“Happy Armenians” captures Best Play nomination, plans tour dates
Asbarez – “Happy Armenians,” the newest play by award-winning playwright and director Aram Kouyoumdjian, has captured a Best Sta ge Play (Drama) nomination from the NoHo Fringe Festival. Its competition includes revivals of classics and contemporary fare, ranging from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” by Tennessee Williams to “This Is Our Youth” by Kenneth Lonergan.
The world premiere production of “Happy Armenians,” staged by Vista Players at the NoHo Arts Center, played 12 performances in October to sold-out audiences and garnered rave reviews from critics.
Reviewers called the play “captivating” with “a brilliant job” by the cast (Monica Astacio); its “smart, fun, fresh” script was “cleverly executed” by “an amazing technical and artistic team” (Lorenzo Marchessi).
Asbarez featured two reviews of the play. Apo Boghigian, writing in Armenian, deemed it “meticulously staged” and “performed by an expert cast.” Ishkhan Jinbashian’s review in English hailed it as “a sure-footed expedition into the fantastical, with a storyline that whisks your imagination away for a thrill ride across time and space, and a deft, nuanced ensemble performance that leaves you hankering for more.”
Dates are currently being finalized for the production’s tours in Northern California (in late February) and New York (in early March). The original L.A. cast – led by Daniel Hubbard and featuring the talents of Heather Lynn Smith, Tavis L. Baker, Jade Hykush, and Gregory DePetro – will remain with the production on tour.
“Happy Armenians,” a dramedy, tells a “parallel world” version of history in which Armenia has become a global empire, upending the world order as we know it. A humorous, imaginative, and poignant rumination on love, war, and the burdens of history, it boasts an original music score by Ara Dabandjian.
Kouyoumdjian is the winner of Elly Awards for playwriting (“The Farewells”) and directing (“Three Hotels”). Vista Players is the acclaimed theater ensemble he co-founded and that “set the standard by which others were judged” (Sacramento News & Review).