Classic Broadway Musical Fiddler on the Roof at Olney Theatre Center
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The last date listed for Fiddler on the Roof was Sunday January 13, 2008 / 7:30pm.
A simple and universal story, Fiddler on the Roof is set in pre-Revolutionary Russia and centers on Tevye, a milkman who struggles to raise his daughters in a world that is quickly changing around his traditional Jewish community. Tevye and his wife, Golde, enlist a matchmaker as is the “tradition,” to find husbands for their three eldest daughters — but each daughter finds a husband of her own: a tailor, a student, and a Gentile. While Tevye can accept the first two, he cannot sanction the third. The Bock and Harnick score contains some of Broadway’s greatest hits: “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “To Life.”
Fiddler on the Roof still resonates today. “This is a story about a man, his relationship with God, and his unfailing love for his family. It is also about a struggle of a people to survive, to live, and to be at home, and how a belief system creates and also destroys life. It is a very pertinent play to do in 2007,” said stage director John Vreeke. This is Vreeke’s directorial debut at Olney. He most recently directed Wooly Mammoth’s Martha, Josie, and the Chinese Elvis to much acclaim.
Although the audience will certainly get a good dose of tradition, this production will neither be a revival or a museum piece. “There are many things the audience will want to see and we will not disappoint them, but we will also add a new spin to it at the same time,” said Vreeke. For example, the entire cast will be on stage for the entire play. Actors will be silhouettes for scenes in which they are not present.
Sholem Aleichem was a popular humorist and Russian Jewish author of Yiddish literature, including novels, short stories, and plays. He did much to promote Yiddish writers, and was the first to pen children’s literature in Yiddish. Fiddler on the Roof is loosely based on his stories and was the first commercially successful English-language play about Eastern European Jewish life. The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, was the first musical to surpass the 3,000 performance mark, and it held the record for longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run.