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GOOD MORNING BROADWAY FANS!! Broadway’s biggest night is just 34 DAYS AWAY. We are talking about The 74th Annual Tony Awards. To also get us in the mood of celebrating Live Theater’s return to the Great Bright Way, we have more of your favorite legendary performances from previous telecasts on our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. The legacy and tradition continues.
Speaking of TRADITION, our selection today on the countdown for # 34 is a celebration of all that. We are about to take you to a tiny poor village in the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia in 1905 where the local residents, especially the local milkman, are always staying true to their beliefs (almost everyone)… even during the most difficult times. We of course are talking about….. Fiddler on the Roof. Based on Sholem Aleichem’s legendary best-selling book TEVYE & HIS DAUGHTERS, it features a notable score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein.
From the 1971 telecast (featuring your favorite Broadway stars at the time reprising their notable performances for one night only), the legendary Zero Mostel as the beloved milkman himself “Tevye”….. One of his notable signature roles….. Performs the musical’s inspirational showstopping song of dreams and possibilities…. IF I WERE A RICH MAN.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF was originally first conceived in 1919 as a dramatic play adaptation of TEVYE AND HIS DAUGHTERS by Sholem Aleichem (following the success of his book of the same name) and was performed by the Yiddish Art Theatre company (before becoming a film in the 30’s). However, it wasn’t turned into a musical till the 50’s. When the show was first being developed, producers and investors were skeptical at the time that the story would be “Too Jewish” to mainstream audiences. Plus the original story had an intense sad ending leaving poor “Tevye” all alone plus seeing his wife and children dead. However, the ending was changed to be even happier as the family was alive, all emigrating to America.
The show officially premiered on Broadway in 1964 at the Imperial Theatre (later transferring to the Majestic Theatre and the Broadway Theatre) for 17 previews and 3,242 performances. Under the direction of the late Hal Prince and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the cast was led by…
Zero Mostel (later Luther Adler, Hershel Bernardi, Harry Goz, Theodore Bikel, Harry Goz, Jerry Jarrett, Paul Libson, and Jan Peerce) as “Tevye”,
Maria Karnilova (Helen Verbit, Martha Schlamme, Dolores Wilson, Rae Allen, Peg Murray, Mimi Rudoph, and Laura Stewart) as “Golde”,
Beatrice Arthur (later Florence Stanley, and Ruth Jarowslow) as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Joanne Merlin (later Ann Marisse, Bette Midler, Rosalind Harris, Judith Smiley, Mimi Turque, and Felice Carmago) as “Tzeitel”,
Julia Migenes (later Mimi Turque, Adrienne Barbeau, Susan Hufford, and Royce Linnell) as “Hodel”,
Tanya Everett (later Peggy Longo, Peggy Atkitson, and Kelly Wood) as “Chava”,
Marilyn Rogers (later Peggy Longo, Peggy Atkitson, Renee Tertro, Leslie Silvia, and Faye Menken) as “Shprintze”,
Linda Ross (later Pia Zadora, Pamela Greene, Maureen Poyle, and Leslie Silvia) as “Bielke”,
Michael Granger (later Paul Marin, Paul Lipson, and Boris Apolon) as “Lazar Wolf”,
Austin Pendleton (later Leonard Fray, David Garfields, Peter Marklin, and John C. Battle) as “Motel The Tailor”,
Sue Babel (later Jan Myers, Faye Menken, and Anna Perez) as “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Carol Sawyer (later Marta Heflin and Harriet Slaughter) as “Frauma Sarah”,
Gino Conforti (later Sammy Bayes, Marc Scott, and Ken Leroy) as “The Fiddler”,
and more
The original Broadway production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 1965 winning 9 including BEST MUSICAL and BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Zero Mostel). The musical later received a special Tony honor in 1972 as THE LONGEST RUNNING SHOW IN BROADWAY HISTORY (at the time).
The show would go on to become a smash hit with productions worldwide including a London company in the West End (led by its future film star Chaim Topol), Australia, and so much more. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF would be revived on the New York Theater stage 5 TIMES!!!
The first revival happened in 1976 at the Winter Garden Theatre for 1 preview and 168 performances. Under the direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins, the cast was led by….
Zero Mostel reprising his original role of “Tevye”,
Thelma Lee as “Golde”,
Ruth Jarowslow reprising her portrayal as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Elizabeth Hale as “Tzeitel”,
Christopher Callan as “Hodel”,
Nancy Tompkins as “Chava”,
Davia Sacks as “Shprintze”,
Tiffany Bogart as “Bielke”,
Paul Lipson reprising his portrayal of “Lazar Wolf”,
Irwin Pearl as “Motel The Tailor”,
Duane Bodin as “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Joyce Martin as “Frauma Sarah”,
Sammy Bayes reprising his portrayal as “The Fiddler”,
and more
The first revival did not receive any Tony nominations or wins that year.
The 2nd revival happened in 1981 at Lincoln Center for only 53 performances. Once again under the direction and choreography of Jerome Robbins, the cast was led by…
Hershel Bernardi reprising his portrayal of “Tevye”.
Maria Karnilova reprising her original role of “Golde”,
Ruth Jarowslow reprising her portrayal as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Lori Ada Jaroslow as “Tzeitel”,
Donalyn Petrucci as “Hodel”,
Liz Larsen as “Chava”,
Susan Sheppard (later Kathy George) playing BOTH as “Shprintze” and “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Eydie Alyson as “Bielke”,
Paul Lipson reprising his portrayal of “Lazar Wolf”,
Michelan Sisti as “Motel The Tailor”,
Bradford Dunaway as “Frauma Sarah”,
Jay Fox as “The Fiddler”,
and more
This 1981 revival received only 1 Tony nomination that year for Best Leading Actor in a Musical (for Hershel Bernardi) but lost the category.
