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Feb 7, 2020

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: Opening Night

By Broadway Live INSIDER - Michael J. Miller
 

Seeing a Broadway show at the Lexington Opera House on opening night is always a special thrill. The buzz in the lobby as preshow banter escalates into a frenzy. Season ticket holders and first timers alike making their way to their seats in anticipation.

Tonight, as patrons gathered for the opening of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at this cherished Lexington venue there was an even more electric vibe in the house, primarily due to some very special guests in the audience. More than half of the crowd were groups of underserved youth about to see a professional touring production for the very first time. 

Broadway Buddies valiantly began nine years ago as an outreach program to immerse these students in a professional theatrical experience. With generous corporate sponsors such as White, Greer & Maggard Orthodontists, Toyota, Marsh & McLennan Agency and the Opera House Fund, individual contributors it has grown to the extent that this season, tonight’s performance was added to FIDDLER’s Lexington visit to enable hundreds of local students to attend the special opening of its weekend engagement.

And what a perfect show for these students, and us, to experience. In song, dance, humor, and sorrow, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, over fifty years after it first made its debut on Broadway, feels now like a new-found long-lost family album. 

Acclaimed Tony Award winning director Bartlett Sher added a few of his own interpretations to the classic musical, including stunning new choreography by Hofesh Shechter, when he mounted this revival on Broadway in December 2015. This tour, now in its second year, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Even with its updates, much of what we love about the village of Anatevka and its pious residents is just as we remember it- the men in their prayer shawls, Yente’s persistent matchmaking.

Tevye is played on this tour by Israeli actor and singer Yehezkel Lazarov, who first appears wearing a very modern parka and glasses. He’s reading his first few lines from a book. Perhaps notes left by ancestors in that long-lost family album? As he recounts the lessons of generations past, the opening bars of “Tradition” kick in, he suddenly transforms into the folksy philosopher and charming everyman we remember. Lazarov deftly carries the show with his comic timing and impressive stage presence. 

FIDDLER remains as poignant as ever, its themes universal and timeless. One can only image the hundreds of children in the audience tonight for this special performance, as they go on to build lives of their own. Might one day they’ll tell their own children about the time they visited this ancient village, whose faithful people were united by habit as much as love and destroyed by ignorance as much as bigotry.