with music by Jerry Bock
by Sheldon Harnick
, and book by Joseph Stein
, set in Tsarist
in 1905. It is based on Tevye and his Daughters (or Tevye the Milkman and Other Tales) by Sholem Aleichem. The story centers on Tevye
, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. He must cope with both the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters—each one's choice of husband moves further away from the customs of his faith—and with the edict of the Tsar
that evicts the Jews from their village.
The original Broadway
production of the show, which opened in 1964, had the first musical theatre run in history to surpass 3,000 performances.
[Opening lines] A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay here if it's so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!
Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!
[to God] Sometimes I wonder, when it gets too quiet up there, if You are thinking, "What kind of mischief can I play on My friend Tevye?"
[to God] It may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. After all, with Your help, I'm starving to death.
[to God] Oh, dear Lord. You made many many poor people. I realize, of course, it's no shame to be poor... but it's no great honor either. So what would be so terrible... if I had a small fortune?
As the Good Book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face.
[to God] I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?
[to Chava] As the Good Book says "Each shall seek his own kind". In other words, a bird may love a fish... but where would they build a home together?
When I get angry, even flies don't dare to fly!