On Friday, Christmas Eve, a “Fiddler on the Roof” sing-along took place at the at Laemmle Royal Theater in West L.A.
“Fiddler on the Roof,” director Norman Jewison’s 1971 adaptation of the Broadway musical, follows Tevye the milkman who lives in a Ukranian ghetto with his five daughters and wife and struggles with the shakeup of tradition.
Approximately 250 people came out to the sing-along on Friday night, according to the estimates of Greg Laemmle, president of Laemmle Theaters. It was happening for the third year in a row at the art house theater chain on Christmas Eve, and Laemmle said the numbers were an increase in turnout from the previous years.
Why a sing-along version of the film on Christmas Eve? Why not? Laemmle said.
“What else am I going to show?” he said, during an interview at intermission. “It’s the perfect film for Christmas Eve for a Jewish audience.”
The CSUN Jewish Studies Department and the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival co-presented the event.
The event’s first year, in 2008, happened due to a film distributor’s decision to push the release of a film from Dec. 23 to Dec. 25, Laemmle explained, which meant that no film would play on Dec. 24. Laemmle decided to have a “Fiddler” sing-along that night.
He added that seeing “The Sound of Music” at the Hollywood Bowl partially inspired the event. “I thought, How much fun would it be to do that for ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’” he said.
Other organizations, schools and synagogues have put on “Fiddler” sing-alongs in the past, including American Jewish University (then University of Judaism), which hosted one in 2005.
Walking inside the theater on Friday night, the audience received lyric books, which helped them sing along with numbers like “Matchmaker” and “Sunrise Sunset.” At the start of every song in the film, the house lights in the theater brightened enough so that the people could read their lyric sheets, but many still held their cell phones up to the papers for additional light.
The age of the crowd ranged from middle aged to senior citizens, though there were some younger people in attendance. Many bobbed their heads and snapped their fingers while Topol, the Israeli actor who plays Tevye in the film, sang “Tradition” on-screen. Everyone sang along softly in their seats, and at the end of each song, they applauded as if watching a stage show. “If I Were a Rich Man” prompted some of the louder singing and cheering.
Laemmle addressed the crowd before the start of the film and during the intermission, offering “Fiddler” trivia and asking if anyone had acted in stage productions of “Fiddler.”
During the interview, he spoke of plans to hold “Fiddler on the Roof” sing-along event next year and his hopes to turn the event into a fundraiser for charity. He reinforced the goal of the evening, saying, “We like to build community.”
Outside the theater, attendees discuss “Fiddler.”