A MUST SEE!!
Whether you have never seen the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" or have seen it a thousand times you will see it in a different light when you see it for the first or thousand and first time!
The first time I saw the musical was the night after it opened on Broadway, September 23, 1954, joining the long line and, luckily, getting 2 tickets for the first row mezzanine. Pepe, a refugee from Cuba, was in tears most of the show and I immediately put it on my top 10 list and yet I was not to see another stage production of the show until this past February when the stage revival appeared in Fort Lauderdale and I was, once again, completely taken in by it. Now I can't wait to see it in Miami October 29 after seeing this film today.
Currently there is a sold out production of the show done completely in Yiddish in New York and watching this film and a few segments of the musical done completely in Japanese it is easy to understand why people who don't know any language except their own understand all that is going on watching this show.
The movie ends with a note that "Fiddler on the Roof" is performed every day somewhere in the world and this movie shows why aside from the music. We hear from various actors who have played Tevye along with other performers but it is the behind the scenes that add so much to the dimension of the show. In spite of how nasty could be to everyone, including the book and music writers, Jerome Robbins is highly esteemed by all. Most give him complete credit for making the musical a hit.
The documentary by Max Lewkowicz takes an in-depth look at "Fiddler on the Roof" from all angles and shows why it is brilliant and explaining how universal it has become. We hear from the many who have played various characters in the show and people along with many who haven't had anything to do with any production and feel connected to it in various ways.
We see a high school production with Latin and Black teenagers playing all the roles, Lin-Manual Miranda and his father-in-law, at his wedding surprising his bride with a choreographed "To Life" by the wedding party, learn how Robbins came to do the bottle number, how the director Gurinder Chadha saw "Bend it Like Beckham" in relation to "Fiddler". We hear from Fran Lebowitz, Stephen Sondheim, Topel who starred as Teyve in the movie version.
We hear about Mostel's, the original Teyve, feud with Robbins, conversations with lyricist Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock who wrote the music and Joseph Stein who wrote the book based on the stories by Sholem Aleichm plus Joel Grey who has directed the Yiddish version and Steven Skybell who plays Teyve. Harvey Fierstein, among the many who played Teyve on Broadway has said, "Fiddler" is a musical that speaks to the child, the parent and the older audience in different ways, all having been ostracized.
All the above is just a very few moments out of a fascinating hour and 37 minutes which also includes the why of the the Marc Chagall influence on the set designer Boris Aronson not to forget the bad reviews out of town or those from Variety and the New York Times when it opened on Broadway.
All in all I am very anxious to see the production in Miami next month after seeing the film!
The origin story behind one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, Fiddler on The Roof, and its creative roots in early 1960s New York, when “tradition” was on the wane as gender roles, sexuality, race relations and religion were evolving.