2005-05-06 / Community

Local Hits The Broadway Boards In ‘Picon Pie’

A Wave Review
By Howard Schwach

Gable as June Golub in her 1963 Far Rockaway High School yearbook.Gable as June Golub in her 1963 Far Rockaway High School yearbook. When June Golub graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1963, the Belle Harbor resident was certain of one thing – she wanted to be in show business.

Having performed in all of the high school shows during her four years at Far Rockaway High School, Golub, who took up the stage name, June Gable, moved on to Carnegie Mellon University for her professional training.

Today, Gable trods the boards of the Lambs Theater on West 44 Street, right off Broadway in Manhattan as Molly Picon, the First Lady of Yiddish Theater and the Queen of Second Avenue. Picon moved Yiddish Theater from the shtetl of Eastern Europe to Broadway and then to Hollywood, where she was nominated for an Oscar for her work as the matchmaker in “Fiddler On The Roof.”

Local resident June Gable as Molly Picon in “Picon Pie,” now playing off Broadway.Local resident June Gable as Molly Picon in “Picon Pie,” now playing off Broadway. Gable is truly fantastic as Picon in the show, “Picon Pie,” now playing eight shows a week in the beautiful old theatre that was once the private preserve of the Lambs Club. The entertainer’s club that once spotlighted and housed such luminaries as John Wayne, Lerner and Lowe, John Phillip Sousa,

Fred Astaire and Richard Rogers is something to see. Sitting in the historic theater is worth the price, but so are Gable and her single co-star, Stuart Zagnit.

Gable with Robin Williams.Gable with Robin Williams. Gable has a long history on television and in the theater. Most recently, she created the recurring character of Joey’s chain-smoking agent on “Friends.”

She starred as the old lady in Harold Prince’s production of “Candide,” a role for which she won a Tony nomination.

She has been featured on such television shows as “Laugh-In,” “Barney Miller,” “Mad About You,” and “The Tony Danza Show.”

Gable with Arte Johnson in “Laugh-in”
Gable with Arte Johnson in “Laugh-in” In “Picon Pie,” she takes Yiddish Icon Molly Picon from the time the five-year-old won her first talent contest to her death in 1992.

It is a tour de force for the actor, who is off stage for perhaps five minutes of the nearly two-hour show.

Along the way, she belts out such old American favorites as “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me,” and “Pony Boy.”

The majority of the show, however, utilizes Yiddish songs to tell the story of Picon’s long and interesting life.

Such songs as “Bulbes.” (potatoes), tells the story of her struggling years in Philadelphia and in Boston (where she met her future husband while looking for a handout during the flu epidemic of 1919), and “Yidd’l Mit’n Fid’l,” which tells the story of her younger days, where the diminutive actor played a boy in a show called “Yankel.”

You don’t have to know Yiddish to enjoy the show. Without being able to understand the words, each song is put into context both for the era and for Picon’s life.

The Klezmer music is stirring and the story is entertaining and enlightening.

In Bucharest in the early 1930’s, Picon and her husband are chased from the stage by Nazi’s shouting “Jews Die,” and “Jews Get Off The Stage.” It is a frightening moment that brings home the way Jew were treated in Europe beginning with the erly 1930’s and lasting until after the end of WW II in the late 1940’s.

If you’re looking for an afternoon or evening of songs and entertainment with a modicum of Jewish history thrown in, the “Picon Pie” is just the show to see.

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