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A bagel looks like a month-old doughnut and tastes delicious. A yuk (plural, yox) is a belly laugh. There are plenty of both in the new Yiddish-English revue at the Shubert. A group of Harvard men pass out bagels and cream cheese during intermission and the show takes care of the rest.
Despite the obvious handicaps of a tinny bunch of musicians and a backdrop that looks like it was filched from the Old Howard, Bagels and Yox is good enough to keep a packed house holding its sides for close to three hours. Most of the acts are vaudeville, but the subtleties of Yiddish vaudeville are as good as anything the Palace ever had. And there are enough English jokes to keep those who cannot understand Yiddish from becoming completely frustrated. Once in a while a moldy yuk shoves its way in among the crisp ones, but never enough to be annoying.
The Barton Brothers, a song and dance trio, provide a couple of the show's hit numbers as they portray the joys of two haberdashers, "Joe and Paul sefarganigen," and weep their way through "Oi Tsorus."
When Marty Drake and Mary Forrest sing, however, the program takes a break from comedy. These talented and versatile artists present Hebrew melodies with great passion and tenderness. Miss Forrest gives a particularly delicate touch to the Mikvah song, in which a young bride dreams of the blissful married life before her.
But one mystifying group of performers seems to have wandered into the wrong theatre: a wriggling quartet which calls itself "Kurt Jons and His Dancers," and which makes a half-hearted and misplaced attempt at some exotic Haitian dances.
The cast is not merely content to keep the audience happy. In one number, "Chi-ri-bim," emcee Lou Saxon divides the audience into two parts, the Litvaks and the Galitzianas, and tries to get it to join in on the chorus. After a couple of futile tries, three thousand people begin to clap and sing along with the actors.
If you understand Yiddish, you will soon realize that the Boston censor probably cannot speak a word of it. But even if you don't know a bagel from a kugel, an evening spent at Bagels and Yox will be thoroughly enjoyable.
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