Fiddler on the Roof features music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. The show is set in Tsarist Russia in 1905 and is based on the story of Tevye the Milkman by Sholem Aleichem. The story follows father of 5 Tevye as he tries to uphold tradition in an ever changing political and social landscape. During a period of change for Russian Jews, the family learn to cope with the decline of Tsarist Russia and the tough laws enforced on the family and the village of Anatevka. The musical is extremely popular all over the world, and was the first Broadway show to play for over 3000 performances. The original production ran for almost 10 years. Numerous revivals and a film adaptation keep introducing the show to new audiences.
stories by Sholom Aleichem
Original Broadway Production
Imperial Theatre, Majestic Theatre, and The Broadway Theatre - Opened 22 Sep 1964, closed 1 Jan 1970, 3242 performances
Cast: Zero Mostel (Tevye) Maria Karnilova (Golde), Beatrice Arthur and later Florence Stanley (Yente) Austin Pendleton (Motel), Bert Convy (Perchik).
Original London Production
Her Majesty's Theatre - Opened 16 Feb 1967, closed 1 Jan 1970, 2030 performances
Cast: Chaim Topol (Tevye), Miriam Karlin (Golde). Alfie Bass, Lex Goudsmit and Barry Martin eventually took over as Tevye.
First Broadway Revival
Winter Garden Theatre - Opened 28 Dec 1976, closed 1 Jan 1970, 176 performances
Second Broadway Revival
George Gershwin Theatre - Opened 18 Nov 1990, closed 1 Jan 1970, 241 performances
Third Broadway Revival
Minskoff Theatre - Opened 26 Feb 2004, closed 1 Jan 1970, 781 performances
Cast: Alfred Molina, Harvey Fierstein (Tevye), Randy Graff, Andrea Martin and Rosie O’Donnell (Golde) Lea Michele (Sprintze)
Savoy Theatre - Opened 19 May 2007, closed 1 Jan 1970
Cast: Henry Goodman, Damian Humbley, Adrian Mastrimone, Beverly Klein, Frances Thoburn, Alexandra Silber, Julie Legrand, Natasha Broomfield
What was your favourite production? Add your thoughts in the comments box
During a long Prologue we are introduced to Tevye the milkman who explains about the town they live in, Anatevka, and the role of God in keeping balance in the villagers’ lives. He explains the tradition of the community and the inner circles that operate throughout the changing face of Russia at the turn of the 20th Century.
We are introduced to Tevye’s daughters who all hope for the Matchmaker Yente to help them find the man of their dreams. Yente arrives and tells their mother Golde that she has found Lazar Wolfe, the village butcher, as a link for Tzeitel. Tevye works hard for his family and prays for some more money. Perchik and other villagers enter and tell him about a pogrom in the nearest village. Tevye invites the revolutionary student to join his family for the Sabbath.
During the Sabbath preparations Motel the tailor tries to ask Tevye for Tzeitel’s hand in marriage but he gets too nervous. They all sit down and welcome the Sabbath together. Tevye heads to the local tavern to agree with Lazar Wolfe over the match with his daughter. They celebrate together with the villagers in the tavern. Tevye returns home and tells Tzeitel that he has arranged her marriage to Lazar Wolfe. Golde is happy but Tzeitel tells her father that she wishes to marry Motel instead. He reluctantly agrees.
Tevye is unsure how to tell his wife about this new match, and constructs a wild dream in which he is told that Tzeitel’s marriage with Lazar will end in disaster. Golde is horrified and agrees to her marrying Motel. The villagers gossip about the changes as Chava is taunted by a group of Russians and defended by Fyedka, a Russian youth. He tries to speak to Chava but Motel distracts him, preparing for his wedding. Golde and Tevye reflect on their children growing up as the wedding party gathers and a raucous wedding dance begins. The Constable enters and destroys the wedding, leaving the family to clean up the mess.
Tevye discusses the events with God, as Perchik tells Hodel that he has to leave for Kiev. He proposes to her and she accepts, saying he will send for her as soon as he can. Tevye is confused with his love for Golde and questions if she is still in love with him.
Yente generates gossip throughout the rest of the village as she tells Tzeitel that she has seen Chava with Fyedka. They start distorting the truth and everyone discusses what is happening to the family. Tevye reluctantly takes Hodel to the railway station where she is going to join Perchik in Siberia.
A new sewing machine arrives at Motel’s shop and the village gather round to admire it. Fyedka and Chava are worried about telling Tevye that they are in love as he refuses to listen and forbids her from speaking to him about Fyedka ever again. They get married secretly and Tevye tells her that she is dead to their family.
The Constable tells everyone that everyone has to move out of the village in the next three days. They are all shocked but begin to pack up and bid farewell to Anatevka. Tzeitel and Motel stay in Warsaw before moving to America, leaving Hodel and Perchik alone in Siberia. Chava tries to say goodbye to her father but her refuses, and she leaves with Fyedka. Tevye begins to pull his cart as the villagers slowly leave, their lives now as unsteady as a ‘fiddler on the roof’.
- Prologue – Tradition
- If I Were a Rich Man
- Sabbath Prayer
- To Life
- Perchik and Hodel Dance
- Tevye’s Monologue
- Miracles of Miracles
- The Dream
- Sunrise Sunset
- Wedding Dance
- Opening -Act II
- Now I Have Everything
- Tevye’s Rebuttal
- Do You Love Me?
- The Rumor
- Far From The Home I Love
- Chava Sequence
- Curtain — Act II
Original Broadway Production: 1964 Tony Awards, Nominated for 10 awards, winning 9: Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction, Best Choreography, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress.
1981 Tony Awards: Best Actor Nominee
1991 Tony Awards: Best Revival
UK: Josef Weinberger
USA: Musical Theatre International