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The Hopkinson Theatre
482 Hopkinson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on December 24, 1926.
 

"MARGARITA"
by Israel Rosenberg, music by Sholom Secunda

 

This review was written by Hillel Rogoff for the Yiddish Forward newspaper. It was first printed for the January 28, 1927 edition. Here it is:


The Hopkinson Theatre in Brownsville again has a successful play. Its first sucess of the season was a melodrama, "Stepmothers"; the current success is an operetta with the name of "Margarita." The "Stepmothers" belongs to the better kind of melodramas, and "Margarita" belongs to the operettas of a better, more beautiful class.

It is here in one scene in the operetta, about which we want to talk about right from the start, even though the scene is played at the very end of the play, by the end of the second act. The scene is staged for an 0ld-country style wedding in a small Jewish town. The entire ceremony is played from the beginning until the end: the settlement of ..... , the badkhan's (jester's) sayings, the canopy, the kosher dance, the dance of the in-laws, of the guests, etc. The stage director, who has staged the scene, has shown that he has the taste; what happened during the scene showed that he had the taste and the feeling of a true artist. Images of this kind are very easy to burlesque. They simply "ask" someone to make a caricature for them. The stage director in the Hopkinson Theatre has contributed to the miracle. He brought the whole poetry into the scene, the entire beauty and piety with which the old wedding cermonies were permeated.

The scene really had nothing to do with the operetta, none. It was included as an "extra," as a "treat" for the audience, and the treat was very pleasing.

The action of the operetta, the libretto (it was written by Israel Rosenberg) is not anything new, and nothing else that was interesting. The first act took place in a hotel in Cuba, and the second act in a rich, wealthy apartment in New York. This is also not important. The people in the two acts are the same -- all are American, or, better said, New York Jews.

The success of the operetta is thanks to the music and the acting and singing and dancing of the actors, and from the chorus. The music is written by the composer Sholom Secunda, who is in the New York theatre almost as a guest. He can, without hesitation, write music for operttas. In the operetta he has a couple of nigunim (religious melodies), which are immediately picked up by the audience. One song, "Foygele," is so beautiful and so "catchy," that the public doesn't let the songstress (Mrs. German) off the stage, until they learned to sing the song themselves. When she finishes, the entire theatre sings with her.

The main role, the role of the heroine, Margarita, is played by Mrs. German. I think that Mrs. German is from a former time, when she plays serious dramatic roles in Yiddish art theatres in New York. I really was surprised to see her as an operetta "star," for whom it requires an entirely other sort of ability. On the stage she is playful, frivolous, moderately operatic. It is difficult to imagine that the same actress is able to perform in a quiet type of role, in a serious drama.
 

Lucy
German
Misha
German
Leon
Gold
Tania
Poland
Yudl
Dubinsky
Isidore
Lipinsky
Clara
Rosenthal
Ella
Wallerstein
Yasha
Rosenthal
William
Epstein

Mrs. German has a beautiful, tasteful, heartfelt voice. The serious song that she sings is taken by the audience. She has another advantage: she does not exaggerate, does not burlesque. She is on the stage quite often and has a lot to sing and to play, but at no moment does she become boring. On the contrary, the audience would want to keep her as long as possible, so that she would not leave the stage.

The stage is not as richly dressed as in the New York operetta theatre houses. But just as the theatre itself is smaller, and the audience its own, this is perhaps an advantage. The fact that the stage is not so crowded makes the audience feel at home, more intimate, more pleasant.

The operetta is written according to all the rules of the genre. Here there are the "heroes," those who sing love songs, and the unsettled melodies. Here there are also the buffoons, who make themselves cheery with their couplets. The role of this first group in "Margarita" is performed by Mrs. German and Mr. German, Leon Gold and Tania Poland. About Mrs. German we have already spoken about her. She is really the operetta. Everyone who is in the operetta is interesting, everything that is in the music, sweet and beautiful, is played and sung by her. Mr. German has little to do. He sings almost not at all and plays very little. He is, however, suitable for the role of an operetta hero. He has a beautiful figure, a fine appearance, and has the necessary operetta manners. His role in the play consistes of that which is called "personality." Personal magnetism. This he exhorts.

Leon Gold and Tania Poland haven't bad voices.

The comic roles were played by three actors: Yudl Dubinsky, Isidore Lipinsky, and Miss Clara Rosenthal.

Dubinsky plays a type: a Jew, a fraud, a cheerful person, an annoying person, a pauper, and a "cunning person." The play itself does not give him much opportunity to do so, he [needs to create] a living person. He does this on his own account. He also manages to entertain the audience with song and dance, and is successful.

Lipinsky's role is of a buff-comic. He pretends to be a stupid servant, a scurrilous "hare." With him as a "partner," the soubrette Clara Rosenthal, the "team," is not at all successful. Rosenthal has a bit too much temperament, and Lipinsky, it seems, has a little to0 little.

The smaller roles were performed by Louie Hyman, Ella Wallerstien, Yasha Rosenthal, and William Epstein.

In the chorus here there are three dancers who perform several dance numbers, one at a time. They deserve a special compliment. Such good chorus dancers are rarely seen on the Yiddish stage.

 

 

 

 

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