Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
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The Amphion Theatre
437 Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on
October 8, 1933.
 

"A NAKHT IN PARIZ"
(A Night in Paris)

by Isidore Lash, music by Alexander Olshanetsky


 

This play was reviewed by L. Fogelman in the Yiddish Forward newspaper. It was first printed in the Octber 13, 1933 edition. Here it is:


For the past several years, the line between Yiddish theatres on "the Avenue" and local theatres, either in the Bronx or in Brooklyn, has been virtually blurred.

In all of the Yiddish theatres, with a few exceptions, the same plays are performed, the same melodramas, and the same operettas that are put together mostly by the same well-known authors and composers.

If so, if there is a difference between the local and Avenue theatres, it is only in the number of musicians, chorus members and actors. In the plays themselves, however, there is no difference: it's just like the same mother bathed them.

Here I am, sitting in the Amphion Theatre in Brooklyn, and I have seen the new operetta, "A Night in Paris" by Isidore Lash, with Olshanetsky's music. I am sitting, and I am gradually forgetting that I am in Brooklyn. This is the same that we have seen many times already, and we see it now on the Avenue.

The story of the operetta, as in most operettas, is built on the coincidences and miracles that bring the drama to a happy ending; and if you can't believe most of the incidents and miracles, then you should not take yourself too seriously: the audience in the theatre should expect nothing true and no naturalness at all in the operetta, or he would be so childishly naive that he would believe everything that they say and what they do on the stage.

 In the new operetta a wealthy Hungarian Jew with two daughters arrive in Paris, and there they meet with an American Jew who is with his son, a young lawyer, and the meeting occurs, of course, in a cabaret. The older daughter falls in love with the singer of the cabaret, and the younger daughter falls in love with the lawyer. The main drama here revolves around the love of the older daughter, because she is already engaged to a rich Hungarian young man, and because the cabaret singer has a sweetheart, a dancer in this cabaret.

In a while we are in Budapest, and we're already at the canopy of the older daughter with her rich bridegroom; but a miracle occurs -- the cabaret singer with the dancer was hired to entertain the guests at the wedding, and here, with God's help, the dramatic cluster is untied; the poor singer marries the Hungarian girl; love wins; and they end the play with happy singing and merry dancing.

But I will tell you a secret, that I already knew from the first scene how the cluster would unfold and what the ending would be; because this is how we have been wandering around on the stage for decades, and we already know the course of the plays from the outside.

But we really did not expect that the Amphion Theatre would make a revolution in the old, firmly set content of the Yiddish operetta, and we did not leave disappointed; on the contrary, we are still happy, as "A Night in Paris" is not worse than another "night," somewhere in Vienna, in Romania, in Galicia, etc.

And the operetta was played no worse than anywhere else.
 


The star of the Amphion Theatre, Moishe Oysher, is already doing well in his role of a cabaret singer, and he can sing quite well; and indeed it is believable that he is a singer in a cabaret. He has a pleasant voice with which he operates quite easily. Also he is a handsome young man, and he is a hit as a lover.

Florence Weiss has been out on the stage for me to see and hear on stage more than once, and my impression is that she is better in her acting than in her singing.

Max Wilner plays the role of the young lawyer. It is, in fact, a kind of mockery of a lawyer; and Wilner has added more saltiness and sharpness to the exaggerated role; he presents a caricature of a cunning, bad lawyer in whom the soul does not sleep at night.

Sylvia Fishman was the second daughter of the Hungarian Jew, and the lawyer's bride. The author hasn't given her any special character, and she has done the best she could: She sings with spirit, dances and jokes where she could.

Clara Gold sings loudly all the time, showing as always a clear, eloquent diction when speaking, and a steady, slow tempo in her acting. Hence, however, there is Clara Rosenthal. In her play she is just like Clara Gold. She is too hasty, too loud, and does a little too much screaming; she leads through her role with a stormy force. There is a strange contradiction in her; here she runs like a savage with a knife in her hand to seduce her treacherous lover, and there in the last act she is so outspoken in her relationship to be married to her rival that it is simply not believable; she's not at all the same flattering, jealous Mitzi of the first act.

Izzie Meltzer as the American is very touching; in several scenes with Wilner they both deal with their confidence as they choose to embark on their play activities.

In their own scenes they both capture the dimensions of their roles: several times in a row, a father throws himself on the ground. It is already, it seems, too much even for a people who love this kind of "comedy."

Bennie Adler has, with a broad theatrical gesture, played the role of an old, played-out deaf person.

Here Olshanetsky gives a pair of fine nigunim [religious melodies], but in general the music in the operetta plays a little too loudly, too noisy; this is the weakness of the music in many Yiddish operettas.

The audience of the Amphion Theatre reacted quite warmly to "A Night in Paris": They called out the actors for virtually every one of the numbers; and the actors here were very generous, as they did not allow themselves to be overly requested.

 

 

 

 

 

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