My daughters do not have school week because it is "Presidents Week," or mid-winter recess. I don't let those two just sit around and tap their cellphones: one day we went to the Bronx to visit a museum and see a few lost synagogues (and eat lunch too). Another day they went with friends to see a movie. The younger one also got braces on her upper teeth, But I also wanted to have one Theater day.

One of the wonderful perks of life in New York City is all the entertainment options, especially the Theater District, Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. We decided to see a Thursday evening show but had a few choices, so we went to the TKTS ("tickets") booth in Times Square, where you can get discounted theater tickets.

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The line was long and it was kind of chilly but we chatted about which shows we were interested in, shows we have seen in the past, and other topics. We were thinking of seeing a musical, and ranked our choices: "Matilda" (based on a Roald Dahl book), "Jersey Boys" (about the vocal hit group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), "School of Rock" (based on the comedy film), "Beautiful" (the life and songs of Brooklyn native Carole King) and maybe one other.


But then I glanced at the "board," an electronic readout that shows which tickets are available, the show times and the percent discount. And I noticed that "Fiddler on the Roof" was available at 50% off. And available-- that was the main thing! I asked the girls if they were interested. They had a vague idea of what it was about ("a Jewish family in Europe with some famous songs") and that was our choice. We bought tickets in two pairs, phoned my husband with the good news, and went to eat an early dinner.

I saw a theater production of "Fiddler" in the early 1980s with my parents and brother, at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. My bro reminded me that Tevye then was played by Herschel Bernardi. We all enjoyed it immensely, and of course I have seen the movie version. Last year I read a history/appreciation of the play, written to commemorate its 50th anniversary, and I also found and read the script.  I had longed to see this show again, and was especially eager to take my daughters. It certainly is a modern Jewish rite of passage, in a way, to see this show live when you can, and introduce it to your kids. And I was finally getting a chance to fulfill this!

The production was very well done, and in some ways I preferred this new version. Danny Burstein as Tevye the Milkman did a great job, but he was not "larger than life"-- and I liked that. A few of the actors made their portrayals a bit corny, but overall the chemistry was excellent, the singing and dancing wonderful, and there were a few intriguing moments for me. The classic "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" was darker and more foreboding this time, and I thought it worked well that way. "Anatevka" was more subdued than I recall it, and that was fitting. There were also some parts, especially in Act Two, where there was silence and just glances or minor actions, and these were very touching, very fitting. Too often Broadway shows are a barrage of constant noise and motion, and these quieter passages were exceptionally effective.

The whole family enjoyed it, but I wanted more details from my daughters. I discussed the songs with them, and one mentioned that she remembered singing one of the songs when she went to Day School in 3rd grade. We discussed a bit of the history behind it as well. And I hope to introduce the girls to the literature, as written by Sholom Aleichem.

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