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'Fiddler' Star Danny Burstein On The Teacher Who Changed His Life

By Brian Ives 

"What's a monologue?"

That's not a question you'd expect to hear from a Tony nominated actor. But it's what a young Danny Burstein asked, when a junior high school teacher encouraged him to try out for the High School for the Performing Arts.

"No one had ever taken an interest in my 'talents,'" he told Laura Heywood (aka @BroadwayGirlNYC). "And he did."

Burstein's response to his teacher's encouragement? "I said, 'What's the High School for the Performing Arts?' I knew nothing about anything!" When he was told his audition for the school would have to include a monologue, he admitted to not knowing what that meant.

Today, he knows a lot more, particularly about the world of Broadway. He's currently nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical at the Tony Awards for his role as the iconic character Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," who, as it happens, does a lot of monologues in the show.

"His belief in me made all the difference," he says with amazement today.

The lesson: never doubt the power of encouraging young people to hone their talents.

Watch the Tony Awards on CBS June 12 at 8 pm ET.

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