Following the nightmare of losing its space earlier this year, Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, New York City's 83-year-old Yiddish language troupe, conjures Sweet Dreams, opening Dec. 17 after beginning previews Dec. 5.
Off-Broadway's Theatre Four on 55th Street is the new home for Folksbiene, which lost its previous venue this fall following an Aug. 28 fire at New York City's Central Synagogue. The fire also proved a nightmare for the worshippers, who were displaced.
The fire did not damage the nearby synagogue auditorium used by Folksbiene, but because services for displaced worshippers needed to be held in the auditorium, plans for an Oct. 31 opening of Folksbiene's new musical, Sweet Dreams, were scuttled.
The musical, written and directed by co-artistic director Eleanor Reissa with traditional songs music-directed by co-artistic director Zalmen Mlotek, will play through Jan. 31, 1999.
In Sweet Dreams (Zise Khaloymes in Yiddish), veteran Yiddish theatre actress Mina Bern plays the ghost of the traditional mother of a career-driven New York Jewish woman (played by Ibi Kaufman). The cast includes Julia Christina, I.B. Firestone, Keith Howard, Raquel Polite, Harry Peerce, Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer.
Orchestrations are by Frank London. Designers are C. Jane Epperson (sets), Gail Cooper Hecht (costumes) and Lap-Chi Chu (lighting).
Reissa earned a Tony Award nomination for staging the Yiddish revue, Those Were the Days, and directed and choreographed Off Broadway's Cowgirls. Mlotek is an authority on Yiddish and Klezmer music. This is their first season serving as co-artistic directors.
Folksbiene offers one production a year, in Yiddish with simultaneous English and Russian translation available.
Theatre Four is at 424 W. 55th St., near Ninth Avenue. The venue opened under that name in 1962, offering The Cherry Orchard, The Boys From Syracuse and, most famously in its early days, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band.
For ($25-$30) ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.
-- By Kenneth Jones