Fiddler on the Roof

Definition

Theater

  • A record-breaking musical by Joseph Stein (book), Jerry Bock(music), and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics). It was first performed in 1964in New York with Zero Mostel in the lead. The London production openedin 1967 at Her Majesty's Theatre starring Topol, who also appearedin the film version and a 1983 stage revival.

    When the play was being tried out in Detroit before movingto Broadway, Variety reported "No smash, no blockbuster".The show subsequently won the Tony Award as Best Musical and ran foreight years and 3242 performances, establishing a new record for musicals(broken by Grease in 1972).

    Set in a Russian village in 1905, the play is based on SholomAleichem's short story Tevye the Milkman. It follows the fortunesof a Jewish community facing great social upheaval. The disintegrationof the traditional way of life is reflected in the crisis faced byTevye, whose daughters rebel against the old way of arranging marriages;one of the girls marries a young intellectual revolutionary and followshim into exile in Siberia whilst another elopes with a gentile. WhenCossack soldiers arrive to enforce a pogrom against the Jews, thecommunity fragments, with many leaving to seek a new future in Palestineand America.

    The songs include 'Matchmaker, Matchmaker', and 'If I Werea Rich Man'.

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