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"Fiddler on the Roof", a 2016 Revival at the Broadway Theatre, Stars Danny Burstein

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Fiddler on the Roof
(Fiddler on the Roof Website)

Based on the Sholem Aleichem stories.

Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Original Choreography by Jerome Robbins

Based on the novel by Boris Pasternak

At the
Broadway Theatre
1681 Broadway at 53rd Street

Danny Burstein as Tevye
Jessica Hecht as Golde

Alexandra Silber, Samantha Massell, Melanie Moore
Jenny Rose Baker, Hayley Feinstein, Alix Korey
Adam Kantor, Ben Rappaport, Adam Dannheisser,
Michael C. Bernardi, Adam Grupper, Jesse Kovarsky

And an Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Director: Bartlett Sher
Choreographer: Hofesh Shecter, based on Robbins
Music Director, New Orchestrations: Ted Sperling

Set Design: Michael Yeargan
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design: Donald Holder
Sound Design: Scott Lehrer
Hair and Wig Design: Tom Watson
Dance Arrangements: Oran Eldor
Music Coordinator: David Lai
Fight Director: BH Barry
Casting: Telsey + Company/Abbie Brady-Dalton
Press: Jeffrey Richards Associates
Advertising/Marketing: AKA
Production Manager: Hudson Theatrical Associates
Production Stage Manager: Bess Marie Glorioso
Company Manager: Alexandra Agosta
General Manager: Richards/Climan, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 21, 2016

Bartlett Sher’s new production of Fiddler on the Roof, which was reviewed on these pages in 2004 and 2005, with two different Tevyes and Goldes, first Alfred Molina and Randy Graff, then Harvey Fierstein and Andrea Martin, now stars Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht in the prized lead roles. For me, the two most significant changes to the Joseph Stein (book) / Jerry Bock (music) / Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), 1964 production are a shift from Jerome Robbins’ choreography (now by Hofesh Schecter) and a mime dancer as The Fiddler (Jesse Kovarsky), with the actual violinist in the pit (Kelly Hall-Tompkins). One could ask, how can this be a verified Fiddler on the Roof with The Fiddler in the pit? On the other hand, does it look good? Does it sound good? As Tevye may implore God, yes, it works, but, tradition! I recall Nick Danielson, Asst. Concertmaster, City Ballet, who actually played his violin on the roof in the above noted revivals, a little over a decade ago. It was a surreal sight. And, regarding the Schecter choreography, Robbins’ bottle dance endures, but family and ensemble dances seem less synchronized and less visually enthralling than originally. On the other hand, as Tevye would say, the overall gestalt of Mr. Sher’s scenery and staging is mesmerizing, even monumental. It’s more theater, less dance.

Danny Burstein, as Tevye, is sublimely cast. His vocals aren’t operatic in tone, yet he sings with passion, force, volume, clarity, and persuasion. He arrives on stage, as the curtain rises, in a red ski parka, an existential Tevye, exploring his Russian roots, with a sign indicating that the shtetl (small town in Eastern Europe where Jews lived), Anatevka, used to exist on this very space. The musical production ends with the emigration of those Jews, under threat from Russian militia of fiery expulsion. Tevye (once again in the red parka) and Golde will walk with Anatevka’s Jews on a march toward faraway lands, in escaping the Czar. Click here to see the modern day Gnativka in Ukraine, near Kiev, the town that may have inspired the setting for Joseph Stein’s book of the show. Mr. Burstein exudes muscularity and strongmindedness, as he pulls his milk cart like a human mule, bearing his burdens. Among those burdens are a nagging Golde, whom he forgot he’s still in love with (“Do You Love Me?”), an eldest daughter, Tzeitel (Alexandra Silber), who refuses to marry her parent-arranged “match”, from Yente (“Matchmaker, Matchmaker”), the matchmaker (Alix Korey), the widowed butcher, Lazar Wolf (Adam Dannheisser), because she loves the poor tailor, Motel (Adam Kantor), a second eldest daughter, Hodel (Samantha Massell), because she loves the political student activist, Perchik ( Ben Rappaport), and a third eldest daughter, Chava (Melanie Moore), because she loves a non-Jewish Russian, Fyedka (Nick Rehberger). Two additional daughters, Shprintze (Jenny Rose Baker) and Bielke (Hayley Feinstein), are too young to defy tradition.

Among tonight’s cast of additional characters, the grandmother in Golde’s dream, Grandma Tzeitel (Lori Wilner) and the ghost of Lazar Wolf’s deceased, first wife, Fruma Sarah (Jessica Vosk), were both entertaining. But, this production is not one of camp, but rather one of poignancy and emotion. With Michael Yeargan’s sweeping, sunset sets (“Sunrise, Sunset”), Catherine Zuber’s finely woven costumes of cotton and lace, in shades of brown and beige to blend with the village, such as in the wedding scene (“The Wedding”) and bottle dance, Tevye and his family of five illuminated the experience with warmth, pathos, understated humor, strongly stated yearning, defiant pride, and, when possible, a willingness to change. One of the familiar final scenes, with the scholarly Chava begging Tevye to embrace her, as she leaves Anatevka with the Russian non-Jew, Fyedka, is palpably heartbreaking (“Chavaleh”). A lighter, earlier scene, when Tzeitel and Motel beg Tevye to let them be wed has a more comedic, comfortable resolution (“Miracle of Miracles”). Throughout Mr. Sher’s must-see-again production, Donald Holder’s lighting design and Scott Lehrer’s sound design added additional luminosity and tonality to a quintessential, renowned musical. And, once again, throughout the evening, Mr. Burstein’s Tevye shone with charm and charisma. Kudos to Danny Burstein, and kudos to lyricist, Sheldon Harnick, who, at 92 years old, is still working in the industry.

Danny Burstein in "Fiddler on the Roof"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Jessica Hecht in "Fiddler on the Roof"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Alexandra Silber, Samantha Massell, Melanie Moore,
Danny Burstein, Jessica Hecht, Jenny Rose Baker
and Hayley Feinstein in "Fiddler on the Roof"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

The Cast of "Fiddler on the Roof"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at