Mar 4

Mike Burstyn: 'I have never forgotten the Netherlands'





For many he may have disappeared from the radar for a while, but Broadway entertainer MIKE BURSTYNis still alive and kicking. This week he is in Amsterdam for a while and today he unveils his new plans exclusively on the PRIVÉ page ...


Mike Burstyn at the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam, where he can be seen in the performance Mijn misjpoge. Ⓒ FERRY DE KOK


From 1978 to 1981 he was one of the big stars on Dutch television. Even before the VARA WILLEM RUIS came home, it was the American-Israeli entertainer MIKE BURSTYN (73) who entertained the Netherlands on Saturday night, when whole families were still in front of the tube. Later he sparkled in the musical Barnum, produced by JOOP VAN DEN ENDE , about the legendary circus magnate PT BARNUM .

This week Mike Burstyn is back in the Netherlands for the first time after thirty years. In the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg, the multitalent, in the framework of the festival Lieve Stad, showed that he has lost nothing of energy, charisma and starquality .

Are you in the country to negotiate a new Dutch TV show?

"Certainly not. But now that you're starting ... I would really like to work in the Netherlands again. I do a lot in Israel and America, but I have not forgotten the Netherlands. I do not hope this country either. Something on television would be nice, but I certainly do not finish a film, drama or musical role. "


How did you end up here at the time?

"It was some program director of the VARA, who had seen me in America. And he thought that the Dutch public would like me. He was looking for a showman in the style of WIM SONNEVELD , he explained, who had just passed away a few years earlier. And according to him, I was. It was a leap in the deep. I did not even speak the language! But that was not a problem, he said, we're just going to do it. And indeed, it became a success. It has been running for no less than three years. I shuttled back and forth between New York, Hilversum and Tel Aviv, where I also worked a lot. It was a great time, which I have memories of. Everything was possible, everything was allowed. "


Then why were you suddenly gone?

"That had everything to do with the musical Barnum . When I played the leading role here in the Netherlands, the big American star CHITA RIVERA (86) called me with the question: 'Why do not you play the main role in Barnum on Broadway? Soon there will be auditions, you have to give up. Especially with the experience you have gained in the Netherlands in this performance. ' After some time I have indeed entered the audit rounds. Not a simple job, because there were more than a hundred candidates. In the end I became so and I also played the main role on Broadway. After that I have not been back in the Netherlands. Until now!"

What brought you back on internship this week?


"My Mine (my family, ed.) Is about Jewish humor, often larded with Yiddish songs. But I also sing a medley with songs by Wim Sonneveld, which I admire very much. The thing that crossed my line, or rather across the border, was that the orchestra was led by FRANK AFFOLTERand that his sister HEDDY LESTER and actor ARIE CUPÉ started singing a duet with me. On April 15th I will do this show, which was premiered in Amsterdam this week, also in the New York Carnegie Hall. "


The American-Israeli entertainer was on Dutch TV from 1978 to 1981 with the Mike Burstyn Show. Ⓒ ANP


With that Sonneveld medley!?

"Yes! I'm going to do that there too, in English. At the VARA I worked with RUUD BOS as a musical leader. He had worked with Wim Sonneveld until the last time, until his death, and let me hear what they had done. Then this world opened for me. Even though I did not understand it, I was immediately away from that voice. What was so nice about the concert, this week in the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg, Ruud was in the hall and I asked him spontaneously to accompany me on the grand piano. "


Where do you live now?

"Los Angeles. I live there with my second wife. My first wife died much too early in 1995. I have two sons, one of whom has given me three grandchildren. Of course, I want to be as close as possible to my children and grandchildren, but the show business continues to attract. I'm missing nothing, my voice is still good and I'm bursting with energy. Why should I stop? If I am offered something nice in the Netherlands, then I am definitely considering living here again for a while. I did that at the time. It was fantastic, I lived on the Herengracht for three years. "


You also film?

"True, I wrote and directed the Israeli feature film Azimuth, about the Six Day War. That is an impressive story that I wanted to tell and it is now filmed. It still has to be distributed in the Netherlands, but it would be nice if that film would also be released later this year. I also play a role in the Israeli television series Juda. All those activities in Israel have meanwhile earned me a lifetime achievement award! "


Have you followed the Dutch showbiz a bit, in recent years?

"Not really. I did not even know that ALBERT VERLINDE is now the big boss of Stage Entertainment Netherlands. Nice that he has developed this way. After all, he was one of my colleagues in the Dutch version of Barnum , in which he only had a small role. In that performance was also FRED BUTTER . I also spoke to him for a while, this week. The funny thing is that we can both sing some songs by heart. So crazy how that works. I do not know what I've eaten yesterday, so to speak, but a song from a show from 30 years ago just popped out! "


You can tell Yiddish jokes during your performances. Is stand-up comedy nothing for you?

"I do that to talk the numbers together. But I am not as hard as, for example, the also Jewish, was JOAN RIVERS . That was occasionally too intense for me! She even made jokes about the Holocaust. With me everything has to be friendly, with a wink. In that respect I have never changed! "



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