Sylvia Kauders, the veteran star of stage, screen, tv and commericals, appears in “Marty’s Back in Town,” an original play by Norman Shabel. Photo: Bonnie Squires
— by Bonnie Squires
Sylvia Kauders was having a very busy week. One night she was opening in an original new play, “Marty’s Back in Town,” upstairs at the Adrienne theater in Philadelphia. Two nights later she was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.
There is hardly a television series or major motion picture which has not featured Kauders in a memorable role. And any television commercial she appears in, like the Pennsylvania Lottery ads, are the most talked about.
In the current production by Norman Shabel, Kauders plays the role of Mama, the matriarch of a New York Jewish family, who is angry with her son for having invited the black sheep of the family, his older brother Marty, to visit the family. Marty deserted the east coast for the west coast ten years before and had barely spoken to anyone in all that time.
The dysfunctional family has some funny moments as well, but the health problems, financial precipices and estrangements are heart-rending. Kauders’ character eventually softens toward her wayward son, but the problems of this fictional family will resonate with everyone in the audience.
Some of Sylvia’s funniest lines result from her using a Yiddish phrase, usually a derogatory one. The playwright, who has won awards for his novels, thoughtfully includes a Yiddish lexicon in the Playbill to help those who either are not “of the tribe” or who never learned Yiddish.