The Hopkinson Theatre has obviously gone
completely on the path of comedies.
A comedy, in general, is
one of the rare, most difficult dramatic creations, rarer and more
difficult than many other dramatic creations. In a comedy the author
must begin with the types that he is portraying and must illuminate
them with humor; a genuine comedy always lies on the
border of tragedy; and the comedy, as in life, is to a certain extent mixed with the tragedy.
To create this kind of
tragedy one should have a true master, an artist of God's grace, who
demonstrates in himself both the depth of a tragedy and the
philosophical smile of a humorist.
And such a happy combination occurs very
rarely in life. Therefore there are very few artistic comedies; and
for us Jews, the number of such is even more limited.
however, it is difficult to create a true comedy, dramatists often
get away with light and frivolous comedies, which are basically more
of a vaudeville or a burlesque than a comedy. Rather, true comic
types create light vaudeville instead of real comic types. They
create light vaudeville characters that have no definite character.
Instead of comic situations, they lead through burlesque scenes,
filled with jokes and similes.
True, the audience laughs at
this as with a comedy, and quite often much more than at a
comedy, but the laughter in this case is empty, frivolous; Such
laughter does not lift us up and does not lighten our soul. It
doesn't stop at all in the mind, and not in the heart after you
leave the theatre. It's just a light pastime.
Such a kind of
light comedy, which is more similar to vaudeville, is not being
played in the Hopkinson Theatre. Isidore Friedman has written what
is called a "musical comedy" with the name "Yoine Seeks a Bride";
Israel Rosenberg has contributed his couplets and songs, and it is
being staged together with Yetta Zwerling's dance, under the
accompaniment of Benjamin Blank's music.
It turns out to be a
light, funny vaudeville, which causes a lot of laughter and greatly
amuses the audience. The laughter often lights up the theatre and
also upgrades the speech of the actors on stage.
A specially skilled person who evokes laughter is Menasha Skulnik,
who is the soul of the theatre. He doesn't have to put in much
effort; already his appearance alone amuses the audience, and he
starts to play with his jokes and witticisms, and the theater goes crazy.
Imagine this kind of a story: a Jewish farmer, a widow, has
a son, a foolish boy named Yoine; By chance, a New York gentleman
[with the name of] Waldman comes over to the farmer along with his
young daughter and his son-in-law; They have the strange idea
to turn the [farmer's] grown son, the jackass, into a polished aristocratic
young man from Park Avenue. They want to make an "experiment" out of
him, together with a will. [?]
The gentleman's daughter
undertakes [an effort] to make him fall in love with her and move
him to New York. This Yoine is taught aristocratic manners in New
York for an entire
year. But from under his hard shirtfront and his tuxedo, the
cool-headed yeshuvnik always emerges.
The end is
that the lover Yoine learns from the middle-aged jealous groom that
it is only a will, and he retaliates: from an aristocrathe becomes a farmer again. This is the main story; but around this story
there are other side events and comical scenes. Yoine's father
meanwhile has married a widow whose younger son leads a love with
Yoine's sister; and the farmer's maid has married the farmer's
butcher, who is at the same time a matchmaker, a badkhan,
and even also a bootlegger.
As you can see, we have a whole
bunch of interesting [folks] to spare here: as characters, they are
all undefined and under-developed, but almost every one of them evokes
Yoine is the central figure, the main
source of laughter, and Skulnik, who has already experienced the
roles of husbands for the last number of years, feels here like a
fish in water.
His partner in creating laughter is Yetta
Zwerling, who has other means for this than Skulnik. She is already
a genuine vaudeville actress with an inclination to burlesque, and
as such, she is not very selective in her means. Skulnik is mostly
relaxed and calm. She is extremely mobile, hasty and noisy, and
cannot rest for a minute on the stage.
Both of them together
are good and are adapted for this kind of acting and for such plays.
A second interesting pair is Mona Ash and Seymour Rechtzeit. Ash
is young, beautiful and makes a pleasant impression. However, she
still has not found her own tone. At the moment, she feels like
something foreign, like an imitation; she should get rid of it and
find her own way.
Seymour Rechtzeit is not bad in his role
of the widow's beloved son.
The other couple, the gentleman's
daughter with her husband, are little adapted to the general
character of the comedy. The author did not give them even a drop of
humor, not to mention dramatic content. Therefore, they could not
fulfill the inner emptiness of their roles.
Betty Budanov is
quite gracious and attractive, but here she doesn't have a
good opportunity to show what acting skills she has. Her partner,
Morris Novikov, has even less and even less in the bare role of the
Isidore Lipinsky as the butcher and
matchmaker is funny, but he doesn't add his own and unique humor to
Isidore Friedman brings out the rawness of the
farmer as far as possible; but the author Isidore Friedman helps out
the actor Isidore Friedman very little; the Jewish farmer has his
own character traits. Why are they here?
This rich man is
played by Bennie Zeidman, and the widow is played by Ella
Wallerstein. What can be said about them? The first is man, the
second is a woman.
Sara Skulnik plays an aristocratic old
maid, who keeps on shouting: "He's atrocious!" (It's horrible.) We
know nothing else about her; her character is the author's secret.
pleasant surprise is the chorus, which consists of young and
handsome men and women who sing and dance in a very lively manner,
with a lot of temperament. Several numbers, for example, are fine
A successful and cheerful scene is also the
mass scene of the "mock
marriage," a marriage done in jest, with Menasha Skulnik and
Yetta Zwerling as the groom and bride.
The entire "musical comedy" is filled
with jokes and happiness; it moves with a strong, hasty impulse,
under the loud sounds of Blank's playful, light music.