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Why Judy Kuhn Was Destined to Play Golde

The actress will take over the role of Golde in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ on Broadway through the end of the show’s run

Gabriela Geselowitz
September 27, 2016
Judy Kuhn. Facebook
Judy Kuhn. Facebook

Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof is in for a new Golde, and it’s Judy Kuhn! The Tony nominee (four times over) will take over the role from Jessica Hecht starting November 22, and remain until the show closes, New Year’s Eve. This is amazing news because Golde is often an under-served, broadly played character, but Kuhn brings dignity to every role she inhabits.

Why should you care? First of all, even if you don’t know Kuhn, you know her voice—she sang as the titular character for Disney’s Pocahontas. And you should care because she’s amazing and is going to rock the role. Her last great role, in Fun Home, was as a long-suffering wife in a loveless marriage, and Fiddler is an interesting foil: Golde similarly holds her family together by sheer force of will, but to her, love it a luxury she does not have time to consider. Golde is often overshadowed by Tevye, but Kuhn is a magnetic performer who’s going to claim the stage every time she steps on it.

But most importantly, you should care because, in my musical theater-fevered brain, I have determined that Kuhn was destined to play this role, if only for her connection to the larger Jewish theater world. Yes, she has played Jewish characters before (more on Rags below), but there’s a more complex Judy Kuhn/Jewish theater web here, a wonderful kismet conspiracy, if you will. For you, dear reader, I have connected the dots and combined Jewish geography with theater geography (Tonys everywhere) in order to illustrate this network a Jewish theater connectivity whose ends we do not even know.

Connection #1: Judy Kuhn starred in last year’s Best Musical Fun Home through the end of its run, for which she earned a Tony nomination. Earlier this year, she had to take a break from the show for hip surgery. In her role in the meanwhile? Three-time Tony nominee Rebecca Luker. Luker’s husband, Danny Burstein, is also an actor. In fact, his most recent Tony nomination for playing Tevye in the current production of Fiddler on the Roof. Kuhn will be playing opposite him!

Connection #2: One of Judy Kuhn’s most iconic roles is as the first woman to play Cosette on Broadway in Les Miserables. Also in that production as her character’s mother, Fantine, was Randy Graff. Graff’s most recent turn on Broadway was a decade ago… the last time Fiddler was on Broadway. She played—that’s right—Golde.

Connection #3: Judy Kuhn starred in Rags opposite Dick Latessa as her father. Years later, Latessa won a Tony for Hairspray. Who played his wife in that? Harvey Fierstein. And of course, Harvey Fierstein was one of the men who played Tevye in 2004-2006 Fiddler!

Connection #4: Also in Rags alongside Kuhn, was Marcia Lewis. Lewis has—you guessed it—played Golde on Broadway, back in 1990.

Connection #5: Judy Kuhn played Michal, the daughter of Saul, in a special Broadway one-night-only concert, King David. Tevye, soon to be Kuhn’s onstage husband, mentions King David, Michal’s husband, in Fiddler on the Roof.

So break a leg, Judy. You apparently don’t need it, since all of fate has been working to bring you to this moment. And congratulations on playing a character who has comparatively less tragedy in her life than several of your other roles.

Previous: ‘Fiddler,’ in the Key of My Heart
Unorthodox: Miracle of Miracles

Gabriela Geselowitz is a writer and the former editor of

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