Fiddler on the Roof is a well-known musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. Originally entitled Tevye, the musical is based on Tevye and his Daughters, or Tevye the Milkman, and other stories originally published by the Russian Jewish author Sholom Aleichem in 1894. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and religious traditions while the world and civilization around him change rapidly. He must cope with both the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters — each daughter's choice of husband moves progressively further and further away from established custom, and with the edict of the Tsar that upends his village.
The original Broadway production of the show, in 1964, was the first Broadway musical to surpass the 3,000 performance mark, and it held the record for longest-running Broadway musical in history for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run. The production earned $1,574 for every dollar invested in it. The show was nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning nine, including Best Musical, score, book, direction and choreography. It spawned four Broadway revivals, a successful 1971 film adaptation, and has enjoyed enduring international popularity.
The play's title stems from a painting by Marc Chagall, one of many surreal paintings he created of Eastern European Jewish life. The Fiddler is a metaphor of survival, through tradition and joyfulness, in a life of uncertainty and imbalance. Stein created a version of the show called Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. for elementary and middle schools that cuts out a few of the scenes, including the dream sequence.
Stephen Joshua Sondheim (b. March 22, 1930) is widely seen as his generation's leading writer of the stage musical. Described by Frank Rich in The New York Times as "the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater," he is one of the few people to win an Academy Award, multiple Tony Awards (seven, more than any other composer), multiple Grammy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. His most famous scores include (as composer/lyricist) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, A Little Night Music, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, and Sunday in the Park with George, as well as the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy.
Stephen Sondheim was born to Herbert and Janet ("Foxy") Sondheim, in New York City, New York, and grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and later on a farm in Pennsylvania. Herbert was a dress manufacturer and Foxy designed the dresses. While his mother had grown up in an Orthodox Jewish family, Sondheim had no formal religious education or association, did not have a Bar Mitzvah, and reportedly did not set foot in a synagogue until he was 19. An only child of well-to-do parents living in a high-rise apartment on Central Park West, Sondheim's childhood has been portrayed as isolated and emotionally neglected in Meryl Secrest's biography, Sondheim: A Life.
Sondheim traces his interest in theater to Very Warm for May, a Broadway musical he saw at the age of nine. "The curtain went up and revealed a piano," Sondheim recalled. "A butler took a duster and brushed it up, tinkling the keys. I thought that was thrilling."
When Stephen was 10 years old, his father Herbert, a distant figure in Stephen's life, abandoned him and his mother. Under the laws of the day, Sondheim's mother retained full custody. Unfortunately for young Stephen, he saw his mother "Foxy Sondheim" as narcissistic, emotionally abusive, and a hypochondriac. Stephen "famously despised" Foxy; he once wrote a thank-you note to close friend Mary Rodgers that read, "Dear Mary and Hank, Thanks for the plate, but where was my mother's head? Love, Steve." When Foxy died on September 15th 1993, Sondheim refused to attend her funeral.....