The Golden Bride
Music by Joseph Rumshinsky
Lyrics by Louis Gilrod
Libretto by Frieda Freiman
Directed by Bryna Wasserman and Motl Didner
There was a particular energy in the theatre at the opening night of The Golden Bride. The experience of attending the opening was just as powerful as what was going on onstage. The audience was filled with folks talking in fluent Yiddish. At intermission, the gentleman sitting next to me commented on my loud, frequent giggle during the show, and then proceeded to ask me, in Yiddish, if I spoke Yiddish. (I was able to figure out that is what he was asking!)
I do not speak Yiddish, but thanks to subtitles I was able to follow and fall in love with The Golden Bride.
As delightful, visually beautiful, charming and lovely as I found the production itself, I was every bit as taken by the back story of the piece, and I am sure I am not alone in that feeling.
The musical’s score and libretto were lost in the aftermath of WWII. With the help of several developmental workshops and music archeologist Michael Ochs, the show has been pieced back together and is being presented by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park.
In a storyline that can be likened to a Yiddish and 1920’s Mamma Mia, a beautiful young millionairess believes her lost mother is still alive and agrees to marry the man who brings her mother safely home.
I particularly loved that this show is being performed at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which is mostly a museum dedicated to the Holocaust. Is it a bit unusual to present a light-hearted musical comedy on such premises? Perhaps. But is it also beautifully symbolic of the power of laughter in difficult times and the importance of culture and the stories of our ancestors? Absolutely.
1923 Musical Comedy Returns to Off-Broadway
THE GOLDEN BRIDE
Opens December 9 at Edmond J. Safra Hall
Now entering its 101st season, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene [NYTF] will present the first contemporary revival of the lost Yiddish American operetta comedy THE GOLDEN BRIDE (Di Goldene Kale). Featuring a cast of 20 and an orchestra of 14, this rare glimpse back into musical theater history begins previews December 2 as part of NYTF’s inaugural year in residency at the Museum of Jewish Heritage [MJH]. The production marks the first long-running, full-scale production hosted at the Museum’s 375-seat Edmond J. Safra Hall. Opening night is slated for Wednesday, December 9.
In THE GOLDEN BRIDE, a beautiful young woman named Goldele, abandoned as a child, receives an unexpected inheritance and sets off on a journey from Russia across the seas to America to claim her estate, find her mother and offer her hand to the man who can help.
With music by famed Yiddish composer Joseph Rumshinsky, libretto by Frieda Freiman and lyrics by Louis Gilrod, THE GOLDEN BRIDE is a timeless rags to riches American Jewish fairytale that takes us on a journey from the Russian shtetl to a New York City mansion. The first-class score and large-scale production at Kessler’s Second Avenue Theater kept the 2,000 seat house packed following The Golden Bride’s 1923 opening. This wildly popular romantic comedy continued in its success with several subsequent revivals playing through the 1940s as well as engagements nationally and internationally, but was lost to time following the Second World War. In 1984, Dr. Michael Ochs, former head of the music library at Harvard unearthed an original vocal score and manuscript for Di Goldene Kale and spent a number of years translating, researching and reconstructing this nearly-forgotten treasure.
Presented in Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles THE GOLDEN BRIDE will star Bob Ader (Broadway’s All the Way Home), Glenn Seven Allen (Broadway’s Light in the Piazza), Lisa Fishman (Off Broadway’s On Second), Regina Gibson (Off Broadway’s The Apple Tree), Jillian Gottlieb (The Metropolitan Opera’s Das Rheingold), Cameron Johnson (Into the Woods), Rachel Policar (Off Broadway’s HMS Pinafore), Bruce Rebold (Off Broadway’s Kiss, Me Kate), and Adam B. Shapiro (HBO’s The Normal Heart) with chorus/ensemble members including Nelson Bettencourt, Adam Kaster, Jessica Kennedy, Amy Laviolette, Joseph Mace, Isabel Nesti, Zachary Spiegel, Tatiana Wechsler, and Jeremy Weiss.
THE GOLDEN BRIDE creative team is comprised of direction by Bryna Wasserman (Lies My Father Told) and NYTF Associate Director Motl Didner (Fyvush Finkel Live), music direction by Zalmen Mlotek (Broadway’s Those Were the Days), set design by John Dinning, costume design by Izzy Fields (Roundabout’s Consent), and lighting design by Yael Lubetzky (Broadway’s Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam), choreography by Merete Muenter (The Megile of Itzik Manger), libretto / score editing and translation by Michael Ochs, with casting by Jamibeth Margolis, C.S.A. (Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables). NYTF Executive Producer Christopher Massimine (Broadway’s It Shoulda Been You, American Idiot, and Soul Doctor) heads production and promotion as general manager and showrunner with Ken Larson (FX’s American Horror Story) as production manager and Sean Patrick (Roundabout’s Anything Goes) as production stage manager.
Since 1915, the award-winning National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene [NYTF] has presented a window into the world of Jewish culture by engaging, educating, and igniting the imaginations of generations of theatergoers. It is the longest consecutively-producing Yiddish theatre company in the world, NYC’s longest consecutively-producing performing arts company. NYTF presents plays, musicals, concerts, literary events and workshops in English, Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew and Russian, with English and Russian supertitles accompanying most performances. Its mission is to celebrate the Jewish experience through the performing arts and to transmit a rich cultural legacy in exciting new ways. www.nytf.org
The mission of the Museum of Jewish Heritage is to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust. Multiple perspectives on modern Jewish history, life, and culture are presented in the Museum’s unique Core Exhibition and award-winning special exhibitions. Acclaimed public programs, including discussions, films, plays, and concerts, highlight the richness of Jewish culture and ideas. The Museum’s mission extends across the country and the world with Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) and initiatives with affiliate organizations: the Auschwitz Jewish Center and JewishGen. www.mjhnyc.org
THE GOLDEN BRIDE runs December 2, 2015 through January 3, 2015 on the following schedule: Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2pm & 7:30pm; Saturdays at 7:30pm; and Sundays at 2pm & 6pm with additional performances Dec. 22 & 29 at 2pm, Dec. 25 at noon, Jan. 1 at noon and a special gala Dec. 8 at 7:30pm. NOTE: no performances Dec 24 or Dec. 31, no matinees Dec. 2 or 3 and no 6pm show on Dec. 13. The Museum of Jewish Heritage is located at 36 Battery Place at First Place — accessible from the 4/5 train at Bowling or the 1/R at Rector Street. Tickets are $40 ($35 for previews) at 866-811-4111 or nytf.org.