Yale Dramat puts on ‘Fiddler on the Roof’
Under director Drewe Goldstein, “Fiddler on the Roof” ran for a total of four shows.
Luciana Varkevisser, Contributing Photographer
The Yale Dramat’s fall mainstage production debuted a unique take on the Broadway classic “Fiddler on the Roof” from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18.
“Fiddler on the Roof” kicked off with a nearly full audience at the University Theatre. The production was chosen as the Dramat’s fall mainstage, which is typically a musical theater production — and this show was no exception. This version of the musical, directed by Drewe Goldstein and produced by Matthew Siff ’25, stands out from many previous renditions with unique choreography, set choices and performances.
“This is not your grandma’s Fiddler,” said musical director Isaac Yu ’24, who is also a former managing editor of the News. “We’ve worked so hard at telling Fiddler in a really interesting and innovative way, and I hope people see that and enjoy that aspect.”
“Fiddler on the Roof” tells the story of a man named Tevye, husband and father of five daughters. Tevye and his family live in a Shtetl, a small Jewish community, in imperial Russia during the early 1900s.
The production follows Tevye as he tries to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social morals.
“There are elements of the traditional staging,” said Mia Kohn ’27, who plays Tevye’s daughter Chava. “Our director Drewe was absolutely brilliant, and she has added layers to the story that just deepen the connection to the story that many people feel.”
The show took a few creative liberties on the classic Broadway rendition, including directorial changes and moments of audience interaction. Police officers never appear directly on stage, and their robotic vocals are accompanied by a bright spotlight from offstage. In this way, the lighting takes on a character of its own.
The stage consisted of two levels: a raised platform made of wooden planks, and the main stage.
The primary actions took place on the raised platform, but in this rendition the actors are on stage for the entire show, seated in rows of chairs on stage left. Because of their constant presence, they always remain in character.
Additionally, a partition was lifted to reveal the band at the beginning of Act 1, and they stayed visible to the audience and in relevant costumes throughout the remainder of the performance. These features, in addition to the main characters occasionally breaking the 4th wall — the protagonists would often talk directly to the audience members ta— added a unique meta element to the production.
Fiddler features some Broadway classic songs, such as “Tradition,” “If I were a Rich Man” and “Matchmaker.” As musical director, Yu was responsible for teaching the cast their harmonies and conducting the 16-piece orchestra.
Some songs featured complicated harmonies, which required all members of the ensemble to be skilled vocalists.
“Everybody in the ensemble is a fantastic singer, and they’re really carrying the show,” Yu said.
Along with intricate vocals, actors also had to be skilled dancers in order to execute the elaborate dance sequences, choreographed by Isabel Menon ’24. The dance sequences were energetic and sometimes solemn, and they were dispersed throughout the entire show, not just the big musical numbers.
The costumes, designed by Skyler Glaser and Daphne Raskin ’25, were also distinct for each character and accurate to the time period.
“I thought the costumes and set were good,” said audience member Bella Le ’27. “[They] created an atmosphere that invited the audience into the story’s universe.”
Through song, dance and dialogue, “Fiddler on the Roof” tells the story of the strength of family through thick and thin.
“I think the cast and the plot, honestly, do a really great job at establishing a sense of community,” Menon said. “I hope that the audience comes away from the show with a bit more togetherness.”
Jerry Bock – composer of Fiddler on the Roof – was born in New Haven.
Correction, Nov. 27: A previous version of this article spelled director Drewe Goldstein’s name incorrectly. The article has been updated with the correct spelling.