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 January 16, 1931..



by Nahum Stutchkoff, music by Sholom Secunda


The Cast of Characters:





This review was written for the Forward by D. Kaplan and appeared it its January 30, 1931 edition. Here is its English translation.

If you reside in the region of Brownsville and East New York, you find yourself in a favorable position that you will not need to drag yourself into New York, to Second Avenue, to see a beautiful theatre production. Right under your nose, so to speak, you have a large, beautiful theatre with all of the modern particulars, the Rolland Theatre, which always strives to give you just as beautiful, rich and entertaining performances as any theatre on Jewish Broadway and New York.

We have once, on one occasion, noticed that the Rolland Theatre has a strong ambition not to stay behind Second Avenue, not to be kept within the confines of a local suburb. They probably feel that such a large Jewish city as Brownsville deserves a kosher status and can really afford to make such a theatre a success. Like no other Jewish quarter in Greater New York, Brownsville can compete on the same scale with Second Avenue.

The musical comedy, "Oy, America!," which is now being given at the Rolland Theatre, is also staged with the same wider scope as the previous ones that we have come out to see in the last few seasons. Rich furnishings, beautiful sets, fine images, a chorus filled with beautiful young girls, pleasant songs and dances, and also enough fun to amuse the audience.

There is also content with scenic pieces for the serious, dramatic actor. But this is not the main thing. It's nothing more than a canvas on which the various happy, hilarious scenes, and the slightly moving moments for the songs, singing and dances are emphasized.

The first act occurs on a ship, which is going across the Atlantic from America to Europe. Right away, as soon as the curtain begins to rise, there appears a splendid, beautiful image of a large, modern ship in the middle of the sea from a distance. The clouds carry themselves from below and roll up the only deep waves. The image makes a fine impression on the eyes.

On the ship there travels a young girl, Elke, who was not admitted to America because she was beyond the quota. But her husband, who traveled together with her, was admitted. Elke is terribly desperate and jumps into the sea. But she is rescued by a young, American man, Irving, who finds himself on the ship, and he becomes interested in her. He saves her from the hands of the ship officers, who want to arrest her for her suicide attempt. Irving marries her and takes her under his protection. As he is an American citizen, he can now bring her to America.

Here however, Irving has a fiancée, a rich girl, and he cannot decide what to do. He loves Elke, but his rich fiancée draws him to her. He wanders here and there.

Elke, again, finds her husband here, Shmuel Zavl, who is a greatly, unlucky bigot. She loves him, but on the other hand, she is also very attracted to Irving.

The faint-hearted struggle is not a good opportunity for heart-wrenching scenes in which one can vent feelings, in sweet-sour songs, both for a lot of fun and amusement. The role of Elke is played by the charming Fannie Lubritsky, who carries it out in her heart-pleasing sweet-sounding manner.

The proper justice, however, comes first when it comes to removing Elke from Irving. How to divorce a wife in America? He brings evidence in court that the woman is unfaithful to the her husband, that is, he caught her with someone else. If she would call her groom, Shmuel Zavl, he should come to her at night in her bedroom and he will be "caught." Well, from that comes a scene full of fun and laughter.

The main fun-makers are Menasha Skulnik and Irving Jacobson. Skulnik plays the role of an agent of a charity institution. He is called Brother Motye. He is always here, where one does not see him there, he appears and sticks his nose in everywhere, mixes in everything, and he only makes collections. All the while he is here on stage and elicits laughter.

Perfectly difficult, in her manner, Mae Schoenfeld plays the maid Katie, Brother Motye's wife.

It is quite natural that the young, American man Irving, should be played by the handsome, slender William Schwartz. His fiancée is Betty Simonoff, and she is well taken by the audience, with her beautiful and strong voice.

As Irving's parents, Herman and Rebecca, they are played by Izidore Casher and Pauline Hoffman. The rest of the participants are: Sidney Hart, Maxim Brody, Bertha Hart, Celia Zalkin, Jacob Wexler, Max Greenberg, Israel Mandel, Hyman Kornfeld, and Willie Secunda.

The music was composed by Sholom Secunda. The dances were arranged by Vladimir Krasnoff.



Photo of the Rolland Theatre courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.

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