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Matchmaker, Matchmaker

I’m one of the few Jews in New York NOT in the current production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.

I did; however, sit in the fifth row of the orchestra next to my husband on his birthday Tuesday, Dec. 22 at the first performance after Sunday’s opening night.

I first saw FIDDLER…in 1964 on Broadway with Zero Mostel and my parents. The second time in 1977 was with another Tevye–I don’t remember who played him– and my first husband.

In 1956, my parents brought my sister and me to New York to see a drama, a musical, and a comedy. It was my first NY trip, and my first Broadway show, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, with Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank and Susan Strasberg as Anne, hooked me for life. We sat in the middle of the second row. I experienced great theater before I could write. The next afternoon we saw THE MOST HAPPY FELLA and then NO TIME FOR SARGEANTS at night. After that, at least once a year, we made road trips from Buffalo to see two or three Broadway shows. Tickets were typically $7.50 a piece. When tickets for OLIVER were $12.50, the veins in my father’s head started popping out.

On a late 1950s NYC trip, we took a bus down Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village. My father wanted to show me beatniks. That’s a story for another time, but it was love at first sight—the Village and me—I knew where I wanted to be. My parents seemed pleased I made New York my home in 1967. I believe they steered me here. I’m grateful for that.

The theater’s a small part of my life, but it has always been part. In the last few decades, I have not seen as much. “They don’t write shows the way they used to,” has been my constant refrain.

Occasionally they do. HAMILTON got me. The dancing in AMERICAN IN PARIS took my breath away. Recent dramas and comedies at Lincoln Center and Off Broadway have made for interesting nights.

But oh, the revivals with gifted directors, gifted stars. Thank you Mike Nichols and Philip Seymour Hoffman for Willy Loman in 2012. Thank you Barlett Sher. In 2008, Bali Ha’i called me during the first three notes of the overture before Paulo Szot opened his mouth.

Now we’re back in Anatevka with new staging and of course the beautiful score, a lot of soul, and Tevye talking and singing to God.

Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

We were moved. We walked out singing. Ah, the theater when it’s great!


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