Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
 Brooklyn
 

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The Hopkinson Theatre
482 Hopkinson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on September 10, 1934.
 

"DER ZISER BOKHUR"
(The Candy Kid)

by Aaron Nager, music by Philip Laskowsky


 



The Cast of Characters:
 

Tillie
Rabinowitz
 
Anna
Nathanson
Philip
Laskowsky
Louis
Birnbaum
Minnie
Birnbaum
Goldie
Eisman
Marty
Baratz
Abraham
Lax
Lillian
Lux
David
Popper
Benjamin
Schoenfeld
Meyer
Schwartz
Julius
Nathanson

 

This year the manager of the Hopkinson Theatre it appears, went the same way as in the previous for years: Evidently they set themselves up with the task of creating some easy entertainment for the audience; therefore they haven't any pretension of higher art; they only want to make happiness for the audience, and therefore their behavior must be approached to the same extent.

And from this point of view, it must be acknowledged that they are achieving their goal with A. Nager's operetta, "The Candy Kid," which Julius Nathanson has staged.

It is an easy, cheerful operetta that amuses the audience with the comical scenes, with the fun and jokes that were woven into it.

It has no original content, but in an operetta the content is not so important; what is important here are the various effects, which are woven into the sparse fabric of the operetta; important here are the dances and singing numbers, the lyrical and comical duets, the various situations, etc.

And for us in the operetta, this is enough to entertain an audience for a couple of hours.

The content of the operetta here is built on the story, such as a rich American nephew who comes running to his uncle in a small town near Warsaw.

One cannot say that such a story is very new. The rich American is in a small town in the old country, this has been used and overused dozens of times. Every time it seems to us that we have already seen this; but the clash between the rich America with the poor old country, it seems, has long served as an intangible treasure for drama and comedy, as a good way to evoke tears and laughter.

Here Harry, a rich American nephew, comes running to his European uncle with his servant Jack; both are young men. It is understood that the uncle immediately wants to marry off his young lovely daughter, Blimele, with the "milionchik (millionaire)." But here, there is a "but": the girl's (like the rest of the girls of the house) lover is the clever, mobile and playful Jack, the servant: on the contrary, to the cold, clingy, and bored gentleman, Blimele has no inclination.

All the scenes in the couple of acts revolve around the forced shiddukh [arranged marriage] between Blimele and her cousin. It is also drawn into the plot a second young couple, an old man and a servant girl; and so on. And so it turns into a circle of various people, scenes and episodes until it comes to the always good end: it turns out that the servant Jack is quite the true nephew, the "milionchik," and the others, the hardened Harry, is only his servant; well, you can see that in the end there is a wedding, where Blimele gets her true match.

And they all dance a merry dance, and they all sing a merry song, and the audience leaves and goes home, adding the last melody that accompanies him from the theatre.

"Do you like our show?," Nathanson asks from the stage, and the audience answers him with hot applause.

A familiar scene, isn't it? This is Yiddish theatre. Do you like it or do you not like it? This is how it has worked out over the years.

And Julius Nathanson has grown into this type of theatre. He feels very much at home on the stage: he runs, he flees, he sings couplets, he dances a merry dance, he makes jokes, he flirts with the audience; he takes a stroll through and across the theatre, and the audience is literally eating him up with their eyes; and this all comes out quite natural to him; he no longer has to worry about anything, he already has it as if on a whim. And so he takes this Brownsville audience by storm in his role of the whistling, witty, domestic Jack.

And with a storm the Brownsville audience also takes to Marty Baratz, the young, movable, temperamental dancer, who is also a very good whistler and not a bad, true vaudeville actor, who loves to exaggerate a little. He plays, for example, a drunk, already a little too drunk; but he can be forgiven, especially when he lets go with his nimble legs across the stage, and a rhythmic, easy dance.

Blimele, who is played by the young and appealing Goldie Eisman, also makes an pleasant impression.

Tillie Rabinowitz plays the side role of a servant girl in an entirely comical way. She deserves more attention: she is, according to my opinion, a capable actress, who displays a lot of humor in her acting. She must, however, get rid of the cheap means of provoking laughter. She can reach the audience with better, with purely acting means. By the way, it seems like they want to see her in the right character role.

Abraham Lax portrays an interesting old lady; his role, unfortunately, has no character, but he does his best under the circumstances.

David Popper, for a while now, has been playing the ostensible "millionaire"; and Louis and Minnie Birnbaum are typical operetta parents.

Also acting here is a young actress, Lillian Lux, who we have come to see for the first time on the stage, in her role in the well-trodden, stereotypical way. There is no peculiar feature and no original approach to the role. Let's hope that, over time, she will show it in time. She needs good direction everywhere.

The musical numbers, quite rhythmic and melodic, are from Philip Laskowsky.

The lyrics, the words of the songs, were like worn-out coins. The couplets are already but an old trouble at the Yiddish operetta.

The general sum-up of the "Candy Kid" in the Hopkinson Theatre is such that we would not be surprised if the operetta would greatly appeal to the Brownsville audience, as it might succeed in those seeking light, amusing entertainment.
 

 




Photo of the Hopkinson Theatre courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.
 

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