Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


          Visit          Site Map           Exhibitions           About the Museum            Education and Research         Contact Us          Support 



The McKinley Square Theatre
1319 Boston Road, Bronx, NY
Opened in November 1933.


(A Night in Rumania)

by William Siegel, music by Alexander Olshanetsky



The following review, written by D. Kaplan for the Yiddish Forward newspaper, was first published in November 10, 1933.

Even in the small Yiddish theatres in the suburbs, not exactly on downtown Second Avenue, one must nowadays give a beautiful production and have many theatrical patrons. Otherwise, no audience will be attracted to the theatre. The show must contain a lot of comical material to laugh at, and something touching that would capture their hearts, and everyone should be mixed up with pleasing, happy dances, sweet nigunim (melodies) and songs, amusing jests,  even including some smatterings, peppery jokes and couplets.

Such a kind of show is "A Night in Rumania," which now is at the McKinley Square Theatre in the Bronx. It is quite a nice production, with a mass of stuff to entertain the audience -- happy scenes, funny images, a chorus of beautiful, young girls, singers, dancers, and joke tellers. The public gets its money's worth.

The name, "A Night in Rumania," is not just anything to the passerby. One could certainly find a better and fairer name. It is probably a factor as to why the Yiddish theatre "nights" are doing so poorly -- Some performances all with something, a night somewhere, a night in Khandrikeve, a night in Hotsenplotz. And in America, when a thing succeeds, one immediately imitates it. And a name is a great remedy for success.

There is also content, story, a piece of melodrama, and how it fits into this messy operetta thing. There is also a love, actually two loves, which appear to be very tragic and hopeless and which end suddenly, already at the very end, in a very happy way. Also the current Hitleristic Germany, with its unjust, shameful acts against the Jews, is introduced. However, the entire action is of little worth, as the scenes serve no more than as a pretext to hang the song on them, singing and mischief, which at least round off the show in some way.

The action is played partly in the city of Belz, in Rumania, and partly in Berlin. A Belz girl, Mirele, flees to Berlin, and there she becomes a famous actress under the name of Maritza. She falls in love with an actor, Victor, and he with her. However, Victor's mother, a rich widow, is against this match because there is talk about Maritza, that she is a loose woman. Victor doesn't want to hear it. But he carries this with him under false pretenses, and he renounces her.

And here the Hitlerites are attacking, and Maritza is all over the place because she is a Jewish child. She travels back home with a broken heart to Belz. The theatre in which she had acted is, naturally, is in great trouble without her.

Mirele's cousin, Alter'l, an honest young man with the authority of the rabbinate, has long been deeply in love with her. His love is inflamed even more. But Mirele is not able to forget Victor. And Alter'l, again, Esther is in love with him, the daughter of the head of the Belz community, R' Hatzkel. A three-pronged tragedy -- the eternal triangle. And R' Hatzkel, who is a widower, begins a match with Mirele, and it turns into a nasty, intriguing piece.

This knipel is quickly complicated when Victor comes down to Belz. He could not forget Mirele, and he finds out that Mirele is innocent, that only a slander was made of her. Short and sweet, he marries Mirele, and Aleter'l marries Esther.

* * *

From the participants the best standouts were Sadie Schoengold , Annie Lubin, Jacob Rechtzeit and Pinchus Lawenda.

Sadie Schoengold (she plays Mirele, or Maritza) possesses a lot of appeal, splendor and is generally pleasant with stage virtues. Pinchus Lawenda appears as the Rev, Alter'l, and sings very beautifully and with taste, an extraordinary good singer.

Annie Lubin and Jacob Rechtzeit are a couple of happy stiffs. They joke, sing, dance and turn worlds, and the audience amuse themselves deliciously.

Quite nicely playing their roles were Bettie Jacobs, as Ruzhe, the Kartenvarferke; Leon Schechter, as Shlomo Badkhan; Sam Auerbach, as R' Hatzkel, Rachelle Rosenfeld, as Ester'l, and Max Lasky, as Victor, singing and playing not badly. Julius Adler plays nshksh, as Fritz the Reporter. Max Henig plays the Nazi officer Paul, and Clara [Rafalo], as the woman Johanna.





Copyright Museum of the Yiddish Theatre. All rights reserved.