A Surprising New History of “Fiddler on the Roof”


Maybe you first heard Tevye break into song when you watched Fiddler on the Roof on VHS in your grandparents’ living room. Maybe you sat in the audience on opening night at the Imperial Theater in 1964. Maybe, before all of that, you read Sholem Aleichem‘s story “Tevye the Dairyman” in shule, or two decades later your cousin walked down the aisle to an all-string rendition of “Sunrise, Sunset.” Though it wasn’t verified in the recent Pew Research Study, many American Jews have some kind of personal connection to Fiddler on the Roof, and you can probably find yours in Alisa Solomon’s new book, Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof.

Solomon deftly traces the history of Fiddler from its humble beginnings as a Yiddish short story to its wildly successful debut and revivals on Broadway and most of the world’s most important stages. But hers is not just a work of theater history; it also explores the sociopolitical and cultural contexts in which Tevye was created, recreated, discovered, and rediscovered—with stops on Second Avenue, McCarthy’s black list, and The Simpsons along the way.

Watch Tevye break out into song:

See the whole film here:

Check out Tevye sing in Japanese:

Sing along with “Sunrise, Sunset”:


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