‘They Made It Here’ offers hope in the form of guardian angels, immigrants who made it in America

— From the release announcing the musical “They Made It Here” 

“They Made It Here” tells the story of a musician, his parents deported, who is helped by guardian angels who themselves struggled as immigrants, Irving Berlin, Joseph Pulitzer, and Andrew Carnegie.

GUILDERLAND — On Feb. 2, the Guilderland Public Library will become the stage for a new musical written and acted by area residents.

The musical confronts, “in a tender yet powerful drama,” the story of a child whose parents were deported, according to a release from the Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus, a not-for-profit based in Albany and known as RISSE.

Paul Jossman, a musician with the play, said, “We’ve been rehearsing at the RISSE building, so they’re helping us, and we’re helping them.”

Jossman said, “The story is not really about immigration. The main thrust is about famous immigrants who came here and were successful.”

He said the play reminds him of Charles Dickens’s character Scrooge being visited by ghosts, which leads to his salvation.

In this new play, three “famous immigrants who came here and were successful” — Irving Berlin, Joseph Pulitzer, and Andrew Carnegie — help a young musician “who is feeling down to get back into it.”

They tell him how they came here with nothing and succeeded.

So, Jossman concluded, the play should reach a wider audience than immigrants; it will, instead, speak to anyone who is “feeling down” or is “discouraged.”

 The show starts at 2 p.m. at the Guilderland library, which is located at 2228 Western Ave.

“They Made It Here” by Alyssa Talanker tells the story of a young musician, Frank, who was born in the United States and is left on his own after both of his parents are deported. Feeling abandoned, Frank withdraws from his friends and his music. 

The original score blends ethnic, rap, and Broadway sounds, and the play “delivers a timeless message about changing loss into hope by believing in yourself,” according to the release. 

Admission to the performance at the Guilderland Library is free. 

Two other performances at Albany venues will benefit RISSE. Those performances each have a suggested donation of $20. They will be on Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Celtic Hall at 430 New Karner Road, and on Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. at Congregation Beth Emeth at 100 Academy Road. 

RISSE, headquartered in Albany, started in 2007 to assist refugees fleeing from the Congo, and has grown over the years through partnerships with the College of Saint Rose and Emmaus United Methodist Church. It helps refugees and recent immigrants build sustainable, independent lives, by offering English-language classes, an after-school program for children, and support with life skills and integration into American culture and the local community. In 2012 it became a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization.

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