Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
 Brooklyn 
 

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The Parkway Theatre
(formerly the Rolland Theatre)
1768 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on September 20, 1934.

 

"ZI UN ZAYN VAYB"
(SHE AND THE WIFE)

by Israel Rosenberg and Louis Freiman, music by Harry Lubin


 

   
The Cast of Characters:
 

Yudl
Dubinsky
Frances
Weintraub
Izidore
Casher
Mae
Schoenfeld
Irving
Jacobson
Isidore
Friedman
Goldie
Lubritsky
Isidore
Lipinsky
Anna
Toback
Max
Rosenblatt
Misha
German
Lucy
German
Zvi
Scooler

 

Lili

The Brooklyn Parkway Theatre, or as they used to call it until now, "The Rolland Theatre," has with luck opened the season; and for the opening there will appear a play by Israel Rosenberg and Louis Freiman, with the name "She and the Wife."

One can easily be offended by the name itself, that it is about a clash, about a fight between one woman and another for a man. True, this is a father who is not very new, but this is still a favorite topic of playwrights, who try to create from it all the new combinations and plots.

Here a young girl falls in love, a rabbi's daughter, with a married man, a lawyer who has a child; the young girl connects with the husband and has an illegitimate child with him; and to save her youngster from trouble and suffering, she sends her child away to the husband and to his illegitimate wife, and she lives a miserable and lonely life alone, far from her lover and from her child. Only after eighteen years does she come to her son's wedding, out-of-date and uninvited.

This is the main idea of the entire drama.

If the authors were satisfied with that, perhaps a human realism would come out, or a psychological drama, which would more or less, be close to the heart of the spectator. But they have at the same time also created easy entertainment, so, as they behave in the Yiddish theatre, they have inserted side numbers, types and scenes that have nothing to do with the drama, vaudeville, comedy, and what you want yourself.

It only needed a little dance to also transform the play into an operetta.

The two of them stumbled upon a play, and they both did not make the effort to insert the attached numbers into the course of the drama, so that it might, as it were, be intertwined, clinging to the dramatic events; therefore, the numbers hang in the air like empty, colored balloons, which pop out having the necessary effect.

The entire offering lacks stage direction. There are missing scenes, of which one could indeed make something, and some scenes were simply removed in an unsuccessful manner. But directing has long been a stepchild of ours on the Yiddish stage.

Under the hands of a good director, for example, there would not have appeared in the second act such an awkward combination of two special rooms, with two various scenes and actions, which play at the same time, such that the viewer is unable to concentrate, precisely at the important dramatic moments.

And under the hand of a good stage director, they wouldn't have missed such an important moment as the phone call spoken between the unfortunate young girl and her lover; a conversation that directs us to the drama of the young girl.

Again, a good stage director would not permit any scenes and numbers that cling to the drama like a pea to the wall; He would have already seen how it was for them to fit into the play; Or if not, he would throw them out altogether, or he would have sent them to a vaudeville or operetta theatre.

And he also probably would not tolerate the scene with the old mother, who comes right to the wedding canopy of her unknown son; The scene already has a long gray-brown beard.

But then the serpents stare out from the play like bones from a skeleton; And here the serenades are not covered by some of the good actors that the theatre possesses. And a pity, the theatre has just a troupe of capable actors with whom with one can attain something. Here, however, such a talented actor as Izidore Casher has less to do. He plays the role of the rabbi, the father of the young girl in love; but one does not see the rabbi's complete character clearly in the play; What could poor Cashier have done with such an obscure figure of a rabbi?

A capable actor also is Frances Weintraub; she is humorous, but here she must be deadly serious in her deadly role as the rebbetzin.

Lucy German, unfortunately, complains and cries a lot in the role of the beloved girl. Quite often here she falls into a melodramatic tone, or into a tone of a moral preacher who keeps talking.

Very natural is Misha German in the role of her husband, to whom both women come to. He maintains a quiet, restrained tone.

The good singer Anna Toback had to act instead of sing. She made a favorable impression with her beautiful figure and beautiful face.

Goldie Lubritsky performed entirely lively in the role of the woman who the husband betrayed. The authors wanted to expose her as being a bad wife in order to arouse more sympathy for the girl in love; They therefore paid little attention to her sufferings, and because of this she was able to bring out to a full extent the difficult experiences of an unhappy woman whom the husband does not love.

Irving Jacobson demonstrates a lot of humor and acting ability in the side role of a young cantor and moyel (circumciser). With Mae Schoenfeld they are a lively pair that bring merriment into the murky drama.

Also creating a cheerful mood, a most moving Yudl Dubinsky in the role of a shames (sexton), although he doesn't display any original features in his "Reb Ozer"; sticking to one phrase, "Pray for your glory," and repeating it ten times over does not mean [you are] creating a type or a character. But in principle it is not his fault; Nothing can be built from the air.

Max Rosenthal plays the role of a singing teacher; he sings; but his singing also is also not included in the course of the play as a natural thing.

The audience in the theatre laughed and at times also lost a tear; They were not averse to applause: they probably enjoyed the play.
 

 




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

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