Sisterhoods are quite common, whether they be biological, happenstance or through a rush at a sorority house. There’s something particularly precious about these seamlessly formed bonds that withstand the test of time.
Consider your favorite predominantly women led stories; Golden Girls, Little Women, Insecure and Girlfriends. These strong female characters and intentionally feminine stories are sacred and significant in depicting a subsection of human existence.
This is especially true for the three sisters of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, playing at DC’s National Theatre from December 10-15.
“The magic of Fiddler is in the daughters,” Ruthy Froch says, explaining why she connects so well with her character and fellow cast members. “Doing the show so many times, our relationships only gets deeper in our onstage and off stage life.”
Froch (Hodel) and Kelly Gabrielle Murphy (Tzeitel) have spent considerable time together, along with Noa Luz Barenblat (Chava) who joined the cast in August, and each express how being a part of this show is a dream come true.
As the national tour nears two years, the trio’s friendship, cherished in a theatrical milieu, provides security in knowing they can rely on one another.
“We’ve become our own community,” Froch says. “We’re our own shuttle outside the shuttle of the show. We live together, we travel together, we are experiencing life together.”
Sisterhood is germane to Fiddler on the Roof. Set in the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia during the early 20th century, the script follows the unsuccessful matchmaking of three elder daughters of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman. Fixated on keeping with Jewish customs and traditions, Tevye is delighted by the prospects of arranged marriages devised by Yente, the village matchmaker.
However, the hearts of his children have been won by those of who he considers unsuited suitors. Because of this universal theme, relating to this family is an easy feat.
“It’s incredible to see that no matter who you are or what your religious background is, or what your cultural or ethnic background is, everyone seems to find a way into this story and that makes it such a special production,” Barenblat says.
She continues to point out how the dynamics played out in this allegory have emotional resonance overlapping generations and cultures.
“I don’t even remember where I was when I first saw the movie, but I have such early memories of seeing the movie when I was young,” Barenblat says. “I know the songs, I know the story and I feel like it has lived in my bones for my entire life.”
Written in 1964, and now a 2019 production, the narrative has experienced a feel of timelessness. “Since the show opened on Broadway, has been produced somewhere in the world every single day,” Kelly Gabrielle Murphy says quoting Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, a documentary on the Broadway musical.
“That shows how wide of a range the show has and how many people it speaks to,” Murphy adds.
With the premise of the narrative, a lot of the play is focused on the balance of doing what’s right and keeping with tradition.
“I think traditions are important,” Murphy says. “Being on the road, I grip on to my traditions with my family even more because we’re not with our families.”
Barenblat adds, “the biggest pride I feel in my identity are the traditions I have with my family, a lot of which are related to my religion, Judaism, and I do think they are really important. This show really highlights the tension between maintaining your traditions, versus moving forward and exploring new cultures and being accepting of other cultures.”
Being on the road with cast members, away from family, Froch mentions one shared between herself and Murphy. Before each performance, once departing the makeup chair, one shouts to the other, “See you in the kitchen!”
“I think the title, Fiddler on the Roof explains traditions perfectly. It’s about the fine line between doing what you’ve always known and what’s in your bones and the dangers and shakiness of exploring other things, other traditions, the unknown. I think traditions are meant to be followed and also meant to be broken.”
The Tony Award nominated Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof is playing at National Theatre, December 10-15. Tickets are $54-$114 and may be purchased here.
National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; 202-628-6161; www.thenationaldc.com