They had us at Sharom! The Japanized greeting expressed with a handshake between Tevye and Lazar Wolf in this video signaled that this would be no ordinary production of Fiddler on the Roof.
That's the only word we recognized in the Japanese version of L'Chayim! To Life! from Fiddler on the Roof. We knew that the show had been produced in Hebrew, Yiddish, French, and Spanish, but Japanese? It turns out that cultural similarities made the show resonate with audiences in Japan.
As Miri Ben-Shalom wrote in All About Jewish Theatre News,
Fiddler on the Roof is a timeless hit because it appeals to everyone, everywhere – not only to Jewish audiences. It is reflected in Stewart Lane’s anecdote: “When the first Japanese production of Fiddler was produced, the composers Harnick, Bock and Stein went to Japan. They were all very nervous.
‘How’s a New York interpretive Jewish musical is going to work in Japan? During production they are all anxiously biting their nails. At the end the Japanese producer comes over to them and says: I don’t understand, I don’t know how this piece can work so well in New York. It’s so Japanese!”Enjoy!
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