Fiddler on the Roof

Original Broadway Production (1964)

Trivia & History

On opening night (Sept. 22, 1964), the ensemble members were not listed with specific characters but simply as "Villagers." By December 1965, every member of the cast was listed by a character name (with an occupation included for all the male Jewish characters but not for the women or the Russian men). We have included the character names based on what is in a December 1965 playbill, with a little help from Richard Altman's book The Making of a Musical: Fiddler on the Roof, to confirm that Sandra Kazan, who had already left the cast by December 1965, had been given the character name Fredel. 

The role played by Robert Currie (aka Bob Currie), Ilyitch, seems to have been eliminated from the production when he departed the show by some time in January 1965. 

For the performance on Wednesday evening, July 21, 1971, at which the production became the longest-running musical in Broadway (surpassing Hello, Dolly!), audience members recieved a strange nylon scarf-poster-broadsheet hybrid that listed the complete cast as well as credits for the performance.

At the end of the performance, Mayor John Lindsay walked onstage to take part in the celebration, wearing a blue suit and a red, white and blue striped tie, and said, "After my term expires in 1974, I'm going to play Tevye. If Pearl Bailey could do it for 'Hello, Dolly!' I can do it for 'Fiddler.'" (From the account in the New York Times on July 22, 1971.)

There was also a block party after the show.

At the evening performance on Saturday, June 17, 1972, following the matinee normally played on Sundays, the production surpassed Life With Father to become the longest-running show, play or musical, in Broadway history.

The "Bottle Dance," although certainly in the show on opening night, was not listed in the list of musical numbers in playbills at the start of the run. By December 1964, at the latest, it had been added. For the sake of accuracy and completeness, we include it in our list of musical numbers.

There was a newspaper strike during the pre-Broadway run in Detroit. The production ran ads in the New York Times for the Detroit run while it was going on, presumably on the assumption that a sufficient number of Detroit-area residents either regularly readers of the Times or would be reading it while the strike was on.

Some online sources incorrectly state that there were seven public previews on Broadway, but there were five. Previews started on Thursday, September 17, 1964, and the show opened five days later, on September 22, 1964. After an invited dress rehearsal on the afternoon of September 17, there were public previews on Thursday evening, Friday evening, matinee and evening previews on Saturday, and an evening preview on Monday, September 21.

Robert Berdeen played the role of Fyedka when the production opened its pre-Broadway tryout in Detroit. By the opening in Washington, D.C., the second of the two tryout cities, he had been replaced by Joe Ponazecki. But he remained in the company as one of the Villagers and as the Fyedka understudy. In August 1966, he played the role for at least a week or two, perhaps while the current regular Fyedka, Ken Kercheval, was on vacation. He may have played it temporarily at other times during the run.

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