The beloved classic Fiddler on the Roof comes to Philadelphia for the first time in decades For the leading man, portraying Tevye in the Broadway Tour of Fiddler on the Roof is a true family affair, both on and off the stage.
Yehezkel Lazarov, a distinguished Israeli actor, director, and multidisciplinary artist, is portraying Tevye the Dairyman, who cares for his wife and five daughters in the remote Russian village of Anatevka, and knows this is the role of a lifetime.
While touring the nation, he is accompanied by his wife and three daughters, and Lazarov, an award-winning actor and director, wouldn’t have it any other way.
The much-anticipated Fiddler on the Roof dances its way into the Philadelphia’s Academy of Music from Tuesday, Oct. 23 through Sunday, Oct. 28. It is the launch of the national tour, and marks the first time this beloved classic musical will play the Academy of Music in almost three decades!
The original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, which opened in 1964, was the first musical in history to surpass 3,000 performances. This acclaimed revival proudly introduces a new generation to the iconic musical adored across the globe.
Directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher, features choreography by the acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, the national tour will certainly delight audiences from Philadelphia and Buffalo to Texas and Los Angeles and everywhere in between. The show has lyrics by original lyricist Sheldon Harnick, who talks like a proud papa about his timeless show, which has won 10 Tony Awards, including best musical in 1965. Fiddler was inspired by the stories of Sholom Aleichem, a gifted Yiddish writer, and storyteller.
“The wide appeal shouldn’t have surprised us,” Harnick says, “because the show is about family and about young people breaking away from the traditions and values of their parents.”
Harnick added that the universal themes are what makes Fiddler a classic. “This is something universal because parents around the world find it very difficult when their children find new values and abandon the ones they were brought up to believe.”
“What a thrill it is to return one of the most classic Broadway musicals of all time to Philadelphia,” said Ed Cambron, executive vice president of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. “With a brand new touring cast, audiences will again fall in love with this wonderful musical score and the rich ‘tradition’ that Fiddler brings to the stage.”
Fiddler on the Roof is the heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and life, love, and laughter. This classic musical is rich with Broadway hits, including If I Were A Rich Man, Sunrise Sunset, Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Far From the Home I Love, To Life (L’Chaim!), and Tradition. Portraying Tevye is a great honor for Lazarov, who graduated from Thelma Yellin Art School as a dancer. While serving as a singer in a military band he joined the Bat Sheva Dance Company for four years.
Among his leading roles is Mack the Knife in The Threepenny Opera (winning the Theatre Award for best actor), Lisander in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Avigdor in Yentel, Alexander Pen in Was It a Dream? (nominated for best actor), Rudi in The Aristocrats (nominated for best actor), Stempenyu in Stempenyu (by Shalom Aleichem), Dorian Gray in The Picture of Dorian Gray (dir. Yehezkel Lazarov), and most recently played Zach in A Chorus Line.
As well as his acting roles Lazarov served as the in-house choreographer at the Gesher and Cameri Theatre. Lazarov has played leading roles in more than 40 films and television productions, such as the Russian version of The Mentalist (Russian version), Mama’s Angel (Series Mania – Official Competition, France), The Kindergarten Teacher (original Israeli version, Cannes 2014), Fragile, Mata Hari (Russia), The Fifth Heaven, Waltz with Bashir (winning Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film), The Debt (original Israeli version), Three Mothers, A Touch Away (winning best TV series), The Dybbuk (nominated for best actor), and many more. As a theatre director, Lazarov is the adaptor, set designer & choreographer of all his works, including Lolita / Joan of Arc, Fathers & Sons, Alice, Falling Out of Time (based on a David Grossman novel) at Gesher Theater, The Picture of Dorian Gray at the national theatre Habima, Igloo (written by Lazarov) premiered at the Israel Festival (winning best director award).
Lazarov is the Artistic director and co-founder of Studio Ankori Middle and High School for creative thinking and entrepreneurship. Initiator, artistic director & curator of AZA13, a new art venue in Tel Aviv.
Among his multidisciplinary exhibitions are Hope, Censorship, Demonstration, The Art to Survive. As a visual artist, Lazarov has shown photography and video-art works in several gallery exhibitions. He has written and directed a few short films, Snow, Lashabiya and No Lifeguard, which have been screened in many international film festivals.
What do you love about your character of Tevye in Fiddler?
