BOSTON – When the house lights dim for “Fiddler on the Roof,” Boston audiences can look forward to seeing the Tony Award-nominated revival of the Broadway classic that is wowing audiences anew.
The touring production, with new twists from Tony-winner director Bartlett Sher, is being presented by Broadway in Boston through March 8 at the Emerson Colonial Theatre.
Local “Fiddler” fans will discover Yehezkel Lazarov, a multi-talented Israeli actor and director who’s been charming theatergoers and critics since being tapped in 2018 for the iconic role of Tevye for the North American tour.
Lazarov has been described as the “Tevye of our times,” bringing a fresh, heartfelt exuberance to the Eastern European family patriarch of the hit musical by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick, based on the 1894 Yiddish tale “Tevye the Dairyman” by Sholem Aleichem.
Hofesh Shechter, who danced with Israel’s Batsheva dance company at the same time as Lazarov, did the choreography, which is based on Jerome Robbins’ original. Also on the tour is Wayland native Jonathan Von Mering, a young adult actor in the role of Lazar Wolf.
The Journal caught up with Lazarov, who recently turned 46, in a phone call from upstate New York, where his three daughters, accustomed to warmer Tel Aviv weather, were playing outside in the winter snow, delighted to build snowmen, he said. His wife and children have accompanied him on the tour, an amazing adventure, he said. This is his first visit to Boston.
Did you grow up seeing ‘Fiddler’?
I didn’t see it as a kid. I did see the film. We all saw it [in Israel]. [The song] “If I Were a Rich Man,” in the Hebrew translation it’s “If I Were a Rothschild.” When you walk on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, you have this song in your mind. Shalom Aleichem [the author of ‘Tevye the Dairyman’] is part of our roots … The story of Topol [the Israeli actor who played Tevye in the film version of ‘Fiddler’] is very Israeli. From our little country, [he] was succeeding in the big world.
It was never my dream to play Tevye, I was not coming from a musical theater background. I always say, like a very good Jewish expression, ‘You do, then you understand.’ I said ‘yes,’ and slowly I understand this huge and amazing experience appeared in my life and how blessed I am for having that.
What about Tevye strikes a chord with you?
There are so many. He is always putting a doubt in everything in life. I have done that since I was a young kid, always doubting, questioning. This is the core of the play and the character. It’s the balance and the in-between. It’s the thing I believe in the most. Tevye is like a mirror for me in that way.
Bartlett Sher’s ‘Fiddler’ opens and closes with a reference to today’s refugees. Has this been meaningful for you?
Very much so. It’s something that is extremely important for me. It’s great to do art, but it’s even better to do art that has relevance for the audience. It’s a story that is so precise on the point about refugees, which is one of the biggest problems we have today. When you do 450 shows, those kinds of things bring you on stage and keep you alive. It gives a lot of motivation.
I always say, ‘As long as God exists, Fiddler will continue.’”
For information and tickets, visit broadwayinboston.com.