Clare McDonald and Chris Arreola as Sheri and Musa

Across the Great Divide

A contemporary rom-com opens at Very Little Theatre on Valentine’s Day

In Minority Voices Theatre’s first-ever fully staged production, an Egyptian cab driver in the U.S. falls in love with a spunky white waitress.

Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World, a romantic comedy that opens Feb. 14 at Very Little Theatre’s Stage Left, finds cab driver Musa, who is engaged to a Muslim woman, struggling between fidelity to his fiancée and pursuing Sheri and the American dream. Social and cultural traditions are at risk as the couple navigates tensions between East and West.

Director Michael Malek Najjar, associate professor of theater arts at the University of Oregon, is a longtime supporter of Seattle playwright Yussef El Guindi’s work. Najjar sought a theater in Eugene to produce one of his plays.

“Najjar asked Minority Voices, and luckily they liked it and agreed, given the repeated negative portrayals of such groups in the mainstream media,” the playwright says. “Perhaps a play depicting Muslims, Arabs and Africans as three-dimensional characters — flawed, funny and very human — can make a difference.”

Minority Voices Theatre is a community outreach project of the Very Little Theatre. It seeks to include members of minority or other marginalized communities in local stage productions. Previous productions have been staged readings.

Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World runs through Feb. 24 at Very Little Theatre; tickets at or 541-344-7751. Five percent of the show’s proceeds will go to the UO’s Oregon Muslim Student Association.