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The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s "Fiddler on the Roof" at Stage 42
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The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s "Fiddler on the Roof" at Stage 42

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Hal Luftig, Jana Robbins
et al.
With Executive Producer, Roy Gabay

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s
Production of
Fiddler on the Roof
(Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish Website)

Based on Sholom Alecheim Stories

Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick

Originally Produced on the NY Stage by Harold Prince
Original Production Directed and
Choreographed by Jerome Robbins

Yiddish Translation by Shraga Friedman

Directed by Joel Gray
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Musical Staging & New Choreography by Stás Kmieć

Starring: Steven Skybell
Jennifer Babiak, Joanne Borts, Lisa Fishman
Kirk Geritano, Samantha Hahn, Cameron Johnson
Ben Liebert, Stephanie Lynn Mason, Evan Mayer
Rosie Jo Neddy, Raquel Nobile, John Giesige
Bruce Sabath, Drew Seigla, Adam B. Shapiro
Jodi Snyder, James Monroe Stevko,
Lauren Jean Thomas, Bobby Underwood
Mikhl Yashinsky, Rachel Zatcoff
Jackie Hoffman

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Stage 42
422 West 42nd Street
A Shubert Organization Theatre

Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: Ann Hould-Ward
Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski
Sound Design: Dan Moses Schrier
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Casting: Jamibeth Margolis, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Kat West
Supertitle Designer: Matthew Didner
Production Manager: Britni Serrano
Adv./Mktg./Media: The Pekoe Group
Press Representative: DKC/O&M
Orchestrations: Don Walker,
Adapted by Larry Blank
Music Director: Zalmen Mlotek
General Management:
Jumpstart Entertainment

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 2, 2019 Matinee

After reviewing previous productions of the Stein/Bock/Harnick Fiddler on the Roof, with Alfred Molina and Randy Graff starring as Tevye and Golde, then Harvey Fierstein and Andrea Martin, and then Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht, I was joyously surprised that today’s Yiddish production, by The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, with Steven Skybell and Jennifer Babiak, is now my favorite. This new version of Fiddler, thankfully transferred uptown from Battery Park, is so simple, with sets that resemble brown shopping bag material, a metaphor for packing, so sophisticated, with English translations for the Yiddish and occasional Russian dialogue and lyrics, so poignant, with Mr. Skybell a melancholy Tevye, who’s pained, serious, and machismo, so eloquent, with surrealness in Tevye and Golde’s infamous, bedroom dream scene, and so synthesized, with a downsized orchestra whose instrumental solos cut to the heart, especially in the wedding bottle dance, where Kleenex was popping up in the audience.

Jerome Robbins’ iconic choreography for this show, up close at Stage 42, is luminous and spellbinding, in spite of the minimal set and authentic rural, Russian costumes. My own grandmother emigrated to America from this very region, originally ruled by the Tsar, whose oppression is referenced in Tevye’s narrative bargains with God. In the fictional Anatevke, the savvy and busy matchmaker finds husbands for the local daughters, and Jackie Hoffman, one of the finest character actors in the New York theater scene today, is perfection as Yente. Her deadpan humor and resignation, as each of Tevye and Golde’s daughters make their own match, is beyond burlesquean. She’s a master of comedic presence.

The oldest of Tevye’s five daughters, Bobe Tsaytl, played with self-possession and polish by Rachel Zatcoff, chooses the ragged tailor without a sewing machine, Motl Kamzoyl, played humbly and earnestly by Ben Liebert. The second oldest, Hodl, played impetuously by Stephanie Lynne Mason, chooses Siberia with Pertshik, played studiously by Drew Seigla. The third oldest, Khave, creates the saddest story, as the conflicted and impassioned Rosie Jo Neddy takes off with the Russian Fyedke, played with confident strength by Cameron Johnson. Tevye reacts and absorbs the loss of “Tradition”, the title of the show’s opening number, before he finds himself pretending to Golde that Yente’s wealthy match for Tsaytl, the butcher, Leyzer-Volf (a forceful Bruce Sabath), would be haunted by the ghost of Frume-Sore (Jodi Snyder), Volf’s deceased wife. By the third test of Tevye’s paternal comfort zone, he announces in Jewish tradition that Khave is dead and ignores Khave and his family’s pleas. Mr. Skybell masters the moment with extraordinary theatricality through posture, gesture, and vocal tone.

Joel Gray deserves the highest kudos for directing this historical and oft-produced musical in such a unique and affecting restyling. No visual or musical detail is extraneous. This is a fully satisfying and seamless show. A few additional highlights among the multiple musical numbers, are “Anatevke”, “Do You Love Me?” (“Libst Mikh, Sertse”?), and “Sunrise, Sunset” (“Tog-ayn, Tog-oys”). Stás Kmieć, who staged the show and added new choreography, brought the dynamic dances front and center with muscularity and elegance. Beowulf Boritt’s minimal but artful sets and Ann Hould-Ward’s thoughtfully authentic costumes together created a visual feast. Peter Kaczorowski’s warm lighting and Dan Moses Schrier’s crisp sound, plus Tom Watson’s period appropriate hair and wigs are another tribute to the Director. Kudos to Joseph Stein for the book, Jerry Bock for the music, and Sheldon Harnick for the lyrics of this ever-enchanting musical. Kudos to Joel Gray, Steven Skybell, and the Folksbiene cast and crew for such a memorable, melodic matinee.

Steven Skybell in
"Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Steven Skybell and Jennifer Babiak in
"Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Raquel Nobile, Rosie Jo Neddy,
Rachel Zatcoff, Stephanie Lynne Mason,
Samantha Hahn in
"Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

The Company of
"Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

See a Testimonial of Daniela Trattoria's New Redesign.

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