Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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



The Second Avenue Theatre
35-37 Second Avenue, New York, NY
This production opened on October 12, 1940.


(Goldele, the Baker's Daughter)

by Isidore Friedman, music by Ilya Trilling


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 theatre-goer?

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 enjoyed themselves.

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 impression.

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 Schechtman.

The music is composed by Ilya Trilling, and the libretto by Isidore Friedman.




Copyright Museum of the Yiddish Theatre. All rights reserved.