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"DER PRINTZ FUN PITKIN EVENYU"
This production was reviewed for the Yiddish Forward newspaper on March 30, 1928 by L. Fogelman.
Julius Michaelson's new play, "The Prince of Pitkin Avenue," which is being presented a the Liberty Theatre, is based on an idea that is well known to us from earlier childhood stories: a poor tramp is suddenly transformed into a millionaire, and a millionaire for a certain time becomes a poor tramp.
When the entire play wants to follow the direction of a children's story, it would not be a bad thing at all. We still love the stories of our childhood and they are still stories, and it would not be foolish to perform such a story on stage in a popular or fantastic style. It would not be bad at all: we still love the stories of our childhood and we are still touched by naive folk tales and there would be nothing against foolishness to perform such a story on stage in a popular or fantastic style.
When we are shown in the first act of the play, the millionaire of Pitkin Avenue Mister Prince concluding an agreement with an unknown hungry tramp [named] Fishbein to change roles for a year; we were delighted: a beautiful children's story will soon unfold before our eyes that will take us away from the grim reality to the distant heavens of fantasy. Or if not a children's story, we thought that we would have some very interesting moments for ourselves, which could emerge from the first act. What a splendid opportunity the playwright has for himself: he can create the most interesting dramatic clashes; he can, after all, carry out the deepest moral with the sharpest and smallest thoughts. With one word he can create entire worlds on the stage.
The more we had watched the play progress, the hope of finding what we were expecting faded away. Not any lovely children's story, not any tragedy, and not any comedy developed for our eyes. Only a sweet, sentimental play with singing and dance, which ended as in the old-fashioned melodramas, with a good, happy ending.
The whole moral of the story, the morality, so to speak, of the play is aroys azoy arim, so obvious that it immediately became clear to us that "the mountain gave birth to a mouse" ... The deep moral is as follows: First, that having over a million dollars, one can already make a good living, but not work, and not have even a shred of intelligence, and secondly, the most beautiful girl could not resist the temptation to marry a millionaire and was ready to leave her poor lover for him, of course, with a vehtag in her heart, and with a sigh on the lips ...
This is how it happens again in the Prohibition
song "Hutch," which I heard this year at another operetta, and that
the rest of the song along with the dances did not take us away to
the distant heavens whenever we dreamed of the first act ...
The true millionaire is played by William Schwartz. On how much such a role can be played, he carried it out quite well.
Menasha Skulnik played the "millionaire for one year," or in other words, the true tramp: he played his role naturally and measured. At times he played with torn side drawers and features of his constant burlesque roles: a comical gait, a ridiculous turn with the eyes or the head. This all is the hard price that an artist must pay for the shund ("trashy") roles, that he often is compelled to play against his will. It always feels very strong ...
Anna Toback plays the role of the young girl who falls in love with the millionaire, more than her with her beloved. She was attractive enough to believe that a millionaire had fallen in love with her, but not convincing enough in her playing to believe that she is living through a tragedy. She sung better than she acted; her voice is soft, without anguish, but her acting was superficial and cold.
Pesach'ke Burstein mischievously performed his role of a young, vas-varft with wisdom, did a dance and sang a lustful song. What can be expected of him in such a role besides merriment? He did give it, and the audience were happy.
Annie Lubin has shown as usual her soubrette abilities; she is lively moving on the stage.
Harry Hochstein is not bad performing his role of the pauper who sells razors without success. The pauper felt at home in his appearance.
His wife, the proper Yenta, is played by Clara Gold; she burned a world, shot with words like from a sack and literally floods the stage with her Yenta-like language. The role was staged entirely lively.
Max Badin plays a stupid businessman who keeps on bringing out a "point," brought out with humor, and if there were already a few "points," it's not his fault, but the fault of the writer ...
The role of his wife was played by Bertha Gutentag. The role is too insignificant for anyone to be able to point out anything in it.
Sara Skulnik and Jacob Wexler play an old couple. More than the fact that they lived a life with the millionaire's father, and that they are old, we do not know at all about them. No characters were given to them, they did the best they could: played old folks, sang "Hutch" and did a dance.
David Levenson plays the role of a lawyer. He looked like a fine man, and he did not make a bad impression. But he did not have that much to play.
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