by Margret Echeverria
Tovah Feldshuh is one of the most unapologetic yet gracious human beings I have ever witnessed. She has a high level of what I call “Powerful Mama” energy. She nurtures her audience and she has the surplus to do so because she nurtures herself with a firm knowledge of her limitations and – here’s where we could all take a lesson – she has very little doubt in her extraordinary talents. It was an enlightening experience to see the Oral History Project interview with film and stage actress Tovah Felshuh presented by The League of Professional Theatre Women at the Bruno Water Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on Monday, May 6, 2019. Feldshuh was interviewed by award-winning drama critic Linda Winer.
Feldshuh came to the stage and, as her fans applauded, she looked right at us and applauded us before
sitting down. She smiled and jumped right in. After a brief history of her career highlights – spanning 45 years and never missing a live show ever – Feldshuh seemed very interested in giving us insight into her philosophy from which she draws her strength as a human, a woman, a mother and a performer.
First, she fears death and this is the reason for her ambition. Her father advised her to reach for the stars saying that, if she did this, she may reach the roof; if she reaches for the roof, he cautioned, she will never get off the ground. Family has been extremely important to Feldshuh throughout her life. She draws wisdom from her ancestors and carefully chose her husband, taking her mother’s advice that one should marry someone of your race, religion and social class. This leaves one free from impossible misunderstandings. Of her husband, Andrew Levy, she says that “his love for me came from his NOT stopping me.” Well done, Queen. Actors often link themselves with jealous partners who find being so close to the limelight exhausting.
This actor has been a huge fan of Feldshuh since A Walk on the Moon, so when my first moments of being star struck began to calm, my ears pricked hard when she said, “the key to success is patronage.” Meaning, it is not your first job that gives you longevity in this business. Rather, it is being invited back for the second. So, what is the formula, you ask? She laid it out for us saying, “People come from love or they come from fear. Kindness is the deal. Excellence is not all. It is your skill and your ability to relate to people.” This is how you acquire your patronage. Well, that is gold right there. I’m convinced.
And I just have to give you these other gems –
Tovah Felshuh has had no plastic surgery, she tells us with pride. And you know what that allows for her now that she is in her sixties? Her face can tell the truth. So she gets more work than those who went another way with their body maintenance.
How did she never miss a live performance in 45 years? She tells herself every time, This is somebody’s first play and this is somebody’s last play. It is about who has come to see her. Her audience deserves her best fresh performance.
What’s next for Felshuh? Looks like an autobiography in 2020 and she would like to star in a television series. Television is golden right now, she says. And the crowd went wild when she said it is time to revise Golda’s Balcony on Broadway. Why? “Because every minority is in jeopardy right now. We need this show now.” Amen, Ms. Feldshuh. Amen.