Fiddler On The Roof

Playhouse Theatre
Northumberland Avenue, London

Previewed: 21 March 2019
Opened: 27 March 2019
Closes: 28 September 2019

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Monday no shows
Tuesday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30m
Thursday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday no shows

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Fiddler On The Roof

Trevor Nunn's accclaimed revival of the classic musical Fiddler On The Roof - a transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory

Tevye, the dairyman is an old-fashioned father who, like the other fathers in the small village of Anatevka, has raised his children to uphold the age-old Jewish customs of his ancestors. Now the time has come to find husbands for his beloved daughters and as tradition dictates, suitable matches must be made. But this is Tsarist Russia, 1905 and as the nation teeters on the brink of great upheaval, Tevye is soon to find the young are guided by their hearts not their elders. Featuring some of the most memorable songs in musical history, including Tradition, Matchmaker and the unforgettable If I Were A Rich Man.

Following an acclaimed sold-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory in South London over Christmas 2018, this production transfers to London's West End. Directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography by Jerome Robbins and Matt Cole, sets by Robert Jones, costume by Jonathan Lipman, lighting by Tim Lutkin, and sound by Gregory Clarke. Musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein from stories by Sholem Aleichem.

Trevor Nunn's extensive West End musical directing credit include Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic Theatre in 2012; Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music Garrick Theatre 2009; Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind New London Theatre 2008; George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre 2006; Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques the Musical at the Haymarket Theatre 2005; Cole Porter's Anything Goes at the Drury Lane Theatre in 2003; Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady at the Drury Lane Theatre in 2001; Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical Oklahoma! at the Lyceum Theatre in 1999; and Schönberg and Alain Boublil's Les Miserables at the Palace Theatre in 1985. He has also directed the West End Premiere productions of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals The Woman in White at the Palace Theatre in 2004; Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theatre in 1993; Aspects of Love at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1989; Starlight Express at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in 1984; and Cats at the New London Theatre in 1981.

The idea for a musical version of Shalom Aleikhem's stories began in 1960. Composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick and librettist Joseph Stein had already worked together on other successful shows, and a friend suggested they read Aleikhem's Wandering Star. Although they didn’t think it was a suitable case for musical treatment, they read more of Aleichem’s stories and settled on those about Tevye and his daughters. They took Stein's first draft to producer Harold Prince, who turned it down, but did advise the team that the director they needed was Jerome Robbins. Eventually they got both Robbins and Prince on board. Stein took the theme of Tevye’s storytelling and created the action of the musical play around him. Tevye is the central character and many of the thoughts and emotions of the other characters are expressed through him, a device which reinforces both the importance of the character himself and the central place of storytelling in the Jewish faith and tradition.

Fiddler on the Roof had its premiere at New York’s Imperial Theatre on 22 September 1964 with Zero Mostel as 'Tevye'. The British premiere followed in 1967 with Topol as 'Tevye'. At the time the show was the longest-running Broadway production and the ninth longest-running musical in London's West End.

The original March 2019 West End cast at the Playhouse Theatre featured Andy Nyman as 'Tevye' and Judy Kuhn as 'Golde' who both reprised their roles from the December 2018 Menier Chocolate Factory season.

