The days of the faithful milkman delivering bottles of fresh dairy products to your door personally is a tradition that has stopped long ago. But that custom is about to be renewed, for a few days at least, when that philosophical and wise but humble man, Tevye, comes to town. Tevye will be pulling his wooden wagon, since his horse is lame, plodding along in his native village of Anatevka, in Czarist Russia, as he has been doing religiously since 1964 when “Fiddler on the Roof” first opened its magical, musical doors.
Until Sunday, April 15, you can visit with Tevye, a magnificent John Preece,and his extended family, at Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, in the shtehl community where they have lived in peace and harmony for centuries until the outside world intrudes. Tevye is a likeable fellow who carries on conversations with God, would love to be rich enough so he could study Torah all day and only wants his wife Golde and his five daughters to be happy and blessed with good health.
In his way, Tevye is a proud papa who desires his daughters to find proper suitors and a good match. Employing a matchmaker in the village, Yente, is the accepted method of arranging marriages, but he soon learns that times are changing and he, as a tree of strength, must learn to bend and be flexible to accommodate the new ways.
When his sweet Tzeitel chooses for herself to wed the poor tailor Motel, instead of the wealthy widower Lazar Wolf the butcher, Tevye bends to the winds of change. But Tevye will be tested many more times in ways that he could never have anticipated as the Jews feel the harsh hands of the Czar slowly tightening around their necks.
These stories of Sholom Aleichem have been woven by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein into a multiple Tony Award-winning musical, bursting with such glorious tunes as “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Tradition,” “To Life” “Miracle of Miracles” and “Now I Have Everything.” The peace of the 1905 village is disturbed, when the Czar decides to evict the Jews and force them to flee, causing the precarious musician, a fiddler perched on the thatched roof, to lose his balance.
For tickets ($17-72), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are tonight at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Don’t let another “Sunrise, Sunset” go by, without experiencing the joy and tears of Tevye’s family as they count their blessings, celebrate their traditions and learn to change in a world that is shaking them from their slippery rooftop perch.