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Play It Again, Topol

Fiddler on the Roof
Topol (center) reprises his starring role in Fiddler on the Roof 

The Israeli actor, who has performed the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof more than 2,500 times, brings his act to Orlando. 

Over a 30-year period, Yul Brynner is said to have given 4,625 performances as the king in The King and I.

By that standard, Topol, who has played the lead in Fiddler on the Roof more than 2,500 times, is just getting warmed up. But by any normal standard, that is a lot of performances.

Topol will add several more to his total this month and next when he appears on stage at Bob Carr as part of a 30-city tour of the show. Which naturally raises the question: How, after playing Tevye so many times, does he keep his performance fresh?

“I can’t say that I had exactly the same relationship with the six previous Goldes [Tevye’s wife] that I worked with,” he explains, adding that the rest of the cast has kept changing, too. “Each one of them brings something else, and that influences me.”

Topol—Chaim is the Israeli actor’s little-used Christian name (you should excuse the expression)—most famously played Tevye in the 1971 film version of Fiddler on the Roof.  The performance earned him a Golden Globe, an Oscar nomination and glowing reviews for what The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael called his “burly, raw strength” as well as his “sweetness and gaiety.”

As Tevye, Topol is a not-so-humble dairyman in Tsarist Russia who spends much of his time dealing with his marriageable daughters and strong-willed wife. On both film and stage, the highlights of the Joseph Stein musical (based on Sholom Aleichem stories) include Jerome Robbins’ choreography and such classic songs as “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

When Topol first played Tevye, he was in his thirties playing a character in his early fifties. On September 9, the actor turns 74.

“When I started, I used to spend two-and-a-half hours on makeup,” he recalls. “Now I do two eye lines and that’s it!”

Sept. 29-Oct. 4. $37-$71. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. 1-800-982-2787. broadwayacrossamerica.com/orlando

Heart to Heart

September 11 Emotional stories that capture readers’ hearts are the subject of a talk by Wall Street Journal columnist and former Orlando Sentinel columnist Jeff Zaslow, author of the bestselling book The Girls from Ames and co-author of The Last Lecture. Speaking at the Orlando Public Library, Zaslow will also discuss the book he is now writing, Highest Duty, the autobiography of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, famous for landing US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.
7-9 p.m. $50. 101 E. Central Blvd. 407-835-7481.
ocls.info

Neo-Primitive

Neo-Primitive

September 1–October 11 The Modern Primitives Exhibition features Winter Park artist Don Howard’s bold, colorful, three-dimensional Mayan, Aztec and African tribal figures and masks.
$3-$5. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, 633 Osceola Ave., Winter Park. 407-647-6294. polasek.org

Flamenco Fire in Sanford

September 20 Passionate Spanish rhythms will take over the Helen Stairs Theatre as Flamenco del Sol performs  “Fuego Flamenco.” The student and professional dance companies present traditional dances in authentic, elaborate costumes. Flamenco del Sol performs at Central Florida’s theme parks regularly.
7 p.m. $15. Helen Stairs Theatre at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, 203 S. Magnolia Ave., Sanford. 407-321-8111. helenstairstheatre.com

Big-Top Britney

Britney Spears

September 1 Britney Spears, who seems to have recovered nicely from her sinking spell a while back, opens the month with a huge production. Her $50 million extravaganza, The Circus: Starring Britney Spears, comes complete with 50 dancers, magicians, clowns and acrobats, and requires 34 trucks to carry its 60 tons of equipment. Opening for her is R&B singer, actress and model Ciara. 8 p.m. $39.50-$910. Amway Arena. 407-849-2020. ticketmaster.com

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