play first fiddle

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play first fiddle

To have a leading, commanding, or controlling role, position, or part (in something). (A less common extension of the phrase "play second fiddle," meaning to serve in a subordinate role or position.) Ever since the power shift in Congress, Senator Smith has been playing first fiddle in the agenda for tax reforms. Though she's had many small parts in a variety of films, this is the first movie that sees Ms. Warren playing first fiddle.
See also: fiddle, first, play
References in periodicals archive ?
She'll join the Trib staff next month in a hybrid role, playing first fiddle for us on beats she knows well: public education and the environment.
That may not be strictly true, but it is a (modernist) approach that has helped Yantrasast, now playing first fiddle, win three major museum commissions, as well as the loyalty of gallerists such as LA's David Kordansky (whose new space on South La Brea, designed by Yantrasast, opens this September).