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3rd Annual Cherry Orchard Festival to Present Vakhtangov Theatre's SMILE AT US, OH LORD, 6/5-7

Following their triumphant, sold-out New York engagement last spring, the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia returns with a new theatrical masterpiece Smile At Us, Oh Lord, based on the novels of Lithuanian-born Israeli writer Grigory Kanovich and directed by Rimas Tuminas (Eugene Onegin). Presented by The Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation (, Smile At Us, Oh Lord will play 4 performances at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street): June 5th at 8pm, June 6th at 2pm and 8pm and June 7th at 2pm. Tickets are $45-$150.

With a plot full of tragi-comedic moments, accented by soulful music, and with a cast of 50 actors, Smile at Us, Oh Lord is a story of a "little man" vehemently opposed to wrong-doing, even as the world around him crumbles. His journey opens his eyes - and the audience's hearts - to the fate of Jews around the world during the first half of the 20th century. The Vakhtangov Theatre cast tells a common story that's linked with the larger parable of the great love of mankind. Smile At Us, Oh Lord is performed in Russian with English subtitles.

The renowned cast of Smile At Us, Oh Lord includes: Viktor Sukhorukov (all performances), Vladimir Simonov (6/5 at 8pm, 6/6 at 2pm); Aleksei Guskov (6/5 at 8pm, 6/6 at 2pm); Sergei Makovetsky (6/6 at 8pm, 6/7 at 2pm); Yevgeny Knyazev (6/6 at 8pm, 6/7 at 2pm), Yulia Rutberg (all performances), Viktor Dobronravov (all performances).

Smile at Us, Oh Lord is brought to life by the acclaimed artistic director Rimas Tuminas, composer Faustas Latenas, and set designer Adomas Yacovskis. This marks the return of the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia after their sold-out run at City Center last year.

Following the New York engagement, Smile At Us, Oh Lord will be presented at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

Rimas Tuminas is the recipient of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, Russian Festival of Performing Arts "Golden Mask" Award, International Stanislavsky Theatre Award, multiple Crystal Turandot Awards, and the Golden Nail Award. He has been the artistic director of the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia since 2007, one of the oldest Moscow theatre companies founded by Eugene Vakhtangov, a student of Stanislavsky. In 2011, the theater was recognized as the most visited theater in Moscow.

The Cherry Orchard Festival's mission is to introduce and promote global cultural activity and exchange of ideas, aiming to enlighten and engage audiences through performing and visual arts, educational programs and events. Tickets are available at the City Center box office and at Group tickets, student discounts, and VIP tickets are available by calling Festival's office at 1.800.349.0021 or e-mailing

ABOUT GRIGORY KANOVICH - Soviet prose writer, poet, and dramatist, Grigory Kanovich wrote in Russian and Lithuanian and was born in the town of Ionava near Kaunas, into the family of an observant Jewish tailor. In 1953 he graduated from Vilnius University. His first writings were published in 1949. He wrote collections of poetry in Russian: Dobroye utro ("Good Morning," 1955) and Vesenniy grom ("Spring Thunder," 1960); of literary epigrams and parodies in Lithuanian ("With a Joyful Eye," 1964; Naked Ones on Olympus, 1981); 30 plays and film scenarios (some co-authored) on contemporary themes; and he translated literary prose from Lithuanian into Russian. Kanovich's Russian prose works are almost all devoted to the life of Lithuanian Jewry. The theme of the moral quest of a Jewish boy from a Lithuanian shtetl in his long stories "Ya smotryu na zvezdy" ("I Gaze at the Stars," 1959) and "Lichnaya zhizn"' ("Private Life," 1967) is developed in his trilogy Svechi na vetru ("Candles in the Wind") consisting of the novels: Ptitsy nad kladbishchem ("Birds over the Cemetery," 1974), Blagoslovi i list'ya i ogon' ("Bless Both the Leaves and the Fire," 1977), Kolybel'naya snezhnoy babe ("Lullaby for a Snowman," 1979, translated into Hebrew in 1983). The trilogy, the action of which takes place between 1937 and 1943, recreates the traditional world and spirituality of East European Jewry. The events, even those on the most massive scale such as the Holocaust, are presented through the eyes of a youth and, as he develops, of a young man; in its structure the novel in places resembles a lyrical diary. An epic, philosophic element predominates in Kanovich's cycle of novels devoted to Jewish shtetl life of the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries - Slëzy i molitvy durakov ("Tears and Prayers of Fools," 1983); I net rabam raya ("There's No Heaven for Slaves," 1985), Kozlenok za dva grosha ("A Kid for Two Pennies"). The ethnic character of the novels (the heroes' way of thinking, reminiscent of Talmudic dialectics, and their way of speaking) and the problems they raise (the aspiration of the Jewish masses for national self-preservation, the feeling of responsibility for the ethical and ethnic essence of the people, the tendency of part of the Jewish intelligentsia to reject its identity for the sake of career, and assimilation) brought these works popularity among Soviet Jews. Kanovich visited Israel in 1980 and settled there in 1993.

ABOUT VAKHTANGOV ACADEMIC THEATRE OF RUSSIA - Founded by a legendary Russian theatrical director and Stanislavsky's scholar, Evgeny Vakhtangov, in 1921 and now led by one of the hottest European directors, Rimas Tuminas, legendary Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia is now Moscow's landmark, located in the very heart of the city, and rated as the best theater in Russia by both critics and audiences. Vakhtangov's troupe, that includes numerous Russian star actors, always presents the most original and interesting repertoire, with most of its productions being sold-out months in advance. Learn more about the company at

ABOUT THE CHERRY ORCHARD FESTIVAL FOUNDATION - The Cherry Orchard Festival, a production of the Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation, a registered 501(c) (3) organization, is a multi-day, multi-cultural, multidisciplinary celebration of international arts in the heart of New York City and beyond, where newest and most daring projects are presented. Their mission is to introduce and promote global cultural activity and exchange of ideas, aiming to enlighten and engage audiences through educational programs and events. The Festival's vision is to create an ongoing dialogue between international artists and American audiences to promote greater cultural understanding, while encouraging family participation in the arts. The Foundation held their first annual International Arts Festival in New York City in 2013. Since then, the Festival expanded to Boston and Washington DC, where audiences were introduced to the critically acclaimed international theatre productions and provided with opportunities to enhance their Festival experience with educational pre-performance events and meet-the-artist sessions. For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit or call 1.800.349.0021.

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