Yehezkel Lazarov: That’s a good question because there are so many things I love about him. He is a perfect character who is perfectly written. I relate to his caring nature. On one hand, he is a leader, and on the other hand, he is a milkman. So he leads by being the one who connects the people in his village together.
How do you see this time-honored story?
YL: It is a classic comic-tragedy. With the first husband for his eldest daughter, the tailor Motel, he is poor and holds up a mirror to Tevye’s own situation. For the second husband, Perchik, it was Tevye who brought him to their home and he takes the second daughter, outside the country to Siberia. With the third daughter, he brought those tragic moments in the play upon himself. It is an amazing and beautiful story. You see his dilemma every day in the things you do as a father to influence our children, and how much we influence them just by being ourselves.
Please tell me more.
YL: I am taken by the way Tevye talks to God – it’s beyond religious what he is doing in the play. Being friends with God. Having this intimate relationship with God. From loving him blindly and learning slowly that this friend can do bad things to him. And complaining but saying ‘I’m not really complaining.’ There is a great deal of psychology and complexity in this relationship. Tell me about your family life?
YL: I have been married to my lovely wife, Ali, for 17 years and we have three daughters: ages 7, 11, and 14, and they are on this tour with me.
Are your daughters doing their schoolwork on the road?
YL: Yes, my wife is working with them. We have all of their books and lessons.
Do you want your daughters to follow in your performing footsteps when they are choosing their life path?
YL: It’s really not in our control. Whether I want or not is not the question.
I am trying not to ask myself questions like that. I don’t think having expectations for your family or your children is the right thing to do. A lot of people live through expectations of family and find themselves not doing what they want to do in their lives.
So, what are passionate about when you are not performing on stage or screen?
YL: Five years ago I started a high school in Israel called Studio Ankori and that’s the reason I did that. It is an interdisciplinary school that offers literature, math, English, theater, arts, dance, music and film. I’m an interdisciplinary artist and raising my kids and the students in that vain. I truly believe in not expecting anything. The rest of the high schools are regular and this school is for creativity and thinking.
Why do you feel strongly about this?
YL: My parents were expecting something else and I had to fight to become an actor and a dancer. Of course, they let me do that and were supportive, but when I was eight years old being a dancer was not common. Being an actor was a curse when I was young – and people would ask, ‘what are you a bohemian? It’s not something I can control and my parents couldn’t control it. Not having expectations is a better course of action. My oldest daughter is studying at my school and she loves not having to choose which path she wants right now. I believe in giving them the knowledge and they will choose their path. Why should people come to see this production of Fiddler if they have never seen it before?
YL: It’s an iconic classical beautifully written play. Perfectly written play. Why go see the Mona Lisa or a painting by Van Gough. Some things are so perfectly written and this is one of them. The lyrics, music, words, and humor are so perfect. It has been painted perfectly. This is a show that everyone has to see because it became part of our classical culture. It’s about talking in your own dialect with God and each one of his has his or her own dialogue of what we are expecting of life and how it actually turns out, so everyone can relate to.
Please tell me more.
YL: The show has something really relevant about a group of people who have to leave their home. They grew up in this place and have all of these memories and they have to go somewhere else because of politics because someone decided they should go. It is touching and heartfelt. Fiddler in the Roof reminds us that we are talking about human beings with fears, happiness, sadness, and families.
When I spoke to lyricist Sheldon Harnick about the Broadway production of Fiddler he told me that parents and children around the world – in such told diverse places as Japan, Israel, India, and Finland – say they see their own family’s reflected in this story.
YL: I am not surprised. The family theme is the main layer of the play. The bonding. First, it’s about relationships, family, community and then it’s the whole immigrant story. It goes in that order and is perfectly written for this points. What does it mean to you being on the tour with your family and how does this inform your performance as Tevye?
YL: This show is about the most intimate of emotions; the feelings you have for each other as a family. That aspect of a character who cares about everything, as a father it is as if I am coming from to this role.
When were you first introduced to the movie or the musical of Fiddler?
YL: Its part of our Jewish culture. The author of the original stories is Shalom Aleichem and I directed these stories a few years ago in Israel. I played the violin player. I saw Fiddler seen as a kid and I also heard the music at a young age. When you don’t you have money in your pocket people say. If I were a Rothchild, which is the Hebrew translation of If I Were a Rich Man. Tickets: Tickets can be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center Box Office.