Presented by 2Life Communities
Hosted by Amy Schectman
Dramaturgy interview with Dr. Barbara Wallace Grossman
Featuring vocalist Steven Skybell, Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish and music director and Tony Award-nominated composer Zalmen Mlotek.
Fiddler in Yiddish online
May 23, 2021 at 11 AM
Streamed via private YouTube link
Boston, MA and New York, NY
Review by Kitty Drexel
YouTube — On May 23 at 11 AM, 2Life Communities and host 2Life Communities President and CEO Amy Schectman celebrated universal themes of community, tradition and life with their virtual, fundraising concert “L’Chaim 2Life.” Broadway notables, performer Steven Skybell and composer Zalmen Mlotek, performed selections from their Off-Broadway hit production Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.
The first few moments of the video shared quotes from 2Life Communities residents, photos from the facilities, and advertisements. Interviews with residents Marilyn Berman, Mr. Kong Po Wong, and Faina Saltanov spoke to the many kinds of people who live in the facilities.
Schectman opened the event with an interview with Dr. Barbara Wallace Grossman. Grossman, a theatre historian, director and professor at Tufts University’s Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, was the dramaturg for the event. She told stories about the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof in English with Zero Mostel and director Jerome Robbins.
Grossman said that the musical is about how an older generation copes with the needs of a younger generation. It is a family story that also discusses larger issues of colonization and fascism.
“L’Chaim 2Life” was not a full-presentation of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. Skybell sang selected songs from the production: “Traditsye (Tradition),” “Lekhayim (L’Chaim),” “Shabes Brokhe (Sabbath Prayer),” “Shadkhnte, Shadkhnte (Sunrise, Sunset),” “Anatevke,” “Ven Ikh Bin a Rotshild (If I Were A Rich Man).” Zalmen Mlotek played the piano and provided harmonies to Skybell’s singing. Mlotek sang additional voices when the music required it.
Both men shared anecdotes from their work on the musical on Broadway. Mlotek said that over 700 actors auditioned for the musical in Yiddish. 26 people were picked to be in the cast. All were familiar enough with Yiddish to perform in it.
Skybell boasted that he is the first Tevye to sing the role in Yiddish. He has respect for the men who played Tevye before him.
Skybell said during the event that he hopes that Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish can come to Boston. I hope so too.
The performance by Skybell and Mlotek was recorded in New York. It was not live. Still, the recording captured the intimacy of private salon performances while sharing the great work of a public production.
Proceeds from the concert benefit 2Life Communities programming and services. Donations are welcome. The virtual concert can be viewed HERE.
Read about 2Life Communities HERE.