Fiddler on the Roof is a story about tradition, and one of its main songs is titled “Tradition.” It’s not surprising that the musical has become a tradition itself in the repertoire of many-a theater company.
Every high school to university theater department and community theater group to Equity house has played to that precariously balanced fiddler leaping over rooftops.
Humble milkman Tevye lives in a small village called Anatevka in imperial Russia following the end of the 19th century. His labors are hard, as are those of his wife and eldest daughters. Daily he faces anti-Semitism, poverty and the demands of social and religious order. With so much to trouble our hero, his friends and family, you might expect Fiddler to make a forlorn tale leaving the viewer downcast upon exiting the theater. Not so.
Based on a book by Sholem Alichem, the musical was adapted and staged in 1964 by composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick and writer Joseph Stein. On Broadway, Fiddler was a hit noted for its thoughtful use of music and lyrics to highlight scenes of Jewish ritual and celebration.
Actor John Preece heads the cast. His Tevye leans on faith when his three bold daughters follow their hearts instead of tradition, challenging the status quo when they each fall for men outside the ideal match he and his wife had hoped for.
Will the future win over the past in the midst of upheaval and injustice? Can the fiddler survive in another land or time? Fiddler on the Roof plays at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall May 1-6 before moving to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center May 8-13. www.celebrityattractions.com