I did the reader’s theater production in Concord. My son hinted pretty strongly that I over-acted – “hamming it up” was the tweet, I believe. That’s hardly surprising, as I played Tevye. The character’s actual name was Frank MacPherson, a retired English professor in early stages of dementia, but he kept shading into Tevye.
This is because I always play Tevye. The Importance of Being Yiddish; Death of a Milkman; and the risque Oy! Anatevka! I don’t mean to, but I just seem to believe that all of life needs more Tevye. I can vary it at need: depressed in A Day In The Life of Tevye Denisovitch, reflective in The Tragical History of Tevye, Prince of Denmark. I play Tevye in real life a lot, too.
It is even odder because I have never been cast as Tevye. I was in Fiddler as a young man and played Mendel, the rabbi’s son. Now that I look like Tevye and could play him blindfolded (one of those avant-garde Toronto Shakespeare Festival things, I imagine) my singing voice is shot and I’m too irritable to go to rehearsals every night.
My second son almost succumbed. The one time I subbed in for his director in high school, he started to make Frank Gilbreth rather Tevyish in “Cheaper by the Tuzen;” but in college he fought free, and settled down to shameless fly-catching in Chekov instead.
I actually do have a few other characters I can play, unlike Walter Matthau, who always plays the same guy.* There’s an irritable, sarcastic Scot (can go Irish, Yorkshire, or Cockney at need), Inspector Clouseau, and Eeyore. Scratch that. My Inspector Clouseau is just Tevye with a French accent.
*And a good thing, too. We need more of that guy in the world. Think of how few wars there would be if 10% of the male populace in every country did that Walter Matthau schtik.