Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The National Theatre
111-117 East Houston Street, New York, NY
Opened on September 12, 1931.


(The Lucky Night)

by William Siegel, music by Herman Wohl



This production was reviewed by a Yiddish Forward newspaper critic, L. Fogelman, on September 18, 1931. You can read it here:

Once again a William Siegel's play. Initially, a week ago, the Prospect Theatre opened the season with Siegel's melodrama. Now it has come to us to write about Siegel's operetta, "The Lucky Night," with which the National Theatre has opened the new season.

Siegel in the Bronx; Siegel on Second Avenue. Much like the famous Figaro in the opera, "The Barber of Seville":

"Figaro, here, Figaro there, Figaro everywhere!"

It seems that Siegel has really become the "Figaro" of the Yiddish theatre.

And the secret of his popularity with the theatre directors is entirely understandable: he went on the interesting road; he already knows the old recipe for gluing together a drama, an operetta, a comedy, a whatever you alone want. Even more so, adapting them to this or that theatre, to this or that actor. They are to him all "made to order." Should they have, by chance, a melodramatic role for Leon Blank. He had a cheerful operetta and was pushed into a tragic role of a bereaved father, who is a thief and is driven from his home. They should have Itzik Feld, the Warsaw comic, for a comic role, stumbling into the operetta as a refined, non-Jewish brat, and it's going a long way. Whether he sticks to the play or not, may God care.

It has been adapted to the theatre, and to the actors' strengths. Apparently Siegel's plays are a very viable commodity. This, however, often drives away the plays that he does not write, therefore there is nothing trite, nor entirely one style. It's a mix of melodrama, comedy, vaudeville and operetta.

We also see that in the new play, "In the Lucky Night," it is an entirely cheerful, amusing operetta, and it is just very lively, and if such a tone would be in the entire operetta, we would we have enjoyed her truth. But people are drawn into her boring melodramatic scenes and types, which cripple the course of the operetta. One now has such magnificent patterns of new types of operettas in mind, why should one just want to copy the moldy antiquities? Here we have, for example, the German operetta, "Two Hearts in Three-Quarter Time," which is so musical, rhythmic, so beautiful and filled with mood, which should not be done in such a way if one can not set out on one's own, original path.

Please note that the full details of the content of "Lucky Night" is not required. From an operetta one does not expect important or profound content. This is a story with a Shloimke, a cantor's son who becomes transformed into a cabaret singer. In this suspicious world of cabaret dancers, cabaret singers, and carefree, youthful lives, the cantor's son is also quite a bit with underworld people: a thief, a gangster and such dark characters. Shloimke, however, is faithful to his bride, his Luba, who just is the daughter of a thief with whom Shloimke meets up with often in the cabaret. All attempts by a dancer to capture his heart are crushed without his firm, loyal love for his bride.

Due to the confusion of his flowery friend, Shloimke winds up in prison, where he sits for a couple of years.


photo: Leon Blank (lt.) and Aaron Lebedeff (rt.)

In the end, however, he leaves the underworld and returns to his bride. It seems that this is connected to various disappointing events. The dancer with his betraying "friend" follows him still. The thief, the unknown father of Shloimke's bride, also follows him like a shadow. Everything, however, ends well. The "friend" meets a dark end from the thief; the dancer rejects Shloimke, and with luck he marries his Luba. They have a little dancer, they sing, and it's lively and happy ....


Understand that this nice guy Shloimke is played by Aaron Lebedeff. He has many years of experience playing happy boys. He has in himself the necessary grace of such sorts of boys.

The role of his bride, Luba, is played by Lucy Levin, also appealing. Looking at her you can easily understand why Shloimke is drawn to her like a magnet -- she looks beautiful, sings beautifully and has a young freshness. The old cantor is played by Peter Graf, who has, unfortunately, not been given any opportunity to bring out his constant humor. Instead he has to try to be a cantor.

And why they force Nadia Dranova, the cantor's wife, to capture the entire time, I don't understand it: it is a descent for her, as well as the audience. Easy and mobile is Paula Klida in the role of the cantor's daughter Perele. And Vera Lubov in the role of the cabaret dancer presents a type of a young girl who is desperate in her love and jealousy.

A pleasant surprise was [Ilya] Trilling, who plays in place of Itzik Feld the role of the Polish gentile man. He suddenly had to work for Feld. It didn't feel that he was only, as they would say, a "substitute." He was especially good in the last scene of the dance with his gentile woman (shikse).

Leon Blank, in his own, Blank-like way, plays the role of a thief who picks pockets, and often takes a sniff, sings and longs for his abandoned daughter.

photo: Aaron Lebedeff (lt.) and prob. Vera Lubov (rt.)

Boris Rosenthal "portrays in a sharp and humorous way the type of a thick, balding butcher with high blood pressure."

Saltsche Shorr plays quite smoothly the role of a widow who has one man lying in the ground. Max Rosenthal is her son, and Sam Gertler plays the role of the betraying "friend," who sends Shloimke to prison.

Also N. Himmelstein has a role.

The offering is entirely beautiful and convincing, and Herman Wohl's music from the operetta was pleasant to hear.





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