Theater Review - The Golden Land (NY)

“The Golden Land” has a long history, beginning with 1982, when Zalmen Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld were commissioned to create a special program honoring the Jewish Daily Forward on its 85th anniversary. This spirited musical that interlaces over 40 treasured songs with the stories of the Jewish immigrant masses that came from Eastern Europe to begin new lives in America, has been written, rewritten and reshaped over the years. Great names like Art d'Lugoff, who became a co -producer, Molly Picon, who extolled the experience of seeing it, Leonard Bernstein, who recommended that it be chosen for an International Theater Festival tour in Italy, and the help of Yosi Mlotek, Jacques Levy, and Bruce Adler, brought it to its present day success.  Unfortunately, I only got to see “The Golden Land” at the end of its run; let us hope it will be revived once again in the near future.

 

For two hours with one intermission, directed by Bryna Wasserman with good pace, the endearing cast of three women and three men accompanied by a and, rich and lush, conducted by Zalmen Mlotek, on the piano, tell the wrenching tales of being forced to leave their towns and cities in Europe, journeying on boats, coming to Ellis Island to streets supposedly paved with gold, unable to speak the language, getting jobs and working in sweat shops.  Living through the Triangle Fire and the Depression--That's only the beginning! Roger Hanna's set design of stone and brick is very simple. Warmly lit by Brian W. Barnett, the only element that caused concern was a long step that the cast had to leap over in every dance choreographed by Deanna Dys. It was a miracle that no one twisted an ankle or stubbed a toe!

 

I know very little Yiddish, but parts of every song were translated into English and were easy to understand.  Each actor, Bob Ader, Cooper Grodin, Stacey Harris, Andrew Keltz, and Sandy Rosenberg performed well, but Daniella Rabbani stole our hearts with two songs: “Oy, I Like Him,” (Based on “Oy, I Like She” by Lebedeff and Olshenetsky,  English lyrics by J. Levy ) and “A Khulem” which means  “Dream.”

 

“The Golden Land”--  the realization of the dreams of many.

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