Monday Media: Fiddler’s Fortunes

By guest blogger Jenna Weisman Joselit. Cross-posted at From Under the Fig Tree.

I don’t know about you, but every time I listen to the soundtrack of Fiddler on the Roof, my eyes well with tears and my feet start moving this way and that.

In this, I’m not alone.  Arguably one of the most popular of Broadway productions, Fiddler has captured the country’s imagination ever since it made its debut in 1964, firmly embedding “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Tradition” in the American playbook.

What’s more, I suspect that the play and the film that followed have done more to acquaint the American public with the ups and downs of modern Jewish history, as well as with the use of such expressions as mazal tov and l’chayim, than all of the pious references to the Judaeo-Christian heritage combined.

How this tale of East European Jewry, which is based on the writings of Sholem Aleichem, became a staple of American popular culture constitutes a bit of a conundrum.  Its success, after all, was hardly a surefire thing.  But “wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles,” Fiddler did take hold.

Why it did is the compelling subject of Alisa Solomon’s forthcoming presentation, Fiddler’s Fortunes: The Mighty Afterlife of a Broadway Musical, which will take place on Monday, March 19th, at 7 p.m. at the DCJCC.  To register for the event, which is free and open to the public, please go here. Come one and all.

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