Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The Bronx Art Theatre
2131 Boston Road, Bronx, NY
This production opened in March 1935.


(The Brownsville Grandfather)

by Abraham Blum


The following review was written by Z. Sherr for the Yiddish Forward newspaper and was published on March 29, 1935. Here it the English translation:

In the small Bronx Art Theatre there is now being presented a play about which one can surely say that it is much better and stands on a much higher level than many of the average melodramas that are so often played in many of the large Yiddish theatres.

The play is called the "Brownsville Grandfather" and was written by Abraham Blum. Under the name of the "Brownsville Grandfather," it is well-known to the Yiddish radio listener as a well-known radio feature, and the main role in the play is indeed played by the radio artist who is known under the name of "The Brownsville Grandfather."

"The Brownsville Grandfather" is a life-image of the tragedy of older people who need to come to their children [for assistance]. It possesses finely painted realistic features and scenes, and it is played heartily, upbeat and honest.

The play is about an elderly man, R' Eli, who has to go to his son, who is a rich dress manufacturer, and his daughter-in-law, who does not want to have him in their house because it does not suit her well-known ally, with whom she plays cards. The elderly father-in-law turns on the Yiddish Hour on the radio and teaches her ten-year-old angel, Bobby, a Yiddish word. She chases him away from her home, and his son, who is by nature a good human being and would like to have his father with him in the house, is so much persuaded by his wife that he finally follows her and sends his old father away to an old-folks home.

It so happens in the old-folks home (and here the reality of life ends, and it begins without accident), that a rich girl from California, who possesses millions, comes to visit her grandfather there, who must be found here, but who is already long deceased. The manager of the old-folks home is silent about the elder's death, all the while taking [and keeping] the checks that were sent to him.

For fear of creating a scandal, he speaks to R' Eli, that he [R' Eli] should identify himself as the rich girl's grandfather, because the girl has never seen her grandfather before in her life. To begin with, R 'Eli does not want to do that. What does it mean that he would tell a lie? But just then there arrives at the old-folks home for a meeting, his grandson, his daughter's child, a college student, whom he loves very much. The grandson falls in love with the girl at first sight, and he also tells R 'Eli that he should say that he is the girl's grandfather. Well, since the grandson tells him to do the same, he will do it and play the role of the rich girl's grandfather after he tells her the truth. But she does not care anymore, because she is in love with a young college student, R' Eli's grandson, and she takes both of them, R' Eli and his grandson, whom she loves, to California.


Meanwhile, it happens that R. Eli's son, the rich dress manufacturer, becomes impoverished. He loses his money on Wall Street and is in trouble. The elderly R' Eli comes to his son's house with his grandson the student, and his rich bride. It comes naturally for him to help and to establish the impoverished dress manufacturer, and all's well that ends well.

The play has many fine scenes, both for a tragedy, as well as for a comedy. And there is an opportunity for the audience to laugh and to cry.

The play is worth playing, as mentioned above. Realistically and sincerely, the lead role of Brownsville's grandfather, R' Eli, is played by well-known actor Boruch Lumet, who is a guest artist in the Bronx Art Theatre. Lumet is an acclaimed actor, and he plays his role with skill and conviction. He has a unique style of playing, and although the theme is not new, he nevertheless creates an old grandfather who is original and new, unlike the type usually played. He plays with measure, he does not exaggerate and does not excite, both in the tragic as well as in the comedy scenes.

Louis Weiss was very good and played naturally as the old man's son, and Annie Cherniak as the daughter-in-law. Weiss creates a type of a worked-up alrightnik. A simple man with a good heart, who falls victim to his wife's vexation. Miss Cherniak creates a good type of a woman, an alrightnik who is in truth not only so bad, but it is the circumstances, the money burning and the splendor of wealth, that makes her bad.

A real surprise is the small young boy Sidney Lumet, in the role of the ten-year-old Bobby. There is no trace of exertion or alertness in his playing that is noticeable. He plays so naturally; it can be said with certainty that the small Lumet is growing a talent.

Abe Karp plays very well as a cold type of a bitter, exhausted old inhabitant of the home, whose children have entirely forgotten, and there is only one thing left -- to wait for death.

In the play, also participating, are: Bessie Mogulesco, Beatrice Savoy, Harry Miller, Arthur Winters, Henry Blum, Liza Tuchman, and Gussie Karp.





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