Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
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The McKinley Square Theatre
1319 Boston Road, Bronx, NY
This production opened on January 21, 1936.

 

"ZAYN KHUPE NAKHT"
(His Wedding Night)

by Samuel H. Cohn, music by Manny Fleischman

 

 

 

This review, written by D. Kaplan, appeared in the Yiddish Forward newspaper of February 14, 1936.
 

"His Wedding Night," which now goes on in the McKinley Square Theatre in the Bronx, is a play with music. On the program it is referred to as a musical romance, but why romance? Probably because the name "romance" sounds a little new, beautiful. The old names, like "musical comedy," or "musical production," are already old-fashioned. Then let there be romance. However, this is certainly a play with interesting content and dramatic or real melodramatic scenes, like a simple musical production of that sort, which today usually is found on the Yiddish stage.

The show also contains a lot of singing. The two stars, Herman Yablokoff and Bella Mysell, participate in a good amount of musical numbers. Especially Yablokoff, who the public in the theatre simply does not give up on, where he does not sing many of his popular songs with which he has endeared himself to the wide audience. The musical part is, so, perhaps the central principal of the production, but the subject of the story is also an important part, especially for such theatre attendees, who are not satisfied only with singing and dancing, but they also love to see, indeed, an interesting story, a small drama of life. And among the Yiddish theatre-goers, there are many of them.

The subject of "His Wedding Night" is of this type, whose great artist transforms it into a strong, literary creation. It portrays a psychological situation of married life, and also an interesting medical problem is also touched upon. But on the stage, in the McKinley Square Theatre, it comes out in a melodramatic form, some places quite exciting, and in several other moments foolish exaggeration, unrealistic, even for a logical melodrama.

 

If this would have been no more than a musical production, there would be no need to ask for a quote about the story. Sometimes when you see awkward stupidity, it's a kind of a singing-dancing-fun show. But the subject of "His Wedding Night" is that, it begs for mercy, that it should be treated a little smoother, be "convincing" on the stage in a more believable way, and the show would have suffered from this.

The story is in short this: Simon Friedman, a son of a simple bakery worker, is to marry Betty, the daughter of a flowering alrightnik. Simon is a music publisher, a modern, worldly human being, a free agent who does not like old-fashioned ceremonies, because he does not want to marry khupe ukidushin (canopy and consecration of one person to another), but only in court. Betty's parents are strongly dissatisfied with this, but they can do nothing, because they already live on Simon's account. Betty's parents, incidentally, are exposed as unsympathetic human beings, fools, hypocrites and parasites. Simon's father, on the other hand, is a very fine man, and so also is his wife.

To alleviate a bit of the dissatisfaction of his future mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Simon tries to add a kale-bazetsenish (placing the bride on a symbolic throne before escorting the bride under the wedding canopy), ostensibly to sanctify Betty with a ring, as the religion of Moses and Israel.. It's a lusty, funny scene. And Simon and Betty went off to court.

They come back, or rather they are brought back, as Betty becomes terribly crippled from an automobile accident. Simon came away only with miracles, but both of Betty's legs will remain crippled for the rest of her life. And from now on she is always carried about in a wheelchair. Simon continues to surrender faithfully to a crippled woman, but Betty's thoughts become sadder and sadder over time. She begins to think that Simon does not love her as much as he used to. Simon is busy in business and cannot give her as much time as she wants. She becomes terribly nervous and jealous, and claims and cries that he hates her.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the doctor tells Simon that he should stay away from Betty. What for? It isn't clearly brought out. However this requires development of the tragic situation. Betty becomes even more nervous and demanding, that Simon probably loves another. Her imagination gets the better of her. And she soon finds "evidence" for her suspicion and jealousy.

Betty's older sister, Shirley, is quietly in love with Simon, although she has a bridegroom-to-be. When she hears what the doctor says, that Simon can no longer live with Betty as husband and wife, she beats on Simon for her love. Simon, of course, does not want to hear about it; he still loves his Betty. Betty hears this, and this fuels her jealousy. It makes her suspicious.

This situation is "read" in this way. Shirley  is getting married to her bridegroom, and the parents (Shirley's and Betty's) decide to make a double wedding, for Shirley, and also for Betty with Simon. They had the entire time argued that Betty's misfortune came about from someone she did not marry with khupe ukidoshin. Simon does not want to know about it, but Betty wants to go with Simon to the canopy. Simon does it for her, especially since the doctor has told him that Betty can no longer live, unless, miraculously, a miracle from God happens.

Simon goes with her to the canopy, and immediately after the ceremony, he runs into another room and shoots himself. However, here a miracle happens, and everything ends happily. When Betty hears that Simon has shot himself, she becomes so shocked that she gets up from chair and starts walking on her feet.

In short, the miracle happens: she becomes healthy, and Simon is also saved.

The role of Simon Friedman is played by Herman Yablokoff; Betty was played by Bella Mysell. Simon's father was played by Isidore Friedman. His wife Leah was played by Rebecca Weintraub. Betty's parents were played by Yudl Dubinsky and Annie Zieman. The daughter Shirley was played by Annie Lillian. Also participating were: Henrietta Jacobson, Leon Schechter, Leon Seidenberg, Julius Adler and Sylvia Fishman.

 

 

 

 

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