Sunday, December 07, 2014

Fiddling Around

Do we need another book on the story of Fiddler On The Roof.  I understand it's the 50th anniversary of the Broadway musical, but I'd think one book is enough.  And yet, after Alisa Solomon's Wonder Of Wonders, we've now got Barbara Isenberg's Tradition! covering the exact same territory.

Solomon's book is more comprehensive--for instance, it's got a lengthy section on Sholom Aleichem's life--and more scholarly. It's also got better editing.  (In Isenberg's book, someone says director Jerome Robbins was "incremental" in making the show what it was.)  But Isenberg, keeping it simple, may just capture the spirit of the show better, and even when she goes on to later productions and the movie, sticks to the subject better.

I don't know which I'd recommend.  Depends on what you're looking for.  But both are worthwhile, and both at the best regarding the heart of the story--how the show came together.  It became the biggest Broadway hit ever (since surpassed) but at the beginning there were plenty of times it didn't look like it would even make it on stage, much less be a hit.  Hearing the massive changes it went through before it got to it's now-familiar form makes it fresh again.

I don't think there'll be a third book--they're running out of song titles to quote from.

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