Review: Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, at Stage 42
How do you take a show that has a storied history of productions on Broadway and across the country and bring it back to the New York stage with new life? Well, if it's Fiddler on the Roof, you translate the show into Yiddish. After selling out its previous engagement downtown and extending multiple times, Fiddler in Yiddish has found its way uptown to Stage 42, where it is bursting with life, joy, sadness, and an authenticity that is no doubt brought about by hearing it sung and spoken in the historical language.
And it certainly helps to have a great Tevye (Stephen Skybell), who is navigating life with his wife and five daughters while constantly conversing with either himself of God, as the events unfold. And while Skybell's performance becomes the centermost point that this production revolves around, there is something that is both unique and haunting about hearing these characters speak in the language they would have used in Anatevke. The language is the gem of this production, complemented by each of the actors, the direction of Joel Grey that not only nods to the original but notes the relevance of the production today, and the simplistic yet effective set design from Beowulf Boritt.
Through the show we watch Tevye's daughters Tsaytl (Rachel Zatcoff), Hodl (Stephanie Lynne Mason), Khave (Rosie Jo Neddy), Shprintze (Raquel Nobile), and Beylke (Samantha Hahn) grow up and begin to make their own decisions, all through the eyes of Tevye, grounding the show in the emotions that are even more prevalent, powerful, and authentic in Yiddish as every single actor onstage gives performances that feel grounded in their world, though the issues they face are still relevant today.