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Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish

  • Broadcast in Travel



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A Fiddler on the Roof. Sounds meshuga, no?  National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is presenting a fresh Yiddish version of one of the most famous Broadway shows with both Yiddish and Russian translations at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  This is the first time that this production has been staged in the US and who more perfect to direct it than Joel Grey. The title of the production appears as “Fidler Afn Dakhwas.”

“Fidler Afn Dakhwas first performed in Israel in 1965. This production marks the premiere in the United States. The translation directly quotes Sholom Aleichem’s original stories of “Tevye the Dairy Man”’ most notably during Tevye’s quotations (and misquotations) of the scriptures. Occasionally you will note slight departures from the familiar words of the English language text. Translating is an art form in and of itself. In order to match Harnick’s brilliant rhyme scheme, the meter of Jerry Bock’s unforgettable tunes and Joseph Stein’s rich idioms, Friedman sometimes needed to alter the literal meaning of a line, in order to preserve the emotional spirit.”

Translations in both Yiddish and Russian appeared on the left and right sides at the top of the stage.  Each of the musical numbers gives the title in Yiddish along with the English title in parenthesis.  In case you never saw the production or movie, the play is set in Russia, 1905 and based on tales from the author Sholem Aleichhem. 

Not all of the actors are members of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and very few actually speak Yiddish.  Jennifer Babiak portrays Golda, the matriarch of the family.  She will be my guest on this show.