When this production was originally seen at the Menier Chocolate Factory in South-East London in December 2018, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "in Trevor Nunn's polished revival, which boasts a cast of nearly thirty and an excellent eight-piece band, it's at once a feast of dance, a bouncy comedy and a defiant portrait of Jewish resilience...Proud, put-upon and addicted to misquoting the scriptures, Tevye is a romantic. Andy Nyman's performance is contagiously amusing, yet it also has soul and an earthy sense of precariousness." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph praised this "fine revival by Trevor Nunn... if the show remains as fresh as ever, it's because it commemorates that bygone way of life with such elan." Ann Treneman in the Times commented that, as Tevye, "Andy Nyman is the absolute anchor of this production, earthy and direct but, also, at times angry and difficult... the entire production and the core cast, particularly Judy Kuhn as Golde, are pitch perfect." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times explained that "what makes this one such a resounding success is that Trevor Nunn's revival as befits this story of Tevye and his daughters pivots on the meeting point between tradition and revision... the fear of genuine hardship is shadowed in the troubled face of Judy Kuhn as Golde, Tevye's wife. A fine cast avoid sentimentality by finding the authenticity of these fears, while still delivering the big numbers such as 'Matchmaker, Matchmaker' with flair," concluding that "this beautifully delivered production strikes a fine balance, like the eponymous fiddler on the roof, between joy and sorrow." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail wrote that "Trevor Nunn's new production of Fiddler on the Roof is what you'd expect from this director: respectful, richly staged, properly bearded and, oh boy, long." Neil Norman in the Daily Express said that "this is a well-balanced production, poised beautifully between humour, pathos and tragedy as Tevye's daughters defy his patriarchy one by one by marrying whom they choose... Beautifully cast with the great Judy Kuhn as Tevye's wife Golde, this is a glorious, intelligent production... Highly recommended."

This production was originally staged at the Menier Chocolate Factory - previewed from 23 November 2018, opened on 5 December 2018 and closes on 9 March 2019 - when the cast featured Andy Nyman as the milkman 'Tevye' and Judy Kuhn as his wife 'Golde' with their five daughters: Molly Osborne as 'Tzeitel', Harriet Bunton as 'Hodel', Kirsty MacLaren as 'Chava', Shoshana Ezequiel as 'Shprintze', and Sofia Bennett as 'Bielke'. The cast also included Louise Gold as the matchmaker 'Yente', Joshua Gannon as 'Motel', Stewart Clarke as 'Perchik', Matt Corner as 'Fyedka', Dermot Canavan as 'Lazar Wolf', and Darius Luke Thompson as 'The Fiddler', with Miles Barrow, Lottie Casserley, Lia Cohen, Fenton Gray, James Hameed, Matthew Hawksley, Matilda Hopkins, Adam Margilewski, Robert Maskell, Benny Maslov, Gaynor Miles, Ellie Mullane, Craig Pinder, and Valentina Theodoulou.

"Andy Nyman's emotionally open Tevye is the heart of this revival, as savoury and appetising as a squidgy little latke. Palms shaping the air like butter, he scampers around the small stage, even as the world he knows slips through his fingers Trevor Nunn's production, in sombre shades and ample with detail, works best as a shiveringly intimate chamber musical, where voices can reduce to sobs and still honour the score's yearning, roistering melodies... This is a show about family: Tevye has got through 25 years of marriage without asking his wife if she loves him. (She's never asked herself the question either.) The Broadway star Judy Kuhn unnarrows her eyes and unbends her spine as she considers it. Yet Nunn doesn't press on the piece's political urgency - in a story of migration and living as a minority, perhaps he doesn't need to... Tradition is Anatevka's watchword, but tradition also means arranged marriages, poor female education and way too many whiskers. The show sees Tevye's horizons expand: inch by inch, book by book, romance by romance. And the tale of assimilation continues." The Sunday Times

"For a musical that induces groans of over-familiarity, here comes a revival that's fresh and different. Fiddler on the Roof may be about a dairyman, but this is refreshingly un-cheesy... The success of Trevor Nunn's small-scale version is due in good measure to Andy Nyman's compassionate but unsoppy turn as Tevye, the Jewish milkman driven nuts by his three older daughters who marry without his permission. This Tevye is short, bearded and every inch a man who's sick of his job. When he sings If I Were A Rich Man, he does the 'deedle, daiddle, dum' chorus while wincing from the arthritis he got pulling the lousy cart... Preserved in this version is the fantastic Jerome Robbins choreography, and the Jewish wedding that closes Act One really blows the roof off... There's a superb, snowing finale of evicted Jews trudging into a not-so-distant future that will prove infinitely more terrible. Traditionally, Fiddler is a cheesecake of a show - more gateau than ghetto. But this makes you think again. It's a safe bet it'll be transferring to the West End." The Mail on Sunday

