"The Heart Sellers" - by Lloyd Suh - Huntington Theatre Company (Boston, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Jenna Agbayani as "Luna" and Judy Song as "Jane" in a scene from Lloyd Suh's "THE HEART SELLERS" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

"… it’s silly I know but I pictured this little old lady with like a whatsit, like a little stand on the side of the road sellling hearts. All kindsa hearts, little paper hearts and plastic toy hearts, red with lacies and doilies." 

                                                                   - ("Luna") / Lloyd Suh

Huntington Theatre Company

Presents Lloyd Suh's


Written by Lloyd Suh 

Directed by May Adrales

Cast: Judy Song* as "Jane" and Jenna Agbayani* as "Luna"; Understudies: Kristian Espiritu* and Carol Jeong 

Additional Creative Team:

Scenic and Costume Design - Junghyun Georgia Lee; Lighting Design - Kat C. Zhou; Sound Design and Original Music - Fabian Obispo; Hair and Makeup Design - Rachel Padula-Shufelt; Dramaturg - Christine Mok; Assistant Director - Jenny S. Lee; Dialect Coach - Joy Lanceta Coronel; Production Stage Manager - Roxana Kahn; Stage Manager - Ashley Pitchford. 

* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States


November 21, 2023 through December 23, 2023 

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)  

Calderwood Pavilion/Wimberly Theatre, BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02116 


Available online at huntingtontheatre.org, by phone at 617-266-0800 or in person at HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston.


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY spreads some quirky holiday cheer with Lloyd Suh's  "THE HEART SELLERS," a show that is not exactly what one might consider a 'holiday show' but still one that will keep you smiling - and giving thanks - throughout.

The smiles (and gratitude) come courtesy of the affable performances given by the two performers in the piece: Judy Song as "Jane" and Jenna Agbayani as "Luna"  - two recent adult American citizens discussing what it is like adjusting as two new American citizens.

They recount their respective life odysseys and the observations made along those journeys.

(Photo: Judy Song as "Jane" and Jenna Agbayani as "Luna" on the fabulous set of Lloyd Suh's "THE HEART SELLERS" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

The title  "THE HEART SELLERS" is a play on the title of the Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965. which allowed for expanded immigration by non-European nations or, as Luna points out, "people (who) look like, you know, like us."

The play was originally presented in February, 2023 by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Now, the HUNTINGTON THEATRE production is creatively spearheaded by director May Adrales who paints a tender portrait of these two seemingly abandoned souls who have found one another in a time and place where it seems the entire world has shut down for the holidays. 

The story is set in November, 1973 during the Nixon administration, still two years from the official end of the Vietnam War, and a decade since JFK's assassination. 

(Photo: Judy Song as "Jane" and Jenna Agbayani as "Luna" in a scene from Lloyd Suh's "THE HEART SELLERS" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

Jane (Judy Song), aka "Hong Jae Ha"is from Korea while Luna (Jenna Agbayani), aka "Luningning Ignacia Mangahas de la Rosario Bustos," is from the Philippines. The two strangers meet unexpectedly at a K-Mart and Luna invites Jane up to see her apartment. 

The viscerally anomalous set design by Junghyun Georgia Lee provides an almost "Rear Window" quality to it, allowing us, much like in that Hitchcock movie, to peer into the window of this apartment, as if we are spying on them from a building close by.

As the delightfully conversational Luna, Agbayani is simply wonderful expressing the joy Luna feels at meeting what she feels might turn out to be a kindred spirit in Jane.

Song is equally impressive, presenting Jane as a person hesitant at first to trust this strange woman she has just met by chance in a grocery store and who has invited her up to see her apartment. 

Soon, though, it is apparent that Luna's intention is for nothing more than pleasant conversation and, more importantly, companionship.

Both women are married to men who work long hours. So, they decide to spend Thanksgiving eve dinner together as they get to know one another more. 

The chemistry between Agbayani and Song is instantaneous and sustains itself throughout the entire show.

(Photo: Jenna Agbayani as "Luningning Ignacia Mangahas de la Rosario Bustos" and Judy Song as "Hong Jae Ha" in a scene from Lloyd Suh's "THE HEART SELLERS" presented by Huntington Theatre Company, now playing at the BCA in Boston, MA. through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit T. Charles Erickson)

Within the span of approximately an hour and a half (real time), we learn so much about the lives of each of these individuals who have come from backgrounds similar yet divergent.

Conversations span from husbands to family to music to family to wine back to family. 

Also, maybe most (or least) importantly, they discuss how to bake a completely frozen turkey (that won't get cooked even if they had a flamethrower) so the two might enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together while their husbands are working.

There are no villains here, no shared antagonists (although Nixon is briefly heard). 

However, there are heightened details of faced struggles shared by both women about both before and after coming to America, which is at the very heart of "THE HEART SELLERS." 

In the well-crafted script by Lloyd Suh, there are several poignant monologues where these two Americans express their various and very personal dreams and aspirations. The dialogue is replete with moments of joy, sorrow, regret and hope. 

Somehow, Luna and Jane - Luningning and Hong Jae Ha - manage, day after day, to exist in two worlds simultaneously. 

They live with one foot planted firmly in a new country that does not quite acknowledge them for who and what they are. Yet, the other foot still seems planted in countries that never quite acknowledged them...for who and what they are.

By the end of the play, these two strangers bond, becoming more than acquaintances, more than friends. They become sisters seemingly sharing the same soul. 

"THE HEART SELLERS" continues at the BCA Calderwood on Tremont Street until December 23rd. 

Coming up in January at the HUNTINGTON: "Stand Up If You're Here Tonight" - by John Kolvenbach.

For tickets or more information, contact huntingtontheatre.org or call # 617-266-0800.

Approximately one hour, 40 minutes with no intermission 

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




Jane and Luna run into each other in the grocery store on Thanksgiving in 1973 and find they have much in common: each are recent Asian immigrants, a bit homesick and lonely with hardworking absentee husbands, and adjusting to a new country filled with new opportunities. 

Over sips of wine and a questionable frozen turkey, they dream of disco dancing, learning to drive, and even a visit to Disneyland, and share their hopes and challenges for making a new home in a new land with grace and dignity. 

A funny, moving, and big-hearted new play. 

From Artistic Director Loretta Greco: “Lloyd Suh is one of my favorite humans! His intentionality around unpacking complicated slices of untold history in beautiful theatrical ways for the benefit of our children and future generations is wildly inspirational. His plays are honest, heartbreaking, full of curiosity and resilience: a theatrical constellation asking us to look at our past in new ways with an eye towards a brighter future.” 

From playwright Lloyd Suh:'THE HEART SELLERS' looks at a pivotal moment in time, when the conditions were created for much of what we’re currently grappling with as a nation around our collective history. It’s a play of giving thanks, making new friends, and finding home in a new place, so it brings me a special joy to share this with The Huntington community as part of Loretta Greco’s first season, as she’s been an important part of my artistic life for well over a decade.” 

Critical acclaim: 

“Hilarious and heartwarming! A laugh-aloud love letter to friendship. 'THE HEART SELLERS' is something to treasure!” – Broadway World

“A stunning comedy! Breathtaking.” – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel     


THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, THE HUNTINGTON brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. THE HUNTINGTON runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. THE HUNTINGTON has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert the Huntington Avenue Theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. THE HUNTINGTON cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form.