This review, written by Hillel Rogoff, was
first published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on December 20,
1940. Here it is:
I hear that "Goldele, the Baker's Daughter" is the greatest hit
on Second Avenue. They say that the play will run for the entire
season. With what does it make such a strong impression on the
It succeeds because it is amusing from the
beginning to the end. It is what they call in English, "good
entertainment." It amuses the eye, the ear and also the heart.
There is not one boring minute. Besides one or two moments,
there were no cheap effects. At the performance I was attending
there were in the theatre Jews of the older generation, and
young people locally born, or adult Americans -- and everyone
On the program the play was noted as a
"musical spectacle." It is, however, more than a spectacle. It
is built on a strong melodramatic plot that holds the audience,
stretching until the end of the production.
The heroine of the play is a small,
seven-year-0ld girl who becomes crippled in an automobile
accident two years before the action begins. This is "Goldele,
the baker's daughter." Her father is a poor bakery worker, a
widower (His wife was killed in the same misfortune in which he
child became crippled.) The girl suffers mentally from her
physical condition, and her father suffers with her. Both are
highly sympathetic people. However, he is a talkative person and
does not stop complaining about the misfortune. The child
suppresses her own suffering. Only from time to time does a word
come to her mind about what is going on in her awakened soul.
The silent tragedy of the child makes an incredibly strong
The entire complication of the action
revolves around the father. He falls in love with a rich widow,
an elderly woman, who offers him money to save the child. From
the beginning he thinks that she only wants to help him, and he
accepts her offer with joy. Later, when he finds out that she
has something else in mind, he refuses to take her money. This
irritates her terribly, and she begins to persecute him. It's so
intriguing that the "Children's Society" takes his child from
him on the indictment that he hasn't the means to care for her
as he should.
As usual in melodramas, everything ends
well. The old widow, the intriguer, loses her property. A
successful operation is performed on the child. The father
marries a young, beautiful girl who is passed on to the child,
just like a true mother. In the baker's house, where earlier
there was darkness everywhere, now it becomes happy and light.
The role of the crippled child is performed
by a small girl with the name of Marlotte Bieler. As I am told,
she is the daughter of a refugee from Vienna. She could speak
virtually no Yiddish when she came to America. She plays
wonderfully well, with an innate talent. I have never seen a
child that was so natural on the stage. Besides this she has a
fine voice, a high, pleasant speech, and indeed also a beautiful
face. In the second act she sings a song together with her
father (played by Herman Yablokoff). The duet was received by
the audience with strong applause. This is the most warm, the
most touching moment in the play. Her singing is so simple, as
natural as her acting.
Yablokoff plays the role of the baker quite
well. Only in one scene at the end of the first act, when they
take him to the child, does he exaggerate a little. In all the
other scenes he plays with the appropriate measure of restraint.
He also gets to sing some beautiful songs, songs of love, songs
of nostalgia for the old country, and as always he performs them
strongly. He sings with a type of feeling, and with a clear
diction and warm voice.
Rt. to lt.:
Herman Yablokoff, Marlotte Bieler and Leon Schechtman.
The light, comical part of the play is
performed by the very gifted, popular comic Menasha Skulnik.
Skulnik has his own stock of jokes and "gags," funny
ideas from which the audience giggles with laughter. He is
actually a whole "play" in himself.
In the operetta part of the production
there participates an entire range of good singers and dancers.
Bella Mysell plays and sings the role of the prima donna; Goldie
Eisman, the role of the soubrette; Yakob Susanoff, Gertie Bulman
and Sam Joseph, the other minor roles. Everyone helps them make
merry and cheery in a beautiful, refined way. Annie Thomashefsky
amuses in her unique way, a little outdated, but it is all right.
A large part of the success of the
production is contributed by the chorus, which consists of a
couple of dozen beautiful girls who can dance and sing well.
In the second act a children's dream is
presented in which the actors participate together with the
whole chorus. This is one of the finest things that we have seen
on the Yiddish stage. The scene is a symphony of song, color,
movement and features. However, I am afraid that a great part of
the audience will not understand the meaning of the scene,
because it is based on the childish stories with which the ideas
of the older generation are unfamiliar.
Among the other actors who participate
are: Max Rosenblatt, Jacob Zanger, Liza Silbert, Isidore
Friedman, Gertie Stein, Sara Skulnik, and the young Leo
The music is composed by Ilya Trilling, and
the libretto by Isidore Friedman.