A Timeless Classic with A Timely Perspective
“Fiddler on the Roof” Opens at Belk Theater on May 31
“Our show involves people being kicked out of their homes by Russians. It’s kind of eerie how incredibly similar it is to what we’re experiencing today. And, I think the audience is recognizing the relevance of Fiddler on the Roof even though it’s a show that’s over 50 years old. And, it’s still unbelievably relevant. It’s happening right now.” – Andrew Hendrick, cast member of Fiddler on the Roof
The national tour of the Broadway classic, Fiddler on the Roof took a long road to get to Charlotte, but it’s arriving right on time.
The original production debuted on Broadway in 1964 and won the Tony Award for “Best Musical” in 1965. It was the first musical in history to surpass 3,000 performances.
The current revival – directed by Tony Award®-winner Bartlett Sher (To Kill a Mockingbird, South Pacific, The King and I) and choreographed by the acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter — had to shut down for an extended period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that it’s back on the road, the show’s current timing — playing at the Blumenthal’s Belk Theater from May 31 to June 5 — adds a powerful, modern-day resonance to the nearly 60-year-old show.
MAIN IMAGE: Company of the North American Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” – CREDIT: Joan Marcus
A Classic Show with Modern Relevance
Fiddler on the Roof invites audiences to follow Tevye, a milkman struggling (often with comedic results) to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as his daughter wishes to pursue more modern notions of love and marriage.
In the second act, Tevye and his family are forced to leave their beloved home in Anatevka (a fictional town implied to be in Ukraine) in order to escape a Russian invasion. That irony is not lost on 2022 audiences.
“Our show involves people being kicked out of their homes by Russians,” said Andrew Hendrick, who plays butcher Lazar Wolfe. “It’s eerie how incredibly similar it is to what we’re experiencing today. [T]he audience is recognizing the relevance of Fiddler on the Roof even though it’s a show that’s over 50 years old, it’s still unbelievably relevant. It’s happening right now.”
Hendrick shared that the cast dedicates their performance to the people of Ukraine after every show.
“That’s a really powerful way to leave our audience at the end of tonight — to tie it all together,” he said.
To complement the cast’s concerns about the current invasion of Ukraine, Blumenthal Performing Arts partnered with International House, a Charlotte nonprofit. For each ticket purchased through this link, Blumenthal will donate $10 to International House’s work to be a safe haven for immigrants and refugees.
Comedy Amid the Tragedy
But, the current situation in Ukraine, is not the only quality of Fiddler on the Roof that resonates with audiences. Whether it’s your first time seeing the show or your 10th, Hendrick said timeless themes await you.
“It’s easy to pigeonhole [the show] as a ‘Jewish musical,’ but it’s a story about family and their traditions,” said Hendrick. “You can’t see Fiddler on the Roof without identifying with at least one or more of the characters.”
“Everybody sees something different in the show that they can relate to — and that’s never going to change,” he added. For his part, Hendrick loves the opportunity to delve into comedy with his role as the town butcher (and widow) with his eye on Tevye’s daughter, Tzeitel. He calls the opportunity to thrill a knowing audience with comedy “a gift to any performer.”
Hendrick’s big scene with Tevye – which involves a hilarious misunderstanding of a marriage negotiation being about the potential purchase of a cow – comes right before the famous number “To Life.” Hendrick enjoys the opportunity to join the larger cast for a big number.
“I do get to hoof along myself … and stop the show every night with big applause,” he said.
Love and Family
Family may be a main theme of Fiddler on the Roof, but it has particular meaning for the cast, which has been together since before the pandemic. While the show was canceled, the actors were retained by the production.
“[Producers] were always adamant we had jobs to return to,” said Hendrick.
When the cast was finally able to take the stage again, Hendrick was overwhelmed by the response they received at their first performance.
“The audience was thrilled to be there, we were thrilled to be there,” he said. “It was unbelievable. It made me speechless.”
Hendrick says that, while the production has been on the road for several months now, the enthusiasm from audiences hasn’t waned. Nor has his.
In fact, to show his excitement to family, friends and fans, he and actress Maite Uzal (who plays Golde) have established a new tradition, posting a selfie on Instagram showing the two of them in a triumphant post looking out at every stage they visit.
Somewhere between its connection to the current reality in Ukraine, the universal themes of family and tradition and the excitement of live theater gracing stages after two years of silence, Hendrick believes Fiddler on the Roof is just as engaging as ever.
“The show just can’t stop becoming more and more relevant,” he said. “You’re getting a great take on a classic. Now is the time. What are you waiting for?”
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Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Find Me a Seat
Buy tickets to Fiddler on the Roof. This link will ensure that $10 from your ticket will be donated to International House.
This story was sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts. A portion of funds generated through it will fuel the HUG Micro-Grant Program.
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