LAWRENCEVILLE -- Harvey Fierstein gave Aurora Theatre's latest production a standing ovation.
The four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway legend was one of the first audience members to rise from his seat as the cast of "A Catered Affair" made its way back onto the stage for a final bow.
The show is in its first post-Broadway production at the Lawrenceville theater, and a standing ovation from the man who penned the book for the musical production and played the role of Uncle Winston on Broadway is high praise. Fierstein's presence in the audience Friday morning was a matter of timing and circumstance.
The 55-year-old playwright and actor is performing the lead role in the North American tour of the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," and its Atlanta engagement coincided with the run of "A Catered Affair." But Fierstein wasn't originally set to play the Jewish milkman Tevye. The tour was billed as actor Chaim Topol's farewell tour before a shoulder injury forced him to bow out of the role.
On Friday morning, Fierstein filled one of 42 seats inside the Aurora Theatre reserved for cast and crew for "Fiddler on the Roof" before he took the stage himself for a brief talkback session in which he answered questions posed by members of the audience, often cracking jokes while answering.
"It was fun," Fierstein said of watching Friday's performance. "You know what's coming next, of course, you know what the music is, you know that, but it's a different production, different actors. It's always interesting to see what actors decide to do with different roles, what they think is important and what they put into it. It was very interesting. It makes you feel good to know that the work that you did will live on after you."
Friday's sold-out showing of "A Catered Affair," with Fierstein in the audience, was a notable occasion for the Aurora Theatre and those involved in bringing shows to the stage there.
"In college I got to see a touring production of (Fierstein's) 'Torch Song Trilogy' which was so moving and so important to me as a young actor to see that kind of work being done," said Anthony Rodriguez, "and then to think that I got to introduce him from the stage of the theater where I'm producing artistic director and for him to ... tell me how much he loved the show and whisper in my ear and say it was just amazing, thanking us for doing his work, I'll just say the same thing I told him, 'You are so awesome.'"
The feelings seemed to be mutual.
"(Gwinnett is) so lucky to have this beautiful, little theater," Fierstein said. "I come from a world of performing in church basements and little black boxes, I mean, even the La MaMa (Experimental Theatre Club) where I grew up, an off-Broadway theater, is nowhere near as beautiful as that."