Fiddler on the Roof opened as a Broadway musical in 1964, was turned into a movie seven years later and is now back on Broadway for its fifth revival. Yet through the decades and different productions, the heart of the show has remained the same. Set in the poor (fictional) village of Anatevka, Russia, the story centers around Tevye and his family grappling with poverty, social change and rising anti-Semitism in their tight-knit community. Read on for the five best things about the latest version of this musical theater classic.
Fiddler on the Roof is scheduled to finish its current Broadway run on December 31. Don't miss your chance to reserve tickets.
There’s a Bit of Whimsy
The show opens with the iconic image of the fiddler playing on the roof of a home that ultimately floats up off stage. Throughout the show, the fiddler makes several more appearances and, at one point, flies through the “sky.” Another memorable scene is the fantastical dream sequence, “Tevye’s Dream,” with actors in masks, stilts and oversize rubbery fingers—humorous and frightening at once.
You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry
The musical debuted in 1964 and the movie in 1971, yet the jokes still resonate—particularly in Tevye (Danny Burstein) and Golde’s (Jessica Hecht) marital squabbles, the matchmaker’s meddling and the way the townspeople inhabit their traditional roles. When the young revolutionary, Perchik (Ben Rappaport), says that money is the world’s curse, Tevye responds, “May the Lord smite me with it. And may I never recover!”
The show also packs an emotional punch: the first act winds down with the touching marital scene set to “Sunrise, Sunset,” while the second half delves into father-daughter relations, anti-Semitism and familial separation.
Its Themes Are Relatable
Even though most who watch Fiddler on the Roof can’t relate to living in Russia’s Pale of Settlement in the early 20th century, the themes of generational clashes, religious devotion, forbidden love and feeling like the “other” are all universal experiences.
If It Ain’t Broke…
The show runners of Fiddler clearly understand that there’s no need to mess with a good thing. If you know the movie, then the costumes, setting, lines and songs will look and sound familiar. You’ll recognize the shimmying, the giddy daughters, Tevye’s one-liners, the wedding dance with balancing bottles and the big songs like “Tradition,” “Matchmaker” and “To Life.” And lots and lots of beards.
The Cast Is Majorly Impressive
Seriously. Danny Burstein won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for his role of Tevye and has been nominated for six Tony awards throughout his career. Jessica Hecht is a Broadway veteran from shows like A View from the Bridge and Julius Caesar. Plus, she might look familiar from her TV roles as Gretchen from Breaking Bad and Susan from Friends. And starting November 22, the role of Golde will be taken over by four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn, who most recently starred in Fun Home. (Fun fact: she was the singing voice of Pocahontas in the 1995 Disney film of the same name.)