Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The Prospect Theatre
851 Prospect Avenue, Bronx, NY
This production opened on November 9, 1934.


(Papa's Baby)

by Meyer Schwartz, music by Yasha Kreitzberg


The following review, written by D. Kaplan, was first printed in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on November 23, 1934. Here it is:

In  a theatre production of this kind of musical comedy, the main weight usually lands on the songs and dance. The dramatic action usually occurs with more than one canvas on which there will be hung the songs, dance and jokes. In a Yiddish musical comedy, however, this is not always the case. A Yiddish theatre-goer is not only content with fun things, but also with laughter, although he loves a heartfelt melody and a good joke. But he also enjoys getting used to it, shedding tears in a moving, dramatic or melodramatic situation. He must be given such a court.

The musical comedy, "Papa's Baby," which now is at the Prospect Theatre in the Bronx, is that type of theatre court. It has too little of everything -- light dancing, a couple of good melodies, a little fun, and even very peppery, not very kosher jokes. However, it also has content, an image that comes close to life.

The current of the story, the theme, is of the realistic sort. A mother looks on her seventeen-year-old daughter as a child, and she doesn't see that she is already an adolescent woman with developed requirements and demands. This current, although in itself a healthy, correct point in life, remains in the imagination no more than a current. The whole plot is further elaborated in such a way that it turns out to be an interesting story, so let the audience rejoice.

The seventeen-year-old girl, Helen, is the main heroine. Her mother has discarded her husband, Helen's father, because of this rich man, Joseph Robinson. In order to hide her own age, she seeks to lower Helen's age by a year: on Helen's seventeenth birthday, she tries to turn sixteen. But the stepfather sees that Helen is already a developed flower, and he casts an eye on her. His relationship with her is ostensibly like his own child. He buys her rich presents, but soon it turns out that he has something else in mind.

On her birthday Helen goes to visit her father. She sees how he feels miserable and longs for his fleeing wife. She turns out to be a very sensitive and devoted daughter and would like to stay with him, but she can not do it because of her mother. She expresses the desire to be able to be with her father, with his word that if the mother ever wants to return to him, he should forgive her and take her for herself.

It is not clear why she took the word of her father. But we soon see that this will come to you in the morning.

Helen is in love with their chauffeur, Henry. He is a handsome, young man; he often takes her on rides, and she is a lively, burning girl. What happens naturally is natural: the two, young hearts begin to burn. the mother is, you see, strongly against this, and she begs her husband to do something about this. He wants Henry to resign from his position. Helen says that she will accompany Henry. Robinson himself begins to declare his love for her. He will show her how to love, how an inexperienced person loves, not such a snail as Henry, he says.

Helen liked the story. In her agile forgiveness, a plan is immediately born: to retrieve the stepfather's mother and return her to the father. She accepts the stepfather's love and begins to sleep with him. She takes it ostensibly serious, and loses herself for a while (like everyone else in the theatre), so that she's doing cuts with pins and taking it right on the cymbal [?]. The end result is that she does what she wants: her mother sees what a friend Robinson is, and she goes back to her first husband.

*    *    *

Helen's role is played by Diana Goldberg, and she plays very well, lively, naughty, and with temperament. She fits in very well for this role, but in some places she goes a little over the edge: the naughty Diana Goldberg sees herself as nothing more than Helen, one might say.

Her beloved Henry is played by Seymour Rechtzeit. he is handsome and good in his chauffeur's uniform, and he dances and sings fine and pleasantly.

Bettie Jacobs performs really well, in her usual fine manner, as Helen's grandmother, and she sings with a real nobility and kindness.

Jacob Jacobs takes on, as always, the role of a happy, indifferent person, and delivers jokes, songs, and chastushki [humorous Russian, Ukrainian folk songs], from which the audience laughs quite enough.

Much fun and laughter brings the audience also to the temperamental Annie Lubin as the maid Rosie.

The role of Joseph Robinson is satisfactorily played by Leon Seidenberg, instead of Nathan Goldberg, who, unfortunately is now lying ill.

Pleasant and satisfactorily, Louis Hyman plays in the role of Helen's father. Helen's mother is played by Tania Poland, and Max Henig plays Solly, Helen's stepbrother.





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