Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

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Lyric Theatre
16-18 Seigel Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on February 24, 1933.

(A Night in Rumania)

by Harry Kalmanowitz, music by Philip Laskowsky


The following review, written by L. Fogelman for the Yiddish Forward newspaper, was first published in March 3, 1933.

The Lyric Theatre is offering a new operetta, "A Night in Rumania," written by H. Kalmanowitz.

I have more than once had the occasion to see Kalmanowitz's plays; I got the general impression from them that he has a penchant for a realistic drama, with more or less literary content.

This time Kalmanowitz is capable of writing an operetta; and I must admit that I was completely disappointed. He did not try to look for a new way, a new content or a new form for his operetta; he did not even try to wipe away the mold and dust of the old Yiddish operettas, which he imitated.

For a long, long time, the average Yiddish theatre has been performing the same operetta and the same melodrama. It appears before us the same scenes, the same dramatic cominations, the same effects, and the same characters. You just change the names of the countries and cities (and sometimes not); you change the names of the people who take part in the play, and so on in the old, outdated way.

I could even write one review for all the operettas and melodramas, which have been presented over the last few decades.

"A Night in Rumania" by a hair is not better and not worse than the average operetta; maybe a little worse because it lacks at least a little humor, and it does not even have a drop of uniqueness in action and in characters.

You have here an old, well-known innkeeper in Rumania, from whom his young wife fled with a gypsy, leaving him a child. You then have a couple of love entanglements in America, and once also a couple of love entanglements that have nothing to do with the play, and then everything goes on automatically.

Years later in America the woman who fled meets her abandoned son; she chooses to remarry; her son also chooses to get married; and the son's bride is precisely the mistress of his mother's bridegroom, who unfortunately does not know about the past of the Rumanian woman, with who he has chosen to marry. Here lies the entire tragedy, the entire nail of the drama.

There is the great secret, of course: However, it all ends with a happy ending, and they have a dance and they sing a happy song.

This is the current "Night in Rumania."

So is also the "Night in Galicia," the "Wedding in Lithuania," the "Love in Argentina," and the thousand other such Yiddish operettas and melodramas of which one can not even remember the names.  You forget their name as soon as you get out of the theatre, because they cannot be distinguished. The writer borrows the content from one to the second; H. Kalmanowitz has apparently now also entered into the business of borrowing, and for me there was some disappointment.

How did the actors and actresses perform their roles?

What can one play here, when there is no character, no humor, no natural, dramatic content, and no right "phrase," as they call it in theatre language, and what it means in ordinary language that these are the dramatic words that individuals have to speak on the stage.

Rose Goldberg struggles to make a role out of nothing; Nathan Goldberg was, as always, slow and calm, with measured words, speaking dramatic phrases. Jacob Jacobs, as always, cracks jokes, sings couplets, and both things are not original, with secondary allusions. Mrs. Jacobs, of course, is helping him out. Yetta Zwerling's burlesque manner tries to warm the crowd with exaggerated movements and high tenor. Her partner in dance and playing was the younger Rechtzeit, and Tania Poland, an actress who I still have until now, it seems, not happened to see on the stage, though she did not surprise me, nor did she excite me with her singing or with her acting. Max Kletter had more to play on the violin than in words; I therefore do not underestimate him here as an actor. The others are shadows piercing through the couple of acts, because the writer has not given their roles much flesh and blood, that they should know life as it is on the stage.





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