Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's musical Fiddler on the Roof opened on September 22, 1964, in New York. Based on Sholom Aleichem's stories, it tells the tale of Tevye, a Jewish milkman who lives in Russia with his family (including five daughters). The Broadway production originally starred Zero Mostel, who got to sing such songs as "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "To Life." Anti-Semitic notions abound as Tevye and his family find themselves being forced from their village. Tevye's daughters break from their village's tradition as they marry for love, not for prosperity. Throughout all of this, a symbolic fiddler lingers over them. Fiddler on the Roof was the most successful musical up to its time, running for over 3,000 performances. It was also the origin of several famous and now-standard songs, such as "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," in addition to those mentioned above. The music is beautiful, and haunting at moments. The original Broadway cast not only boasted a strong performance from Mostel, but also had Beatrice Arthur as Yente, the matchmaker. A Top Ten, multi-platinum-selling hit, this is the quintessential Fiddler on the Roof recording, disappointing only to those who consider Topol the definitive Tevye. Those who do would be advised to seek out either the London cast recording or the film soundtrack, where they can find "Topol"'s classic performance.
AllMusic Review by Sarah Erlewine