It was an incredible end of winter treat to watch a dozen cast members of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, including the Fiddler HERself, take the stage of the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center (ChappPac) to share their remarkable journey through and since Broadway’s blockbuster production.
Merete Muenter, associate director and associate choreographer of the show, moderated. Each of the 12 cast members in attendance had a chance to speak from the heart, answering a series of Muenter’s wide ranging, food-for-thought questions–including ‘Do we still need Fiddler today?”
One cast member somberly reminded about today’s antisemitism while another addressed the plight of refuges from Ukraine–and so, the collective answer to us very (in agreement) fortunate theater goers was, yes, of course we do! The consensus: We need lots more Fiddler.
In lighter moments of ‘the Conversation,” with a slide show illustrating memorable cast moments on and off set, many of us romantics were tickled to learn of cast member romances, and even a marriage, with the hand-holding actors in attendance.
If I were taking notes, I’d relate more and ‘who’ said ‘what’. But I confess I was there to kick back and enjoy–to capture all the personal feelings the timeless music Fiddler evokes, and right near home!
The unforgettable melodies have become a way to revisit my Jewishness, and I’m sure this is true for millions: part of the experience of being Jewish mirrors Fiddler’s celebration of Jewish faith and culture while never forgetting the struggles of the Jewish people through the ages… their production on Broadway will stay with me forever!
And these big-hearted, long time cast members–who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Broadway Cares–didn’t disappoint.
Immediately, we were treated to hearing ‘Tradition,’ which amply set the mood!
We heard Tevye’s ‘If I Were a Rich Man’, The Daughters’ and Yenta’s ‘Matchmaker’, ‘The Sabbath Prayer’, and ‘Anitekva’.
We even got a short lesson in ‘Yinglish’ as the audience received a quick tutorial to singing along with ‘Sunrise, Sunset.’ Fun! We weren’t half bad. And what, in these times, could have been a better finale to the evening than ‘To Life’? Gornisht! (i.e., nothin!)
This review is dedicated to the memory of Chaim Topol. September 9, 1935 – March 8, 2023. Topol is best known as the Israeli-born actor who portrayed Tevye the longest in Broadway’s iconic Shalom Aleicheem musical Fiddler on the Roof, and in the Hollywood movie adaptation.