Fiddler on the Roof The Musical
When Fiddler on the Roof opened on September 22, 1964 it was one of the first musicals to rebel against Broadway's established rules of typical commercial success. The musical dealt with serious issues such as poverty and persecution. The show was at first criticized for its limited appeal but Fiddler on the Roof managed to strike a chord in audiences and it became, for a time, the longest running production in Broadway history.
With music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof is set in Russia in 1905. The story takes place in Anatevka, which is a small Jewish village. The musical revolves around Tevye, a dairyman, and his attempts to protect his family's traditions as the world changes around them. When Tevye's daughter, Tzeitel, begs him to let her marry a poor tailor instead of the old butcher that he has already promised her to Tevye is faced with an extremely difficult decision. He must choose between his own daughter's happiness and the traditions that he strongly believes in. In addition to Tevye's problems at home, there are also other forces at work in the small town of Anatevkka which threaten the very life he is trying to preserve. The musical's title comes from a painting by Chagall. One of many surreal paintings he created of Eastern European Jewish life frequently included a fiddler which was a metaphor for survival.
When the show originally opened in 1964 it was the first musical to beat the 3,000 performance mark, and it held the record for longest-running Broadway musical for almost a decade until Grease passed it. It ran for 3,242 performances at the Imperial Theatre and it also helped open the door for other musicals that dealt with serious issues.
Highly acclaimed by fans and critics, Fiddler on the Roof was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won nine, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Direction and Best Choreography. It has gone through four Broadway revivals and in 1971 it was adapted into a very successful film which won three Academy Awards.