Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
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The Rolland Theatre
(later the Parkway Theatre)
1768 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on December 7, 1932.

 

"VEN IKH BIN REYKH"
(If I Was Rich!)

by William Siegel, music by Joseph Rumshinsky

 

The following review, written by Hillel Rogoff for the Yiddish Forward newspaper, was first published on December 16, 1932. Here it is:


The action of the operetta, "If I Was Rich!," is more up-to-date. The hero is a revolutionary labor leader. The play begins with the workers deciding to go strike against a brutal boss. The workers gather at the hero's house to sing revolutionary songs, and they give revolutionary speeches.

Soon, however, the action is reversed. The hero falls asleep, and the next events occur to him in a dream. Instead of starting his job as a strike leader, he goes to the boss to get a fat job, and he is also influenced by the life of luxury he sees at the boss' home. He betrays the workers and goes over to the other side.

And almost the entire play is played in the rich house. The hero is rich. He and his entire family are bathed in luxury. Therefore many comical things occur, and the joke of the "up-and-coming" who want to follow the aristocrats and do not know how and plant themselves inside in all kinds of strange situations.

By the end the hero wakes up from his sleep, and he is overjoyed that he is not as clumsy as he had dreamed. The play ends with the same scene that it began with, with revolutionary songs and revolutionary speeches.
 


Rumshinsky's music, as always, is filled with beautiful melodies. The workers' songs with which the play begins and ends, are really, deeply touching and compelling.

The operetta also possesses all sorts of other songs: love-romance, merry couplets, dance melodies, and even more. Every one of them was "catchy" and hearty. The love songs that were sung by Betty Budanov and Betty Simonoff penetrate into the hearts of the audience and evoke a spirited applause.

The main role was played by Michal Michalesko. He is the workers' leader. For serious acting in the role, there is no place. It consists almost totally of singing, dancing and general "vaudeville work." In all these things, Michalesko is a creature.

The greatest funny woman in the play is the soubrette Diana Goldberg. It is the first time that we have come out to see her. To see her on the stage, she is probably the best among soubrettes that the Yiddish stage now displays. I could not help but marvel at her energy and temperament. It does not bother or strain you. ... Her small body is always filled with electricity; and indeed besides, here she is filled with a lot of appeal, as is her figure, a flexible figure, as is the appearance of her face. And she sings not badly and dances wonderfully well. With one word, everything that a good soubrette needs to know, she knows.

As an actor, Mr. Boris Auerbach excels in the play. He acts in the role of Bertchik, a revolutionary worker, a worker who has no other intention in mind than the labor struggle. And Auerbach really creates a type of a human being that leaves a deep impression on you. He does things and says things that sound, it seems, comical and exaggerated, but in the matter of his acting, the way he plays forces you to believe in him and to sympathize with him. I must give Auerbach a compliment for the artistic piece of work that he does in the play.

Betty Hart and Yudl Dubinsky perform in several scenes together, which need to be comical, but in reality they are burlesque and sometimes already a bit too vulgar. It saddens me that two such talented actors should engage in such nonsense, gross measures to "grab the audience." Mrs. Hart has several moments when she plays naturally, and they remind you of youthful ability and talent. However, why does she allows herself to perform this horribly silly and vulgar dance in the second act? How is it fitting for her, an actress of her stature?

Dave Lubritsky in the "team" partnered with Diana Goldberg. He dances well and also sings so-so. I have already remarked that the two most serious singers are Betty Budanov and Betty Simonoff. Also participating are Irving Honigman, Annie Ziegenlaub, and Willie Secunda.

 

 

 

 

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