Persian singer-songwriter Amir Abed has big plans for his 90-day visit to the U.S.: to build an American fan base, serve as an ambassador of goodwill, and, maybe, just maybe, find love. Upon arriving at JFK, the immigration officer only approves Amir’s visa for 14 days. He meets with his immigration attorney, Ames Seragracia – a former DREAMer who is now a U.S. citizen and about to argue for DACA in front of the Supreme Court. As Amir fights to stay in the U.S., and Ames secretly battles late-stage cancer, a Cyrano de Bergerac love triangle forms with Amir helping his A&R rep, Jack, to win over Ames (despite his own feelings for her). In the end, love conquers all.
Well, almost all.
(Below are some early scratch demos.)
01 Here I Am
02 Reds and Blues
03/03a Calling Because / No More
06 In My Dreams
07 Within Me
Persian singer-songwriter Amir Abed has a combination of heart, sincerity, masculinity, intellect, patience, and talent that has made him instantly accessible and likable everywhere. Well, everywhere but America. The immigration officer at JFK only approves Amir’s visa for 14 days and not the maximum 90 days he was expecting. On his vlog, he deftly battles Twitter trolls as he sets out to prove to his American doubters that they are wrong about their views both of him and of Persian people. (Here I Am)
Amir meets with his immigration attorney, Ames Seragracia – a former DREAMer who is now a U.S. citizen. Her office has a few paintings of Paris. Amir learns she has never been there and suggests that she come to visit him at some point. Ames wants to focus on the next steps of his visa, but he is more interested in hearing about her preparation for arguing DACA in front of the Supreme Court. She tells him about the opening statement she plans to make…which becomes her opening statement in Court the next day. She is eloquent and passionate despite having a couple of moments where she is clearly in pain/dizzy. (Reds and Blues)
“On-hold” musak plays as Amir paces in his NYC hotel room. (I’m Calling Because…) Having been on hold long enough to have learned the music, Amir playfully and patiently sings along. Each time someone picks up, he explains his situation and asks how he can extend his visa. He’s put back on hold and returns to enjoying the on-hold music by scat singing while doing a soft-shoe dance. When the call is picked up again, Amir rapidly pleads his case for fear of being put back on hold. As he finishes, Ames, in D.C., is on the phone with her oncologist. Ames learns there are no more treatments available and that her life expectancy is 1-2 months. She is practically undaunted and plans for everything to be business as usual. (No More)
Amir’s A&R rep, Jack Christian, arrives at the book store for the first CD signing. He tells Amir about the large number of protestors outside. Ames joins them, and Jack is suddenly reduced to a stuttering adolescent with horrible pickup lines. Ames admits she finds Jack attractive but shoots him down for his approach. (Your Lucky Day). Embarrassed and flustered, Jack leaves abruptly. She asks Amir if Jack is always like that and he assures her that he is generally a nice guy and suggests that maybe he was overwhelmed by her inner and outer beauty. As Ames joins Amir to do a vlog entry, a brick crashes through the window.
Over frozen hot chocolate, Ames and Amir discuss immigration and the paradoxes that exist in each other’s perspectives. She advises him to overstay his visa, become the Rosa Parks of this generation. With Amir mostly unfamiliar with her story and his desire to follow the law, Ames explains Parks, the bus boycott, and civil disobedience. (You Could Be the One)
Later that evening, Amir ponders what it might be like to be with Ames. He quickly dismisses the idea realizing that she is attracted to Jack. (In My Dreams)
Ames is interviewed about being one of the youngest attorneys to argue before the Supreme Court. She talks about the case, but quickly shifts to the topic of Amir. She shares that he is an artist with an Oxford degree, a Nobel Peace Prize, and that he poses no threat to America. In a simultaneous interview, Amir explains his situation, makes his argument for being allowed to stay for 90 days, and performs the title song from his CD. (Build a Bridge)
Jack asks Amir to “build a bridge” between him and Ames. He suggests that Amir can either write some dialogue for him or maybe feed him lines, so he can have the best of both worlds – his looks and Amir’s charm and “wordsmithiness.” Amir thinks through his options. (The Best Way to Love Her)
Amir decides to help Jack “seduce” Ames, which works despite Jack’s inability to understand everything Amir tells him. (You, Me and Paris)
Amir vlogs to respond to the major social media blowback from his TV appearances. Meanwhile, in Ames’ bedroom, Ames and Jack try to reassure each other. Ames turns off the lights. (Don’t Be Nervous). As Amir nears the finish of the vlog, the phone/camera is sent flying. The lights go out. The sounds of a struggle and a fight.
With a couple of Band-Aids on his face, Amir vlogs. (Fear and Hate…or Love?)
In Los Angeles, Jack and Amir have a significant, heated difference of opinion on American history. Jack argues that America always does the right thing…to which Amir adds the word “eventually.” (Eventually)
Ames makes a surprise visit to L.A. to see Jack, but only finds Amir. She tells him how happy she is. (Amir, I Can Dream). Her dizziness returns, and she collapses; Amir catches her.
In the hospital, Amir tells Ames that she still sparkles. (Diamonds Are Made Under Pressure). It is clear he wants to come clean about his involvement with Jack but cannot bring himself to say it. Outside her hospital room, Jack witnesses Amir’s compassion and Ames’ joy. Jack retreats.
The next day, Jack asks Amir what’s wrong with Ames. Amir tells him that Ames refused to tell him the exact diagnosis wouldn’t say, but that he thinks it’s serious. Jack makes plans to go back to NYC since Amir’s visa is about to expire. Amir confronts Jack about abandoning Ames. Once alone, Jack decides he needs to step aside. (The Best Way to Love Her- reprise).
Amir returns. Jack finishes packing. Amir tries persuading Jack to stay or at least say goodbye properly. (A Different Set of Eyes)
Amir overstays his visa to stay with Ames in the hospital. Ames is heartbroken by Jack’s leaving. Amir gets arrested. Despite that being the plan, Amir is rethinking his decision. Ames encourages him to stick to the plan. (Time to Fly)
Ames leaves the hospital Against Medical Advice to help Amir apply for Humanitarian Parole. They get the media and social media to champion his cause. After mounting political pressure from both sides of the aisle, Amir is released and given humanitarian parole for the duration of Ames’ life plus one week. Amir attempts to convince Ames to let him take care of her at home, with whatever other support she may need. She tells him she will think about it.
Jack calls Ames to apologize for leaving and congratulate her on getting Amir’s visa extended. He tries to convince her that Amir is a better choice and that it was really Amir with whom she fell in love: it was his words and heart…Ames confronts Amir, who owns up to it. (Within Me – reprise).
When she arrives home, she sees that her place has been redecorated to be Parisian, from music to wallpaper photos of street scenes to the berets, brioche, and éclair au chocolat on her breakfast bar (You, Me, and Paris – reprise)
Ames shares her feelings and appreciation for Amir, implores him to come to terms with where he is from, and that what makes him great is inalienable. (Amir, I Can Dream/A Different Set of Eyes/Time to Fly reprises)