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Ellstein’s romantic song Oygn (Eyes), with lyrics by Molly Picon, is from his and Anshel Schorr’s 1934 musical comedy Eyns un a rekhts, or One in a Million. The show opened at New York’s Second Avenue Theater and starred Molly Picon (who introduced the song) as well as an all-star cast that included Muni Serebrov, who later went on to a brilliant acting career as Paul Muni.
The story takes place in New York and concerns a wealthy banker, Joseph Hershberg, who has run into such a severe financial crisis that he has had to summon his youngest daughter, Lillie, home from boarding school. Lillie (played by Molly Picon), who is unaware of her father’s difficulties, has fallen in love with Henry Orenstein (played by Muni), a younger generation financier with a reputation as a ladies’ man, from whom Hershberg seeks financial assistance.
Lillie met Orenstein while she was away at school, when he came to visit his own daughter there. He has invited her to his flat on a wager, and she has decided to accept that challenge, somehow intuiting that she could trust him. Meanwhile, her father has swallowed his pride in deciding to request Orenstein’s assistance, because he has always had contempt for the man as a onetime waiter who was now an upstart in the banking world. Lillie proceeds to Orenstein’s home and begins drinking to calm her fears and restore her courage. In her intoxicated state, all reticence evaporated, she sings tenderly to him—in Oygn—of her heartfelt love and the magical effect his dark eyes have on her.
By then inebriated, Lillie ends up spending the night at Orenstein’s place, but presumably “innocently,” and is brought home late the next morning. After a farcical set of misunderstandings among the various characters, Orenstein decides to assist Hershberg because he is truly in love with Lillie. As the plot synopsis in the program booklet states, “all ends happily.”