Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Tevye Channel

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.


Dubbahdee said...

That's my new tagline:

"All of life needs more Tevye."

BTW - you don't need to sing to play Tevye.

Texan99 said...

We could do worse than have 10% of the population channel Tevye, too.

Speaking of FOTR, before I die I'd like to persuade someone to stage a wedding with dancers with bottles balanced on their hats, as in the movie version. Favorite scene ever.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I was a bottle-dancer in that show. We used velcro - I don't know what others do - but all the others had their bottles fall off very quickly the first night of the performance. Somehow I got the idea that it would be stupid to have only one bottle dancer for about two minutes, so I ripped mine off and threw it fairly randomly.

The director was not happy.