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Montrose Voice, No. 152, September 23, 1983
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Montrose Voice, No. 152, September 23, 1983 - File 023. 1983-09-23. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 24, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1601/show/1594.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(1983-09-23). Montrose Voice, No. 152, September 23, 1983 - File 023. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1601/show/1594

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Montrose Voice, No. 152, September 23, 1983 - File 023, 1983-09-23, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 24, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1601/show/1594.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Montrose Voice, No. 152, September 23, 1983
Contributor
  • McClurg, Henry
Publisher Community Publishing Company
Date September 23, 1983
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 22329406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 023
Transcript 22 Montrose Voice / Sept. 23,1983 Montrose Live Herschel Bernardi Has Seasoned Love Affair with 'Fiddler' By Robert Hyde "The sun never sets on Fiddler," Herschel Bernardi said in an interview this week just hours before he dashed over to the Music Hall for sound testing for the opening night of Fiddler on the Roof. "Somewhere, at any given time, Fiddler in being staged in some part of the world." "In fact, the Japanese have made it a staple in their repertory," he said, mentioning that a touring company trans- verses that nation three months out of every year. "How come it's such a success in America when it's so Japanese," Bernardi said he had been asked. "But the Japanese appreciate its symbolic quality, whereas Americans have to have everything spelled out And then they appreciate its patriarchal values," he added, "and its reference for tradition. Most of theirs went down the drain after World War II." "And the play is immortal," Bernardi said, and he is grateful for that. After Zero Mostel stepped down from the original Broadway production in 1965, Bernardi has been almost constantly associated with the play, even though he lost the movie role to Topol. But the play has kept him busy, when many actors on both the east and west coasts are sitting by their phones being "up-fors," as Bernardi calls them. An offspring of Jewish "gypsy" parents who immigrated to this country in 1902 and began acting for the Yiddish stage, at 52, Bernardi has all the charm necessary to make his role as the loveable, exasperated Tevye an enjoyable experience. With thinning hair, luxurious Yiddish beard and a prominent nose, his commanding physical presence is due more to the warmth than emanates from the man rather that from his stature. He is easy to talk with, easy to smile. It is also easy for him to boast. When asked how he felt about being regarded as the definitive Tevye, he said, "There's no question. My background and talent make me ideally suited for this part." Born in New York City, Bernardi made his acting debut at three months when he was snatched from a steamer trunk to cry on cue in one of his parents' productions of Yiddish theater that played throughout the country. During the Depression years, he appeared in his parents' plays and landed juvenile roles in two Yiddish movies. After studying at the New York School of Industrial Art, he headed for Hollywood but met with grim success on the road to stardom when "that nose" was an affront to the movie moguls of the era only interested in handsome leading men. "I was a young ugly," Bernardi recalls. "Today, that's a very good thing to be, like Pacino and Hoffman. But not then!" In the early 50s, Bernardi returned to New York and performed in one-man shows for various Jewish organizations while he drove a cab through Manhattan. A break came when he replaced friend Howard DaSilva in The World of Sholom Aleichem at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel in New York and toured with the show for two years. When the show closed in Los Angeles, Bernardi received several television offers then finally landed the role of Lt. Jacobi in Peter Gunn and from there appeared in such films as Irma La Douce with Shirley McClaine and Jack Lemmon and Love With the Proper Stranger with Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen. Then he became disillusioned with Hollywood. Frustrated and unfulfilled, he returned to New York where Fiddler was soon his for over two years and for 705 performances. In the years since and despite his starring roles in television's Arnie and in Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof remains foremost in his heart. "The part is closer to me now that it ever has been," Bernardi said almost reverently. "AfteraU, 1,'m 17 years .qlder than.,,. when I first played Tevye, and the role Herschel Bernardi (right) and Thelma Lee as Golde in "Fidler on the Roof" matchmaker; Motel Kamzoil, a poor tailor, and Lazar Wolf, a wealthy butcher, both wanting to marry Tzeitel, Tevye's oldest daughter; and a host of other endearing characters who bring so much life and beauty to this ageless musical. The universal appeal of Fiddler is due in part to the warm and wonderful book by Joseph Stein, to the smooth and melodic music by Jerry Bock, to the simple yet strong lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and, in this case, to Jerome Robbins' direction and choreography flawlessly reproduced by Ruth Mitchell and Tom Abbott, respectively. There were many musical highs in this production. "Tradition," a wonderful song and the opening number, underscores a major theme of the show, and the entire cast came alive with a strong musical blend of very fine voices. "If I Were a Rich Man" is Tevye's glorious oneman musical anthem. "Sunrise, Sunset," sung