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Will America take them?


Last updated 11/9/2011 at Noon

The Village Theater is starting out their season right with a new, original production of their own. Titled “Take Me, America,” the play follows an eventful day in a number of peoples lives.

For some, it will mean their death. For others, the start of a hard-earned future.

What is this day? The day that seven immigrants tell their story to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and are either granted or denied asylum from their possible fate in other countries.

In the play, we meet three INS agents. Two are seasoned veterans. One of them named Gary is new to the job. In one day, his job will test his patience, his conscience and his heart.

And for the immigrants who are being interviewed, this will be a horrible day. There are Wu and Fan, a Chinese couple who are applying together. There is Asif, a Muslim man who lost his wife. There is Zara, a very pregnant woman, who is expecting twins.

There is Isabella, a young woman who may or may not qualify. A young Haitian man named Jean, who has lied several times, under several names. And Milith, who has lived much of his life in a cattle tribe.

It would seem unlikely material for a musical, and yet to pair these stories with musis is a very satisfying combination. It makes their plights that much more moving. The cast is sensational.

Aaron C. Finley leads the way as Gary, the rookie INS agent. He’s the everyman that everyone can relate to.

The part of the Chinese immigrant Wu, goes to Ben Gonio. He gives a heart-breaking portrayal. And his song Chi-America, brings down the house.

Diana Huey plays his desperate wife Fan. She is one of the saddest as she betrays her husband, in order to save him. This is her first time on this particular stage.

Heather Apellanes Gonio plays Isabella, an Immigrant from El Salvador. Since she didn’t wait to be hurt, but knew it was coming, she might not qualify for asylum. She’s shown her zeal in “Beauty and the Beast,” and “The King and I.”

Malith is played by Ekello Harrid Jr. His part is relatively small, but still manages to be moving and funny at the same time.

The very pregnant Zara is portrayed by Iris Elton. This will be her third show with the Village Theater.

Eric Polani Jensen play the Muslim Asif. Being sent back will likely mean a death sentence for him. He disappears into the role.

J. Reese plays the last immigrant Jean. His situation is most precarious. No one will believe the truth, so he’s started lying as a way of coping.

And last but not least are Leslie Law and Dennis Bateman as the other two INS agents. Bateman’s Michael is a tough as nails agent. He’s learned how to stay emotionally detached. Law’s Marsha is a hybrid of detached yet compassionate.

This is a thought-provoking play that should resonate with a number of people, no matter what their nationality is.

“Take Me, America” is playing at the Everett Performing Arts Center now through Nov. 13. For ticket information, call 425-257-8600.


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