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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fiddler's on TV



My true confession: I love Fiddler on the Roof. OK, it tends to be a corny movie that represents a complicated time in history in very simplistic terms. The first half and the second half don't quite fit together very well. But damn...can you watch this movie without breaking into song? I can't. Two years ago a local theatre had a Fiddler on the Roof sing-along showing. It was sold out for weeks but we lucked out and got tickets for the whole family. Lets just say the kids were a lot less enthusiastic than I was. We had to wait for hours on line in the cold of winter just to get into the theatre. As we entered, everyone was handed a bag of props to use during the movie. The theatre offered free coffee, cookies, and hersheys kisses. My kids were busy scarfing up the kisses and sneaking coffee before the film started. Around us were many people who were obvious fans of the film. Women were dressed in babushkas and long skirts. "Bearded" men were dressed in boots with pants tucked in, heads covered in hats with peyus (sidecurls) peaking out, and of course there were tallit katon (small garments worn under men's clothing with strings hanging down) all over the place. There were some Yentas, some Lazar Woolfs, and quite a few Chava type girls. Even a Cossack or two Definately set up the mood. My kids were mortified.

When the lights went down, a couple of 'leaders' taught us what to do with the props in our bags, and lead us in some required hand motions. My kids were sinking into their chairs, looking horrified. I was having a blast and was so excited to begin. Then the movie started, and Tevya came walking down the road with his milk wagon, as they say in sports, the crowd went wild. People were belting out songs in full voice. Some, like me, were reciting the lines of the film as they were said. All of the songs had captions so people could sing the correct words, but I didn't need them. I'm kind of sad that way. A guy behind us must have been trained vocally and he was singing in the most gorgeous theatrical manner. My kids were almost parallel with the floor and groaning. I was belting out songs like Ethyl Merman.

At intermission the kids snagged cookies and some coffee, and started begging to go home, but I hung firm. We're going to do this to the end because I am having fun. Period. When the second part started, and the film turned darker, they both started paying more attention. During the wedding scene, when the Cossacks break up the party, the Girl audibly gasped. There was less squirming and a lot more intensity. A couple of times, I heard a bit of singing, and props started coming out of bags at the requisite time. Hooked!

By the time Anatevka was playing, there wasn't a dry eye in the house, including my kids. I don't think they had understood before why their great grandfather left Russia at the age of 14 by himself and stowed away on a ship to NY. Now they got it. For my kids, Jewish intolerance has been felt, especially during our stay in the Bay Area where religion as a rule is frowned upon and Judaism is absolutely beyond the pale. But they have always been protected by our family and our community and they feel safe being a Jewish child in America. It didn't occur to them that this was not true only 100 years ago in Russian, nor 60 years ago in Europe. Fiddler made them appreciate their lives, their family, and their freedom. Now, the girl is sitting on the sofa watching Fiddler and watching Motyl Kamzoil get ready for his wedding. So long, Lazar Woolfe.
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8 Comments:

Blogger valbee said...

Slightly off topic: The first thing I noticed upon arriving here is that you have twins! I also do - twin boys, age (ACK!) 20.

Ok, that said... it's been a very long time since I've seen "Fiddler on the Roof." I think it's time for me to see it again.

And you already know this... but Michele sent me. :)

14/1/06 6:56 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Somehow I missed out on the Fiddler thing. Never saw it. Hmmm... maybe I'll put it on my Netflix list...

Michele sent me.

14/1/06 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Daisyhead said...

You know, come to think of it, I've never seen that movie either. I think I'll have to rent it!

Btw, Michele sent me. Love your blog!

14/1/06 7:01 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

Swoon! I LOVE 'Fiddler' as well. Just saw it with my 15 year old on Broadway and I think other than 'Annie Get Your Gun' that is her most favorite play as well.

Gee...I'm glad Michele introduced us. She sent me here.

14/1/06 7:19 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I love Fiddler, too!

Here from Michele's!

14/1/06 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Sheryl said...

Love Fiddler. Although now that I have kids I can't get through it w/o crying

14/1/06 7:50 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I love this movie AND I LOVE the music. Sometimes you'll hear me break into a chorus of "Do you love me...Do I WHAT?!" "Do you love me?" "Do I love you?"

These are such beautiful songs. Musicals are so important in our family. My daughter is named after West Side Story (as I am - in my middle name). My kids love Andrew Lloyd Webber and all kinds of corny music. Guess we raised them the right way.

I didn't know there was a Sing-Along Fiddler. I've been to a Sing-Along Sound of Music and that was a hoot!

Thanks for the memories.

Hope you're feeling better after your surgery...dahlink!

Michele sent me!

14/1/06 7:56 PM  
Blogger California Highway Guy - Daniel said...

As a result of joining the National Yiddish Book Center, I've been rereading the Sholom Alaichem original Tevye stories. It is amazing how much of the musical is almost verbatim from those stories. You might see, one day, if your kids (or even you) might want to read the original.

15/1/06 12:51 AM  

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