“Who would want do a musical about a bunch of old Jews In Russia going through a pogrom – what are you, out of your mind?,” cried the naysayers, while Variety simply slated the show, condemning it for having “no memorable songs.”
In the aftermath of such a damning verdict, actor Austin Pendleton recalls cast members weeping away in the dressing room.
“I remembered thinking, ‘Oh God, we’ll be out of work in a couple of months.’”
And yet, they were all proven utterly wrong. Fifty-five years after it first exploded onto the stage, Fiddler On The Roof has won nine Tony Awards, spawned five Broadway revivals and a critically-acclaimed film and held the record for the longest running musical for nearly a decade.
Not bad for a show that many thought would last a week.
Now the extraordinary story of the beloved musical is told in a new in-depth documentary, Fiddler: A Miracle Of Miracles, which opens in UK cinemas on Friday.
Based on the short stories of Shalom Aleichem, Fiddler On The Roof is at its heart a story of persecution, immigration and the fraying of tradition in the face of a rapidly-changing world, woven together with iconic songs, including To Life, Sunrise, Sunset, Matchmaker and, famously, If I Were A Rich Man.
Directed by Max Lewkowicz, the revealing film features interviews with lyricist Sheldon Harnick, Chaim Topol, who portrayed the leading role of Tevye on stage and film, as well as Harvey Fierstein, Fran Lebowitz, Calvin Trillin and Nathan Englander.
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles is released from 13th December, 2019. For a listing of cinemas showing the film, visit http://fiddlerfilm.co.uk