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YMMV / Fiddler on the Roof

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  • Adorkable: Motel is a poor, cowardly tailor who is head over heels for Tzeitel. When he finally manages to stand up to her father and gets to marry her, he breaks into an adorably excited song and dance thanking God for this "miracle."
  • Applicability: As Cory Doctorow argues in this article, Anatevka works well today as a metaphor for a dying social media platform. Just as the Jewish community in Anatevka is trapped there by their own social ties to each other, so are the users on many social media platforms, for the same reason. They long for someplace better than where they currently are, where they won't have to put up with daily indignities, but if they leave they risk losing the social ties that they've spent years cultivating as everybody goes their separate ways (to different American and European cities for the Jews, to other platforms for social media users). Only when things get unbearable do they finally pack up and leave, dissolving their community in the process because they can't agree on where to go.
  • Awesome Music: A lot of it. Particularly worth mentioning, in the film adaptation the overture includes a long, virtuosic violin cadenza performed by Isaac Stern.
    • "Tradition" a loud, bombastic anthem and celebration of the day to day dealings in the Jewish society of Anatevka. To this day it is often considered one of the all time greatest opening numbers in the history of musical theatre.
    • "Sunrise, Sunset" is still performed at weddings to this day. And now there's two same-sex versions written by the original lyricist, Sheldon Harnick.
  • Broken Base: Topol being cast in the film instead of the original Tevye, Zero Mostel, was extremely controversial, with some fans even accusing it of sending the fragile-egoed Mostel into a depression that ultimately led to his death six years later.
    • There was even a broken base during the original Broadway run, with some theatregoers loving Zero Mostel's crowd-pleasing comedic performance while others, including some of the creators, found it too over-the-top. In his book The Season, William Goldman wrote that "most people connected with the show felt that the show improved after Mostel left it."
    • The 2004 production directed by David Leveaux is not exactly revered. While some critics of the original musical may have called it "too Jewish", the critics of this production claimed it to be "not Jewish enough". The main issue was the casting of British-Italian-Spanish Alfred Molina as Tevye. And even later in the run when Irish-American Rosie O'Donnell portrayed Golde.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The story of the play shows the destructive effects of rigid, unthinking adherence to tradition, but "Tradition" is so fun and catchy that it can easily be co-opted as a celebration of that mindset.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The play was a surprise hit in Japan, where the theme of crumbling tradition resonated heavily with the elderly generation.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The movie version of Fruma Sarah's solo in "The Dream". Ironically, since it's actually a nightmare, and subverted unless it didn't Narm the crap out of you.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Fruma Sarah. It's also a theatre role where hamming it up is required, along with a harness (or a cast member with a sturdy set of shoulders).
  • Protagonist Title Fallacy: Teyve is not the fiddler on the roof; however, the fiddler represents the inhabitants of Anatevka: trying to play a pleasant old tune in perilous circumstances.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Signature Scene: When the dancing at Motel and Tzeitel's wedding slows down for a group of young men to perform the famous Jewish bottle dance, intricately balancing them on their hats.
  • Signature Song:
    • "Tradition," which opens the show. To the extent that if you mention Fiddler to a group of people who have even a casual knowledge of it, someone will inevitably sing out, "TRADITIOOOOOOOON! TRADITION!"
    • "If I Were A Rich Man" is just as iconic, being the lead actor's big show stopping solo. Even musical theatre novices know of Topol's shimmy dance.
  • Values Dissonance: The original Tevye the Dairyman stories by Sholem Aleykhem, on which the musical is based, portrayed Tevye's decision to disown Chava after she marries Fyedka in a less negative light. It was what any devout Jewish father of the time would do if his child chose to marry a Gentile (and to hammer this home, Sholem Aleykhem has Chava abandon Fyedka and possibly return to Judaism at the end). People today who see the musical (which doesn't really take a side), though, usually come away from it thinking Tevye's actions toward her are excessive and cruel. Though the movie does show that the father feels trapped by his traditions at this point, but also that Chava was pretty thoughtless to run off and expect everything to be hunky dory. Still, it is easy to see it as a Kick the Dog moment for Tevye. It's also important to remember that it's not just culture, it's religion. By accepting Chava's marriage he would be rejecting his faith, and he wasn't willing to do that. In fact, to him, his daughter rejecting their faith to marry a Christian is worse than her dying, as he believes it has metaphysical consequences. He does unbend a little bit at the very end when the family is having to leave their land and Chava comes to say goodbye. Specifically, he gives her a quiet "God be with you" and subtly endorses his wife and other daughters reaching out to her. It has to be said though that the original stories also contain not a small amount of doubt of whether Tevye's harsh actions were actually justified - but it couldn't be pushed too far without breaking plausibility, since the narrator is Tevye himself, not Sholem Aleichem.