- Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
- Directed by Max Lewkowicz
- Written by Max Lewkowicz and Valerie Thomas
- Starring: Sheldon Harnick, Harold Prince, Austin Pendleton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Fran Lebowitz, Chaim Topol, Harvey Fierstein and Stephen Sondheim
- Classification: PG
- 92 minutes
“What is it that makes it speak in so many languages and everybody thinks it’s about them?”
A good question about the universality of smash Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof, asked by Joel Grey in the lovable and informative documentary Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.
Does director Max Lewkowicz have answers? Does Tevye the milkman have five daughters? Yes and yes. Though the deeply Jewish story is set in turn-of-the-century Russia and the musical’s origins stretch back to stories published by Sholem Aleichem in 1894, Lewkowicz looks at Fiddler on the Roof through the lens of the turbulent New York of the 1960s, when social conventions were being challenged.
The documentary sprawls but manages to pull together backstage gossip, historical context and comment from famous fans such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Puerto Rican whose wedding to his Dominican-Austrian wife featured a Fiddler tune. We hear Norman Jewison, who directed the 1971 film adaptation, dish an anecdote about being perfectly honest with movie mogul Arthur B. Krimm before coming on board: “What would you say if I told you I was a goy?”
Toes will tap, a tear or two might be shed – a complex story about a deceivingly complex musical is adoringly told and ultimately simplified. “As long as humankind continues to have struggles,” asserts one talking head, “Fiddler on the Roof will be there.” File under: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles opens Aug. 23.