‘Fiddler on the roof’ is a musical play whose central character is a philosophical Jewish milkman living in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century where, according to him, life is as hazardous as the perch of a fiddler on a roof. This dairyman, Tevye, allege in the play that everyone in the village has a traditional role to play. In his view, if people were to play their respective roles without interfering with each other, the tradition would keep their lives naturally balanced, and problems in the society would be non-existent (DiMare 174).
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This musical play is authored by ‘Tony Award’ winner, Joseph Stein, from a collection of Yiddish short stories by Sholem Aleichem about a traditional Jewish milkman and his family who are faced by alarming changes occurring in their small Russian village (Gates, para 3). In this play, themes of change such as marrying out of love instead of money, feminism, intermarriage across different faiths and races have been featured. The play, ‘Fiddler on the roof,’ not only talks about a break with traditions faced by a conservative Jewish in a new environment, but also addresses the 1970s American audiences who witnessed the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s (DiMare 174).
In this play, Stein adopted songs and poetry as his musical styles. In this regard, he features timeless American songs like ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ and ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ to bring home his message. Additionally, the dialogue employed by Stein in this play is poetic in nature. For example, this milkman says to God—‘I realize, of course, that it is no shame to be poor, but it is no great honor either’. History, comedy, and drama can be used to describe the genre of this play (Gates, para 2).