A refugee story set to Jewish wedding music? Christian Barry explains.

DC Theater Arts

When Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story opens at Theater J, the play will be celebrating its long-overdue DC debut, capping five years of international acclaim with a reminder that immigrants, of all colors and faiths, are still lining up on distant shores, hoping for a welcome that often isn’t there.

This production, which began in Canada, has now been staged in more than 30 cities on three continents and has racked up awards from New York to Edinburgh, Sidney, and beyond.

The show—which infuses cabaret-style shtick with the drama of escape—comes not a moment too soon, since it coincides with new waves of immigrants, arriving in busloads from Texas and coming from south of the border as well as Africa and the Middle East.

Most remarkable, the story Old Stock tells is set to the tune of Jewish wedding music, with five musicians playing a wealth of instruments—fiddle and flute, clarinet, accordion, and percussion—while the sixth, a bushy-haired narrator, pops in and out of packing crates, singing along.


Against a blue background, a scene at a jewish wedding: a groom playing clarinet facing a bride playing violin.

Eric Da Costa as Chaim and Shaina Silver-Baird as Chaya in ‘Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story.’ 

Jamie Kronick