Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The Second Avenue Theatre
35-37 Second Avenue, New York, NY
Opened on October 16, 1934.


(One in a Million)

by Anshel Schorr and William Siegel, music by Abe Ellstein



This production was reviewed by Hillel Rogoff in the Yiddish Forward newspaper of November 30, 1934. Here is what he wrote.

"One in a Million" is an amusing operetta, with a simple "libretto" and very, very fine music. The action develops with the proper tempo, not too rushed and not too slow. There are no wild beasts; nobody breaks you, not the nervous [?]. Everything that comes on the stage is pleasant and amusing.

The entire ensemble in a scene from "One in a Million"

It's about a Jewish aristocrat, a banker from Park Avenue, who is about to go bankrupt and is forced to ask for help from an up-and-coming rich man, a former waiter, whom he has always treated with contempt. The former waiter seizes the opportunity to reconcile with the proud aristocrat for the insults he has endured all these years. He would certainly refuse to help the aristocrat, but he intervenes with a girl, the youngest daughter of the aristocrat. By chance, the girl is in the ex-waiters' apartment the same night her father comes to ask for help. The ex-waiter is, you understand, in love with her, and she is in love with him too. She speaks with him about her father, and he agrees to donate money to her father's business. Before this happens, complications arise, plans and misunderstandings, but in ends up looking even better, and everyone sings happily. The father remains at his rich business, and the pair in love get married.

The role of the young girl, the daughter of the aristocratic Jewish hero, is played by Molly Picon. And so as always, Molly does not "fret" about the character that the role calls for. She doesn't perform the role of the play, but the role of Molly Picon. She is on the stage almost the entire time of the production, and she shows everything that she can. She dances and sings and says jokes and kibitzes with the audience, the actors and by herself. I have rarely seen Molly Picon work in a play as much as in "One in a Million." She plays soubrettes and prima donnas; she sings burlesque and opera; she dances jazz and ballet russe dance; she leads through scenes with everyone of the actors and actresses -- she returns a world. And as always she is a great success.

Among the performers in the play there is one who creates a type and plays a character role. This one actor is Michael Rosenberg. Unfortunately he has only a few counted performances, but the few scenes he plays stand out from the entire play.

Michael Rosenberg presents the type of an overworked, exhausted waiter. His makeup was wonderful. As quickly as he shows up on the stage, you know what a person this is. You recognize the character by the gait, and in the place and manner in which he wears the clothes. The songs that he sings together with Molly Picon, "You May Believe Me or Not," is the hit of the play. This is the kind of comical song you need to know. Comedy comes out of the expanse, the "trap" with which the actor speaks the words. Rosenberg and Molly Picon take the theatre by storm.

                                                                                                                                           photo: Molly Picon and Michael Rosenberg in a drunken scene, where they sing,  "You May Believe Me or Not."


Leon Gold is also a great hit with his singing. He is, without a doubt, one of the very best singers on the Yiddish stage now of his type. In the play he virtually has nothing to act. But the two songs that he sings are very strong. The first song, "I Love You, Plain and Simple" he sings together with Molly Picon; the songs are naughty, they belong to the genre of couplets, and it does not matter to you either, that is not an especially strong or trained voice. The second song however, "Money," is already of another sort. It is filled with dramatic skill and melodic nuances. Gold simply enchants the public. In his singing there is much skill, so much passion, so much warmth. The song "Money" also is one of the things that the audience carries with them in their memories when they leave the theatre.


Light, comical and half-comical roles were performed by Sam Kasten, Annie Thomashefsky, Gertie Bulman and Dave Lubritsky. Sam Kasten tells jokes, sings a little and dances a lot. As it is beautiful, the dances by Kasten always become an ambition. He wants to show that he alone says that although his hair is white, his heart and his legs are young. And he indeed shows it. His "dance contest" with Molly Picon deserves a great portion of applause, and the applause will be sent to Kasten's address, not less than to Molly Picon's.

Annie Thomashefsky plays the role of an old maid who "you don't like yourself." True, her appearance is not that of an old maid, and it is also true that it is difficult to praise a lot of the not beautiful things that she says about herself, but the audience is amused, and of her "command" of the stage. As an "entertainer" Annie Thomashefsky is one of the very good of our theatre types.

The "time" Bulman and Lubritsky have in the play give them less opportunity than usual, and less than they need to have. Bulman is a good dancer and makes a refreshing impression with her graceful appearance and finely built and movable figure. She also can sing. However, unfortunately in the play she has little to do. The several scenes in which she appears by herself, or with Dave Lubritsky, are almost without content.

lt. to rt.: Annie Thomashefsky, Sam Kasten, Molly Picon and Annie Hoffmann, in a comical scene.

Muni Serebrov plays the role of the hero, the ex-waiter who now is a member, and who directs a novel with Molly Picon. He has a pleasant voice and sings a beautiful romance song, "Eyes, Your Dark Eyes."

The other roles were performed by Moshe Feder, Moshe Silberstein and Annie Hoffman.

The music for the operetta was composed by the musician, Abe Ellstein.

Judging from the creation, Ellstein is a winner for the Yiddish operetta theatre. One wants to hope that he will continue his work for the Yiddish stage, and that he writes other music such as that in "One in a Million."

A compliment also goes to the chorus; beautiful girls, fine figures and good dancers.


Molly Picon and Muni Serebrov, with the girls of the chorus.

Molly Picon with her school friends in a comical singing number, "Alef-bays."






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