By William Wolf

THE GOLDEN BRIDE (DI GOLDENE KALE)  Send This Review to a Friend

You’ve heard of “Brush up your Shakespeare.” With the return of the delightful Drama Desk-nominated musical “The Golden Bride,” some may want to brush up their Yiddish. But for the non-Yiddish speaking, there is no need to worry. Supertitle translations are flashed in English and Russian. The story itself, corny but charming, can easily be followed through the bursts of song and expressive performances by an excellent cast.

“The Golden Bride,” with music by Joseph Rumshinsky, lyrics by Louis Gilrod and libretto by Frieda Freiman, dates from 1923. Its current revival is by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at its attractive new theater in the Museum of Jewish Heritage at Battery Place. It was staged during the last theater season and has now returned.

The story first occurs in a shtetl in Russia, and then in the second act the action shifts to America a year later. The tale involves a young woman, Goldele, appealingly played and sung by Rachel Policar. Goldele was abandoned as a child by her mother—why is ultimately explained—and she longs to locate her long-lost mom. Meanwhile, she has been raised by a kindly couple.

Of course, there must be romance, and her prime suitor is Misha, given a strong performance by excellent singer and actor Cameron Johnson. Goldele’s status is enhanced by an unexpected inheritance, for which she heads to America to claim. She will be partial to the man who locates her mother. The plot becomes amusingly entangled, but plot is not the operetta-style show’s strong point. The fun injected into the rollicking numbers and the romantic ballads drive the production, which is also spiced with comedy and a few broad performances.

“The Golden Bride,” co-directed by Bryna Wasserman and Motl Didner, with Zalmen Mlotek as conductor and musical director and Merete Muenter in charge of choreography and musical staging, is a boon to those who prize keeping Yiddish culture and the Yiddish language alive. If you go to see the show, I would strongly recommend that you also plan to devote a few hours before it to visiting the museum in which it ensconced. The Museum of Jewish Heritage, with its three floors of exhibits, spans Jewish history before, during and beyond the Holocaust. There is a lot to see. “The Golden Bride” is performed in the Edmond J. Safra Hall, 36 Battery Place at First Place, accessible from the 4 or 5 train at Bowling or the 1 or R train at Rector Street. Phone: 212-945-0039. Reviewed July 10, 2016.


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