Fiddler on the Roof | Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Fiddler on the Roof The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 28 2009

"Tradition," indeed. The storied, 45-year-old musical that begins with a paean to sacred old habits is itself a tradition by now. And like any tradition, it can be compelling or hollow--or both. Jerry Bock's music, Sheldon Harnick's lyrics, and Joseph Stein's book present a seder-worthy epic of oppression, dissolution, dispersion, and endurance, made all the more poignant by the fact that its hero isn't a prince of Egypt but a poor rural dairyman living in the Tsar's Pale of Settlement at the dawn of the 20th century. Stalin, Hitler, American prosperity, and Israeli independence are all ahead of him. But too much of this touring production has the feel of a ritual gone stale. Scenes are punctuated with empty gestures, like prayers spoken in a forgotten language; Topol--giving his "farewell" performance--offers a self-contained, languid Tevye who's nothing more than henpecked (Susan Cella's charmless turn as Golde leaves no ambiguity on that score). This tradition is due for shaking up. --Tony Adler

Price: $25-$80

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