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.
Wonder of Wonders 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 first 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 Golden Age musicals (with the legendary Jerome Robbins directing the ungovernable genius, Zero Mostel) and then Tevye’s starring role in a major Hollywood picture, and far beyond. It is also a cultural story, about a show that spoke to deepest conflicts and desires all over the world. The book takes readers into the rehearsal room where Fiddler was hammered into shape, onto the stage where it was rapturously received, and out into the world where its powerful legacy continues.
PRAISE FOR WONDER OF WONDERS
“The aptly-titled Wonder of Wonders is the richest, deepest, most far-ranging, continuously and delightfully surprising book about a single work of theatrical art I’ve ever encountered. An intellectually serious, playful, and insightful account of popular art’s power to shape memory and transmute history into universal myth, it is a soul-stirring joy to read, and only Alisa Solomon could have written it.”
—Tony Kushner, playwright
“I expected that this book would revive many treasured memories, which it certainly did. What I didn’t expect to find was the fascinating history of Sholem-Aleichem’s Tevye’s Daughters or the riveting and unexpectedly moving account of Fiddler’s fortunes after the end of the musical’s Broadway run. I have always been proud of Fiddler, but never more so than after reading this astonishing book.”
—Sheldon Harnick, lyricist, Fiddler on the Roof
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