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“Don Juan Avia” Comedy in Fresno

Ruzan Orkusyan
Staff Writer

Cast of "Don Juan Avia." Photo: Barlow Der Mugrdechian
Cast of “Don Juan Avia.”
Photo: Barlow Der Mugrdechian

Love, loyalty, promises, cheating, scandals and most importantly copious humor coupled with great acting and vivacious music provided for an enjoyable and unforgettable experience at the comedic play “Don Juan Avia.” As part of its American and Canadian tour, organized by Levon Travel of Glendale, the play made its Fresno debut on March 27, 2011 to an audience of over three hundred people who thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Sponsored by the Armenian Studies Program of Fresno State and the Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School, the play provided hope that many more such productions would follow in the future.

The comedy featured well-known Armenian actors Hrant Tokhatyan and Narek Durian as well as rising stars Tamara Petrosyan, Luiza Nersisyan, and Naira Movsisyan. It focused on the lives of characters Gil (Narek Durian), a wealthy Armenian living in Paris, and his old friend Artashes (Hrant Tokhatyan)- a gynecologist who’d come to Paris to fetch some medical equipment to take back to Armenia.

Gil, who is a ladies man, is in a relationship with three flight attendants simultaneously, each working for a different airline. In the past, Gil had been able to juggle the visits of the three women by meticulous planning and scheduling.

However, by a twist of fate and some help from Mother Nature, the flight attendants from the Aeroflot, El Arabia and Armavia airlines are in Paris at the same time. Artashes is portrayed as the innocent middleman whose attempts at keeping each new girl a secret from the others are both inventive and humorous. His tireless efforts to aid his puzzled friend emphasize his goodness while Gil’s efforts to keep all three girls show his unchanged nature. The mayhem that ensues and the tragic but inevitable and arguably well-deserved result for Gil ensure two hours of excitement and amusement.

This play marked the first appearance of the actors, all originally from Armenia, in Fresno. In an interview after the performance, the actors revealed that playing before an unfamiliar audience was both scary and nerve wrecking. The actors admitted to being tense and uncomfortable for the first few scenes. Never the less, the audience was very enthusiastic and responsive, laughing almost non-stop from beginning to end. This warmth and fervor of the audience radiated to the actors and they became more relaxed and comfortable which translated into better acting and more laughter. The Fresno audience proved that though perhaps fewer in numbers, they can laugh and cheer just as much if not more than the larger crowds of L.A. or San Francisco.

All in all, the play was a charming, lighthearted comedy that allowed the audience members to escape reality for a few hours and amuse themselves with the troubles of others rather than dwell on their own troubles. It was a terrific event, and one that many would like to experience again.