By Kenneth Jones
10 Feb 2009
Israeli star Topol played Tevye the milkman in London and in the film version, singing "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man," "To Life" and more.
The acclaimed show is by Joseph Stein (book), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) and Jerome Bock (music), who drew on stories by Sholom Aleichem. The tour begins with a week-long engagement at Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) in Rhode Island Feb. 10-15.
The cast also includes Broadway's Mary Stout, Susan Cella, Bill Nolte, Erik Liberman, Rena Strober, Stephen Lee Anderson and more.
Fiddler will play major markets including Newark, Detroit, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Providence, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Houston, Tampa, Seattle and beyond.
Cella (Broadway's The Graduate, On the Twentieth Century, Me and My Girl, Evita) plays Tevye's wife, Golde; Stout (Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre) plays Yente the Matchmaker; Anderson, who played the Constable in the recent Broadway production directed by David Leveaux, again plays that role; Liberman (LoveMusik, a Helen Hayes winner for DC's Merrily We Roll Along) is Motel the Tailor; Nolte (Amour, The Producers) is Lazar Wolf; and Strober (Les Miserables) is Tzeitzel.
The company also includes John Preece standing by for Topol; Jamie Davis as Hodel; Alison Walla (A Tale of Two Cities, Into the Woods and the recent Broadway Fiddler) as Chava; Kerry Alexander as Shprintze; Julie Brooks as Bielke/Grandma Tzeitel; Colby Foytik as Perchik; Larry Block as Mordcha, the innkeeper; Joel Bernstein as Rabbi; Gary Brintz as Mendel, the Rabbi's son; Michael J. Farina as Avram; Rick Pessagno as Nachum, the beggar; Eric Van Tielen (A Tale of Two Cities) as Fyedka; Arthur A. Atkinson as The Fiddler; and Rebecca Hoodwin; Leslie Alexander; Katie Babb; Joanne Borts; Jessica Scholl; Kaitlin Stilwell; T. Doyle Leverett; Juliana Stefanov Matthew Kilgore; Matthew Rossoff; Robbie Roby; Matthew Marks; Sean Patrick Doyle; David Gilleo; Trevor Illingworth; and David Enriquez.
Chaim Topol is the tireless international actor who starred as Tevye in the 1971 film version of the Tony-Award winning musical Fiddler on the Roof. 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 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."
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."