Topol, 73, became famous for playing the central figure Tevye in the 1971 film version of “Fiddler on the Roof.” He has returned to the stage for a Farewell Tour that debuts Tuesday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
“Fiddler” shares the classic tale of milkman Tevye, the tradition-revering Jewish father of several nontraditional daughters, as he struggles to cope in a changing world: pre-revolutionary Russia, circa 1905.
The musical combines rousing dance, classic songs and universal values like love, friendship and family into a visual and aural feast that’s made “Fiddler” a staple of musical theater for decades.
It is part of a triumphant season of Broadway hits the Arts Center has planned; future hits will include “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” “Spring Awakening” and “In the Heights.”
“Fiddler” is seen by many as an opportunity for several generations, from children to elders, to spend three enjoyable hours together. Along with “Sunrise, Sunset,” songs like “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man” have become standards in the American songbook.
The role of Tevye requires incredible physical dexterity and vigor, as Tevye’s town of Anatevka is recreated through challenging dance numbers and over-the-top music.
Throughout his farewell tour, Topol has shocked audiences around the world with his vibrancy and stamina.
He has performed in several revivals of the musical, including a 1983 reprisal in London, as well as Broadway in 1990, when he was nominated for a Tony Award. Most recently, he was on tour in the South Pacific.
Topol won a Golden Globe for his performance in the film version, as well as being nominated for an Academy Award.
The director of the farewell tour, Sammy Dallas Bayes, also was the choreographer of the 1990 Broadway revival. He has sought to faithfully recreate the original direction and choreography of the film version.
Because, as Tevye faithfully intones night after night, “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as — as a fiddler on the roof.”
If You Go
WHAT: “Fiddler on the Roof”
WHEN: Tuesday to Aug. 23
WHERE: Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
COST: $20 to $80
INFORMATION: (714) 556-2787 or ocpac.org
The following actors also sought the role of Tevye in the film version: