Revival of Morning Star, a play about an immigrant family on the Lower East Side (NYC)

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When “Morning Star” opened on Broadway in 1940, featuring the Yiddish theater star Molly Picon and a young Sidney Lumet, its portrait of a Jewish widow stoically enduring the death and disaster brought by the major events of recent history (from 1910 to 1931) sent a hopeful message to audiences desperately in need of one. As the play’s audiences followed the Nazis’ march through Europe, here was a woman, Becky Felderman, who refused to give in.

For most audiences today, Sylvia Regan’s melodrama about an immigrant family on the Lower East Side seems more like an overwrought soap opera, a sturdy, antique history lesson that will appeal mostly to those inclined to regularly visit New York’s Tenement Museum.

Played with spunk by Susan Greenhill, who may be a bit young for the part, Mrs. Felderman is the den mother to a full house that includes a boarder (Steve Sterner) desperate for her hand in marriage, and four children, including Hymie (Michael Tommer), who is preparing for his bar mitzvah; Fanny (Darcy Yellin), an aspiring singer who falls for a fast-talking songwriter with a wandering eye (Josh Philip Weinstein); and Esther (Caroline Tamas) and Sadie (Lena Kaminsky), who are in love with the same man, the scholarly Harry Engel (Matthew DeCapua).

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