The appearance of Starsky and Hutch star Paul Michael Glaser in the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, makes you wonder whether there was always a song and dance man trying to break out from the guise of the TV cop.
It turns out that he had a small part in the 1971 Oscar-winning movie version of the musical years but not too much should be read into that.
“We did pre-record a couple of songs but they didn’t make it into the finished film,” he recalls and soon he was to become indelibly associated with the cardigans, the Gran Torino and fast action.
“I always wanted to sing and I loved Broadway musicals but I never thought seriously about my ability to do it and then I was offered a panto over here in which I sang and that was fun,” he explains.
“So when they offered me Fiddler I thought why not? Sarah Travis, our musical director, took me by the hand and everyone has been very supportive. The cast are all actor-musicians which is a new thing for Fiddler.”
He loves his role of Tevye the milkman in Tsarist Russia. “He is everyman and everyone relates to him. Honestly I don’t think I have ever played a character who allowed me to play so many colours, apart from Starsky on TV, perhaps. He’s happy, sad, tragic and angry, humble and whimsical. He’s so many things and I think that requires an ability to go to those places.”
Fiddler on the Roof is a three-hour show and Tevvye is on stage for about two hours 50 minutes. He is now 70, so how is he standing up to the physical demands. “I try not to ask myself that question,” he chuckles.
Tevye’s beard is a good disguise if he doesn’t want to be recognised, he agrees. “But I remember when we rehearsing in London I was down in the theatre district and asked a cabbie directions to where I wanted to go. He told me, and then added: ‘That all right for you, Starksy?’. I thought how could he have seen through all that?”
When the tour ends in May he will be exercising his creative juices in other directions. “I am planning to mount a show of my photography and artwork and also I am trying to promote my book, Chrystallia and the Source of Light. and I’ve got four other titles which have the makings of a movie. It’s the next Harry Potter waiting to be realised,” he declares.
It tells the story of a teenage girl and her younger brother trying to deal with the loss of their mother through their adventures in the mysterious realm of a medieval kingdom.
“It is a labour of love which reflects what I have learned in my journey of loss and grief,” says the star who lost his first wife Elizabeth, and later their daughter Ariel, to Aids, after she received an HIV-infected blood transfusion during childbirth. Their son Jake, 29, also contracted HIV in utero, but has survived.
The show is at the Lyceum from Tuesday to Saturday.