Henry Goodman as Tevye

It can’t be easy to take on the role of Fiddler on the Roof’s Tevye, with the ghosts of Zero Mostel and Chaim Topol hovering over you. When Alfred Molina had a go at it, in the 2004 Broadway revival, his toned-down approach was met with disappointment on the part of many theater-goers. But British actor Henry Goodman seems unfazed. Growing up on London’s East End, he says, he knew men like Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye—hardworking street vendors, stubborn and authoritarian, but ready to sacrifice their evenings to teach boxing or leather work at the local youth club, animated by “that sense of giving back.”

Goodman is now channeling those men night after night, in the West End production of Fiddler on the Roof at London’s Savoy Theatre. This is not Goodman’s first time playing a Jewish patriarch; in 2000 he received the Society of London Theatre’s Olivier Award for his portrayal of Shylock in Trevor Nunn’s The Merchant of Venice. But as he tells Nextbook, this role hits closer to home.

Photos: Catherine Ashmore.