Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fiddler on the Roof Turns 50 With Town Hall Celebration


In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Fiddler on the Roof, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick was honored last night at New York's Town Hall with the largest-ever reunion of original, revival and film cast members as part of an all-star benefit concert for The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene.

The musical opened on Broadway in 1964. The original cast included Zero Mostel as Tevye the milkman, Maria Karnilova as his wife Golde (each of whom won a Tony for their performances), Beatrice Arthur as Yente the matchmaker, Austin Pendleton as Motel, Bert Convy as Perchik the student revolutionary, Gino Conforti as the fiddler, and Julia Migenes as Hodel. 

Joanna Merlin originated the role of Tzeitel, which was later assumed by Bette Midler during the original run. Carol Sawyer was Fruma Sarah, Adrienne Barbeau took a turn as Hodel, and Pia Zadora played the youngest daughter, Bielke. Both Peg Murray and Dolores Wilson made extended appearances as Golde, while other stage actors who have played Tevye include Herschel Bernardi, Theodore Bikel and Harry Goz (in the original Broadway run), and Leonard Nimoy. 

Mostel's understudy in the original production, Paul Lipson, went on to appear as Tevye in more performances than any other actor, clocking over 2,000 performances in the role in the original run and several revivals. Florence Stanley took over the role of Yente later in the run. The production earned $1,574 for every dollar invested in it.

Last week, Harnick and cast members from the various productions got together to reminisce about their experiences with the show. The following video shows them recalling their favorite lines and lyrics. For a taste of nostalgia, we're also including a video of the opening sequence of the 1971 film starring Chaim Topol as Tevye.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.) 




Opening sequence of the 1971 film version - "Tradition"