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Tradition! The word itself is synonymous with this most classic of American musicals, set in the tiny shtetl of Anatevka. People all over the world continue to find universal truths in the story of Tevye and his headstrong, tradition-bucking daughters (just Google “Fiddler on the Roof, Japan”). Now Olney Theatre creates a rich and re-imagined Fiddler for a new generation to embrace through unforgettable songs like “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Like Tevye himself, this Fiddler knows the power of its traditional highlights, but like his daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava – it also may surprise you with new ways of carrying forward its spirit.

What do you mean, re-imagined?

Director Peter Flynn’s staging begins after Fiddler’s narrative ends, in a timeless version of the immigration center where the Jews of Anatevka hope to land. Tevye has arrived with his wife and two youngest daughters, eager to regain a sense of community by sharing the story of his family’s displacement and its struggles between tradition and progress. So, he enlists others who want to immigrate to America – and who have likely also been displaced, as he has – in telling his story and creating (metaphorically) the American community he hopes to join. Those whom he enlists will be the ensemble members representing the many different ethnic and religious backgrounds found in the Olney Theatre community, one of the most diverse in America.

Without changing a word or note of this beautiful musical, Peter Flynn’s staging celebrates that most typical Jewish-American journey and links that journey with an American immigrant story that continues today. His idea perfectly reflects the changing mission of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS): We used to aid refugees because they were Jews. Now we aid refugees because we are Jews. As Cantor Stephanie Weishaar said to me when I told her about our plans, ‘the enduring power of Fiddler is that for every culture, in every part of the world, they see THEIR story in Fiddler.’” 

Jason Loewith, Artistic Director

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