"Barrel-shaped Andy Nyman is a dynamo. As the bearded stickler for tradition, who is driven to distraction by three of his five daughters - each of whom finds a man without their father's permission - Nyman displays a simmering anger in place of past Tevyes' sweetness... As he beetles his way across the stage like a mini tank, his voice only has a fraction of the charisma his physical presence brings to the role. Yet he still makes the songs his own, turning the chorus of 'deedle, daidle dumb' in If I Were A Rich Man into little cries of pain after a day pulling his milk cart. Emotionally he hits the right note every time. Meanwhile, the supporting cast members are excellent, especially Judy Kuhn as Tevye's loyal, long-suffering wife Golde. If the show gets the West End transfer it deserves, the challenge will be to preserve the Menier Chocolate Factory's intimacy. But wherever the play goes, Nyman's Tevye will remain potent for being as short and powerful as his temper." The Metro

Fiddler On The Roof in London at the Playhouse Theatre with public previews from 21 March 2019, opens on 27 March 2019, and closes on 28 September 2019

Original London West End Production 1967

Opened 16 February 1967, Closed 2 October 1971 at Her Majesty's Theatre

The original cast featured Chaim Topol as the milkman 'Tevye' and Miriam Karlin as his wife 'Golde' with their five daughters: Rosemary Nicols as 'Tzeitel', Linda Gardner as 'Hodel', Caryl Little as 'Chava', Joy Measures as 'Shprintze' and Diane Robillard as 'Bielke'. The cast also featured Cynthia Grenville as the matchmaker 'Yente', Jonathan Lynn as 'Motel', Sandor Eles as 'Perchik', Tim Goodman as 'Fyedka', Paul Whitsun-Jones as 'Lazar Wolf', Susan Paule as 'Fruma-Sarah', Derek Birch as 'Constable', Peter Ardran as 'The Fiddler', Heather Clifton as 'Grandma Tzeitel', Tony Sympson as 'Mordcha' and Terence Soall as 'Rabbi'.

Original directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins with direction reproduced by Richard Altman and choreography reproduced by Tom Abbott. Sets by Boris Aronson with costumes by Patricia Zipprodt and lighting by Richard Pilbrow.

Following Topol, who left this production on Saturday 17 February 1968, the role of 'Tevye' was played by Alfie Bass from Monday 19 February 1968 to Saturday 16 August 1969, by Lex Goudsmit from Monday 18 August 1969 to Saturday 14 February 1970, Alfie Bass then returned from Monday 16 February 1970 to Saturday 13 March 1971, Lex Goudsmit returned from Monday 15 March 1971 to Saturday 24 April 1971 with Barry Martin taking over as the last 'Tevye' from Monday 26 April 1971 through to 2 October 1971 when the production closed.

Following Miriam Karlin, who left this production on Saturday 17 February 1968, the role of 'Golde' was played by Avis Bunnage from Monday 19 February 1968 to Saturday 16 August 1969, by Hy Hazell from Monday 18 August 1969 up to her accidental death on Sunday 10 May 1970 (see below), with her understudy taking over until Avis Bunnage returned to the role on Monday 18 May 1970 up to 14 November 1970. Stella Moray took over as the last 'Golde' from Monday 14 December 1970 through to 2 October 1971 when the production closed.

Sadly, while at a friend's apartment on her day off from playing 'Golde', on Sunday 10 May 1970, Hy Hazell collapsed when she choked on a 'large piece of fillet steak that had blocked the entrance to her windpipe' and died on the way to hospital. The inquest reported that her blood showed a very high alcohol level: "A high enough level to account for some carelessness about eating and possibly the swallowing of food and therefore to have been almost a certain reason for her choking." Hy Hazell had alledged that the week prior she had been knocked unconscious by an intruder that she had disturbed in her flat but the inquest into her death found no mark of any injury to her scalp or skull, and thus this was discounted as a reason for her death.