at the wedding of Motel and Tzeitel, has neither sounded nor been presented more beautifully than in this production. "Do You Love Me," a duet with Tevye and Golde, brought one of many tender moments to life. Throughout the play, Tevye watches in agony while three of his daughters marry for love instead of through the traditional process of being paired by the matchmaker. But his values of tradition are pushed to the breaking point when daughter Chava marries without his permission a man not of their faith—a delicate subject at best. But then Fiddler is such a very humanistic musical that it tapB the gamut of your emotions from loads of laughter to doses of sadness. Seldom has there been such a totally well-suited cast. They emote and Hve on stage as if they had beeritransported back becomes richer over the years," he stated, adding that his own life experiences have helped him better define his character. "I also have less fear of acting now," he continued. A very close friend of Barbra Streisand, he attributes her influence as a giant step in his overcoming stage fright. "Barbra taught me such a lesson." He smiled, remembering. "She has a direct line from her heart to her throat. There's no fear in that woman! And it's that element that I'm getting more and more of," he said. Then he spoke of doing Man of La Mancha again and possibly Death of a Salesman, both projects in the back of his mind when he will not be playing the role that taps his soul. □ 'Fiddler' Reviewed By Joe L. Watts Herschel Bernardi, billed as the world's greatest living "Fiddler," is in Houston this week enchanting audiences in hiB starring role as the indomitable Tevye in Pace Theatrical Group's presentation of the National Touring Company's Fiddler on the Roof. The longest running musical in the history of Broadway is based on stories by the Russian Jewish writer, Sholom Aleichem, and is set in Anatevka, an impoverished village in Czarist Russia just prior to the revolution. Anatevka's residents are some of the most delightful characters to be seen in the history of musical comedy: Tevye, the complaining but lovable dairyman who has reared five daughters according to scriptural wisdom and sometimes his own; Golde, his stern but caring, superstitious wife, who hopes for rich husbands for their daughters: Yente, the village in time to the village of Anatevka. Most of the players (including Mr. Bernardi) have performed in the Broadway and touring companies of Fiddler over many years, yet they all remain fresh and spontaneous. Herschel Bernardi has a lived-in quality in his performance. He doesn't just play Tevye, he is Tevye. His portrayal is a classic, and the standing ovation he received was richly deserved. Thelma Lee has some remarkable moments as Golde. Ruth Jaroslow is ideal as the matchmaker —a campy, warm and honest performance. Several additional bright spots in this stellar cast were Charles Bari's stuttering Motel, Paul Lipson's winning Lazar Wolf, James Werner's Perchik, the revolutionary student who comes to Anatevka with new ideas—an excellent young actor— and Robert Yacko's Fyedka (a gentile) who falls in love with Chava (Tina Para- diso), a really fine performer. In a changing age full of divorce and therapy, Fiddler on the Roof bring a renewed celebration to the simple elements of life: tradition, love, marriage and faith. The show plays at the Music Hall through Sunday, Sept. 25. If you can still get tickets, treat yourself to a joyous experience. You deserve it. d The Art of Dining By Joe L. Watts In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, which is awarded annually to a woman who has written an outstanding work for the English-speaking theater, five Houston theaters will produce during the 83/84 season the plays which are finalists for the prize. Main Street Theater (2540 Times Boulevard—in the Village) is first in line with Tina Howe's The Art of Dining, a comedy about food and eaters. Ellen and Cal (Mr. & Mrs.) have borrowed $75,000, and he has given up his law practice to open the Golden Carousel Restaurant for gourmands. Both have a different purpose in mind. Ellen wants to "turn on" people and cause them to "go mad" and "just die" for her wonderful cuisine. Cal is hoping to make a fortune from his wife's culinary talents, but perhaps even Btronger is his insatiable love for her cooking or for any food in general. So guess who's coming to dinner? First there's a married couple who peruse the menu referring to differnt items with sexual innuendos and toasting each other with "to your long, curly eye lashes" and "to your lovely white thighs," suggesting just how erotic and sensual food and dining can be. Next comes a neuroticyoung female writer who lives in a weird world all her own and meets for the first time a publisher who is considering publishing her short stories. Then a campy tribeof three ladies arrive who come to sink their teeth into the duck, veal and bass. But who ordered which? The fight to claim the best looking dish is a funny one, as they pig-out while discussing their nonexistent diets. Playwright Howe has caught our obsession, need and relationship with food and it's effect on our everyday existence and lifestyle—an interesting premise, but she doesn't delve very deeply into that relationship. Puffy potatoes but very little meat. The banquet nine-member cast is mostly cooked to order and served nicely by director Rebbeca Greene Udden. Ruth Getts and Charles Tanner, as Ellen and Cal, are quite good and convincing in their roles, especially Tanner, who brings a fine comic feeling to his character. Powell and Roy Hollingsworth are enjoyable as the erotic dining couple. Charlotte Stanton, Dorothy Edwards and Terri Branda are triumphant as the dieting ladies and Reason the production with Rome of if s better laughs.
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