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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Timeless wisdom and joy

    It’s not often that a musical can enthrall the old and the young alike, but “”Fiddler on the Roof”” achieves this beautifully. A lesson in history, Jewish culture and timeless humor, this musical lights up the stage and allows audiences to lose themselves in a world of the past for three hours. Although most college students’ familiarity with the show may end at Gwen Stefani’s cover of “”If I Were a Rich Man,”” there is much to discover.

    The Broadway in Tucson production boasts a talented cast led by Theodore Bikel, who has played the role of protagonist Tevye more than 2,000 times. With belting leads like Susan Cella reprising the role of Golde and the young and talented Kaitlin Stilwell as Tzeitel, there is no lack of talent in this cast. There is a lifetime’s worth of Broadway experience on stage. Much of the cast are reprising roles in “”Fiddler”” and coming out on tour as a break from shows on and off Broadway.

    “”Fiddler on the Roof”” revolves around a small town in Russia. It takes place during the early 1900s, when Jews were being rounded up and taken from their homes. The plot centers on Tevye, a milkman, who is poor. Tevye has five daughters, and over the course of the musical, the audience sees them grow up in changing times. Their search for and discovery of love helps reshape their tiny town.

    Even with a great cast, a history-based show risks being dull. That is not a problem “”Fiddler”” faces. Despite the story being based in 1905 Tsarist Russia, the timeless themes of love, marriage and tradition are omnipresent throughout the show. Between Tevye’s willingness to allow his eldest daughter to marry for love and his casting out of another daughter for marrying a gentile, the strength of love and its consequences are followed closely. The importance of socio-cultural questions concerning love and marriage continues to resonate, and the humor still evokes belly laughs across the audience. Jokes about bossy wives and pushover fathers offer good, clean fun. Anyone who has ever seen the evolution of a marriage over the years can relate to the humorous view Tevye has toward his wife.

    “”Fiddler”” delivers visually with dynamic sets, beautifully crafted costumes and moving buildings. Houses open up to reveal kitchens and living rooms, and shops rotate to create streetscapes. All of the pieces change to create the various parts of the town. From a train station, to the town center and back to the houses, all is shown with moving and opening set pieces. Pair the fantastic sets with the live band and orchestra, and there is nothing left to be desired by this production. “”Fiddler”” impresses with its complex, smooth dance choreography and keenly directed scenes that transition from real time to Tevye’s asides. 

    This show isn’t only for your grandparents. Despite its popularity in the 1960s and ‘70s, the show transcends time. “”Fiddler”” isn’t simply a musical you see because your grandmother raved about it — it remains relevant and funny, and the show still carries the same important ideas behind its humorous overtones. Take a step back in time, and check out “”Fiddler on the Roof.””

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