- Curt Schleier THE FORWARD
The Golden Land, the musical created by Zalmen Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld, which premiered in New York in 1984, was presented in a new adaptation in October 2012 by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF), under the direction of Bryna Wasserman. In a newly staged version produced by the NYTF, the musical was performed in Vienna, Austria in October 2015 at the Vienna Jewish Institute.
The Golden Land is a musical that depicts the experiences of millions of Jewish immigrants who followed their dreams to come to America during the final decades of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.
From their first breathless glimpse of the Statue of Liberty to the anxiety of facing the immigration officer in Ellis Island and the shock of landing in the hustle and bustle of New York’s Lower East Side, from the Roaring Twenties to the Depression, WW II and the aftermath of the Holocaust and the birth of Israel, the story of Jewish immigration to America is poignantly captured and portrayed in Yiddish songs of the era and dramatic scenes in English.
The Golden Land premiered in 1984 at the 700 seat Norman Thomas Theater, where it struck a powerful chord among audiences of all ages. It ran for 5 months, playing to sold out houses. During this period, it also had a 7 performance sold out run at the 3000 seat Westbury Music Fair.
The next incarnation of The Golden Land occurred in 1985 when the authors collaborated with award winning director and lyricist Jacques Levy to evolve the musical into one which was much more accessible to the general theater-going public. The result was a hugely successful production at the American Music Theater Festival, which moved to the 2nd Avenue Theater on 12th Street, where it enjoyed a 10 month Off Broadway run closing in May, 1987.
The Golden Land had two productions in Canada in the ensuing decades – by the Winnipeg Jewish Theater, and the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre in Montreal.
The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene‘s mission is to preserve Jewish culture through the performing arts, educate future artists and audiences, and strengthen Jewish identity in each generation.
The award-winning National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) is the longest continuously producing Yiddish theatre company in the world, and celebrated its centenary in 2015 with a hugely successful festival of Jewish performing arts, KulturfestNYC. The company presents plays and cultural programs that connect people to their Jewish roots while serving as a vital resource for the performing arts in America. The NYTF’s plays, concerts, literary events and workshops are presented in English and Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles. The NYTF presents relevant works by classic and modern Jewish playwrights. Each season, thousands of people of all ages attend NYTF programs. Outreach programs bring dynamic and interactive events to individuals, primarily school children and university students.
Among the well-known artists who have worked with the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene are Theodore Bikel, Topol, Joseph Buloff, Jacob Ben-Ami, Fyvush Finkel, Neil Sedaka, Dudu Fisher, Jay Black of Jay and the Americans, Avi Hoffman, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Bruce Adler, Zypora Spaisman, Mike Burstyn, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, and many others.