The musical “Fiddler on the Roof” debuted on Broadway in 1964. The show continues to find audiences because it tells a story of family and culture appealing to different audiences.
It is also one of a few musicals out there focusing on Jewish characters and culture. The national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” will visit ASU Gammage from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2. It follows Tevye, a dairyman in Imperial Russia with five daughters who is trying to maintain his cultural and religious values despite outside influences.
His three oldest daughters Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava are also caught between their desire to follow their father’s wishes and marry for love.
The family must find a way to reconcile this conflict as they also face anti-Semitism and eviction from their village in Czarist Russia.
Created by Jerome Robbins, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein, the musical won nine Tony Awards in 1964, and was made into an award-winning film in 1971.
The show features iconic songs such as “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man.”
On the national tour, actress Ruthy Froch plays Hodel, Tevye’s second-oldest daughter.
This is her first national tour, but the actress has also been in a regional production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” and the John Travolta film “Gotti.” “Fiddler on the Roof” was very important to her father, who introduced her to the show.
“It was something we shared together,” Froch said. “I think that is what made it so special, his excitement over showing me ‘Fiddler.’ He plays the piano, so he would sit down at the piano and play the music to ‘Fiddler.’ Of course, connecting to his Jewish roots makes him very happy, and watching him do that only brought out my joy in it.”
In the show, her character Hodel seeks to defy tradition by getting just her father’s blessing instead of his permission to marry a radical named Perchik, the man she loves.
When Froch first saw “Fiddler on the Roof,” she identified with Hodel’s intelligence and wit.
“She is searching to find where she belongs in this town, a place where women don’t really have control and don’t have much power. As a very powerful young woman internally, whether she externalizes that and gets punished for it or acts out in her own way, she is very strong,” Froch said.
Her character strives to find her own way in the family as the middle child. All of the sisters go through their own journeys in defining their own lives.
“Between Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, you are watching three young women realize what they want, how to get what they want and standing up for themselves and realizing the power of their voices. Especially today and especially for young women, to watch somebody do that live and in front of you is palpable and exciting,” Froch said.
The cast performs an updated version of “Fiddler on the Roof,” created for the 2015 Broadway revival. This version contains new choreography from Hofesh Shechter.
Like many of her castmates and audience members, Froch has a long history with the show. When she was in high school, she played the role of Tzeitel.
Froch said when watching the show as adults, audience members often see “Fiddler” in a whole new way. This is especially true during moments when Jewish people are discriminated against by those in power.
“As a high schooler, you can understand it, but it’s so much deeper in our adult lives, especially with the way that our world is,” Froch said.