The 3rd revival happened in 1990 at the Gershwin Theatre for 18 previews and 241 performances. Once again under the direction of Jerome Robbins, this cast was led by….
Chaim Topol reprising his original London and film portrayal as “Tevye”,
Marcia Lewis as “Golde”,
Ruth Jarowslow reprising her portrayal as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Sharon Lawrence as “Tzeitel”,
Tia Riebling as “Hodel”,
Jennifer Prescott as “Chava”,
Kathy St. George reprising her portrayal of BOTH “Shprintze” and “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Judy Dodd as “Bielke”,
Mark Zellar as “Lazar Wolf”,
Jack Kenny as “Motel The Tailor”,
Jeri Zager as “Frauma Sarah”,
Stephen Wright as “The Fiddler”,
and more
The 1990 revival was nominated for 2 Tony Awards in 1991 winning only 1 and the top honor for BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL.
The 4th revival happened in 2004 at the Minskoff Theatre for 816 performances. Under the direction of David Leveauxcast and choreographed by Jonathan Butterell, this cast was led by….
Alfred Molina (later Harvey Fierstein) as “Tevye”.
Randy Graff (later Andrea Martin and Rosie O’Donnell) as “Golde”,
Nancy Opel (later Barbara Barrie) as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Sally Murphy (later Kristin Carbone) as “Tzeitel”,
Laura Michelle Kelly (later Laura Shoop) as “Hodel”,
Tricia Paoluccio as “Chava”,
Lea Michele (later Allison Walla) as “Shprintze”,
Molly Ephrahim (later Betsy Hogg and Hannah DelMonte) as “Bielke”,
David Wohl as “Lazar Wolf”,
John Cariani (later Peter Matthew Smith and Michael Thirrault) as “Motel The Tailor”,
Haviland Stillwell as “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Joy Hermalyn (later Janet Metz) as “Frauma Sarah”,
Nick Danielson (later Christopher Caronda) as “The Fiddler”,
and more
This 2004 revival received 6 Tony Award nominations that year including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL and BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Alfred Molina). However, it lost all the categories.
The 5th and most recent ON Broadway revival happened in 2015 at the Broadway Theatre. This recent revival was to commemorate the musical’s 50th Anniversary of the show’s Broadway debut. It ran for only 464 performances. Under the direction of Bartlett Sher and choreography by Hofesh Shechter, the cast was led by….
Tony nominee again this year Danny Burstein as “Tevye”.
Jessica Hecht (later Judy Kuhn) as “Golde”,
Alix Korey as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Alexandra Silber as “Tzeitel”,
Samantha Massell as “Hodel”,
Melanie Moore as “Chava”,
Jenny Rose Baker as “Shprintze”,
Hayley Feinstein (later Nerghiz Sarki) as “Bielke”,
Adam Dannheisser (later Steven Skybell) as “Lazar Wolf”,
Adam Kantor as “Motel The Tailor”,
Lori Wilner (later Jill Abramovitz) as “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Jessica Vosk (later Dee Roscioli) as “Frauma Sarah”,
Jesse Kovarsky as “The Fiddler”,
and more
The revival was nominated for 3 Tony Awards in 2016 including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL. However, it lost all the categories.
The most recent production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF was performed OFF Broadway and translated entirely into Yiddish (the initial language of the story) – mixing Russian, German, and Hebrew). Originally performed at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, it later transferred to Stage 42 where it ran for over a year. Under the direction of Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey, the cast was led by….
Steven Skybell as “Tevye”.
Jennifer Babiak Indeglio as “Golde”,
Jackie Hoffman as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Rachel Zatcoff as “Tzeitel”,
Stephanie Lynne Mason as “Hodel”,
Rosie Jo Neddy as “Chava”,
Raquel Nobile as “Sprintze”,
Samantha Hahn as “Bielke”,
Bruce Sabath as “Lazar Wolf”,
Ben Liebert as “Motel The Tailor”,
Lisa Fishman as “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Jodi Snyder as “Frauma Sarah”,
Lauren Jeanne Thomas as the first-female to play “The Fiddler”,
and more
Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish went on to receive the Drama Desk Award for OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF continues to become an iconic musical with productions worldwide and a popular choice for schools, community, and regional theatres.
Along with its success on stage, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF has been a hit on screen. The original film version was released in 1971 from United Artists. Under the direction of Norman Jewison, the cast was led by….
Chaim Topol reprising his London performance of “Tevye”.
Norma Crane as “Golde”,
Molly Picon as “Yente The Matchmaker”,
Rosalind Harris reprising her Broadway performance as “Tzeitel”,
Michele Marsh as “Hodel”,
Neva Small as “Chava”,
Elaine Edwards as “Sprintze”,
Candy Bonstein as “Bielke”,
Paul Mann as “Lazar Wolf”,
Leonard Frey as “Motel The Tailor”,
Patience Collier as “Grandma Tzeitel”,
Ruth Madoc as “Frauma Sarah”,
Tutte Lemkow as “The Fiddler”,
And more.
The film version of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF was also nominated for 8 Oscars in 1972. It took home 3 for BEST MUSIC, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY, and BEST SOUND. It also won 2 Golden Globes for BEST PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY and BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY (For Topol).
Currently, a movie musical remake of this timeless musical is officially in the works!!! The film will be produced by MGM, directed by Thomas Kail, with Steven Levenson doing the screenplay. No details have been made for the film’s release or casting.
The legacy of a TRADITION still lives on.
How powerful is this musical?!!
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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