Heart Sellers Makes East Coast Premiere
Heartwarming new play celebrates female friendship and Asian American experiences
(BOSTON) – The Huntington announces the cast and creative team of The Heart Sellers, a gorgeous and funny new play written by Lloyd Suh and directed by May Adrales. The production runs from Tuesday, November 21 – Saturday, December 23, 2023 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA (527 Tremont St).
In The Heart Sellers, Jane and Luna run into each other in the grocery store on Thanksgiving in 1973 and find they have much in common: each are recent Asian immigrants, a bit homesick and lonely with hardworking absentee husbands, and adjusting to a new country filled with new opportunities. Over sips of wine and a questionable frozen turkey, they dream of disco dancing, learning to drive, and even a visit to Disneyland, sharing their hopes and challenges for making a new home in a new land. A funny, moving, and big-hearted new play.
Huntington Artistic Director Loretta Greco says, “Lloyd Suh’s intentionality around unpacking complicated slices of untold history in beautiful, theatrical ways for the benefit of our children and future generations is wildly inspirational. His plays are honest, heartbreaking, full of curiosity and resilience: a theatrical constellation asking us to look at our past in new ways with an eye towards a brighter future.”
Called “hilarious and heartwarming! A laugh-aloud love letter to friendship!” by Broadway World, and “a stunning comedy! Breathtaking” by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Heart Sellers makes its New England debut at The Huntington this November. The name of the play is drawn from the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, which eliminated restrictive nationality-based immigration quotas and granted thousands of professional workers a new path to citizenship.
“The Heart Sellers looks at a pivotal moment in time, when the conditions were created for much of what we’re currently grappling with as a nation around our collective history,” says Suh. “It’s a play of giving thanks, making new friends, and finding home in a new place.”
Suh is an acclaimed Korean American playwright, winner of the 2019 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, and was named one of the “50 to Watch” by the Dramatists Guild. He worked with Huntington Artistic Director Loretta Greco closely during her time at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. His play American Hwangap was produced during Greco’s first season at Magic, another of his plays, Jesus in India, premiered at Magic in 2012, and Greco opened her final season at Magic with Suh’s The Chinese Lady. New England audiences may recall The Chinese Lady was recently produced at Central Square Theater in Cambridge in 2022.
The Heart Sellers is presented through special arrangement with TRW PLAYS 1180 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 640, New York, NY 10036. trwplays.com
The cast of The Heart Sellers includes:
Jenna Agbayani as Luna, Luningning Ignacia Mangahas de la Rosario Bustos, a 23-year-old from the Philippines. Credits include: LEAR and Kentucky at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre.
Judy Song as Jane, Hong Jae Ha, a 23-year-old from Korea. Credits include: Haeneyo’s Kitchen (해녀의 부엌) in Korea and the films Parked in America and White Butterfly with SXSW Film Festival.
Understudies include: Kristian Espiritu and Carol Jeong.
The creative team for The Heart Sellers includes scenic and costume design by Junghyun Georgia Lee (Sweat at The Huntington), lighting design by Kat C. Zhou (The Butcher Boy Off Broadway), sound design and original music by Fabian Obispo (Boleros for the Disenchanted at The Huntington), and hair and makeup design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt (The Band’s Visit at The Huntington). The dramaturg is Christine Mok. The assistant director is Jenny S. Lee and the dialect coach is Joy Lanceta Coronel. The production stage manager is Roxana Kahn and the stage manager is Ashley Pitchford.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Lloyd Suh (Playwright) is the 2019 winner of the Herb Alpert Award for Theater. His play The Chinese Lady was hailed a New York Times Critics’ Pick during its NY run. He has had productions at Barrington Stage, Ma-Yi, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Long Wharf Theater, Magic Theater, Artists at Play, and Artists Rep among others. His plays include Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO, Theater Mu), The Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO! (Ma-Yi, Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, NEA Arena Stage New Play Development Grant) and American Hwangap (Magic Theatre, Ma-Yi/PlayCo, Tanghalang Pilipino). Named one of “50 to Watch” by the Dramatists Guild, Lloyd has received additional grants, awards and fellowships from the Dramatists Guild, the Jerome Foundation, the Lark Play Development Center, SecondGeneration, Pan Asian Repertory, and NAATCO.
May Adrales (Director) is currently the director of the theatre program at Fordham University. Her Off Broadway credits include: Poor Yella Rednecks, Vietgone, Golden Shield (Manhattan Theatre Club); Letters of Suresh (2nd Stage); Dance and the Railroad (Signature Theatre); Luce (LCT3); The Strangest (NYTW); Unbounded (Public Theater); and Natural Shocks (WP). Adrales has also worked with regional organizations including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Rep, Alley Theatre, Seattle Rep, Goodman, Baltimore Center Stage, Two River Theatre Company, Pioneer Theatre Company, and Milwaukee Rep. She has won the following awards: Drama League Directing Fellow, Van Lier Fellow, Ammerman Award, Alan Schneider Award, Paul Green Directing, New Generations, and Denham Fellowship. Education: MFA, Yale School of Drama. mayadrales.net