“On the Other Side of the River” opens promisingly: eerie bell-like music plays softly, and the set, three flats covered with stiffened, rippling gray gauze, seems to suggest a cave receding in the distance – until the lights come up, transforming them into a river, in a beautiful union of lighting and scenic design.
Yiddish melodrama popped up last week, just yards from the elevated tracks of the 7 train in Queens, at a theater so discreet its name is Secret. Target Margin Theater there presented Allen Lewis Rickman’s enormously enjoyable translation of Isadore Zolotarevsky’s “Gelt, Libe, un Shande” – “Money, Love, and Shame.” Once, perhaps, a play with both pain and laughter, the passage of time has rendered it pure comedy.
Michael Tilson Thomas remembers his grandparents, the Thomashevskys, the first family of Yiddish theater.
Special to the Jewish Week
The story of Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky is a classic American success narrative. Although they were born only a few miles apart in “the middle of a Ukrainian nowhere,” as their grandson Michael Tilson Thomas puts it, they met in Baltimore when he was performing with a traveling Yiddish theater troupe and she was a star-struck girl working in a tobacco factory. They went on to fame and acclaim, stars of the Yiddish theater from the late-19th Century until the Depression.
His work spans the history of entertainment in modern America. Fyvush Finkel, one of the last performers from the heyday of the Yiddish theater, opens this weekend at the Folksbiene in “Fyvush Finkel Live!,” a nostalgic recap of his illustrious career on both stage and screen. Finkel, who turned 88 last weekend, will be joined by his two sons, pianist Elliot and xylophonist virtuoso Ian, along with veteran performers Merwyn Goldsmith and June Gable, in a revue that showcases the talents of one of the country’s most versatile and durable Jewish performers.