Review: ‘The Golden Bride’ a pure joy of Yiddish operetta

Review: ‘The Golden Bride’ a pure joy of Yiddish operetta

Asya Danilova

  • OnStage New York Critic

With the decline of the Yiddish speaking population around the world there are only five professional theater companies that are consistently producing Yiddish plays or plays translated to Yiddish; the Folksbiene is one of them. Founded in 1915 it is considered the oldest theater company in New York, Yiddish and English. For the sound of Yiddish language alone this musical would be worth seeing and hearing as it is, unfortunately, a rare cultural experience. The show is accompanied by English and Russian supertitles so no need to worry about catching up with the plot. Especially since it is so charmingly naïve and straight forward. 

Goldele (Rachel Policar), a girl abandoned in childhood, living in a Shtetl (a Jewish settlement) in Russia receives the news about inheriting a fortune from her father. Her American uncle Benjamin (Bob Adler) comes to the village to accompany his nice to the New World. Every young men in town is exited and wants to marry “the golden bride”, and every girl is ecstatic with joy for her lucky friend. The story is a pure joyful immigrant fantasy featuring the loving community of the Shtetl and exuberant life in America.  

The cast of 20 with their strong voices and orchestra of 14, conducted by Zulmen Mlotek, bring up a hurricane of sounds so sweet and rich it grabs you immediately. The lightness of the music and the subject matter is combined with opera arias, which gives a genre of operetta its distinct style and fills the audience of different tastes and backgrounds with warmth and satisfaction. The duet of Rachel Policar (simpleminded and sweet Goldele) and Cameron Johnson (Disney-prince-like Misha) was especially strong. 

The Golden Bride (Yiddish: Die Goldene Kale) is a 1923 operetta with music by Joseph Rumshinsky, lyrics by Louis Gilrod and a book by Frieda Freiman. It was last produced in 1948 and than forgotten until the Folksbiene, the National Yiddish Theatre in New York revived it in December 2015. The show was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards and now is enjoying its second run at the Museum of Jewish heritage.    

The Golden Bride runs through August 28, 2016 on the following schedule: Mondays at 7:30pm; Wednesdays at 2pm & 7:30pm; Thursdays at 2pm; and Sundays at 2pm & 6pm. There are also additional performances July 14 at 7:30pm, July 15 at 1pm, August 9 at 2pm, August 11 at 7:30pm. The Museum of Jewish Heritage is located at 36 Battery Place at First Place -- accessible from the 4/5 trains at Bowling or the 1/R at Rector Street. Tickets are $40 at (866) 811-4111 or nytf.org.

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