A bittersweet love story about two survivors of the Armenian genocide that is a universal tale of hope, healing and redemption is next up at International City Theatre. Artistic director caryn desai [sic] directs Richard Kalinoski's multiple award-winning Beast on the Moon for a three-week run, Aug. 23 through Sept. 8, at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Two low-priced previews are set for Aug. 21 and Aug. 22.
Kalinoski's haunting and poetic play was inspired by the story of his ex-wife's grandparents, survivors of the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million Armenians, citizens of the Ottoman Empire, by the Turks. Set in 1920s Milwaukee, Beast on the Moon follows the lives of Aram, an Armenian immigrant earning his living as a photographer, and Seta, Aram's teenage mail-order bride - polar opposites who have one tragic experience in common.
"Aram believes he will begin a new life when Seta arrives to join him in America," explained Kalinoski in an interview. "They are a couple united by history - each the only one in their family to survive the genocide. But their painful shared experience does nothing to promote domestic harmony. Aram is obsessed with creating a family to replace the one he lost in such savage circumstances; Seta, just 15 and trapped by the traditions of the old ways, struggles to embrace her new life in a new country."
Produced by countless theaters across the country and around the world since its 1995 premiere at Trustus Theatre in South Carolina and the Humana Festival at the Actors Theater of Louisville, the play takes on new relevance in the shadow of daily news reports about the plight of refugees fleeing from violence in Syria, Somalia and other war-torn countries. Many immigrant populations, not least Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their descendents, experience shared cultural memories. Beast on the Moon is the recipient of the American Theatre Critic's Association Osborn Award and the Khorenatsi Medal, Armenia's highest cultural award, as well as the Agnouni Award from the Armenian Relief Society of North America. It received "Best Play" Molière and Ace awards for productions, respectively, in Paris and Buenos Aires.
Travis Leland (ICT's Forever Plaid) and Rachel Weck (recently seen in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at 24th Street Theatre) star as Aram and Seta. ICT favorite Tony Abatemarco (Red, Trying, A Walk in the Woods, The Price) takes on the role of a now-adult neighborhood boy looking back on Aram and Seta's relationship through the eyes of his 11-year-old self - played, in turn, by young Nico Ridino (5 Star Theatricals, Actors' Repertory Theatre Of Simi).
The creative team for Beast on the Moon includes set designer JR Norman Luker, lighting designer Donna Ruzika, costume designer Kim DeShazo, sound designer Dave Mickey, prop designers Patty and Gordon Briles, and hair and wigs designer Anthony Gagliardi. Casting is by Michael Donovan, and the production stage manager is Victoria A. Gathe.
Beast on the Moon runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Aug. 23 through Sept. 8. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and Thursday, Aug. 22, both at 8 p.m. Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays, except for Aug. 23 (opening night) for which tickets are $55 and include a post-performance reception with the actors. Low-priced tickets to previews are $35.
International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 330 East Seaside Way in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call 562-436-4610 or go to InternationalCityTheatre.org.