Jews who get a vicarious feeling of accomplishment when members of their race play an active part in some event should be delighted with “Spring Song,” a new play which opened at the Morosco last evening.
Written by Bella and Samuel Spewack, a Jewish couple, the theme is Jewish the producer, Max Gordon, is Jewish, the cast is composed almost entirely of Jews, and the director, Eddie Sobol, is of the faith. Most of the stagehands are Jewish and the only thing needed to assure its success is the attendance of enough of our New York Jews.
“Spring Song” is the story of a Jewish girl brought up in the ghetto of lower Manhattan. Her family, especially her mother, are orthodox and the play concerns itself with the daughter’s rebellion against her mother’s strict orthodoxy. It is not a new story but still a poignant one.
Francine Larrimore, the niece of the late Jacob Adler, appears in the leading role. For the first time in her career Miss Larrimore appears as a Jewish girl in the kind of a role that she has always wanted to play.
Her supporting cast is composed almost entirely of players recruited from the Jewish theatres. Among them are Helen Zelinskaya, who appears as the mother, and who made her debut with Jacob Ben-Ami at the Irving Place Theatre; Malka Kornstein, who scored a Broadway hit in “Counsellor-at-Law” and appeared in a series of plays that included Tolstoy’s “Power of Darkness” and “The Dybbuk”; Anne Loeb, who has appeared with Mollie Picon, Stella Adler, Paul Muni and Bertha Kalich; Morris Strassberg, who served for twelve years with the Yiddish Art Theatre, playing last season in “Yoshe Kalb”; and Yetta Schoengold, who has appeared in the Jewish theatres of England, France and America.
The authors of “Spring Song” both grew up in the city of which they write. Samuel Spewack attended the City College and then served as a reporter for the World. They met in Moscow as foreign correspondents for the World and were married the following year. Their previous plays include “Poppa,” “The War Song” and “Clear All Wires.”
Eddie Sobol, director of the play, was born in Brooklyn and has been associated with Max Gordon since the days when he was a producer of vaudeville acts. Sobol got the directing assignment almost accidentally; he had been training the players for the first week of rehearsal. Gordon was so highly pleased with Sobol’s work that he kept him as regular director.
ROLL SWEET CHARIOT
Tonight’s opening at the Court sounds very promising. It will be “Roll, Sweet Chariot” described as “a symphonic drama of the Negro people.” The work of Paul Green, the playwright who has accounted for such hits as “In Abraham’s Bosom,” “The Field of God” and “House of Connelly,” it will be presented with a cast of sixty players headed by Frank Wilson, Rose McClendon and Warren Coleman. “Roll, Sweet Chariot” was first seen in Boston last Spring but has since undergone a series of revisions.
Tomorrow evening “Continental Varieties,” an intimate music hall spectacle featuring Lucienne Boyer, the Parisian diseuse; Vicente Escudero and his Sacre Mont gypsies, and a number of supporting stars from the capitals of Europe, will be presented by Arch Selwyn and Harold B. Franklin at the Little Theatre.
For the production, which is a new form of entertainment in this country based on the European “varieties,” the Little Theatre has been redesigned by Henry Dreymuss, who is also responsible for the setting and staging of the spectacle.
Mlle. Boyer, singer of love songs, is the newest star in Paris and Continental capitals. She is the creator of “Parlez-Moi d’Amour,” which has become an international hit. She has her own cabaret in Paris, “Chez Elle.”
Escudero, the Spanish gypsy dancer, already known in this country, brings with him a troupe of guitarists, singers and dancers from the gypsy caves of Granada, heart of the Gitano (Spanish gypsy) art of music and dancing. These performers’ visit marks their first appearance in America.
The supporting cast includes Lydia Chaliapin, daughter of the great Russian basso, Feodor Chaliapin; Raphael, virtuoso concertina player; and De Roza, the illusionist who serves any drink desired out of a water pitcher. Nikita Balieff, genial assassin of the King’s English, is the commentator.