A Famous Actor in a Famous Role

When Ted Neeley started touring with "Jesus Christ Superstar" not too long ago, several people had a double-take moment. After all, Mr. Neeley had played the title role in the 1973 movie version of the production, and so to see him back, some 35 years later, summoning the same lines and songs and emotions, was definitely a treat for many fans.

A similar thing has happened with the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," which recently opened at the Pantages in Hollywood. The great actor Topol had famously brought the role of Teyve to life in the 1971 film version "Fiddler"; now he is back, playing the same role, nearly four decades after the film's release. IMDB says that Topol had played the role hundreds of times on the London stage prior to the movie, and thousands of times since. In short, this is a man who knows his character very well.

It is a fascinating trend -- we hope it is a trend -- we think it is a trend? -- having a star who is much associated with a role return to play that role years later. Or remain with it, never leaving it. How has the person changed? The audience? The production itself? Has the role, or the play, taken on new meaning?

"Fiddler on the Roof: The Farewell Tour" is at the Pantages through August 9; it then heads for Costa Mesa, and then Portland, and then it wraps. Los Angeles is one of the final stops on the tour, which began in January.

"Sunrise, Sunset" -- we're already singing it.

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