Review by: Paulanne Simmons
Fyvush Finkel has starred in theaters from Second Avenue to Broadway. But on March 14, at the age of 91, he made his nightclub debut at 54 Below.
Finkel was introduced by his sons, xylophonist Ian Finkel, and concert pianist Elliot Finkel, who had already wowed the crowd with their extraordinary rendition of a Gershwin medley and their “virtuoso version” of that “treasure of Yiddish theater,” “Rumania Rumania!”
Still filled with the joy of living, Finkel said he not only felt wonderful; he didn’t have an enemy in the profession. “I outlived them all,” he happily proclaimed. However, it soon became apparent that his longevity onstage is more related to talent than good health.
Finkel amiably recounted his fascinating career, from his days in vaudeville, when “the audience talked back,” to his stints on Broadway in front of more subdued audiences.
In 1965, Finkel joined the cast of Fiddler on the Roof as Mordcha, the innkeeper. In the 1981 Broadway revival he played Lazar Wolf, the butcher. Finally, he landed the lead role of Tevye, the milkman, in the national touring company. The highlights of the evening were the two show-stopping numbers from Fiddler on the Roof: “If I Were a Rich Man” and “To Life.”
Finkel may be a treasure of a the past, but he certainly lives in the present. At 91 he still sparkles with an energy many a younger man would envy.