Beloved actor Hal Linden of TV's Barney Miller is equally famous for his Broadway appearances including the recipient of a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for 1971's The Rothschilds. He is about to open on September 20 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in the West Coast premiere of the new musical Grumpy Old Men.
Linden is no stranger to theatre in Los Angeles. I saw him do a unique production of The Fantasticks at the Pasadena Playhouse a few years back and ... he was wonderful. When I questioned him about the production, he alluded to the fact that the 2016 production was the vision of director Seema Sueko who took "the fairytale and presented it with a troupe of actors who performed it in an old theatre, giving it double theatricality".
Does Linden have a favorite musical? "You love each show as you are doing it. It's the same work, sweet, and you bring energy and love to it. There's an old quote, "When he's not near the show he loves, he loves the show he's near"". What about a role he has not performed onstage and would love to play? He claims his schedule never permitted but he missed out on the king in The King and I and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. I am certain he would be terrific in both. By the way, he commented about what I said about his performance in The Fantasticks with that dry sense of humor of his ..."And yes, I was wonderful."
Yes, Linden is a natural charmer and is clearly deliciously funny. As to Grumpy Old Men, he claims he is not playing a grumpy old man but a "dirty old man. I am a 94 year old grandpa who is a little horny. Well I'm not 94, but I'm still horny."
As far as what he likes most about the show are the rehearsals. "They are the most satisfying. We actors are executing other artists' work and we try to do it as imaginatively and creatively as possible. With the input - try this, try that - in the rehearsals, we get to accomplish this."
On another funny note he mentioned that the second most frequently asked question he has been asked is "What was Abe Vigoda really like? - which he claimed emphatically "I never answered".
He has never seen the movie "Grumpy Old Men", but is very happy with the show. "I can't kick, because in this show I have what comes closest to a showstopper. It's an old fashioned musical predicated on music and laughs with no philosophical point being pushed."
Asked if he enjoys doing comedy over drama or vice versa, he quoted Chaplin, "Say something real in a funny way or something funny in a real way. Never say something funny in a funny way." He loves the work period.
As to his years on Barney Miller, with mulitple Emmy nominations, he referred to it as "a unique experience in television". They did not have a live audience, but were a real rep company where each actor became an expert on his own character. "We rehearsed until we were happy and then shot it like a film. Every week we did as good as we thought we could do with that script. it was very creative."
Linden is bound to be a hoot in the musical and encourages that you make the trek to La Mirada for Grumpy Old Men The Musical. It opens in preview on the 20th, and the official opening night is Saturday the 21st. Follow the link below for more info and to purchase tix: