'Fiddler on the Roof' full of heart-warming music and meaning

“Fiddler on the Roof” opened at ASU Gammage on Tuesday, retelling the classic story of a Jewish family from a little Russian village that shakes up the town by pushing tradition beyond its boundaries.

John Preece continues his run with “Fiddler on the Roof” in this production as Tevye, the leading man and father of five daughters that cause him and the town a bit of grief.

From the second song of the show, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” Tevye’s eldest daughter proves that she thinks outside the box of her town's tradition. She pleads with her father to marry the man she loves instead of the rich butcher, the sensible butcher.

The role of the fathers in the town is to be the ruling voice of the house and provide husbands for their daughters. The mothers take care of the house and the children. The sons learn how to be men, and the daughters learn how to one day take care of their own family and do whatever they are told.

Preece delivers an excellent performance as Tevye as his gestures and personality are as big as the theater. This is Preece's ninth national tour of the show. He has been in more than 3,000 performances of it, and he has played Tevye in over 1,500 of those performances. To say he is a pro would be an understatement.

The scene where Tzeitel asks Tevye to allow her to marry the man she loves begins the string of crucial moments throughout the musical where Tevye is faced with important decisions.

Quite appropriately, the show opens with a man sitting on a rooftop, playing the fiddle. Every time Tevye is faced with a barrier in the musical, the fiddler shows up again. At the beginning of the show, Tevye tells the audience that every single person in the village “is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck.” The consistency of that symbolism is intriguing and takes the show beyond a piece of art for entertainment purposes to a show that reaches peoples' psyches on a deeper level.

Another remarkable thing about the show is how culture is displayed. From the costumes to the choreography and the character names to the songs, the entire show keeps Jewish tradition alive.

For audience members who are not Jewish, like myself, it’s interesting to learn about a specific culture from such a beloved show. In particular, the song “Sabbath Prayer” is as beautiful to watch as the wedding scene is fascinating. The entire show is pleasing for the whole family.

Tickets can be purchased online at asugammage.com, over the phone by calling 1-800-982-ARTS (2787) or in person by visiting the ASU Gammage box office.

Reach the reporter at mmattox@asu.edu


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