5 facts about Fiddler on the Roof you probably didn't know
No one could have predicted that a musical based on Yiddish fables would become such a cult phenomenon, yet Fiddler on the Roof continues to remain a staple on both sides of the Atlantic. Having first premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre back in 1964, the stage musical is now nearly 55 years old, and its current run at London's Playhouse Theatre marks the show's fourth West End revival. With its astonishing longevity and unwavering popularity, Fiddler on the Roof has unsurprisingly racked up a load of fun trivia to keep theatre buffs occupied.
🎻 Read our list for the top five fun facts about Fiddler on the Roof below!
5 facts you probably didn't know about Fiddler on the Roof
1. Fiddler on the Roof was almost called The Old Country and Where Papa Came From. Both titles were rejected and the musical's current title as we know it is believed to have been derived from a 1912-1913 oil painting by French-Russian painter, Marc Chagall. Aptly titled The Fiddler and painted in a semi-cubist style, the artwork depicts a violinist with a green face fiddling with his instrument on a rooftop in Vitebsk, Belarus. The painting incorporates elements of Judaism and Christianity and hints at Chagall's upbringing in the Hasidic Jewish community where dance and music is meant to inspire one's faithful devotion.
2. The original Broadway production yielded a profit of more than 352 per cent with 900 sell-out performances. Eventually becoming the first Broadway musical to hit more than 3,000 performances, Fiddler on the Roof was undeniably a surprise hit considering the show's troubled production history. Many producers rejected the script citing a story focused on a Jewish family in Czarist Russia as risky and not very profitable. They couldn't have been more wrong.
3. Fiddler on the Roof was a big hit in Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun is probably one of the last places you'd expect a Jewish-Czarist-Russian musical to be a huge sensation. Yet Joseph Stein, the man who wrote the book for Fiddler, was once approached by a Japanese producer who asked whether Americans even understood the story because it was "so Japanese". Since 1967, the American musical has enjoyed a number of revivals in Tokyo and across Japan.
4. The beloved "Bottle Dance" is an invention by the show's original director and choreographer, Jerome Robbins, and not a traditional Jewish folk dance. Robbins did field research in order to concoct the famous Fiddler scene. He allegedly got the idea for the dance from either an Orthodox Jewish festival or wedding in which a man was observed to have shimmied around with a bottle on his head to entertain the crowd. Robbins took that image back with him to the production studio and began fleshing out an entire routine around the motif. What resulted was an all-out show-stopping hit that continues to stun and amaze to this day.
5. Fiddler lyricist Sheldon Harnick adapted "Sunrise, Sunset" for gay wedding ceremonies. It's no secret that "Sunrise, Sunset" remains as much of a wedding staple as Richard Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" ("Here Comes the Bride") from his Lohengrin opera. The popular Fiddler number was even heard in Sex and the City 2 when gay icon Liza Minnelli officiated "brooms" Stanford and Anthony's wedding. Now "Sunrise, Sunset" has been officially rewritten with versions suitable for both gay and lesbian couples.
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