Relive the Tradition

(Spoiler Alert!)

By Tara Higgins

Sorry, but you had to have seen that one coming. Legend’s musical production of the acclaimed Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof” is all about traditions, and what it takes to break them. Plus, if you go to see it, I guarantee you will have the show’s opening song “Tradition” stuck in your head for the remainder of the day. By the way, if you haven’t seen the show yet, I’m about to spoil everything, so fair warning.

The story follows a poor milkman named Tevye, who has five daughters, all of whom are more concerned with marrying the men they love rather than the men the town matchmaker would traditionally choose for them. Sure it’s convenient to marry for money, but eldest daughter Tzeitel has chosen to start a dangerous new trend. She blatantly refuses to marry Lazar Wolf, who has already asked for her hand, and instead begs Tevye to let her marry Motel, the poor tailor who is dutifully working to save up for a new sewing machine. As much as it pains him, Tevye relents (with much dream manipulation on his part; he has some pretty creative ways of informing his wife Golde that their daughter will be not be marrying the rich Lazar).

Meanwhile, Tevye’s second oldest daughter Hodel has fallen for her teacher, Perchik, the stranger who arrived in town and has been attempting to convince the people that times are changing and they should embrace it. Unfortunately, he’s run into plenty of people like Tevye, who are still stuck living out the tradition. Now, Perchik openly admits he will soon be returning to Kiev, where he will be playing a part in the Revolution, but before he goes he wants to secure Hodel’s hand in marriage. Before he does that, though, he wants to flaunt tradition one last time, and speaks with Tevye on the matter only to inform Hodel’s father that the couple has already decided to marry; they just want to go along with the whole tradition thing and ask for Tevye’s blessing, although they make it perfectly clear they don’t care whether he gives his permission.

This whole loving the person you’re married to theory is new to Tevye, who returns home to Golde confused, asking whether she really loves him. Through song, she repeatedly asks him why, after 25 years, love matters. Tevye is persistent, though, and they eventually realize that although their marriage was an arranged one, they really have learned to love each other. It’s a happily ever after for the pair: they’re in love, two of their daughters are in love, Motel has finally purchased his new sewing machine, and Tzeitel has had a baby. Life is good, just not for long.

Perchik has been arrested and sent to Siberia, so Hodel is on her way to follow him and wait for him to be released. A third daughter, Chava, finally asks Tevye to accept her marriage to Fyedka, but marrying outside of the Jewish faith is something he realizes he simply cannot allow. Apparently, love only matters so much. Although he forbids Chava to ever speak to Fyedka again, she defies his orders and elopes with him, so Tevye gives up on her and denies her existence, declaring her dead to the family.

It doesn’t exactly help that the Constable shows up soon afterwards and promptly kicks all of the Jews out of their homes and out of Anatevka – in three days time to be exact. Nobody is very happy about this, but everyone is determined to find a place where they can be wanted. Chava and Fyedka are off to Krakow, and Tevye relentingly hopes they will be well, Motel and Tzeitel will soon join them all in America once they have enough money, and Tevye, Golde, and their two youngest daughters all head out for new beginnings. The fiddler on the roof follows them offstage.

With plenty of song, lively dancing, and really spectacular fiddling, “Fiddler on the Roof” is a must-see. The show runs long, but is well worth it in the end. And, be sure to look out for our good friend and fellow newspaper-staffer John Pacheco, the show’s ever-faithful rabbi (look for the tall dude in the gray beard and hat). Here’s a hint: he’s the one who pops up behind Golde’s bed in the dream scene.

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