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How the pandemic stopped the unstoppable Fiddler in its tracks

TJI Pick
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Published: 19 June 2020

Last updated: 5 March 2024

The coronavirus pandemic has done something that no war, natural disaster or other calamity has been able to do: stop stage performances of “Fiddler on the Roof”

THE CURRENT NORTH AMERICAN tour of “Fiddler” was halted on March 13, a day before Broadway went dark. The last show of that tour before the cancellation, in a wild coincidence, was at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre, the very same venue where “Fiddler” was performed for the first time ever, in July 1964, before its Broadway debut in September.

A planned three-city tour of China of the buzzed-about Yiddish version by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s “Fiddler” company, which had been scheduled for April and May, also was called off. So were numerous other professional and amateur productions around the world, as in-person shows have been wiped out by social distancing guidelines.

The musical, based on Sholem Aleichem’s tales of Teyve the Dairyman, has been a beloved mainstay of the American musical theatre canon since its Broadway debut 56 years ago.

With music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, the show’s themes of family intergenerational conflict and religious persecution are considered so universal that “Fiddler” has been performed all over the globe — even in places where Jewish culture is virtually or completely non-existent.

FULL STORY Some believe ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ was staged somewhere in the world every day since the ’60s. COVID-19 ended that (JTA)

Photo: The marquee of the Broadway Theatre in New York City advertises "Fiddler on the Roof," Dec. 20, 2015. (Walter McBride/WireImage)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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