Leah’s Train

Leah's Train

About

When Ruth, a young doctor, skips her grandmother Leah’s funeral, she ignites three generations of love and secrets. Her boyfriend Ben walks out, her mother Hannah pays a devastating surprise visit, and Leah’s story – a family legend – intertwines with Ruth’s own. Ruth boards a train to find Ben, and its destination mysteriously becomes her Russian Jewish family’s untold history, opening Ruth to a fuller understanding of her mother, her grandmother, and herself.

An all Asian-American cast performs this world premiere, creating characters who are Russian and American Jews. With this production we celebrate a great moment in this country’s history: the inauguration of its first African-American president.

With: Raphael Aranas, Louis Ozawa Changchien*, Jennifer Ikeda*, Mia Katigbak*, Kristine Haruna Lee

Directed by Jean Randich

Run

February 6 – 28, 2009
Previews: February 6, 7, 9
Opening Night: February 10

Mondays – Fridays at 7:00
Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00

TBG Theatre
312 West 36th Street (just west of 8th Avenue)
Third Floor

Tickets: $15 (previews), $20 (run)
SmartTix.com
(212) 868-4444

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Production Staff

Krystal Banzon: Assistant Director
Katy Monthei: Set Designer
Alixandra Englund: Costume Designer
Stephen Petrilli: Lighting Designer
Robert Murphy: Sound Designer
Leta Tremblay: Stage Manager

Reviews

Leah’s Train is a gorgeous play about coming to terms with family, with the past, with the challenges you never have to master, with the ghosts that sometimes hold you back. Leah’s Train is such a brilliantly surprising play, layered and dense and magical like a Russian Kachina doll. Though the story is very specifically about a Russian/Jewish family, there’s a universality to this piece that transcends any particular place or ethnic group. It is instead a trip through time and space that is memorable, meaningful, and heartfelt.

(Martin Denton: nytheatre.com)

Well-written and well-performed drama about family and the importance of cherishing life and connections. When Leah’s pain, vulnerability and literalness meet Ruth’s tart modern tirade, a wall breaks down. And the vast difference in the worlds in which these two grew up smacks us in the face.

(Anita Gates: New York Times)

Stories of today and stories of 100 years ago happen concurrently, but through Hartman’s artful writing and Jean Randich’s equally artful direction, all is clear. Questions of cultural and familial identity are given an intriguing twist when taken on by a cast of Asian-American actors, the drama becoming more universal. While the occasional Yiddish word can feel incongruous, most of the time the powerful characterizations and the cast’s committed performances transcend expectations.

(Ronni Reich: Backstage)

The script is filled with coincidences and surreal moments, and it’s to the credit of director Jean Randich and her cast that the action never seems too unbelievable. The production wisely focuses on the human touches rather than the fantastic, ultimately telling a simple and moving tale about a family and the ways it deals with grief and sacrifice.

(Dan Bacalzo: Theatermania.com)

In Karen Hartman’s Leah’s Train, Ruth hits the tracks – literally and figuratively – to reclaim her past and unwittingly repair broken family bonds. That said bonds are Russian-Jewish is an important detail, and one that is easily accommodated in the National Asian American Theatre Company’s world premiere. Nontraditional though the casting may be, the actors are solid.

(David Cote: Time Out New York)

Photos

Leah's Train
(Photographer: William P. Steele / Louis Ozawa Changchien)

Leah's Train
(Photographer: William P. Steele / Louis Ozawa Changchien)

Leah's Train
(Photographer: William P. Steele / Louis Ozawa Changchien)

Kristine Haruna Lee as Leah
Kristine Haruna Lee as Leah
(Photographer: Michael Ou)

Kristine Haruna Lee and Louis Ozawa Changchien
Kristine Haruna Lee and Louis Ozawa Changchien
(Photographer: Michael Ou)

The Company: Jennifer Ikeda, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Raphael Aranas, Kristine Haruna Lee, Mia Katigbak
The Company: Jennifer Ikeda, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Raphael Aranas, Kristine Haruna Lee, Mia Katigbak
(Photographer: Michael Ou)

Louis Changchien, Kristine Haruna Lee, Jennifer Ikeda
Louis Changchien, Kristine Haruna Lee, Jennifer Ikeda
(Photographer: Michael Ou)

Jennifer Ikeda, Mia Katigbak
Jennifer Ikeda, Mia Katigbak
(Photographer: Michael Ou)

Kristine Haruna Lee, Raphael Aranas, Jennifer Ikeda
Kristine Haruna Lee, Raphael Aranas, Jennifer Ikeda
(Photographer: Michael Ou)

Jennifer Ikeda, Mia Katigbak
Jennifer Ikeda, Mia Katigbak
(Photographer: Michael Ou)

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