Fiddler On The Roof ...You'll Hug This Show!

Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012 7:00 am By: Eugene Paul Source: TheaterScene.net
If you haven’t seen Fiddler on the Roof in any of its productions here or around the world or in he movies, you couldn’t do better than to hie yourself to the Westchester Broadway Theatre to bask in this lively, enthusiastic, spirited revival of one of the theater’s great joys, now a classic, with song after song you’ve known seemingly all your life yet each one fresh and surprising as it’s unveiled before you in Tevye’s story. Who’s Tevye? Thank you for asking.

Tevye (Bill Nolte) is a rough, peasant farmer with a wife, Golde (Emily Zacharias), five daughters, and a sick horse. That is why it’s Tevye in the traces instead of his horse, pulling his cart with his milk cans. Tevye is the milk man for the little shtetl of Anatevka in rural, czarist Russia in 1905. Life is hard but it has its moments of happiness. The Russian soldiers leave the people alone, only smashing, breaking and tearing up their meager possessions once in a while to remind them they’re Jews and that’s what you do to Jews. The rest of the time life goes on, daughters have to get husbands, the matchmaker has to find them, the Mama has to convince the Papa, and Papa Tevye talks to God about his problems besides marriageable daughters, talks about his wishes, his dreams. “If I Were a Rich Man,” he sings. (We all sing that one.) “Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match,” sing the girls. (We all sing that one, too.) And Papa Tevye and the whole community sing “Tradition.” But here’s where we part ways and where Tevye has his greatest troubles.

Because each of the girls, who are bound by tradition to marry the husband that Mama and especially Papa say they must marry -- Papa is, after all, the Papa, the head of the household, -- yet the girls find they have untraditional urges. They went to marry, yes, but they want to marry who THEY want to marry. And therein lies the rub. Five daughters, four of them of marriageable age? It’s hard enough to find a husband for one of them in Anatevka. Yente, the Matchmaker (Terry Palasz), persuades Lazar the butcher (Eric Johnson), the richest man in town and a widower, to make a match with Hodel, one of Tevye’s and Golde’s daughters. Only trouble is, he’s the same age as Tevye. And Hodel wants the student teacher, Perchik (Joe Longthorne). Who has no money. He’s even worse, he’s political. He wants to fight for right and freedom. And Tzeitel, who does she want to marry, unbeknownst to Papa and Mama? Motel the tailor, who hasn’t a pot. And is scared to death of Tevye. Could things get worse? What happens to Chava shows us things could get worse indeed as spelled out in Joseph Stein’s sure-footed book.