"five thespians due on broadway"

Published September 3, 1931


Five THESPIANS DUE ON BROADWAY: (Clockwise from top left) Paul Kelly and Sylvia Field in Just To Remind You; Boris Thomashefsky in The Singing Rabbi; Jack Haley in Free For All; Harry Ellerbe in The Man on Stilts, 1931


This image is the first time Hirschfeld heralded a new season in his work. It would be his closest look at the 1931-32 Broadway season, because after five more drawings of stage productions, he left the country to paint in Tahiti, before eventually landing on the island of Bali, where he spent most of 1932 discovering who he was an artist.

None of these five shows would become hits. The longest run of the group was Just to Remind You at two weeks. Paul Kelly was two decades away from his Tony for his role in Command Decision, and Sylvia Field, whose greatest previous successes were in George Kaufman plays before this production, is best remembered, if at all, for playing Mrs. Wilson in the TV series, Dennis the Menace. Boris Thomashefsky helped bring about the first performance of Yiddish theatre in New York City and was the grandfather of conductor of Michael Tilson Thomas. The Singing Rabbi was one of his Yiddish Theater successes, which he translated into English for this production. It lasted three performances. Jack Haley starred as a bumbling magician in Free for All, which the Times called “Communism with Music,” and which lyricist Oscar Hammerstein probably would have liked to forget. It ran 11 days. And Harry Ellerbee, who had made his Broadway debut in a Phillip Barry play earlier in the year, and would go on to play Ibsen with Alla Nazimova a few years later, was starring in a show here that ran a mere six performances. It was the first to fail in the new season.

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