As ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ tour plays its final show in Fresno, the classic musical gets a fresh lease on ‘To Life’

Here’s the thing about sunrises and sunsets: It might seem like they will go on forever.

But there’s a last time for everything.

Pictured above: Jonathan Hashmonay, left, who plays Tevye, and Andrew Hendrick, who plays Lazar Wolf, perform in the North American tour of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Credit: Joan Marcus

That occasion will occur on the second night of Broadway in Fresno’s run of “Fiddler on the Roof,” the production opening Tuesday, May 16, at the Saroyan Theatre. After more than four years on the road – including an 18-month break for Covid – the national tour is coming to an end.

“The people who come to see the show on the 17th are going to get a very emotional cast. Not that we don’t do 100% every night, but there’s going to be some extra emotions happening on stage in Fresno,” says Andrew Hendrick, who plays Lazar Wolf.

The tour is an extension of the recent acclaimed Broadway revival directed by Bartlett Sher. When it opened in 2015, The New York Times called it superb, noting that the “multihued staging moves to a heart-stopping conclusion.”


In a phone interview while on the road, Hendrick says that the production includes an intense commitment to realism.

“That is something that you see in a lot of Bartlett Sher’s work,” he says. “He’ll kind of strip away things that might be extraneous. He really tries to get at the very core of what the show is trying to be.”

A lot of that has to do with the choreography.

“People have a preconceived notion in their mind about what ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is. They have seen the classic Jerome Robbins choreography – you know, the bottle dancing. In our production, Hofesh Shechter, who is an Israeli-based choreographer, took everything that Jerome Robbins did and let it inspire him to create something really fresh and authentic.”

Granted, the middle-aged character of Lazar Wolf isn’t doing gravity-defying dance moves.

He is, after all, one of the featured character parts – the “smelly butcher” who is matched to marry one of Tevye’s eligible daughters. Hendricks does some huffing and puffing in moves of his own in the joyous blockbuster song “To Life,” for example, but stays in the background when the dancing heats up.

“Fiddler” is one of those shows so ubiquitous on the local theater scene – it’s a staple of high schools and community theater – it can be difficult imagining that anyone hasn’t yet seen it. But Hendrick guarantees there’s at least one person at every performance who’s never seen it before. And there’s someone who’s seen it 20 times. Or perhaps done a long run of the show in community theater and has been involved in hundreds of productions.

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“We want to make sure we’re giving them a hell of a show,” he says.

The veteran performer, whose national-tour credits include “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Jekyll and Hyde,” has been in “Fiddler” since the summer of 2019. He started as an understudy to Lazar Wolf and eventually moved into the role. It’s his longest run yet. The final performance will definitely be memorable.

“You give a lot of your life to touring,” he says. “And of course having been with the show for four years, and having had the show be the thing that kind of carried me through the pandemic – it’s going to mean a lot to say goodbye to.”


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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