GLENDALE—It’s an age-old, cringe-worthy question: where is your groom? The true to life story of conventional marriage in the new world is spun into a comedy play that will take place on Sunday, October 6 at the landmark Alex Theatre, located at 216 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203.
The vibrant characters, who all exude a sense of warmth and familiarity, convey the challenges of being caught between two cultures in this laugh out loud comedy filled with theatrical hijinx. The contemporary play by Taleen Babayan appeals to all generations and highlights themes common in today’s Diaspora, including the preservation of cultural identity in a melting-pot society. The performance, with sponsor support from the Nazerian Group, comes on the heels of a sold-out show brimming with 700 audience members in Pasadena last spring.
“Our second show will be even bigger and better,” said veteran actor and comedian Harout Soghomonian, who plays the role of the family patriarch. “I’ve really enjoyed being part of this production and collaborating with the next generation to stage an unforgettable show at the Alex Theatre.”
A meaningful narrative is weaved through comedy that conveys a slice of Diasporan life, ultimately encouraging discussion that lies at the heart of Armenian conversation. Through thoughtful dialogue, relevant issues are tackled and explored that “relay the frustrations of Armenian-Americans caught between the tensions of maintaining the traditions of a race almost extinguished from this earth a century ago and the desire to live a modern life,” according to past audience member Sheri Jordan, who notes that the play is infused with allusions to Armenian culture and history, while maintaining a balance of English and Armenian dialogue.
“Where is Your Groom?” is a satire that will ring true for every Armenian-American and is a love poem dedication to the Armenian people akin to the style of Neil Simon or Woody Allen at their best,” said Jordan.
The Alex Theatre, a historic home to illustrious performances, will be the most monumental venue to date for the play that originated five years ago at the legendary Players Theatre in New York City’s Greenwich Village. This show will mark the 15th staging of the original and its sequel, which has performed for communities around the United States, from Boston to Philadelphia to Washington D.C. to Fresno, among other cities – welcoming well over 5,000 audience members and more than 50 cast and crew members who related to the script and characters.
“I quickly connected to the play as a whole and the main character of Lara in particular because I too make an effort to balance a contemporary life and maintain strong ties to my heritage,” said singer and actress Mariette Soudjian. “The character’s outside the box curiosity clashes in a customary community, which makes for great comedy.”
While the original play revolved around an Armenian-American family’s quest to find their daughter a suitable partner, the sequel focuses on the overbearing nature of Armenian parents, eager to plan a wedding in their own way – satirizing traditional elements of the Armenian family and cultural life.
“I absolutely love and appreciate projects that explore family dynamics through culture and generations,” said actress Helen Kalognomos, who portrays the character of the clever and zealous grandmother. “Taleen’s writing is honest, funny and heart-warming and I wish I could be both on stage and in the audience for this one.”
The current Los Angeles-based 20-member cast and crew are all Diasporan-Armenians with roots from across the globe, including the U.S., Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and Armenia, who share a love for the arts and are eager to have a voice in this present-day prevalent discourse.
“Conveying my Armenian culture through this creative platform has been both fulfilling and enjoyable,” said Aleen L. Khanjian, Esq., who joins the comic mix as the non-Armenian wedding planner. “The energy and rawness of this play is funny and engaging to all generations.”
The seminal work, which creates a diverse and unique space for members of all ages and backgrounds to explore the performing arts, has been staged at celebrated venues such as SVA Theatre, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre and Arsenal Center for the Arts, while benefiting Armenian organizations, including Friends of Warm Hearth (Armenia), Armenian Relief Society (Boston), Knights & Daughters of Vartan (Washington D.C.), Holy Cross Armenian Church (New York City), St. Gregory Armenian Church (Philadelphia), Abree Foundation (Washington D.C.) and Tekeyan Cultural Association (Armenia – Sponsor a Teacher), bringing together a manifold experience on stage, backstage, in the audience – and the community as a whole.
“Taleen proves adept at capturing the comedic side of the tragic reality of assimilation,” said Jordan. “While she serves up generous helpings of first-generation Armenian-centric jokes, the story and characters are relatable across virtually every immigrant ethnic minority.”
“Where Is Your Groom? (Փեսադ Ո՞ւր Է:) II” features Harout Soghomonian, Maro Ajemian, Mariette Soudjian, Helen Kalognomos, Mary Basmadjian, Mardik Iskenderian, Vatche Ghanimian, Henry Abadjian, Haig Hovnanian, Joseph Hovsepian, Chris Kioudjian, Harven Danielian, Liza Iskenderian, Aleen Khanjian, Asdghig Abadjian, Aleen Vartkessian, Arees Setrak, Hannah Pollock and Arevig Abadjian. The performance will take place on Sunday, October 6 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. Red carpet at 5:30 and show at 6:00 p.m. Running time is 2 hours, including intermission. The play is in English with some Armenian. Tickets are available online or by phone at 818.243. ALEX (2539). For any questions, please contact 818.689.2217.