Most folks know the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” thanks to songs like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Tradition.”
It’s a lovely part of one of our own family traditions — enjoying touring Broadway productions, and other performing arts fare, at ASU Gammage in Tempe.
Often I take in shows with just my 17-year-old daughter, Lizabeth, herself a bit of a fiddler after a decade or so of violin study. She’s the family musical theater expert — and eagerly awaiting letters from the colleges where she recently completed B.F.A. auditions.
But seeing “Fiddler” at ASU Gammage — like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” — has been a family affair.
The musical has plenty of elements that appeal to children — the rooftop fiddler, the sibling spats, the grandma “dream sequence,” the lively songs and dance sequences.
I first saw the show while parenting three young children, but this time around I’ll have the perspective of a mom with three grown children grappling with many of the issues treated in the show.
The longing to belong. The urge to break away. The pull of duty. The push of desire. The traditions shared by generations. The new paths forged by youth. The interplay of the personal with the political.
I confess to forging my own path with the song “If I Were a Rich Man” several years ago while performing with fellow parents at a talent show.
Thankfully, “If I Were Miss Sue” made its debut before the advent of YouTube and viral videos. Seems to me I did something similar with “Memory” (from the musical “Cats”) one year during a parent talent show at my children’s elementary school.
My favorite audio of the “Fiddler” variety is a recent interview with Harvey Fierstein that Lizabeth and I heard in the car one day — where we often listen to the SIRIUS XM “On Broadway” channel.
Fierstein has performed the lead role of Tevye (the father and milkman in this tale inspired by the stories of Sholom Aleichem), and eloquently shares the impact the show had on him as a young Jewish boy.
My “kids” may roll their eyes when the “Fiddler” song “Sunrise, Sunset” comes through the car radio speakers. But I know that one day, they’ll appreciate the lyrics to this and other “Fiddler” songs that capture the currents of change in family life and the world beyond.
Coming up: More musical theater with a family-friendly feel, Valley students present a series of one-act plays