Friday, September 21, 2012

Topol in Fiddler on the Roof – Original London Cast Recording

   The history of staging Fiddler on the Roof began in 1964 at Imperial Theatre in New York. Two years after the great success of Broadway original production, the sensational musical has been produced in London. Original West End production at Her Majesty’s Theatre opened February 16, 1967 and was played in next seasons reaching more than two thousands performances. Entire production was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins who hired the same crew of designers and specialists. Broadway experience made the alternative background for this production of Stein and Harnick musical. Vocal arrangements, great choir performances and whole new stage cast gave lots new powers for the superb music by Jerry Bock.
   The whole new cast was perfect, with great choir and actors starring in the company, Tevye’s daughters played by Rosemary Nichols, Linda Gardner and Caryl Little, Cynthia Grenville as matchmaker Yente, Jonathan Lynn as tailor Motel Kamzoil and Sandor Elès playing Hodel’s loving student Perchik. The great star of this production was Miriam Karlin as Golde, Tevye’s wife. But the one who made that this staging became a ground-breaking production was Israeli actor Chaim Topol. He created congenial character of unforgettable beauty inside and was the one choose for movie cast three years later. With the recording issued by Columbia Masterworks label (SX 30742) one can appreciate the quality of this 45 years old rendition of Bock’s musical.

Fieddler on the Roof - Original London Cast (1967)

   Comparing to 3 years older Fiddler on the Roof Original Broadway Cast Recording, this record has been enriched and received some arrangement improvements resulting in better quality of dramatic and musical fragments. The set of tracks has been enhanced by one significant fragment. In fact this orchestral piece consists of wedding dances featuring famous Bottle Dance. The rest of the program is repetition even though it sounds the new way.
   The brightest star of this recording is Topol. Melting his personal charm with the philosophical depth speaking by the words and doings of common man, Chaim Topol created memorable figure. He was well known before, especially for his title role in Ephraim Kishon’s comedy Sallah Shabati, but in Sholem Aleichem’s story he was congenial. Shortly he became favorite voice reciting teachings in opening Tradition and dreaming about wealth in If I were a Rich Man and recognized widely around the world as Tevye. He was also cast in the role of Tevye in two West End revivals, in 1983 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and in 1994 at the London Palladium, plus 1990 Broadway revival in George Gershwin Theatre. This prior version of Topol’s Tevye gives a chance to trace the steps of evolution of most characteristic Jewish hero in popular culture.

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