Ed Asner and Tovah Feldshuh in a reading of The Soap Myth.

When I first met Tovah Feldshuh, she was a teenager from Scarsdale who went by the name Terri. We went to college together, even though she would be the first to admit that I was considerably older than her. One thing everybody knew about Terri back in those days—she was going to be a star.

Everybody was right. She became Tovah shortly after graduation, as she began her professional career. The name change was an embracing of her Jewishness. Since then she has acquired six Tony nominations and a reputation for playing the great saints and sinners of Jewish women, from Golda Meir to Leona Helmsley to Yentl—she created the role on Broadway—plus much acclaim as a cabaret artist.

But Tovah can do anything, as evidenced by her recent role in The Walking Dead, which has won her many fans among teenagers in the zombie-obsessed community.

Tovah will be here Tuesday, April 16, at the Sarasota Opera House, staring with Ed Asner in The Soap Myth, a concert reading of a play about the friendship between a cantankerous Holocaust survivor and a Jewish journalist.

“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Sarasota,” Tovah told me. “I’ve made many trips to Longboat Key to visit my aunt and uncle as well as my wonderful godmother—and my Golda’s Balcony had the honor of playing Sarasota on my first tour down South.”

Tovah’s latest adventure also has a Sarasota connection. It’s a one-woman show/nightclub act called Tovah is LEONA, about real estate mogul Leona Helmsley. “She owned the Sandcastle Hotel on Lido Beach and spent many months there after she got out of prison,” Tovah explains. “In the show she comes back from purgatory for 60 minutes to set the record straight—and to sing a few show tunes.”

Let’s hope Tovah and Leona show up in Sarasota soon. The show was a big hit in New York at 54 Below and will be playing at various venues around the country. In the meantime, check out The Soap Myth on Tuesday. Tickets start at $25 and you can get them at the opera box office, or by calling 328-1300.

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