Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof

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Macmillan, Oct 22, 2013 - Performing Arts - 448 pages
26 Reviews

A sparkling and eye-opening history of the Broadway musical that changed the world

In the half-century since its premiere, Fiddler on the Roof has had an astonishing global impact. Beloved by audiences the world over, performed from rural high schools to grand state theaters, Fiddler is a supremely potent cultural landmark.

In a history as captivating as its subject, award-winning drama critic Alisa Solomon traces how and why the story of Tevye the milkman, the creation of the great Yiddish writer Sholem-Aleichem, was reborn as blockbuster entertainment and a cultural touchstone, not only for Jews and not only in America. It is a story of the theater, following Tevye from his humble appearance on the New York Yiddish stage, through his adoption by leftist dramatists as a symbol of oppression, to his Broadway debut in one of the last big book musicals, and his ultimate destination--a major Hollywood picture.

Solomon reveals how the show spoke to the deepest conflicts and desires of its time: the fraying of tradition, generational tension, the loss of roots. Audiences everywhere found in Fiddler immediate resonance and a usable past, whether in Warsaw, where it unlocked the taboo subject of Jewish history, or in Tokyo, where the producer asked how Americans could understand a story that is "so Japanese."

Rich, entertaining, and original, Wonder of Wonders reveals the surprising and enduring legacy of a show about tradition that itself became a tradition.
Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bostonian71 - LibraryThing

Engaging and intelligent look at the Jewish musical to end all Jewish musicals. Solomon not only provides invaluable background on the Sholem Aleichem stories that inspired "Fiddler" and the creation ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - cm37107 - LibraryThing

A historical tracing of how and why fiddler on the roof is and was so important. Gives background information which the ordinary play goer and reader may not be privy to. This is a must read for anyone interested in the culture of "the people". Read full review

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About the author (2013)

Alisa Solomon teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where she directs the Arts & Culture concentration in the MA program. A theater critic and general reporter for The Village Voice from 1983 to 2004, she has also contributed to The New York Times, The Nation, Tablet, The Forward, and other publications. Her first book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender, won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. She lives in New York City.

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