Performance Dates: February 6, 7, 8, 13 & 14, Cowichan Theatre,
March 13, 14 & 15, The Port Theatre, Nanaimo, 2009
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Music by Jerry Bock: Book by Joseph Stein: Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick: Based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem)
Imperial Theatre 22 September, 1964 (3242 performancess)
Her Majesty's Theatre, London 16 February, 167 (2030 performances)
The year is 1905 and a Jewish community in Tsarist Russia is trying to eke out a living in its shtetl in the village of Anatevka. Tevye is a milkman who has a personal relationship with God in whom he confides all. He strives, very hard, to keep up the traditions of his faith, race and culture. He has five daughters, itself a problem but what is more pressing is trying to find husbands for the eldest three children.
Yente, the matchmaker, does her best, but with no money, no dowry to offer she finds that her work is very difficult.
Tzeitel rejects the butcher Lazar Wolf, to whom Tevye has promised her. She has her heart set on the young, impecunious tailor, Motel. The "new way" is that children shall decide partners for themselves but will Golde, Tevye's wife accept this change in traditional values? Tevye conjures up a dream the relating of which he attempts to persuade Golde that Lazar Wolf is not a good match and that Grandmother would much prefer her granddaughter to marry the tailor.
Golde is persuaded and that is the first chink in the breakdown of traditional values. At the wedding ceremony between Motel and Tzeitel, there is a pogrom, an anti-Jewish demonstration, orchestrated by the Chief of Police which casts into doubt the stability of Jewish life in Tsarist Russia. It is certainly a portent for things to come.
Tevye's second daughter, Hodel, has fallen in love with Perchik, a political student, an activist against the repressive regime. Tevye refuses to give his permission for Hodel and Perchik to marry but they inform Tevye that they do not wish to seek his permission to marry but merely his blessing. Traditions are obviously changing. Later, Perchik is arrested and is to be sent to Siberia. Hodel intends to join him. She promises her father they will be married, under a canopy, in the traditional Jewish way, Her father accompanies her to the railway station to bid her farewell.
Chava, Tevye's third eldest daughter has fallen for Fyedka, a Russian soldier. Not only is he Russian, he is not a Jew and the bending of tradition this far is something that Tevye cannot reconcile himself to. From this point on, Chava ceases to be his daughter and is shunned.
Meanwhile, Anatevka itself is under threat. The Jews are being forced to leave their homes and many of them decide to go to live in America where many of them have friends and relations. That is to where Tevye and Golde and the two youngest children are to go. Motel and Tzeitel, who now have a child of their own, will join them. Chava and Fyedka, wanted by neither Jew nor Russian, go to live in Poland.
The Fiddler on the Roof, the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people will live on in all of them.
Tevye - a milkman
Golde - his wife
Yente - a matchmaker
Tzeitel - Tevye's eldest daughter
Motel - a tailor
Perchik - a student
Hodel - Tevye's second daughter
Lazar Wolf - a butcher
Chava - Tevye's third daughter
Fyedka - a Russian soldier
Source: The Guide to Musical Theater