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Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013

Broadway’s Wonder of Wonders

Author looks into the worldwide success of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

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In the hugely popular musical Fiddler on the Roof, the fiddler himself is a metaphor for survival in a life of uncertainty and imbalance. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish traditions while outside influences challenge their lives. 

The original Broadway production of the show opened in 1964 and Fiddler on the Roof has remained one of Broadway’s longest-running shows. Now award-winning theater critic Alisa Solomon has a new book that investigates the cultural history of the production and why it became such a touchstone not only in America or in Jewish society, but the world over. Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof takes a historical look at a memorable piece of theatrical art and traces the transformation of Fiddler into a cultural phenomenon with an astonishing global impact. This book is an exhaustive history of Fiddler on the Roof and examines the story of Tevye, Anatevka and the central family through an engaging and enlightening narrative.

The author’s extensive research on the subject brings the production to life in a new light as it uncovers the story’s origins in a series of Yiddish short stories written in the late-19th century. Old and new fans of Fiddler will find this an intriguing look into one of America’s favorite plays.

Solomon currently teaches at Columbia University.  She worked as a theater critic for the Village Voice from 1983-2004, and she has also been a contributor to The New York Times, The Nation and other publications. She will speak at Boswell Book Co. at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, in an event co-sponsored by the Sam & Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies at UW-Milwaukee.

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