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PREVIEW: The Fiddler on the Roof National Tour (Orpheum/Hennepin Theatre Trust)

The cast of the Fiddler on the Roof national tour, which comes to the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis July 30-August 4. Photo by Joan Marcus.

How iconic is Fiddler on the Roof? So much that, reviewing its film adaptation, the New Yorker‘s notoriously picky Pauline Kael called it “the most powerful movie musical ever made.” The original stage musical may be 55 years old, but it’s still walking strong as it’s produced around the world.

With so much history, this tale of rural Jews grappling with modernity in early-20th-century Russia abounds with trivia. The music is by Jerry Bock, the lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and the book by Joseph Stein; after the Berlin Wall came down, it was one of the first Western musicals to be produced in East Germany. No fewer than five Broadway revivals have brought it back to the Great White Way, and international productions set a slew of records for longest running musical.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flatter, Fiddler on the Roof has that in spades. Songs like “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man” have received innumerable covers, by artists as diverse as Garth Brooks and Gwen Stefani. There are nods to the show in Spamalot and The Producers, and parodies in films like Mrs. Doubtfire and quotations in TV shows like Seinfeld. The musical is, in many ways, interwoven into the fabric of American culture – and plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis from July 30-August 4.

Here’s a glimpse of the upcoming show:

Fiddler has been done many ways. The present tour strips away many layers added over the years, going back (so to speak) to tradition in a vibrant and powerful way. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Tradition is sometimes like feeling that your ancestors are peering over your shoulder – good and bad. L-R: Carolyn Keller, Michael Hegarty, Maite Uzal. Yehezkel Lazarov. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Olivia Gjurich, Yehezkel Lazarov, and the cast of Fiddler on the Roof in the musical’s infamous scene “Tevye’s Dream”. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Twin Cities Arts Reader