Tonight we saw the first show of this year’s Broadway in Portland series: Fiddler on the Roof. Portland is a stop on Topol’s “farewell tour,” and I feel incredibly fortunate to have seen him perform in the role of Tevye. It was an amazing show—the music, the dancing, the funny asides to God and the audience… the guy has definitely made the role his own. I read that he is frequently skipping shows on this tour, so I feel even luckier that he was “on” for this one.
Although I’d never seen Fiddler on stage before tonight, I knew I’d enjoy it because I remember listening to—and loving—the movie soundtrack a LOT as a kid. Mom was as crazy for show tunes back then as my kids think I am now (not that there’s anything wrong with that…). And since Darlene was much the same way when Vic was growing up, it’s no wonder we both love musicals and continue to listen to the soundtracks over and over. We subject our kids to them, or censored versions of them, and they’re learning to love them too. I’d apologize, but I just don’t wanna.
We had the record album of the movie soundtrack when I was a kid, which had a few pages of color photos from the movie inside it. I think I memorized every scene depicted in that folio while listening to the record on the huge console stereo in the living room. But it didn’t end there; we had a cassette tape of the soundtrack that we played in the car. And how did we get that cassette tape? Why, we made it ourselves, just like everyone did back then—by placing the tape recorder very close to the stereo speakers and then insisting no one make any noise for the next 45 minutes. I think every tape we made in those days had Skipper’s collar tags jingling along with the music, as well as a lot of “shhh, Kathy!” throughout. And playback? Duh… it was on that same tape recorder, placed on the seat in the car and turned up as loud as it could go (which was not 11).
So yeah, I was sure it would be a good show tonight, but my reaction as it began was different than I expected it’d be. For me, seeing and hearing all the Fiddler music really made me feel like a kid again. I recognized almost every song and was singing along (in my head! I promise, it was just in my head!), surprised at how easily the words came to me. Because, in case you’ve forgotten, I listened to Fiddler a LOT as a kid—just not much in the last 25+ years.
My favorites tonight: Tradition, If I Were a Rich Man (I had to keep reminding myself that that was Topol singing and dancing—THE Tevye—and that he was there IN PERSON!), and Do You Love Me? I guess The Bottle Dance was great too, but a little light on lyrics.
We got stuck in some road construction traffic just as we got downtown, so we barely made it into the auditorium before the show started. I had just enough time to run down to hug the Loveliest Lori before they started turning the lights down. I ran back to our seats and suddenly it was pitch black and I touched a dude I wasn’t married to (though I think we might be now, in God’s eyes) and finally found Vic and sat down. I hate cutting it that close! At intermission, Taylor and Eva traded seats with us (sweet girls, but no appreciation for musical theater, apparently) so Vic and I sat with Lori and Shelly for the second half. There was no whispering about any actors’ arse-ly beauty—requirements while watching Rent and (from the right angle) Wicked—but I did point out the striking resemblance between the woman who played Yente and Horatio Sanz. Otherwise, Lori and I were quite well-behaved. I think that’s why Topol waved to us in his curtain call.
While waiting to get out of the parking garage afterward, I looked up Topol on IMDB and Wikipedia, then read all the details of the original stage productions and the movie version aloud to Vic. I think he appreciated it, but hmmm, he didn’t say so. There are a few very interesting tidbits in there, so check them out, Lori (also, note who once played Tzeitel—perfect!).
Well, it may be trite, but sitting in tonight’s show took me back to a very happy time in my childhood. I’m thankful to my mom for making music a big part of our growing-up, and also glad to share the part of her heart that attaches itself to memorable movies and musicals through song. If you know what I mean then that doesn’t sound wack-jobbish at all.
Anyway, thanks, Mom. ♥
And for warming our second-act seats, Taylor and Eva, too.