Two months after this stage production closed, the film version - starring Topol and Norma Crane as 'Tevye' and his wife 'Golde' - was presented at the Dominion Theatre from 10 December 1971.

1st London West End Revival 1983

Previewed 24 June 1983, Opened 28 June 1983, Closed 29 October 1983 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

The original cast featured Topol as the milkman 'Tevye' and Thelma Ruby as his wife 'Golde'.

Original directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins with direction reproduced by Ruth Mitchell and choreography reproduced by Tom Abbott. Sets by Boris Aronson with costumes by Patricia Zipprodt and lighting by Benny Ball.

2nd London West End Revival 1994

Previewed 17 June 1994, Opened 28 June 1994, Closed 3 September 1994 at the London Palladium

The original cast featured Topol as the milkman 'Tevye' and Sara Kestelman as his wife 'Golde' with their five daughters: Jacquelyn Yorke as 'Tzeitel', Jo John as 'Hodel', Adi Topol-Margalith as 'Chava', Marsha Ward as 'Shprintze' and Alicia Davies as 'Bielke'. The cast also featured Margaret Robertson as the matchmaker 'Yente', Neil Rutherford as 'Motel', Peter Darling as 'Perchik', Kieran Creggan as 'Fyedka', David Bacon as 'Lazar Wolf', Karen Davies as 'Fruma-Sarah', Bruce Montague as 'Constable', Tim Flannigan as 'The Fiddler', Marsha Ward as 'Grandma Tzeitel', George Little as 'Mordcha' and Jon Rumney as 'Rabbi'.

Original directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins reproduced by Sammy Dallas Bayes with sets by Boris Aronson with costumes by Patricia Zipprodt and lighting by Nick Richings.

Adi Topol-Margalith, who played Tevye's daughter 'Chava' in this production, was Topol's real-life daughter.

"Compared to the other key sixties musical about political persecution - Cabaret - it lacks variety, depth and the ability constantly to renew itself. The irony is that, while the show is ostensibly about change, the audience goes to see a facsimile of the Robbins original here reproduced by Sammy Dallas Bayes. Even the great Topol, while he retains all of Tevye's twinkling humour, native cunning and liberal openness, seems to have settled into a comfortable routine. Is it my imagination or wasn't there once a little more anger in his complaint about divine injustice in If I Were A Rich Man? But he effortlessly dominates a show in which even actresses as fine as Sara Kestelman and Margaret Robertson are left struggling to build character - bricks without straw. In the end, this is popular museum-theatre." The Guardian

Topol first played the role of Tevye in London in 1967, repeated it in 1983, and now, at the age of 58, is assaying it for the third time... Topol's beard is whitening, his movements are slower, and his energy if not his big, booming voice is a little dimmed; but he is more plausible as a village patriarch, the father of several marriageable daughters, than in 1967, when he was a mere 32. He cuts a relaxed, charismatic figure, too, if at times a slightly ingratiating one... The presence of that fine, gritty actress, Sara Kestelman, as Tevye's wife does much to add astringency to the proceedings. And if the bust-up by Russians of the eldest daughter's wedding would be more robustly performed by three third-division football fans on a cold Monday night, the celebration itself is as captivating as ever. So is the dance. So are most of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's songs. On the whole, I enjoyed myself." The Times

"Fiddler on the Roof is a charmless and badly microphoned restaging of the original 1964 Jerome Robbins production, with Topol recycling his baritonal act of shimmying ingratiation as Tevye the milkman... The musical has not really dated, but the cheap-looking Jewish pantomime at the London Palladium certainly has. My sympathies to Sara Kestelman and Margaret Robertson, two favourite actresses, who border on adequacy as Tevye's wife and the insufferable matchmaker. The village butcher is played by an actor called David Bacon. So not even the casting's all kosher." The Observer

Fiddler On The Roof in London at the Palladium previewed from 17 June 1994, opened on 28 June 1994 and closed on 3 September 1994

3rd London West End Revival 2007

Previewed 19 May 2007, Opened 29 May 2007, Closed 16 February 2008 at the Savoy Theatre

A major revival of the classic musical Fiddler On The Roof in London starring Olivier Award winner Henry Goodman and directed by Lindsay Posner.

