Songwriting team Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick collaborated with librettist Joseph Stein to write a musical based on stories by Sholom Aleichem. The result was Fiddler on the Roof, which told the story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman in early 1900s Russia (and father of five daughters) who struggles to honor tradition while dealing with the growing anti-Jewish sentiment in his country.
Directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the production starred Zero Mostel as Tevye and featured Maria Karnilova as Golde, Bea Arthur as Yente, Austin Pendleton as Motel, Bert Convy as Perchik, Joanna Merlin as Tzeitel and Julia Migenes as Hodel.
The musical was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won nine, including Best Musical, and awards for Mostel and featured actress Karnilova. The New York Times' Howard Taubman deemed Mostel's Tevye "one of the most glowing creations in the history of the musical theater."
The production went on to play a record-setting 3,242 performances and received a special Tony in 1972 for becoming the longest-running musical in Broadway history. It remains the 16th longest-running show in Broadway history. The beloved musical has enjoyed four Broadway revivals (in 1976, 1981, 1990 and 2004) and a 1971 film adaptation starring Chaim Topol. A fifth Broadway revival is expected to arrive in fall 2015 with direction by Bartlett Sher.
Click here to read the 1964 opening-night Playbill for Fiddler on the Roof.