Did anybody see Harvey Fierstein in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF?

I had planned to buy tickets to see Topol in his Farewell Tour as Tevye in a couple of months but, alas, Topol fell down went boom. He injured his shoulder and will be out for the rest of the run; not sure if he plans a return farewell tour or not, but…

Meanwhile he’s being replaced by Harvey Fierstein, I suppose to justify the quite large (for a touring company) ticket prices by putting in another celeb. I like Harvey fine but he’s not Tevye.

However, did anybody see him or even clips of him when he was on Broadway? I’m trying to decide whether to give him a chance. I love the play and Harvey has talent, but I’m not sure if 2 hours of that voice will be too grating.

Definitely go. I didn’t see him in FotR, but I’ve seen him in other things, and you get used to the voice.

I saw him (with Rosie as his wife) and he was fine. He tones down the voice a bit and his acting, especially in the Chava scenes, is wonderful–very angry and bitter but sweet-natured most of the time.

Awww. I hadn’t heard Topol had been injured. We saw him in August and were planning to see him in January, but I just checked and, for this part of Canada, anyway, he’s been replaced by Theodore Bikel. Perhaps they couldn’t convince Fierstein to play Calgary in January?

I’m surprised that there are no clips on YouTube of Fierstein as Tevye, but I couldn’t find anything. I did find a clip of Sarah Jessica Parker singing a song from Annie in 1982, though, so that was fun.

Anyway, I’m useless in terms of answering the OP, but I wanted to thank you for posting this because I had no idea something had gone awry.

In three words: Harvey can’t sing.

Really, the rest of the show was nice, but argh, that voice! He didn’t sing “If I Was A Rich Man”, he rasped it.

ETA: I saw the show many years ago, so maybe he’s had acess to a voice coach since, or something.

I saw Zero do it in Detroit. If I compare them to him they are all lacking. It was strange because during scenes that really were not his, your eyes kept wandering back to him. He had a powerful stage presence .

Getting Bikel to fill in is ambitious and optimistic.

I’ve only seen Theodore Bikel live once and that was in a non musical play (other than a Hebrew prayer he sang), but I love his singing voice. I own several recordings of him. He’s also played Tevye at least as many times as Topol (trivia: the reason he had a scraggly beard when he played the German butcher who had the hots for Edit[thuh!] on All in the Family was that he was in an LA production of it then). The problem however would be suspending disbelief about his age- he’s 85 years old! (True, Topol’s in his 70s but he’s Topol and he sounds the same.)

Kizarvexilla: Daddy, why is Tevye being played by Zoltan Karpathy?

No, she didn’t actually say it. But she would.

Okay, so this is a little off-topic, but I’m hoping the OP won’t mind terribly.

Have you seen Topol’s wiki page? Topol’s pretty hot!

As of a couple of years he still had some moves. (Australian cast party video- watch past intro.)

Harvey “singing” If I Were a Rich Man.

To me he drops the ball on “if I were rich I’d have the time that I lack to sit in the synagogue and pray” moment- this is what really *sells[/] the song and Tevye to me for most performances (it’s when you learn a lot about him- the song becomes bittersweet to him because he so values learning). Harvey kind of just "That’d be nice too"s it. (3:35 into it.)

After seeing that clip, I agree with Ben Brantley at the New York Times:

Fierstein’s voice is just really harsh and it sort of grates. Compare that to Topol’s version (from the film, so that admittedly lets his voice be worked on in post production)


Gosh, well, anyone’s gonna look bad next to Topol, IMO! I adore his performance as Tevye in the film… So nuanced and touching and funny. And in fairness to Firestein, he’s performing on stage, where you’re projecting a role to the rafters, as opposed to the intimacy of a camera. I don’t even like Zero Mostel’s performance when compared to Topol’s, and it’s a similar reason: Topol invites you inside Tevye’s mind, he doesn’t push his presence on you. But if Zero had done the movie, I might feel differently. (Then again, maybe not… Mostel was just a much broader actor, that was a big part of his shtick.)

Look at what Topol does with the part Sampiro mentions, Tevye’s fantasizing about having the ability to discuss the Torah all day long. When he finishes the lyric, “And that would be the sweetest thing of all…” he just sits there, and you can see the joy, longing and rueful acknowledgement that this is never gonna happen all practically radiating from those expressive eyes. Just lovely.

But you know what? I think Theodore Bikel would be an excellent substitute Tevye for the same reason. He can be a very quiet actor. (Though I wouldn’t call his beard as Klemmer the butcher in AiTF “scraggly” at all!) I’d love to see him in the role.

Some trivia about the movie: Topol was only 35 years old when they were shooting the film while Norman Jewison was prematurely gray in his 40s, so everyday Jewison would brush his hair and then the makeup crew would clean out the brush and put the gray hairs in Topol’s beard to age him.

One of the times that Topol performed the role on a Broadway and road show after the movie Golde was played by Rosalind Harris, who played his daughter Tzeitel in the movie.

Harvey Fierstein was in Fellowship Of The Ring?

I’m kidding!

No, I’m not. He was one of the dwarves.

Yeh, I’m kidding!

“Legolas, I know you’re not a dwarf, but if you were… would you find me attractive?”

“I just wanna slay Sauron… is that so wroinggg?”

[To avoid nitpickers, both of those are parodies of Jon Lovitz as Harvey Fierstein]