This new production of Fiddler On The Roof, one of the best-loved stage and screen musicals, comes to London for a limited season following a sell-out two month season last Christmas at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

The original cast featured Henry Goodman as the milkman 'Tevye' and Beverley Klein as his wife 'Golde' with their five daughters: Frances Thorburn as 'Tzeitel', Alexandra Silber as 'Hodel', Natasha Broomfield as 'Chava', Nicole Turner / Olivia Ravden / Kate Rawlings as 'Shprintze' and Jessica Hargreaves / Jessica Grant / Kirstey Hickey as 'Bielke'. The cast also featured Julie Legrand as the matchmaker 'Yente' and 'Grandma Tzeitel', Gareth Kennerley as 'Motel', Damian Humbley as 'Perchik', Michael Conway as 'Fyedka', Victor McGuire as 'Lazar Wolf', Juliet Alderdice as 'Fruma-Sarah', Steve Fortune as 'Constable', Adrien Mastrosimone as 'The Fiddler', Tomm Coles as 'Mordcha' and Vincent Pirillo as 'Rabbi'. The role of 'Golde' was played by Sue Kelvin from Friday 1 June through to Saturday 7 July 2007. The role of 'Motel' was played by Simon Delaney from Saturday 23 June 2007.

Directed by Lindsay Posner with choreography by Jerome Robbins, recreated by Sammy Dallas Bates, with additional choreography by Kate Flatt, designs by Peter McKintosh and lighting by Peter Mumford.

"When a trio of New York writers first proposed a musical about a Russian Jewish father marrying off his daughters against a background of Tsarist repression, the big noises of Broadway didn't want to know. Too ethnic, they complained meaning only Jews would come. Since then, Fiddler On The Roof has been produced in 75 countries and 50 languages. Lindsay Posner's thrilling, gut-wrenching revival will leave audiences in no doubt why. With Jerry Bock's staggeringly beautiful score based on traditional Jewish folk tunes, Sheldon Harnick's light-footed lyrics and a script by Joseph Stein, which takes us from wry Jewish comedy to the heartache of expulsion from the land, this is as good as musical theatre gets." The Daily Express

"There may be no bright colours in Lindsay Posner's new production of Fiddler on the Roof with its evocative, rackety set of planks and gantries, but the charaters are bursting with life... Henry Goodman gives 'Teyve' all the glorious eccentricities the lines demand. This is a comic tour de force. Yet there is more than comedy in Goodman's performance. He never lets the audience lose sight of the fact that Tevye is a poor man struggling through difficult conditions - balancing between laughter and tears, never failing into caricature or wallowing in tragedy." The Sunday Telegraph

"Lindsay Posner's triumphant Sheffield Crucible production of Fiddler On The Roof has been squished into the Savoy Theatre and has, paradoxically, expanded into a more intensely emotional show. A story of a father and his daughters, of matchmaking in a female-dominated household, it struck me that this is Pride And Prejudice set in a Jewish shtetl. A brilliant, beady-eyed Henry Goodman lives the part of Tevye, who keeps up a running commentary with God, whom he blames for everything - and who appears to be sitting in the upper circle. 'I know we are the chosen people,' he says, 'but once in a while, can't you choose someone else?' A great revival of one of the greatest musicals." The Mail on Sunday

Fiddler On The Roof in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 19 May 2007, opened on 29 May 2007 and closed on 16 February 2008