The 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof is based on late 19th century stories by Russian Jewish writer Sholen Aleichem. Tevye is a poor and simple man with strong belief in his Jewish faith and traditions. He believes in doing things the way they've always been done, which means arranging marriages for his five daughters. But it's 1905, and the times, they are a-changin'. Oldest daughter Tzeitel wants to marry a man of her choice, a poor tailor. Despite the fact that Tevye has arranged for her to marry the wealthy (and much older) butcher, he gives in to Tzeitel. It's obvious that the girls have their papa wrapped around their little fingers and he would do (almost) anything to see them happy. In the struggle between tradition and his daughters' happiness, his daughters win. Second daughter Hodel moves further away from family tradition when she agrees to marry a man not from the village, a scholar and political activist who gets arrested and sent to Siberia, with Hodel to follow. Third daughter Chava goes a step too far when she wants to marry outside the faith, a Russian man named Fyedka (but he's one of the "good" Russians). It breaks Tevye's heart to do so, but he cannot accept this gross breach of tradition and the seeming rejection of the faith he holds so dear. But these are not the only problems poor Tevye is dealing with; 1905 Russia was not a welcoming place for Jews. Facing religious persecution and pogroms, Tevye and his family are forced to leave and find a new home. It's a sad ending, but there's also a feeling of hope that this family will stay together and continue their traditions, as well as begin new traditions, wherever they find themselves.*
|Keith Rice as Tevye
I wasn't that familiar with Fiddler before seeing this show, having never seen the entire 1971 movie and only having seen it onstage once before (pre-blog, which means I don't remember much about it). I found it to be a great musical about faith, family, tradition, resilience, and community. Head out to Chanhassen between now and February for something to warm your heart (and stomach - some great new menu items) this winter.
*If you want to know what happens to Tevye and his family upon immigrating to America, go see Theater Latte Da's Steerage Song, a new music-theater piece about the European immigrant experience in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
**Tyler Michaels is playing the role of Fyedka through Dec. 8, at which time he leaves the show to play the emcee in Theater Latte Da's Cabaret.