Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The Second Avenue Theatre
35-37 Second Avenue, New York, NY
This production opened on November 28, 1935.


(The Lucky Boy)

by William Siegel, music by Alexander Olshanetsky


This review, written by Hillel Rogoff, was first published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on December 6, 1935. Here it is:



He makes his first performance in Olshanetsky's new operetta, "The Lucky Boy,"

in the Second Avenue Theatre. -- Moishe Oysher and Michal Rosenberg. -- the music and the songs.


The Yiddish theatre has gained another great force, a comedian who can compete with the very good, not only on Second Avenue, but also on Broadway.

His name is Leo Fuchs, and he is now making his first performance in the operetta in the Second Avenue Theatre, "The Lucky Boy."

You should not miss seeing him. Leo Fuchs is not only a fresh talent, but indeed a new talent. He is unique, unlike his fellow comedians in the other theatres. He looks different, plays differently and dances differently.

This evening, when I saw Fuchs play, the theatre was overfilled, and judging from the reception he received, he will be the sensation of the current season on the Avenue.

Mr. Michael Saks, the manager of the Second Avenue Theatre, deserves a compliment for bringing Fuchs to New York, -- a compliment and a thank you from the Yiddish theatre-goer.

Beyond talent, Fuchs also has luck. He is lucky. With that he got the opportunity to make his first performance in an operetta, and with an excellent cast.

Before he appeared on stage late in the first act, the audience was already in a very good mood, thanks to the interesting action, the heartfelt music, and the excellent playing of the actors. Fuchs comes as the main course at a tasty, cheerful feast.

The play is one of the good melodramas that William Siegel has created. It is well constructed, with some very successful, comical situations. It is also free of the wild exaggerations and impossibilities with which the majority of melodramas are blessed with.

The plot develops, more or less, naturally, and the spectator never loses, neither the thread nor the interest of the action.


Here's the catch:

A pure, real estate agent dies in America, and he leaves his fortune to two nephews. One of the heirs (Max) is here in the country; the second (Nakhum'she) is in Galicia. In the will it is inscribed that if one of the heirs will not be entirely healthy mentally, then his part of the inheritance would be given over to the second. Another point in the will is that the heirs do not dare to marry girls who have a "corrected past." Max is in love with a girl named Sonia. They prepare to get married as soon as the inheritance is divided. Meanwhile, one waits for Nakhum'she, the second heir, who already knows of this happiness, and is on the way to America.

The tangle is formed as soon as Nakhum'she arrives from his travels. He recognizes Max's bride (Sonia), as the girl who once was engaged to him in his town in Galicia. She borrowed money from him at the time and fled to America.

Sonia, you understand, denies this. Her bridegroom is deeply in love with her, and he does not believe it. However, Nakhum'she makes such cries, such a tumult, that everyone thinks he's out of his mind. The girl's father is being cared for by a doctor, who declares Nakhum'she to be mentally ill. He is taken to a lunatic asylum.

In the family there is a cantor (Sheftel Kanarik). He is a brother of the deceased, real estate agent. His mother (Tsipe Henye) is virtually the only one who understands about the conspiracy against Nakhum'she. He goes into the lunatic asylum, and through a certain twist of fate that occurs there, Nakhum'she succeeds in escaping. He returns to New York and manages to convince his cousin Max that his accusation against Sonia was correct.

It goes without saying that in the end everything is settled. Nakhum'she forgives her for committing a crime against him. The inheritance is divided, and Max marries his beloved.

The two heroes of the play are the cousins, the heirs, Max and Nakhum'she. Max is played by Moishe Oysher, and Nakhum'she by Leo Fuchs.

Moishe Oysher is likely the best, or one of the best singers, on the Yiddish stage. His voice is strong, pure and hearty. In particular, he excels in Jewish melodies and non-Jewish pieces. Mr. Olshanetsky has composed for him several such compositions, which he sings with such heartiness, so much Jewish sweetness, that the audience becomes enchanted and hung over. They simply want him not to leave the stage. He also sings the beautiful love song from the play (a duet together with Anna Toback) -- a song that will surely remain in the repertoire of Yiddish theatre music.

Leo Fuchs, as Nakhum'she, changes during the course of the play. In the first act he is a green, young man from Galicia. He is still wearing his payot (side curls), his kapote (a long coat worn by Orthodox Jews), his tales-ko'tn (four-cornered tasseled undergarment). A little later one sees him in a lunatic asylum, without wearing his payot in such institutions. Later on he already is a genuine American in American clothes, and in the very last scene he is dressed as an aristocratic, lively youth in a Broadway café.

And for each of the scenes, Fuchs has a special bundle of comedy: special dances, special songs, and very special comical pieces, movements and tricks. In the first scene there was a grotesque dance; in the last they are refined. Fuchs is without a doubt the best and most beautiful dancer that the Yiddish stage has, when it is seen. Firstly, he possesses the figure besides. He is slender and tall with fine, tucked hands and feet. And secondly, he is gracious, boyish and athletic. He dances not only with his feet, but with his entire body. And each movement is full of charm.

In the last act, when he arrives unharmed in his cutaway, the audience forgets that they have a comedian in front of them. Fuchs looks like a "matinee idol," a lover, a romantic actor. And his dances in this act are indeed of the kind that lend themselves to a player of heroic roles.

Leo Fuchs and Moishe Oysher perform their operetta roles reasonably well. So do all the rest of the major actors in the play. Only one exception to this is Michel Rosenberg in the role of Sheftel Kanarik.

Michel Rosenberg plays his role not as in an operetta, but as in a true drama. He creates a character and plays him highly artistically. Would "The Lucky Boy" have been played without music and dance, only as a legitimate play, the "hit" would have been none other than Michel Rosenberg.

Miss Anna Toback plays the role of Sonia. She has a young, beautiful voice and makes a fine appearance.

The naughty, burlesque roles were successfully played by Annie Thomashefsky and Dave Lubritsky.

Besides those mentioned, there also participated the following actors and actresses: Florence Weiss, Nadia Dranova, Abraham Teitelbaum, Esta Salzman, Izidore Schuchatt, Jacob Himmelstein, Michael Wilensky, Abraham Fishkind, and Sara Zeidman.

Esta Salzman performs a couple of dances with Fuchs in the second act exceptionally well, in one of the "hits" in the play, and for the "hit," Salzman deserves no less credit than Fuchs.

The music is positively pleasant, fresh and hearty. Olshanetsky gives the audience a "variety" of melodies and songs; American, Yiddish, cantorial, dance music, and love music, songs from the old country and fresh, American songs. And each of the melodies are a hit with the audience, many more, many less. I don't believe that in the play there is one song, or songs, or singing, that the audience didn't feel. This is a record that Olshanetsky may be proud of.

All in all, "The Lucky Boy" is a show with which one can have a very, very good time.




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