To Life! The Return of Fiddler on the Roof
When Fiddler on the Roof took to the Broadway stage in the fall of 1964, nobody anticipated the profound impact the show would have on audiences across America and around the world. Its story of tradition – and tradition turned on its head – transcended generations, religions and nationalities.
This fall Fiddler on the Roof returns to Broadway. To celebrate, the Museum will present a host of special programs providing new insight into this beloved play and the book it was based on, Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman. First up: “After Anatevka,” a Lower East Side musical walking tour taking place this Sunday, September 20 at 11 am.
Here at Eldridge Street, we were inspired to write our new walking tour because for many Eastern European Jewish immigrants like Tevye, New York’s Lower East Side was the setting for the next chapter of their lives. Accompanied by violist, Nikki Federman, we will explore the stories, streets and landmarks of life After Anatevka. We’ll see where real life revolutionaries like Perchik preached, housewives like Golde bargained, tailors like Motel worked and fell in love, and other sites of Jewish significance in the neighborhood. Just as Tevye grappled with changing traditions in Anatevka, we will also see how tradition was rediscovered, redefined and reinvented in America.
Long before Fiddler on the Roof rose to musical fame, however, Tevye was a character from a series of stories titled Tevye the Dairyman written by Yiddish author Sholem Rabinowitz – better known as Sholem Aleichem (“peace be unto you”). Aleichem’s stories captured the trials and tribulations of Eastern European Jewry on the cusp of modernity. However, nearly a half century later when the creative team of Jerome Robbins, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock, and Joe Stein began working with Sholem Aleichem’s stories, they hit upon a universal theme.
Alisa Solomon, who will be speaking at the Museum later this fall tells a wonderful story in her book, Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof. As the show was being developed, director and choreographer Jerome Robbins kept asking his creative team to distill what the play was really about. Someone said, “It’s about the dissolution of a way of life.” “It’s tradition.” Robbins asserted, “Yes, that’s it … that’s the show.” It was the enduring theme of tradition that would make Fiddler on the Roof a musical success and cultural icon.
Join us this Sunday for After Anatevka and our other Fiddler programs this fall including:
Book Talk on Sunday, November 1 at 3 pm: Columbia University Professor Alisa Solomon will discuss her book Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof. Telling the story of Fiddler’s rise to the Broadway stage and beyond, the book has been described by the New York Times “as rich and dense as chocolate babka.”
Concert on Tuesday, November 3 pm: Musicians Jake Shulman-Ment, Deborah Straus, and Alicia Svigals will come together to celebrate the fiddle with the concert Fidl – 21st Century Masters of the Klezmer Violin and Jam. Be sure to bring your fiddle for a jam session following the concert.
Family Program on Sunday, November 22 from 11 am to 12:30 pm: New traditions will be made with our Thanksgiving family program Tevye’s First Thanksgiving. There will be fiddle shaped challahs, a missing turkey and, of course, music!
Theater Party on Thursday, December 10 at 8 pm: Support the Museum and see Fiddler on the Roof. The Museum has a block of great front mezzanine seats.
For more information about our events be sure to visit our calendar at http://www.eldridgestreet.org.
By Rachel Serkin