Japanese Fiddler on the Roof

Since I’m enjoying my fair share of embedded video fun, I really must insist that you watch what seems to be a rehearsal for an all-Japanese production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Embedded video doesn’t work in RSS so you’ll have to go to the actual post. If you’re already here and you still don’t see a video, I apologize.

The inherent humor of this mash-up simply cannot be denied, especially if you grew up watching the movie—but what’s really fascinating is the similarity of spirit between this rehearsal of “Tradition” and the familiar movie version. And I don’t just mean that this performance is as spirited—the character of the performances are quite amazingly well-aligned (at least as far as I can gather without understanding a word).

flier for Japanese Fiddler on the Roof
flier (for what I take to be the same production) via Jew School

And according to an oft-cited anecdote, after the first performance in Japan (I believe this story refers to a performance by an American cast on tour) Fiddler‘s libbrettist, Joseph Stein, was approached by Japanese audience members who found the story so “Japanese” that they couldn’t believe American audiences had enjoyed it! Theodore Bikel, who played Tevye in Japan, tells the same story, although Bikel attributes the resonance to the universality of pain, while the other articles point out similarities between the traditional Jewish and Japanese families.

At any rate—what a non-traditional meeting of the cultures. I love it!

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