What seemed a few weeks ago to be a very dull theatrical season has undergone so much improvement because of the success of “Men in White”, “Sailor, Beware”, “Ah Wilderness” and “The Pursuit of Happiness”, that all along Broadway a happy note of optimism may be discerned. Play brokers report a greater call for scripts than has been evident in a number of seasons. Variety reports that even the critics “are not as bad as they used to be” and are ready to give a break to the shows that are fair, or nearly good, whereas previously they were hunting for perfection.
THE WEEK’S OPENINGS
The plays of the coming week are of such variety that the tastes of many theatregoers will be satisfied. “The School for Husbands”, which pleased audiences two summers ago at the Westport Country Playhouse, will come to the Empire Theatre tomorrow night as the second Theatre Guild offering of the season. It is an adaptation in rime by Arthur Guiterman and Lawrence Langner of the play by Moliere. June Walker and Osgood Perkins head the cast. The staging is by Mr. Langner and the settings by Lee Simonson.
“Ten Minute Alibi” by Anthony Armstrong will be offered at the Ethel Barrymore by Crosby Gaige and Lee Shubert, Tuesday evening. It is now playing in London. The staging is by Herbert Shumlin and Bramwell Fletch has the leading role. “Keeper of the Keys”, a melodrama by Valentine Davies, based on a story by Earl Derr Biggers, will open Wednesday at the Fulton. Much heralded in London, “The Green Bay Tree” by Mordaunt Shairp, opens Friday at the Booth under the direction of Jed Harris and Lee Shuert. After many tantalizing reports from the back alleys of Broadway, “Let ‘Em Eat Cake”, the eagerly-awaited musical sequel to “Of Thee I Sing”, will open Saturday at the Imperial. Sam H. Harris is the producer of the work by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskin and George and Ira Gershwin. As in “Of Thee I Sing”, William Gaxton, Lois Moran and Victor Moore have the leading roles.
The Group Theatre, which prepared four plays during its summer rehearsal season, has a success on its hands with “Men in White” at the Broadhurst, which is expected to remain through the season. When a second production is scheduled, it will probably be “Gallery Gods”, by Richard Duschinsky, adapted by Henrietta Malkiel and John Houseman. Stella Adler will have one of the principal roles.
ABOUT DEFILED LIPS
“Der Nayder” (The Vow), by Herman Lieberman, which is described in the program notes as “a tragedy in the Aristotelian sense (save for its happy ending), that is, one in which misfortune comes to essentially good and noble people because of some fault in human nature, or through circumstances beyond their control” deceives one as to the true nature of the play. The attempt to interpret the play according to the principles laid down by Aristotle is unfortunate. Nowhere in the tragedies of the Greek authors does a play hang on so slight and unconvincing excuse as the plot of “Der Nayder.”
Rochele, played by Jennie Goldstein in a tearful manner, has to spend twenty years of her life doing penance because she defiled her lips in receiving a kiss from a Gentile. Three of her children die because they have been contaminated by her kiss, and her fourth child is saved by not having been embraced. From the modern point of view the situation is almost ridiculous. The punishment is far in excess of the crime. When we witness a Greek tragedy, it is comprehensible because it has been written in terms of the prevailing modes. Whereas “Der Nayder”, set in a European community of fifty years ago, has no semblance of truth, especially when, in order to force a happy ending, the author has Rochele’s daughter marry the son of the Gentile (who has been converted to Judaism) responsible for the unhappiness of her life.
David Herman’s direction of the play is distinctly disappointing in view of the fact that he was supposed to have been able to contribute. The performance on the whole is crude and resembles too much the type of production common to the Yiddish stage in its infancy.
“Germany in 1833”, Yiddish drama by Jack Berlin, in which “The Clown” will be co-starred with Celia Person, opened at the Brooklyn Lyric Theatre this week-end. . . . “The Wise Men of Chelem”, by Aaron Zeitlin, which has been described as a romantic work with dancing and music, will be presented by Maurice Schwartz at the Yiddish Art Theatre on Wednesday evening.
INTERNATIONAL MUSIC HALL
Milton Roberts, stage director of “Come Easy”, is staging the floor show for the new Thomashefsky International Music Hall, which will open tomorrow evening at Freeman Street and Southern Boulevard, the Bronx. The Music Hall program, starring Boris Thomashefsky, veteran actor of the Yiddish stage, will present a thoroughly cosmopolitan bill with artists from Russia, Hungary, Italy, England, France, Near East, Africa and America.
The International Music Hall is planned to be an exact replica of the continental cafes where patrons drink and dance and see a show without having to take their entertainment progressively. There will be three revues nightly at nine, eleven and one o’clock, the last for the accommodation of Broadway patrons.
Although it is a far cry to next season, it has been announced that George Jessel will appear in an American version of “Motke Ganif” by Sholom Asch. The novel is being darmatized by Maurice Schwartz, who will also stage the production. After Schwartz is through with his version, the play will then be translated into English.