"Call Me Adam" chats with actor and photographer David Perlman about starring in Goodspeed's production of Fiddler on the Roof as "Motel," the tailor. Fiddler on the Roof runs through September 12 at Goodspeed Opera House (6 Main Street, East Haddam, CT 06423). Click here for tickets!
1. You are currently making your Goodspeed debut in their production of Fiddler on the Roof. What originally made you want to be part of this production? Has the reality of your debut lived up to what you had hoped it would be? This audition came from my agents, but knowing me I probably hounded them about it when I saw that Goodspeed was doing Fiddler. It’s a show that I love, a role that I think suits me, and a theater with a great reputation. My experience here has been incredible so far.
2. You are playing "Motel," the tailor. What do you identify most with about him? The thing I most identify with about "Motel" is his courage. Not to say that I am some sort of courageous hero or anything, but (like most of us I’m sure), I’ve had some moments where I’m overtaken with fear about doing something important that could really change my life. I admire that "Motel" acts through his fear in what turns out to be a landmark moment for him.
3. You are playing one of the most well known roles in one of the biggest shows in theatrical history. How do you feel you've made the role of "Motel" your own? What has been the most fun about playing "Motel"? Wow, I’ve never really thought of it like that. Rob Ruggiero, our director, was really committed to creating a very truthful and honest telling of this story, avoiding some of the usual shtick that is traditionally in Fiddler. I quickly picked up on the fact that he didn’t want to concentrate on making "Motel" "funny," and it’s been incredibly rewarding to be able to play the scenes rather than play a character. I get to experience some of the best and most exciting days of "Motel’s" life: the day he stands his ground and gets permission to marry "Tzeitel," his wedding day, and the day he finally gets his sewing machine. It’s a pretty thrilling role to play!
I also feel so lucky to be acting opposite Barrie Kreinik ("Tzeitel") and Adam Heller ("Tevye"). They are amazing actors, always present and alive, and they make this show exciting and fresh, every single time.
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Fiddler at Goodspeed? I hope people are able to get invested in this beautiful story. I hope they laugh and cry and are able to have an enjoying and meaningful evening.
5. In addition to being an actor, you are also a photographer. What do you get from photography that you do not get from being an actor? I do mostly headshots, which I love! Like acting, photography has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I actually went to college for Film & TV Production at NYU, and we studied photography for most of freshman year. My favorite thing to photograph, always, was people. During college, I decided to try out being a professional actor, but I retained this secret desire to be a headshot photographer. About two and a half years ago, I chose to pick up the camera again.
6. Bringing your two worlds together, you've worked with (in Once Upon a Time in NJ) and taken the headshots of my friend Catherine LeFrere. What was the best part about working with her as an actress and having her as a client? Catherine is awesome for many reasons, as anyone who knows her will tell you. What I love about working with her is that she really throws herself into whatever she’s doing, whether it’s playing a crazy dance teacher (as she did in Once Upon a Time in NJ) or getting her picture taken. She is completely passionate and shows up focused, prepared, and ready to work and play.
7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer/photographer? I saw a production of Guys and Dolls at the local high school when I was 7 years old. I became infatuated with the girl who played "Adelaide;" I remember meeting her in the hallway and being starstruck. I wouldn’t stop singing the songs around my house, and that’s when my parents signed me up to do You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at the local JCC. From then on, I was hooked. So I guess my inspiration was whoever played "Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls at NVRHS Demarest when I was 7.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Recently, I’ve been reminding myself of Jack Plotnick’s advice before I go onstage each time: to release and destroy the need to get the scene right or to be funny or be emotional. Just release and destroy the need to try to control the scene. It’s very freeing.
10. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor and a photographer? Whenever I get frustrated or doubtful, I am usually trying to figure out if I’m doing it right. I’ve learned that there is no way to get it right. It’s not my job to judge my work; my job is to do the work.
11. Favorite way to stay in shape? I lift weights, and I’ve also gotten really into CrossFit.
12. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs.
13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I’d want to fly!
14. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? This is by far the hardest question you have asked. I think I’d want to be Strawberry, but that probably already exists.
15. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference and added compassion, love, and peace to any situation.
Broadway: Baby It’s You!. Off-Broadway: "Rotelli" in Yank! (York Theatre), "Melman" in Madagascar Live! (Radio City Music Hall), Anna Nicole the Opera (BAM), "Murray" in Iron Curtain (Prospect Theatre Company). National/European Tours: "Woof" in Hair, "Joe" in Schoolhouse Rock Live!. Regional favorites: "Motel" in Fiddler on the Roof (PCLO), "Seymour" in Little Shop of Horrors (Penobscot Theatre), "Abe" in Altar Boyz (Riverside Theatre, Arvada Center), "Artie" in Sunset Boulevard (PCLO, Ogunquit Playhouse). TV: 30 Rock, Law and Order. David is also a photographer.