On this day in 1964, the stage musical Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway, beginning a remarkable run of 3,242 performances.
Based on the bittersweet tale by writer Sholom Aleichem (1859-1916), the musical revolves around the life of Tevye the Milkman, a Jewish peasant in pre-Revolutionary Russia.
Set in the small village of Anatevka, the characters--including Tevye, his wife, Golde, and their five daughters--charmed audiences with their celebration of language, culture, and humanity.
“The World is a terrible place, and if you ask about my good nature, my humor, that is the reason. To spite Them, you won’t see me cry. To spite Them, there is going to be laughter," Aleichem once said.
The play is rich with humor and "laughter through tears." Tevye's eloquent, frequent conversations with God vibrate at the heart of the dialogue and character development. One philosophical gem has Tevye asking God: "I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?"
With poignant lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the Jerry Bock soundtrack included such classics as If I Were a Rich Man, Sunrise Sunset, Matchmaker, and Tradition.
With a title inspired by a Marc Chagall painting, Fiddler on the Roof remains as relevant and universally appealing today as it was 40 years ago. The Fiddler metaphor is shared by all of us as we celebrate life while balancing life's challenges.
A loving heart is the truest wisdom.