By Kenneth Jones
20 Nov 2008
The Tel Aviv-born Topol, now 73, was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award in 1972 for playing the paternal dairyman eking out a living in pre-Revolution 1905 Russia. He won a 1972 Golden Globe Award as Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) for the part. He also famously played Tevye in the London production.
In 1991, when he starred as Tevye in a Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, he was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical. That production, part of a wider tour, ran on Broadway November 1990-June 1991 and won the Tony for Best Revival (Barry and Fran Weissler produced with PACE). It was just one of four revivals that played Broadway following the show's original run between 1964-72. The most recent Broadway revival in 2004 was directed by British director David Leveaux, who reconceived the staging to include an onstage orchestra and unique scenic elements (by Tom Pye) such as Russian oil lamps and a mechanized bed for the nightmare sequence. It also included a new number written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, "Topsy-Turvy," which took the place of "The Rumor."
Troika is producing the new 2009 Equity tour (which is expected to be a more traditional approach to the musical, with direction and choreography by Sammy Dallas Bayes, a longtime keeper of Jerome Robbins' original staging). It will play major markets including Newark, Detroit, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Providence, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Houston, Tampa, Seattle and beyond, according to ticket brokers.
A launch city, creative team and wider casting have not been announced. The musical by librettist Joseph Stein, lyricist Sheldon Harnick and composer Jerry Bock tells of life in a Russian village where Jewish traditions thrive — and are threatened. The songbook from the show is filled with musical numbers that are now considered theatre classics: "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset," "If I Were a Rich Man," "Tradition" and more.
In the musical, according to the tour production notes, "Tevye, humble milkman, harried husband and devoted father to five marriageable daughters, invites us into his little village of Anatevka. Here, there is a tradition for everything — how to eat, how to wear clothes, how to pray, how to marry...all of which are happily imparted by our earthy philosopher as he draws us into Fiddler on the Roof. It is a remarkable journey traveling through secret love, forbidden betrothal, weddings, devotion and forgiveness, tempered by rejection, oppression and imminent revolution. And, emerging through it all, we find the humor, strength and perseverance of Tevye and his people, reminding us of life's never-ending circle."