Fiddler On The Roof a Smash Hit at Broadway Theatre!Published: Friday, November 2, 2012 7:00 am By: Morey Storck Source: The Hudson Independent
The original production of Fiddler opened on Broadway in 1964, and was immediately acclaimed as a classic, receiving nine Tony Awards that year, including those for Best Musical, Score, Book, Choreography, and Direction. It became the first musical theatre run in Broadway history to surpass 3,000 performances. Responsibile for bringing the show to the boards were Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (music and lyrics), Joseph Stein (book), Jerome Robbins (direction and choreography), and Harold Prince (producer).
The book of the musical is a melding of several stories by Sholem Aleichem (Tevya and his daughters) and takes place in Anatevka, a poor peasant shtetl in 1905 Czarist Russia. The show’s title stems from paintings by Marc Chagall depicting Middle Eastern and Russian Jewish life at that time, often utilizing the fiddler figure. The central story evolves around Tevya, a hard working, religious, but poor dairyman. He has five daughters, three of whom are of marrying age and independent minded, plus a strong-willed spirited wife. Throughout his life he has relied on “the good book”, the traditions that have shaped his people, and doing “what God expects him to do.” But, with the introduction of more modern intellectual ideas that cause his daughters to make decisions at variance with his teachings, and a Czarist decree to abandon their beloved village, Tevya questions those very traditions “that kept our balance.”
Unquestionably, Bill Nolte (Tevya), is a powerhouse performer in the starring role. When he appears, he commands the stage with an exquisite, multi-layered voice that exacts the nuances, strength and sensitivity in each word and song he sings. When he delivers “If I Were A Rich Man”, without shtick or imitation, he creates his own interpretation, his own persona, in a tour de force performance. He is wonderfully supported by Emily Zacharias (Golde, his wife), Rachel Prather, Sarah Rolleston and Dana Glaus as Tevya’s three eldest daughters (Tzeitel, Holel, Chava), Eric Johnson (Lazar Wolf, the butcher), Andrew Bona (Mostel, the tailor), Terry Palasy (Yenta, the match-maker), Joe Longthorne (as Perchik, the provocative student-teacher) and, of course, Andrew Mayer, the ever-observant, perceptive yet illusory fiddler on the roof.
Among the very memorable songs, besides the above mentioned “Rich Man”, are “Sunrise, Sunset”, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”, “Tradition” and the very spirited “To Life”. And, among the several sparkling ensemble numbers, “The Dream” is a stand out as Tevya convinces Grandma Tzeitel (Eadie Scott) and, especially Fruma-Sarah (Dana Glaus) to come back from the grave to persuade the superstitious Golde to support her daughter’s choice to marry Motel, and reject the traditional role of the matchmaker. In Tevya’s words “That was very scary.”
The beautifully balanced musical direction was provided by Leo P. Carusone. The entire production was choreographed and admirably directed by Richard Stafford.
“Fiddler on the Roof” will continue at the Westchester Broadway Theatre through November 25, and then continue from January 3 to February 3, 2013. If you have seen it before once, twice or six times, you still must see this production. It’s a smash!