For me, Fiddler on the Roof is the rare piece of art that evokes nostalgia without schmaltz, and somehow incites a myriad of emotions every time you see it. This production, even more so than others, stung my eyes with tears and caught in my throat the moment the company stepped onstage singing “Tradition” (or “Traditsye”). The emotion, which is always there in the show, was brought to new levels of realness, feeling, and understanding in this particular revival.
My tears hardly stopped during the entirety of the production. Whether out of laughter due to a babbling matchmaker, sentimentality as the company sang “Sunrise, Sunset,” heartache for a community grappling with religious persecution, or even just the sheer sweetness of a poor tailor finally saving enough money to get a sewing machine, my cheeks were rarely dry.
The set, while minimal, was stunning, as though parchments of the Torah hung around each corner of the stage, a constant reminder of the characters’ faith, and the solid foundation on which they built their lives. Subtitles were extremely well done and unobtrusive, on each side panel of the stage.
It naturally makes sense to tell the story of A Fiddler on the Roof right now. The history should never be forgotten, but we are sadly seeing it repeated day after day through religious persecution, uprooting of families, and fear and bigotry of “the other” all over the world, and close to home. A Fiddler on the Roof shows us just how similar we all are, as a family that could easily be my own or my neighbor grapples with tales as old as time - letting go of the past, embracing the future, and making sense and balance of the two. Last week, there were points when I didn’t even feel like I was watching a show. The performance solely in Yiddish made me feel as though I was peering into a window, observing a day in the life of a regular family bound to a tragic fate. Rejoicing at their triumphs, laughing at their jokes, and desperately wanting to protect them from the tragedies and anti-Semitism they were forced to endure.
A Fidler Afn Dakh was one of the best productions I’ve seen in a very long time. The show’s three hours moves at a remarkably brisk pace, is bursting with musical theatre greats in acting, voice, and dance, and reminds us of where we’ve come from, and the journeys that still lie ahead.
Reflecting on my experiences with the world, my neighborhood, and my home.