Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The Public Theatre
66 Second Avenue, New York, NY
This production opened on January 11, 1938.


by William Siegel, music by Abe Ellstein, lyrics by Jacob Jacobs
review by Lazar Fogelman, Forward, January 28, 1938.


The new operetta, “Bublitchki,” is now being performed in the Public Theatre. It is one of the most beautiful musical offerings of the current season.

The heart of the operetta is the music; and for the new operetta Ab. Ellstein has written very pleasant and melodic music that tickles one’s heart.

A few songs such as “I Am a Child of the Street,” or, “Du host es in deine khn’delakh,” or, “Life is a Dance,” conjure up that popular breath, which licks, which tickles the ear.

The second important side of an operetta is the production itself; and here Jacob Kalich has proven to produce a fine directorial work. The beautiful sets of Michael Salzman help him a lot.

The third side is the playing of the actors; the new operetta the troupe of the Public Theatre is successful in creating a good ensemble of actors, with Molly Picon and Aaron Lebedeff at its head. Harmony and rhythm are found in the collective playing of the participants.

Unfortunately, I cannot get excited about the libretto of William Siegel, for its content in the operetta. Besides a couple of mostly interesting scenes, the remaining scenes of the couple of acts are almost a copy of tens of other similar scenes of other operettas by the same author, or of other current, professional libretto writers of the Yiddish stage.

The libretto, the contents of the Yiddish operetta, is a lot less important than both the music and the production itself. People always throw the blame on each other, and I don't want to take on the role of a judge.

It is therefore not worth dwelling on the content of “Bublitchki.”

However, it is a blessing that in an operetta the contents play a smaller role than the music, as well as the production. Therefore, “Bublitchki” turns out well, regardless of the banal, commonplace content. There is actually a “zero” here.

By the way, as it happens here, the [reason for the] name “Bublitchki” is not very clear. Not for that reason, but why did the heroine of the play trade bagels with her lover? It would be more logical to call the opera by the name, “A Child of the Streets,” because that is the key to the operetta.

Of all the scenes the one that made the strongest impression was the scene in Odessa ... the scene at the Russian-Romanian border and the beautiful setting, an amazing scene of a café, although such a scene has already been used a lot in Yiddish operettas.

The most interesting thing, however, here is Molly Picon’s performance. The role of the young thief, the tramp, the child of the street, is very suitable to her acting abilities. She transforms the Soviet miscreant little tramp, the leader of a “homeless” gang into an interesting, tame type, in which she has breathed a lot of life, fun and rites with the touch of her talent.

Molly Picon is here, as always, agile and vivacious, and she is "kosher" with her delicate, noble acting, even with the only risky, trippy moments of her role. She speaks, she sings, she dances with a great deal of grace, with so much childish innocence and kindness that she almost steals away for herself the entire performance.

Her number, "I Am a Child of the Street," one cannot forget; it has lyrical and even tragic notes; and the colorful gallery types that she creates in her number, "Love is a Dance," can only be created by an artist.

Her main partner, Aaron Lebedeff, shows here how peculiar he always plays. Lebedeff feels on the stage like a fish out of water. He always succeeds in the theatre at creating very intimate, almost homey environment that completely destroys the gap between the actor and the audience, between the stage and the theater hall. For Lebedeff, obviously, it is not as important to create a type as to amuse the audience, and he achieves it with all possible means, even where some means have been adapted to his role. His favorite trick, therefore, is to speak to the crowd, to joke with the crowd and to conduct an improvised raw choir out of the audience. He forces the audience in the theatre to sing, to whistle and to answer his funny questions, and finally he dominates his audience, which loves him as a person of their own. It is no longer important how he sings and how he plays. It is Lebedeff, and "that's all"!

By the way, his duet with Molly Picon, "Du host es in deine khn'delakh, Du host es in deine beindlakh" is one of the "hit-numbers" of the operetta.

There is another pair, a completely comic pair, which also attracts attention: Tillie Rabinowitz and Jacob Zanger. They deserve to be focused on.

Tillie Rabinowitz has talent. She can make something out of nothing in her role, as she does in her current role of "Perele Paye," but she often pays a heavy price for it. She often gets roles where she "phrases" the words. They are flat, worn out like old coins. She usually has no one to play with, with whom to create. She tries, as they say, to make a snowball out of snow. She achieves a comic impression, as almost always, with a special way of speaking, with strange movements and gestures, but she allows herself here from time to time to use cheap burlesque means, and she uses them a lot. She is just that type of actress who can create a living figure with royal acting abilities.

Jacob Zanger has his own way of acting in comic roles. He tries to achieve comedy through hasty, angular expressions, through exaggerated gestures and mimicry. He shows a high temperament and does not hesitate to use it on stage. Here, in the role of a matchmaker, he also is the same Zanger as in most of his roles. Especially interesting is his makeup.

The main virtue of the third pair -- of Gertie Bulman and Sam Josephson -- is their youth, their freshness and liveliness, vitality breathes from them. They sing, they dance, they shoot with words so smartly, so fast, and it is through this that they live, they breathe with artistic air-conditioning.

Jacob Susanoff is a black-haired young man with quite a fine voice and both things are good for adapting to his roles of a "lover" in an operetta. But to this day, I still haven't been able to see him in such a role, which would give me the full opportunity to judge his skills, even though I'm not seeing him on stage for the first time. He makes a perfect impression every time, but he hasn't impressed me yet.

And as to Hymie Prizant, I suspect that he's a professional comedian; he didn't give himself any chance to show what he can do on stage. He always gets to play something like that, in which he doesn't give a damn, without hinting that he can act, it's not allowed at all... The same is true with his current role as the barber Chona Meshizhik.

Rose Greenfeld always is sympathetic on the stage, even when she is a sinner (as in her current role, for example), we also have a warm relationship [with her]. Somehow it is probably in her personality itself.

As a side "attraction" here, a very skilled acrobatic dancer was introduced here, Alyse Cerf. She was brought in here; she shows such tricks with her legs and hands that it literally takes your breath away at times. 

There is nothing revolutionary in the art of the operetta "Bublitchki," but it has nothing to be ashamed of [compared to] other Yiddish operettas, and with some things it can even surpass them.

The operetta "Bublitchki" with all its Yiddish "charms" and "beyndelakh," is a true child of the Jewish street ...


Molly Picon Aaron Lebedeff Tillie Rabinowitz Jacob Susanoff
Jacob Zanger Gertie Bulman Rose Greenfield Sam Josephson




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