We all have things we regret doing and not doing, and one of mine is leaving “Anatevka” in my old garage.
Back in 1974 at our theater, the Westchester Playhouse, we presented Paul Lipson in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Mr. Lipson had played Tevya, the role innovated by Zero Mostel, more than 1,800 times, 920 of which were on Broadway.
Ours was a smaller but very lavish production and the set designers had outdone themselves in creating the tiny Russian-Jewish village on our Yonkers stage. For the scene where Tevya takes his second daughter, Hodel, to the train station, traveling to join her husband in Siberia, our crew created a fabulous massive sign reading, “Anatevka.” The production ran 14 days and when the stage was struck, I brought “Anatevka” home with me. It lived in our garage for years and I always got a warm feeling every time I took my car out, returning for a moment to that fabled town.
Paul Lipson was a delightful gentleman who loved Chinese food. One evening, he took us all, cast and crew, to his favorite restaurant in Chinatown, where the menu was in Cantonese and only he could order. (He really knew his Cantonese because the meal was absolutely fabulous.) Paul was a generous person, a superb actor and everyone loved him.
“Fiddler on the Roof” is, in itself, a phenomenon. Based on stories written in Yiddish by Sholem Alechem, it has been translated into so many languages and presented in so many cultures, proving we are, indeed, one when it comes to humanity. We have all faced love, hate, tenderness, disappointment and elation and, like Tevya, learned to roll with the punches.
I’m sorry I left “Anatevka” in my old garage, but remembering it still warms my heart. Life gives us the opportunity to make choices and to exhibit Tevya’s tenacity of holding on to it, even when faced with the unknown and the instability of a fiddler on a roof.
Adrienne Kavelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.