FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Review - Nothing Compares

How is it a timeless classic like Fiddler of the Roof, which made its debut in 1964, 52 years ago, is as relevant today as it was back then?  Or, possibly more relevant.

Fiddler to me has been a part of my heritage and my memory since I saw it when I was 17 years old.  Zero Mostel, as Tevye, the poor milkman, Maria Karnikova as Golde, and a perfectly-cast Bea Arthur as Yente the matchmaker, filled the stage with history, joy, song, dance and still, today, my absolute favorite Broadway show.


Tevye (Burstein) Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

There is absolutely nothing that compares to Fiddler on the Roof; of course that is my opinion.  I know this story so well, that if they needed an understudy 'on the spot' I could do it with no fear.  Not just Golde's part or Yente the matchmaker, but Tevye and any of his five daughters.  I know every word, every song, and every note and yet, I absolutely loved this show.  "How can it get better each time," I ask myself.  It does. 


Melanie Moore and Samantha Massell - Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

If any of our readers are unfamiliar with the story, I'll encapsulate for you.  Tevye, the poor milkman, who is only poor by financial standards, but rich with love and family, has 5 daughters, and a wife of 25 years, Golde.  His religion and customs are as much a part of his life as is his family.  Part of the custom is to hire a matchmaker for each of his daughters.  Like many Orthodox families today, as in other cultures around the world, a boy is chosen for the girl and, together, they will 'learn to love each other.' 


Model and Tseitel (Kantor & Silber) Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

A girl from a poor family must take whatever match Yente brings.  But his oldest daughter wants Motel the poor tailor.  Oy, what grief it brings to Tevya as he always looks to God above for an answer.  "Why can't his daughters be like everyone else's daughters"?  Is it because he's poor?  "If I were a rich man," the classic eternal song Teyve sings to God, doesn't help much.  But Yevye may begin to understand that his girls have a mind of their own.  It just might turn out that Motel the tailor is the best of the bunch.  As the other daughters choose their husbands in a much more 'unconventional' way, this production gives us a rich history of Judaism in a Russian (shtetl).  The Russian Constable, (Karl Kenzler), who has jurisdiction over the Jewish community, has sympathy for Tevye and his neighbors but is powerless to any violence or bloodshed that is always a cloud above them.  The Tsar's edict will soon forbid the Jews from staying in their fictitious town of Anatevka.


Golde (Hecht) and Yente (Korey) - Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Until then, I was glued to my seat with the wonder that is Fiddler.  The countless songs, "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset", (Yes, I once again cried), "Tradition," "To Life," "Do You Love Me," and so many other classics, filled my heart with memory of family and friends, as it also was the last night of Passover when I attended the show.


The Cast of Fiddler on the Roof - Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Do you have to be Jewish to love this show?  I would ask the group of Nun's sitting in the row behind us.  They would tend to disagree. 


What can I say about Fiddler on the Roof that hasn't been said countless times before?  It's a 'must-see,' spectacular production where almost 3 hours goes by so quickly, you have no time to even want to check your phone messages.


Hats off and a standing ovation to Danny Burstein, (Tevye). a five time Tony award nominee, who made us laugh, broke our hearts and entertained us from the very first word he said to God, to the very last goodbye.  Jessica Hecht (Golde) reminded me of every relative I ever had that was married a long time.  She played her role flawlessly.  As time goes by, incidentally, she reminds me of myself in many ways.  My trials and tribulations with my own two daughters in a more modern time were really no different.

Sabbath Dinner - Photo Credit: Joan Marcus


The five daughters, Shprintze (Jenny Rose Baker), Chava (Melanie Moore), Tzeitel (Alexandra Silber), Hodel (Samatha Massell), Bielke, (Hayley Feinstein) each with their own personalities, were perfectly cast.  Yente the Matchmaker (Alix Korey) did her best while she lamented about her 'less than perfect late husband.'


There were so many highlights; it would be difficult to choose just one.  I just would like to see it one more time.


The Cast of Fiddler of the Roof - Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

I must give a nod to the flawless way the cast and crew moved and changed the scenery during the production which only added to the professionalism of this production.


And to The Fiddler (Jessy Korvarsky), who played the famous song in the air and on the ground.  We all know how important you are, Jessy, to this production.


Director Bartlett Sher, the director behind The King & I and South Pacific and many other notable Broadway productions), brings us once again, another unforgettable experience.  The book by Joseph Stein, the music by Jerry Bock, the lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and the original Broadway production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins will remain as one of the finest productions ever to grace the stage.


How many productions of Fiddler on the Roof have made their presence on Broadway and beyond since 1964?  1967, 1987, 1971 (movie), and revivals in 1976, 1981, 1983, 1990, 1993, 2003 (UK), 2004, 2007, 2008/9 (UK), and 2015.


Aside from the many years this show returns to entertain and educate audiences throughout the world, what makes this gem even more timeless is 'Oak.'  You may ask who or what 'Oak' is.  'Oak' is the bomb-sniffing, Labrador retriever I met when I walked into the Broadway Theater.  Oak's handler and owner tells me that he is one of the many 'Special dogs' that roam our theaters in New York, in the rare case that a terrorist or some other crazy person might decide to bring explosives into the theater.  It's no longer where the staff is just looking in our purses; it is the world we live in.


As the inhabitants of Anatevka in 1905, are forced out of their homes to live with relatives unknown somewhere in the United States, and as many of them say goodbye to their loved ones whom they may never see again, we can only sit in front of our televisions and watch any news program to see that 'as things change, they always stay the same.'


Fiddler on the Roof is currently playing at:

The Broadway Theater

1681 Broadway

New York, NY

This show is as open run.

Tickets and more information can be found at the Fiddlermusical website



With Mother's Day, Father's Day and Graduations around the corner, this is THE perfect gift for the entire family!



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