Article By Michelle Xia
Photo credit: William P Steele

The National Asian American Theatre Co., Inc (NAATCO) is a non-profit organization promoting the Asian presence in American theater. From August 16th – September 8th, NAATCO revives an old American classic by performing Awake and Sing! in downtown Manhattan.

Written by the famous playwright Clifford Odet, Awake and Sing! first premiered on Broadway in 1935. From then, it has been on and off Broadway and redone a couple of times. NAATCO casted all Asian American stars for its version including Jon Norman Schneider (Ralph Berger), Henry Yuk (Myron Berger), Teresa Avia Lim (Hennie Berger), Alok Tewari (Jacob), Mia Katigbak (Bessie Berger), Mel Duane Gionson (Schlosser), Sanjit De Silva (Moe Axelrod), Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte (Uncle Morty), and David Shih (Sam Feinschreiber).

Comprised of three acts, Awake and Sing! is a tale about the struggles of the Berger family in the Bronx and how they deal with the situations within the economy, within the family, and within themselves. The stage setting is confined between the walls of the kitchen room, where most of the arguments bubble within the family. Hennie and Ralph Berger, the children of Myron and Bessie, are in constant battle between their personal wants and that of their parents. Hennie rejects her mother’s urgent pleas for marriage, until one day she has a miscarriage with a runaway man. Ralph is constantly discouraged from his parent’s lack of support of his love and his dreams. With time and a series of events, these lives that seemed to be down like the Great Depression raise for the better.

Director Stephen Fried saluted Clifford Odet’s work and put his own spin to the play. With the help of the design team, NAATCO was able to recreate the setting back to the 1930s by modeling the props to fit the time period. The set allows the audience to be within a couple of feet from the actors, to vividly see their facial expressions and their actions. This creates an intimate and interactive relationship between the actors and the crowd.

A story about triumph and the glory of the American Dream, Awake and Sing! by the talented NAATCO actors and actresses is a performance you don’t want to miss! Be awoken by the cast and sing with them by grabbing your tickets today at

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