‘Fiddler’ star and B’way legend Harvey Fierstein leaves a scar with his bite
UP ON THE ROOF
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Bass Hall
525 Commerce St., Fort Worth
March 9â€“14. $30â€“$75.
As a Broadway legend, Harvey Fierstein commands attention onstage. But on the phone, he’s, well, bitchy.
"I married two men from Dallas and I’ve never had as much trouble from them like this," Fierstein hisses.
He might be in for more trouble, then. The raspy voiced actor will have tons of Texas face time this week, as he comes to Bass Hall playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.
"I’ve never toured the country before," he says. "Topol was supposed to be doing the show [but fell ill]. I’m only doing this because they got in trouble. I’m normally a real homebody. I don’t really like working away from home for nine months."
Maybe homesickness explains his angry phone manner. Or maybe he just expects his gay North Texas fans to take advantage of the rare opportunity to see him perform live.
"Really? You’re trying to get the gays in Dallas to come see me?" he asks. "They better come! This is all on you. I have to bring that character to life. It’s not my job to represent myself but my life experience will color things in how I make him. But if I don’t disappear, I’m doing a very bad job."
Fierstein’s bombastic personality is both disarming and charming. He’s mean but with a laugh. Where he’s coming from? Is he’s dishing out attitude or is this just a train wreck interview? Turning to his bear fans’ reaction to his new early-century Russian beard sorta does the trick.
"I’m in San Francisco and the bears are responding!" he says. "There is this rumor I’m appearing at a bear orgy, but I’m not going to say whether it’s true or not. Someone registered to go to this orgy tomorrow morning."
Finally, a small break-through. But it doesn’t last long when I admit I’ve never seen Fiddler.
"You’re giving us fags a bad name," he chastises. "OK, come on, you can say something better than that. Fiddler is fucking amazing. It’s a fucking classic. You may not have seen it, but you know the songs. This is a terrific show coming to town with almost a hundred people working it."
As it turns out, it’s just easier to let him rant — even though he doesn’t let up.
"Remember, this is all on you. If the gays don’t come, it’s all your fault."
Thanks. No pressure.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 5, 2010.