Five Burning Questions with Fiddler on the Roof Star Judy Kuhn
December 21st, 2016
by Josh Ferri
Time is running out to see Judy Kuhn's fantastic, layered performance as Golde in Bart Sher's Tony-nominated revival Fiddler on the Roof. The company plays their final performance on December 31, 2016. BroadwayBox caught up with the four-time Tony-nominated star of Les Miserables, Chess, She Loves Me, and Fun Home to talk to her about her history with Fiddler, working with Danny Burstein, and filming Fun Home in HD.
1. What made you say yes to this project?
So many reasons: it is one of the best shows ever written; it’s a gorgeous production; and Danny Burstein is one of my favorites, and I just thought it would be fun to do with him—which has proven to be true. It’s a great part. I didn’t even realize until I was playing it what a great part it is. It’s really a very full journey for that character, and you play all different colors and notes—it’s very exciting. There certainly wasn’t any reason not to do it. I wish it was longer. It’s been so fast and furious.
2. What's your favorite moment that you and Danny share that an audience might miss if we aren't looking for it?
There is something that happens to those characters and that family in the journey of the show, and something to me that’s so beautiful at the end. After everyone says goodbye and it’s just me and him and our two young daughters remaining, we have this group hug, and there’s something so profound about that. The kind of love and connection that’s expressed in that. This family has been decimated and we are what’s left. There is such love in that moment, especially because this couple is always bickering and you get to the place where so much love is acknowledged. The beauty in Bart’s direction is that he allows those moments to be played really fully. He allows the scenes to go at their own pace and they are allowed to be more fully realized emotionally. It makes it a deeply moving experience for the audience.
3. There are so many ways for theatre to be preserved now beyond blurry YouTube bootlegs. If you could have one of your past performances preserved for National Live, PBS, or Broadway HD, which would you choose?
Well for sure Fun Home. There was talk at the end of our run with one or both of those companies that do HD broadcasts but for whatever reason (whether it was too late or money or whatever) it didn’t happen. That was really disappointing. While we did archival videos for Lincoln Center (both at The Public and the Broadway production), it’s not the same thing as shooting it like a film. I really wish they had been able to do that.
4. You're so passionate right now on Twitter, whether it's national politics or fair wage for off-Broadway actors. I love it. But what do you do when you want to unwind and unplug?
Reading. My favorite thing to do is curl up with a book or my New Yorker or New York Times. That’s one thing. Also, I love to cook. I love having people over to my house and cooking meals, having lots of people around my dinner table. I love to make risotto, and I love a good pot roast or stew— those are particularly on my mind because it’s winter. And baseball. Those are my three things I love to do to unwind and forget about all the horrible things happening in the world.
5. People who saw the OBC of Les Miserables or Fun Home will never forget those experiences. What's the most memorable experience you've had as an audience members?
Well, I’ll tell you. Fiddler on the Roof was the first Broadway show I ever saw when I was 10 or 11 years old, and I was so transported. I really think that was the moment the seeds were planted that this was something. I wanted to be up there with those people and do what they were doing. Which also makes it doubly thrilling to actually be doing a Broadway production of Fiddler.
Then I had an experience in the theatre that had a similar result though because I was a grown-up I understood it more deeply. When I first moved to New York, the Royal Shakespeare Company came to town and did in rep Cyrano de Bergarac and Much Ado About Nothing, with Sinead Cusack and Derek Jacobi, and I got tickets to both of them, third row center. There was a moment in Cyrano that I will never forget as long as I live. He was sitting downstage in a chair and she was walking upstage with her back to the audience. He was reading this letter to her from her love and tears started streaming down his face, and at one point he looked up and started reciting the letter (because, of course, he had written it). Right at that moment (as if there was some invisible thread between them), she turned around and looked at him like she suddenly understood. I’m telling you it was one of those moments I will never forget. I started sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. I just thought to be able in such a simple way to make me feel that depth of feeling was remarkable. It was beautiful. It is why I love the theatre so much. I’ll never forget it. I wish I could go back and see it again. I’m sure I’d have the same response.
Run to the Broadway Theatre to see Judy Kuhn as Golde in 'Fiddler on the Roof' before the musical's final performance on December 31.