Actress Tovah Feldshuh wants you to know that “Deanna Monroe is coming north to play Golda Meir.” The Walking Dead star will be performing what she calls “Golda’s bat mitzvah year,” Feldshuh’s 13th portraying the former Prime Minister of Israel in the one-woman show, Golda’s Balcony. It takes place at the Goldstein Theatre at Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College on May 16 at 8 p.m. and 17 at 2 p.m.
The play is a portrait of Golda Meir from Tony Award-winning playwright William Gibson (The Miracle Worker), and an award-winning hit that, in 15 sold-out months on Broadway, set the record for the longest one-woman show in Broadway history. From the pogroms of Russia to the halls of the Knesset, the story of Golda Meir is about the state of Israel in the 20th century. Feldshuh is its four-time Tony and two-time Emmy Award-nominated star. She is also known for her roles in plays like Pippin—a physically demanding one that required her to perform on a trapeze—movies, including Kissing Jessica Stein, and television roles, such as Deanna Morton, the leader of the Alexandria Safe Zone on The Walking Dead.
The 62-year-old actress is as dynamic as the characters she plays and is adamant that she is entering “the last third of her life,” inspired, she said, by her mother’s death at 103 less than a year ago.
“She had a great life and a great death and it was one of the most powerful moments of my life. It reminded me of when I gave birth to my children,” Feldshuh said. “As I approach the other side of my life, I have the great gift of a cellular knowledge that I won’t be in this body forever, and it’s best to live the life I dream about now and not delay. I believe that happiness is a choice and I get up every morning and find the sun is shining, no matter what the weather, and it’s a new day. I feel tremendous gratitude for being alive and well.”
Her positive attitude is reflected in her daily exercise regimen of swimming a half mile and she calls herself a “metro athlete” who earlier this year climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“No metro athlete can fully rehearse for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro,” said the New York City resident. “We don’t have buildings tall enough to staircase, hills high enough, oxygen depleted enough to run a full test for the conditions on the Summit of Kili. It was my vocal training that helped me so much—all that deep breathing—and my endurance. All those half-mile swims at the gym and bike rides around Central Park or over the George Washington Bridge. But what primarily came to my aid was the knowledge that at my age you don’t push it. You walk easily, under your capacity, and you celebrate each small step; 10,000 small victories a day and one dawn without looking up the summit surprises you.”
Feldshuh also gets strength from her husband of 38 years, Andrew Harris Levy, who she said is a tremendous support and told her she can pursue her craft for the rest of her life, and her children, ages 31 and 27. She also finds inspiration in Golda, the character she has played since she was in her 40s.
“I still love her. I love playing her and it keeps me strong,” she said of performing a one-woman show. “She’s the Olympics of my craft and it helps me with my film work.”
When asked about Hollywood’s reluctance to cast women past a certain age, she said: “I told my agent and manager if you’re going to deal in the biological concept of time, you don’t want to represent me. I am not chronologically bound by time. I don’t look at my life that way and I don’t want to be represented that way.”
As a result, Feldshuh said, she got lucky, with recent roles in the television miniseries Flesh and Bones for Starz and now The Walking Dead.
“Mostly life is good because you’re just so happy to be in the game,” she said. “When 40 years later you’re still in the game in a way that doesn’t feel peripheral, it feels good.”
To see Feldshuh’s positive outlook for yourself, order tickets to Golda’s Balcony, which are $35 to $42, at www.kupferbergcenter.org or call 718-793-8080. Learn more about Feldshuh’s career at www.tovahfeldshuh.com.