Friday, September 4, 2009

Topol's "Fiddler on the Roof"

Last night, I had the chance to go see Topol perform in "Fiddler on the Roof." He is on a months-long farewell tour. He's been all over the country - Los Angeles, etc. - and now Spokane.

What an incredible story, what a great performance. I loved, loved seeing Topol perform! Our seats were a little far away, but not too bad. We could see the funny grimaces and gestures... When he bowed at the end, from different places on the stage, I thought: this is it. The end of an era.

I think "Fiddler" is one of the best written works out there. It is a roller coaster of emotions, a timeless story set in a very specific time and place. I grew up loving it. Now that I'm older, I am more conscious of its potency. Last night, I went with a friend who had never seen it before (while I know most of the lines). I wondered what that would be like, watching this musical for the first time as an adult. It was hard to imagine.

When I was a kid, we saw "Fiddler" in San Diego, at the zoo's open air theater. (We saw many plays there.) I remember it so vividly. As I read about Topol coming to Spokane, I thought - hey - didn't we see him in San Diego? So I asked my parents. They don't remember (making them officially useless), though my mother did say she thought perhaps it was Marcel Marceau. (You mean Zero Mostel, I told her. Oh yes, she said. But we did see Marcel Marceau once, in Arizona, so she was partially right.) ;)

So then I thought, you know, I think it was Zero Mostel that we saw in San Diego! As my mother pointed out last night, no one can contradict me if I say that (certainly my parents can't!). So that's my story. That I've seen both Topol and Zero Mostel play the role of Tevya on stage.

What a controversy there was back then, when Topol was the one chosen to played Tevya in the movie version (early 1970s). Yet he owned the role there, and owned the role last night. This is not to say that Zero Mostel was anything but phenomenal as well. For he "owned" the role too, when he played it.

It is odd, isn't it, that there can be two such brilliant actors playing the same, stunning role during the same time period in a play that shall go on in history as one of the best musicals (and stories) ever. It was unlikely for that to happen, but it did happen. All quality - in acting, in script, in voice, in score - had to be present to succeed in the ever-precarious stance of that kind of multiple perfection. Just like - a fiddler on a roof.

photo credit: Thwaites Theatre Photos, found here


JeanC said...

OOOOOOO Lucky duck you! The hubby and I really wanted to see Fiddler on the Roof, but circumstances intruded. The movie version with Topal is one of my go to movies and I so wanted to see him live. Glad you got to go

Ivan said...

Boys and I made the Sunday matinee show. They had not be exposed to the story before. Car ride back turned into a huge discussion of Jewish persecution in Europe through the war and the creation of Israel. Cheers.

TaylorSwift said...

I've seen Fiddler on the Roof two times. I really enjoyed the show. Last year I got a cheap ticket and I went, it was really a great show. I will go see it for the third time.

So I'll be analyzing as well as enjoying the show.