Herschel Bernardi gained fame playing Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” a role for which he earned a 1981 Tony nomination. While his son Michael has played Sholem Aleichem’s famous milkman before, for a matinee this Wednesday he’ll step into the role on Broadway for the very first time. He’ll be wearing his father’s boots as he does.
The younger Bernardi has been playing the bartender Mordcha, and serving as an understudy for Danny Burstein’s Tevye, in the Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” since it opened.
As the New York Times’s Michael Paulson reported, Bernardi has worn a pair of brown leather boots his father wore to play Tevye in every performance, an homage to the parent who died unexpectedly at age 62, when his son was just 19. He started the tradition of wearing parts of his father’s Tevye costume when he first played the part in 2015 at the Priscilla Beach Theater in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
“Regardless of if I fall into the orchestra pit, it’s going to be an incredible sense of pride to know that I stood on the Broadway stage and played Tevye,” Bernardi told Paulson. He’s currently only scheduled to play Tevye in one performance; still, it’s the kind of opportunity that could make a man, like Tevye wished to, feel positively rich.
Talya Zax is the Forward’s summer culture fellow. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @TalyaZax