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Theater Review: Post-Fiddler ‘Tevye in New York’



Tom Dugan as Tevye (Photo by Lawrence K. Ho)

When we last saw Tevye the Dairyman, his wife Golde, and their younger daughters, in the final moments of Sholem Aleichem’s Fiddler on the Roof, they were leaving the shtetl Anatevka for America after the Russian Revolution of 1905. Almost a decade later, on New York’s Lower East Side (and outdoors at Beverly Hills’ Wallis Theatre), we catch up with Tevye and his family, in the world premiere of Tom Dugan’s Tevye in New York.

It turns out things have gone pretty well for Tevye, although life hasn’t been without its hardships and challenges. It’s the Fourth of July 1914, and he is at Orchard and Delancey, in a store that sells milk and ice cream. A daughter and grandchild, coming through Ellis Island that day, will be arriving soon and Tevye is excited. He is also exasperated since the daughter who went to meet the ship took the keys to his store, leaving Tevye with nothing but stories for potential customers awaiting a parade featuring John Philip Sousa. Luckily, the stories are excellent. We get a sense of Tevye’s life in 1914, as well as his own journey past “the big green lady” to Ellis Island and beyond. We get some interesting and imaginative gap-filling for the Anatevka era, including how Tevye became a dairyman and the fate of all his daughters. And we learn about Sholem Aleichem and a hope-it’s-true story about how he created the fictional Tevye.

Dugan wrote, performed and co-directed this engaging and moving solo show. (Co-director Michael Vale also did the efficient and evocative scenic and costume design). Dugan completely inhabits the role of Tevye, even, at the performance I attended, when his microphone strap broke and he had to leave the stage for a replacement. He continued his tale-spinning and ad libbed cleverly. Dugan previously inhabited Simon Wiesenthal in Wiesenthal, an award-winning solo show, also at the Wallis, and Mary Todd Lincoln at a COVID-era performance in a Woodland Hills backyard.


The outdoor theater at the Wallis, with Beverly Hills City Hall peeking over the lighting rig


Of note is the scene-setting sound design by Cricket S. Myers, including horses, an elevated train and fiddle music. Beverly Hills’ own traffic sounds mostly fit right in, there on the corner of Santa Monica and Canon.

Tevye in New York runs through July 25 at the Wallis Theatre’s newly built outdoor theater space. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased here.


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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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