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Cindy Grosz: Inside the Fiddler On The Roof National Tour

By Cindy Grosz:

It was amazing to sit in the audience of Fiddler On The Roof and see how many people in the audience were young, obviously not Jewish and overwhelming did not speak Yiddish. Yet, they enjoyed and were obviously mesmerized by the story that seemed so out of date.

The thrill of watching a man trying to marry off five daughters while facing the struggles of being poor and Jewish is contagious. It was just officially announced that the Fiddler on the Roof National Tour added forty cities.

Fiddler on the Roof, in Yiddish with English Supertitles is the winner of the 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Revival; the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Revival; a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award Special Citation; and star Steven Skybell was the winner of the 2019 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Lead Actor.

The show has received critical acclaim, downtown and uptown, and has been welcoming such celebrities as Hugh Jackman, Bette Midler, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jerry Seinfeld, Harvey Fierstein, Carol Burnett, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and just last week, both on the same night, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kate McKinnon.

The updated show was directed by Academy® Award-and-Tony® Award winner Joel Grey. I was lucky enough to hear Grey discuss in detail how he came up with the idea of reviving Fiddler on the Roof when Mayor Bill DeBlasio honored him during Jewish Heritage Month with an official Joel Grey Day and celebration at Gracie Mansion. It was truly a labor of love and a tribute to his famous father and this pride of being a Jew.

The Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish cast includes: Lucille Lortel Award-winner Steven Skybell as Tevye, Emmy® Award- nominee Jackie Hoffman as Yente, Jennifer Babiak as Golde, Joanne Borts as Sheyndl, Michael Einav as Ensemble; Lisa Fishman Bobe Tsatyl, Kirk Geritano as Avrom; Abby Goldfarb as Female Swing; Samantha Hahn as Beylke; Cameron Johnson as Fyedka; John Giesige as Male Swing/Dance Captain; Ben Liebert as Motl Kamzoyl; Moshe Lobel as Understudy; Stephanie Lynne Mason as Hodl; Evan Mayer as Sasha; Rosie Jo Neddy as Khave; Raquel Nobile as Shprintze; Jonathan Quigley as Ensemble; Nick Raynor as Yosl; Bruce Sabath as Leyzer- Volf; Kayleen Seidl as Ensemble; Drew Seigla as Perchik; Adam B. Shapiro as Der Rov; Jodi Snyder as Frume-Sore; James Monroe Števko as Mendl; Lauren Jeanne Thomas as Der Fiddler; Bobby Underwood as Der Gradavoy; Mikhl Yashinsky as Nokhum/Mordkhe and Rachel Zatcoff as Tsaytl.

The creative team for this Fiddler features musical staging and new choreography by Staś Kmieć, musical direction by Zalmen Mlotek, set design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Ann Hould Ward, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, wig and hair design by Tom Watson, props by Addison Heeren and casting by Jamibeth Margolis, CSA.

Fiddler on the Roof, in Yiddish with English Supertitles is produced by Hal Luftig and Jana Robbins in association with Sandy Block. The story of Fiddler on the Roof is based originally on the Tevye the Dairyman vignettes by Sholem Aleichem. The Yiddish translation, originally performed in Israel in 1965, was artfully crafted by Shraga Friedman, a renown Israeli actor/director just one year after the Broadway debut of Fiddler on the Roof. Friedman, a native Yiddish speaker, was born in Warsaw and was able to escape from a war-torn Europe, along with his family, who made their way to Tel Aviv in 1941. Well acquainted with the works of Aleichem, Friedman used his translation to infuse Fiddler with rich literary references to the original Yiddish stories.

One of the most celebrated musicals of all time, Fiddler on The Roof, features music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, with original New York Stage Production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins.

The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, was the first musical theatre production in history to surpass 3,000 performances; the show won the 1965 Tony Award for Best Musical in addition to eight other Tony Awards that year; and has performed in every metropolitan city in the world from Paris to Beijing.

The reviews were unanimous:

“This soul-piercing Fiddler demands to be seen.” — The Hollywood Reporter
“A moving triumph and a piercing delight!”
–The Daily Beast
“Fiddler in Yiddish unfolds with majestic simplicity!” –Newsday
“Here’s hoping that Yiddish Fiddler becomes a new tradition!” –Time Out New York
“A thrilling new production in Yiddish”
–The Wall Street Journal
“Anatevka crackles with a new, more authentic energy.”
–The Jewish Week

Take your grandparents and grandchildren—it’s really the best show anywhere, Tradition!!

Cindy Grosz can be reached at cindyscorners@gmail.com and at @cindy_grosz.

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