Fiddler on the Roof
[Wedding Scene]

A small village's traditional way of life is turned upside down by love as well as by hatred.

[ Edict]

Story based on Sholem Aleichim stories
Book by Joseph Stein; Music by Jerry Block; Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Original New York Stage Production Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins

The Songs

The plot of the musical is carried along in the songs performed by the lead characters.
Excerpts of the musical numbers from Fiddler on the Roof are shown below.

Fiddler on the Roof

The Fiddler] The Fiddler]

What does it mean, this fiddler on the roof,
Who fiddles every night and fiddles every noon?
Why should he pick so curious a place
to play his little fiddler's tune?

A solitary violinist perches precariously on a roof top as he plays the opening solo. The fiddler serves as a metaphor for Tevye's attempts to preserve his family's traditions in the face of a changing world and for the religious Jews of Anatevka to maintain their equilibrium in Czarist Russia in the early 1900s.




Who day and night must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, Say his daily prayers;
And who has the right as master of his house,
To have the final word at home… the pop-pa

Tevye introduces the little town of Anatevka to the audience, proudly proclaiming that their ‘traditions’ are what binds together his family, his village and his people. These traditions include arranged marriages, prescribed roles for boys (who study the Torah and learn a trade) for girls (who learn to mend and tend and fix) and mothers (whose job it is to make a proper home). Children respect their elders and everyone respects the Rabbi. Tevye proclaims “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof! ”


[Matchmaker] Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match.
Find me a find. Catch me a catch.
Matchmaker, matchmaker, look through your book,
and make me a perfect match
For Poppa make him a scholar,
For momma, make him rich as a king;
For me, well I wouldn't holler if he were as handsome as anything”

Tevye's three eldest daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, sing about the husbands they want the Matchmaker to find for them.

Tradition dictates that the father picks a husband for his daughter. However, Tevye's daughters have other thoughts. Tzeitel breaks with tradition when she selects her own husband - she has fallen in love with Motel, a poor tailor. But her father has already promised her to an older rich man, the butcher Lazar Wolf.

If I Were a Rich Man

[If I were a Rich Man] Lord, who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am;
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,
if I were a wealthy man?

Although he does not have much in the way of worldly goods, Tevye, the impoverished Jewish Milkman, is rich in family. He has five daughters. During one of his frequent conversations with God he ponders being a rich man.

Sabbath Prayer

[Sabbath Prayer]

May the Lord protect and defend you,
May he always shield you from shame;
May you come to be in Paradise a shining name
Strengthen them, oh Lord, and keep them from the stranger's ways
May God bless you and grant you long lives
May God make you good mothers and wives
Favor them oh, Lord, with happiness and peace
Oh, hear our Sabbath Prayer, amen.


To Life

[Russian Dancers]

Tevye and Lazar Wolf sing a boisterous tribute to the human spirit “To Life, To Life, L'chai-im ” which attracts the attention of the Russian soldiers drinking nearby. They break down an obvious barrier and even begin to dance with the Jews. The dances show both the joy and the poignancy of the Jewish culture of the time.



Miracle of Miracles

[Motel asks for Tzeitel's hand in marriage] [Motel and Hodel] Wonder of wonders, Miracle of miracles
I was afraid that God would frown
But like he did so long ago in Jericho
God just made a wall fall down
But of all God's miracles large and small
The most miraculous one of all
Is the one I thought could never be
God has given you to me


The shy tailor Motel pleads with Tevye for permission to marry Tzeitel. The young couple rejoice when Tevye gives his blessing - despite already having promised her to the butcher Lazar Wolf.

The Dream

[Ghost of Grandma Tzeitel] Tevye concocts a story about a ‘dream’ to make his wife Golde believe that the arranged marriage of their daughter Tzeitel is doomed and they must break off Tzeitel's engagement to the Butcher, Lazor Wolf. (All this so Tzeitel can marry the tailor Motel Kamzoil whom she loves.)

In the dream scene the ghosts of Grandma Tzeitel and Fruma-Sarah (Lazar Wolf's deceased wife) denounce the proposed marriage of Tzeitel to the butcher Lazar Wolf.

Sunrise, Sunset

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
I don't remember growing older
When did they?
Sunrise, Sunset, Swiftly flow the days
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”

Wedding Dance

[Villagers dance The Bottle Dance] [Villagers dance The Bottle Dance] Tzeitel and Motel's wedding celebration includes the bottle dance — village men place bottles on their hats and perform acrobatic dance moves while never tipping over the jugs. The wedding festivities end abruptly when Russian authorities stage a 'pogrom' destroying the homes and property of the Jewish families and announcing an edict that the Jews must leave Anatevka.

Now I Have Everything

[Perchik invites Hodel to dance] [Perchik and Hodel dance] Perchik, the radical student from Kiev with liberal ideas, falls in love with Hodel, Tevye's 2nd daughter. He teaches her to dance - this is a scandalous break with traditon which requires men and women to keep their distance in public places. Without asking permission they get engaged. Tevye bends to his daughter's happiness and gives Hodel and Perchik his blessing to marry on their love alone. Perchik is arrested for demonstrating in Kiev and is sent to a prison in Siberia.



[Do You Love Me]
Do You Love Me?

In a very sweet song Tevye reflects on this new-fangled emotion called ‘love’. He askes Golde, his wife of 25 years, “Do you Love me?”



[The Rumor] [The Rumor]
I Just Heard

Perchik has been arrested and exiled to Siberia. Wild rumors and gossip circulate in Anatevka about Tevya and his daughters.


Far From the Home I Love

[Tevye and Tzeitel at train station] Hodel is leaving Anatevka to join Perchik in Siberia where he has been imprisoned. She explains her love for Perchik and the family she is leaving behind. The song captures Hodel's hopes and excitement of a new life of her choice, while her father Tevye can only respond with heartache at the difficulties she will face in the future. The music reflects the sadness and pain of parting from loved ones.

Chava Sequence

[Tevye rejects Chava's Russian friend]

Little Bird, little Chavaleh
I don't understand what's happening today
Everything is all a blur
All I can see is a happy child
The sweet little Bird you were
Chavaleh… Chaveleh

Tevye's faith faces the toughest test when his daughter Chava marries a gentile. If he blesses the marriage, he turns his back on his people and God. This song is about the torment of a father who must choose between his cherished daughter and his beloved religion.


[ Departing Anatevka]

Anatevka, Anatevka, underfed, overworked Anatevka
Where else could Sabbath be so sweet?
Anatevka, Anatevka, intimate, obstinate Anatevka
Where I know everyone I meet
Soon I'll be a stranger in a strange new place
Searching for an old familiar face
Anatevka, dear little village, little town of mine.

The Jews of Anatevka realize that their old way of life is changed forever and set out to find new lives in new lands, taking with them their meager possessions and their abiding faith in God.

The story ends as it began with the music of the solitary Fiddler (fallen from his roof perch)— symbolic of Anatevka's precarious existence under Czarist Russia.

[Fiddler Program]


  • Page 1 — Fiddler on the Roof
  • Page 2 — Fiddler on the Roof —The Songs
  • Page 3 — Fiddler on the Roof— The Cast
  • Page 4 — Fiddler on the Roof — Behind the Scenes


    Tom Pedas, The Celebration Singers and Children's Chorus


    e-mail Tom Pedas at: