‘Fiddler On The Roof’ Theater Review: Yiddish Version Of The Classic Speaks In Universal Language Of Loss & Resilience
The classic musical Fiddler On The Roof got an unexpected revival last year when theater veteran Joel Grey directed a Yiddish-language version at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which was such a success that it transferred to the off-Broadway theater Stage 12, where it has run to enthusiastic crowds for over a year. Yiddish, of course, is the language that would have been spoken in the Jewish villages around Kiev, in what is today Ukraine. The fictional town Anatevka is home to Tevye, played to perfection by Stephen Skybell, a patriarch with daughters who are trying to make (in his view) wildly inappropriate matches. Their family life plays out against the harsh political backdrop of the anti-Jewish pogroms decimating their communities
All the well-loved Fiddler classics are there – “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Tradition” and many more — with subtitles in English and Russian projected at the sides of the stage. The result is a surprisingly easy-to-follow version of the musical that’s still a delight to watch and sing along to. Although the subject is depressing as ever, the strength of the community and their spirit comes through as never before, even if the tongue is unfamiliar.
Fiddler On The Roof is now playing at Stage 12.