The Immigrant

Book by Mark Harelik
Lyrics by Sarah Knapp
Music by Steven M. Alper

The Immigrant
Joe J. Garcia, Cynthia Marty, Monica Louwerens, Christopher Guilmet

Musical Director
Scenic Design
Lighting Design
Costume Design
Sound Design
Set Dressing & Properties Design
Hair & Wig Design
Production Stage Manager
Marketing/Public Relations
Technical Director
Set Construction
Associate Sound Designer
Lighting Crew

Sound Engineer
Light Board Operator
Stage Crew
Cover Art

Hope Alexander
Dean Mora
John Iacovelli
Don Guy
A. Jeffrey Schoenberg
Drew Dalzell
Joni Rudesill
Leesa Freed
David Elzer/Demand PR
Robert T. Kyle
Elephant Set - Studio Scenery
Rebecca Kessin
A.C. Bradshaw, James King
Carter Weathers, Moe Zarif
Sean Kozma
Kathryn Horan
Andrew Dean, Amanda Regan
Ricky Vodka
Michael Lamont





The Stars - Opening
A Stranger Here
Simply Free
Travel Light
Keep Him Safe
Changes (Reprise)
I Don’t Want It
The Stars - Finale Act One

Ima, Milton, Haskell
Milton, Haskell
Leah, Haskell


Take the Comforting Hand
The Stars - Leah
The Sun Comes Up
Where Would You Be?
No Place To Go
Take the Comforting Hand of Jesus
The Stars - Finale Act Two

Calvary Baptist Church Choir
Ima, Leah
Milton, Haskell, Ima
Leah, Haskell
Leah, Ima, Haskell


Hamilton, a small rural farming community in central Texas


1909 - 1942


This is the story of my grandparents, young Russian Jews fleeing the pogroms of eastern Europe, in 1909.

The Hareliks
Matleh & Haskell Harelik in 1919. Matleh's name has been changed to Lean in The Immigrant, which is based on their experiences.

Having come to America's southern shores on the wave of the Galveston Plan, my grandparents Harelik (originally pronounced Gorehlik) settled in a small town in central Texas where full religious observance was difficult. Through the years, they raised three sons and entered the American community. All outward signs of the shtetl life they left behind were gone.

For the family, however, the experiences of my grandparents' past lives were daily stories that were passed around the dinner table. And for me, the hero of this quotidian legend was my grandfather Haskell. I could almost picture him -- the young Jew forced to carry his life in his pocket -his religion, his aspirations, his search for safety and stability, and (strangely the most vivid image of all) me. I could picture myself in his pocket. He was bringing my life to this place -- this great open space, this unimaginable future that I live in now.

The day I sat down to write this story, I had been on the phone with my dad. He'd taken my elderly grandfather Haskell on their weekly drive around town, which took all of 20 minutes, maybe. They drove by the clothing store founded in 1911 on the town square. "There's your store, Pop." "My what?"

"Your store -- Look, see that sign up there? Haskell Harelik -- it's your name." "My name? My name...?" He had forgotten his name. He had forgotten his journey, his life, his story. Lost. Now I reach into my own pocket, and there he is -- my great American hero, who traveled so far to live a simple life, raise a family, plant the seeds of my future. We bear these seeds from the faded pockets of our fathers and mothers. We are them, in an unseeable, ungraspable way. And by our single, potent glance back, their invisible lives are made worthy and meaningful and immortal. And in the end, when even memory is gone, that which remains lives only in the telling. I must tell you this story, for it's all that remains of a good man's life, and all that's immortal in me.

-- Mark Harelik


I am sitting in the rehearsal room of The Colony Theatre listening to my talented cast rehearse their songs for The Immigrant. On a break our conversation turns to our own families. Musical director, Dean Mora, talks about his Mexican great-great uncle who was the Archbishop of Los Angeles in 1890. Chris Guilmet, who plays the title character, shares that his family is from France, through Quebec, to Maine! Joe Garcia’s family is also from Mexico, Cindy Marty’s are from Switzerland and Germany, Monica Louwerens’ are from The Netherlands. Lyricist Sarah Knapp’s Scottish-English ancestors weren't quite on the Mayflower, but they were on one of the next ones over! Our wonderful stage manager Leesa Freed’s ‘people’, like mine, playwright Mark Harelik’s, and composer Steven Alper’s are mostly Russian Jews.

In these rehearsals our immigrant families are never far from our minds ... or our hearts.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me;
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus, is held snugly in the arms of The Mother of Exiles, or Lady Liberty as we call her now. But how many of us really think about the words that she carries or the feelings she inspired in some of our families when they spotted her for the first time on their way to Ellis Island?

The Hareliks
Hope Alexander's father, Leon (left), and his brother, Simon, in the early 1900s before they immigrated to this country

“The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless tempest-tost to me...” What must The Mother of Exiles think of our ‘golden door’ now?

The break has ended and singing once again fills the room. Chris sings, “I Am a Stranger Here” and I put down my pen to listen for a moment. “I am a stranger here...”

My father already spoke 4 languages when he came here in 1920 but he said English was, by far, the most difficult to learn. Leon Alexandrovich Ossipoff was born in 1901 in Kherson, on the Dnieper River in the Ukraine. He and his family, MY family, fled the pogroms and political persecution of Tsarist Russia and traveled first to Paris and then to the U.S. They came with only what they could carry in their arms. They never saw their families again. Those that weren’t killed by the Cossacks were murdered by the Nazis. Before his own death in 1986 my father told me that he had always felt like an immigrant ... he was a stranger here. I love this play because I feel it is a quintessential American story. It is about all our families; strangers in a strange land, who carved (and continue to carve!) the American Dream out of hard work, hope, and tears. We celebrate their courage and we thank them for our lives!


-- Hope Alexander (née Ossipoff!)

Why Did Russian Jews Immigrate to Texas?

Texas Map“How many years have the Jews been wandering? Who says we can’t wander to Texas and rest for a while?” -- Haskell in The Immigrant By the end of the 19th century, life was becoming unendurable for Jews in Russia. Their rights were being trampled, and the future showed no signs of life improving. To preserve their way of life, if not their very existence, many Russian Jews fled their country and found their way to Ellis Island. Eventually, massive crowd-ing of urban areas led to disease, hunger, and crime in the northeastern U.S. cities. Wealthy Jews in the north-east feared a potential wave of anti-Semitism, which could have lead to immigration restrictions. Jacob Schiff, a philanthropist and financier, worked with the Jewish Immigrants’ Information Bureau (JIIB) to route incoming Russian Jews to a port in the south, where the burgeoning popula-tion could then be dispersed to other parts of the country. Galveston, Texas, was selected as the port because its small size was likely to discourage immigrants from settling there. Galveston was also a passenger port for Lloyds Shipping Company, which served the German port of Bremen, the location that most Russian Jews used to flee the country. The Galveston Movement began when the first immigrants arrived in July 1907. Ultimately, 10,000 immigrants made their way into the United States through Galveston. The Immigrant is the true story of one of those families who came to this country in pursuit of a better life. Galveston, Texas


Derek Bjornson, Brad Brown, Michael Cabler, Cinebar, Dale Cooke, Zuleyma Rodriquez, Harry Rose, Cantor Mark Saltzman, Malachi Throne, Linda Tross, United American Costumes, Valentino’s Costumes, Wardrobe Wing

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