Oscar and Tony Winner Joel Grey will direct this summer's American premiere of the Yiddish-language adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof, marking the first time the Yiddish version of the musical has been staged since its world premiere in Israel more than 50 years ago. The previously announced production from National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene will play in the Edmond J. Safra Theatre at the Museum of Jewish Heritage beginning July 4.
“For me, it feels like Fiddler is coming home,” said Grey in a statement. “This will be a bold and rich re-imagination, with a highly acclaimed group of theatre artists from Broadway that will respectfully re-envision this classic theatre touchstone in fresh ways.”
Grey has worked as both an actor and director in theatre and in film. He is a Tony and Oscar winner for his portrayal of the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret on stage and screen, and a Tony nominee for his direction of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart.
Grey's creative team on Fiddler will include Tony-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt and Tony-winning costume designer Ann Hould-Ward. Casting and additional creative team members will be announced at a later date.
The Off-Broadway production will run through August 26 and will be presented in Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles.
Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish is based on the Tevye the Dairyman vignettes by Sholem Aleichem and is translated by Shraga Friedman. Tony-winning Fiddler lyricist Sheldon Harnick and producer and director Harold Prince have been consulting with NYTF on the production.
“Joel Grey is a terrific director. He is well-versed in the material—it’s in his bones,” Prince said.
Fiddler on The Roof has music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein. The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, was the first musical theatre production in history to surpass 3,000 performances. The show won the 1965 Tony Award for Best Musical in addition to eight other Tony Awards that year.
“When NYTF presented Joel Grey with a Lifetime Achievement Award five years ago, we lauded his accomplishments on stage, in film, and on television, and at the heart of all of this work has been a commitment to providing audiences with captivating performances,” said National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Chief Executive Officer Christopher Massimine. “We are excited that he will bring this same inspiration and creativity to this unprecedented presentation of Fiddler on the Roof.”