By Dee Jae Cox

“…Everyone of us is a fiddler on the roof…and how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word, tradition.”

Tradition. Religion. Culture. Oppression. Family. Love. Change. Joy. Heartache. There are few shows that seem to reflect the human condition more aptly than the stage classic, ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’   This Tony award winning show with Music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, was the longest running Broadway musical for almost ten years after it originally opened in 1964.  It is based on the story of Tevye the Dairyman, by Shilem Aleichem and the most recent production of this heartwarming musical was presented before a 500 seat packed audience by the Sun City Palm Desert Performing Arts Club in Palm Desert, March 23-26 and it was a standing ovation kind of success. 

‘Fiddler on the Roof’  is the story of a family, caught up in a world that is shaking  their foundation and radically altering the traditions that have kept them steady for generations. Set in 1905 Russia, Tevye and Golde, performed wonderfully by real life husband and wife duo,  John Abramson and Pamla Vale Abramson, are poor and simple people who are raising 5 daughters, Tzeitel (Adina Lawson,) Hodel ( Karen Schmitt) Chava (Linda Tindall) Shprintze (Sharon Johnson) and Brielke (Esther Bergmar,) and  doing their best to hold on to their  traditional way of life as the world around them forces change and adaptation making their lives as shaky as the proverbial Fiddler on the Roof.  Marriages are traditionally arranged by a Matchmaker, Yente, performed by the incomparable June August, and when love begins to dictate marriage rather than tradition, the Fiddler begins to slip from his perch.

Sun City’s production was directed by Cecilia M. Duran who did an incredible job of staging and coordinating this elaborate show and creating a way to simplify the presentation of an entire village and its more than two dozen inhabitants.  This cast had such wonderful chemistry and their talents seemed to synchronize beautifully.  Kudos to Producer Roz Warren Heller, Choreographer Lark Kenny,  Musical Director,  Wayne Abravanel, Set Designer,  Joyce Ehrenberg and Costumers Roz Warren Heller, Esther Bergmark, Elaine Montgomery and Chris Acosta who rounded out this wonderful production team. 

Fiddler on the Roof is a show for all ages and most certainly reminds us of the significance and beauty of theatre. It defines classic and never seems to grow old. The story’s moral and insightful peek into the Jewish history and culture remind us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The often violent displacement of Jews and other oppressed minorities seems to remain a constant theme in history, which is part of what makes this show a timeless piece of theater. This profound and heartfelt story will make you laugh and tear up and appreciate the richness and diversity that so much of history is built upon.

L’Chaim!! (To Life!)

Sun City Performing Arts Club presents several shows a year. For more information on upcoming events and productions visit www.scpdca.com. Email performingarts@scpdcaclubs.com.

Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer.  She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project.  www.californiawoman411.com

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