’s genial character portrait of three generations of women in a Jewish American family, vows that she won’t treat her daughter the same way her mother treated her, you know one thing’s for certain: Mary is going to turn into her mother before the show’s over.
David cuts an unexpectedly tragic figure as the daughter who does exactly what her mother wants but winds up living vicariously through her own child.”