The latest revival of Fiddler on the Roof, currently playing at the Broadway Theatre, opens with Danny Burnstein in modern dress, standing beneath a train station sign announcing “Anatevka” in Russian. He takes out a book and reads the opening lines of the show out loud as if from a diary, before taking off the 21st Century clothes and assuming the role of Tevye the Milkman. At the very end, as the villagers are heading out after having been evicted, Burnstein returns wearing his present day outfit, picks up the handles of the cart Tevye was previously dragging, and moves on with the rest of them.
Passover is next month. One of the edicts to celebrate by reading the familiar story of the Jewish exodus is for every participant to feel “as if you personally had come out of Egypt.” That’s what this new opening and closing made me think of.