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MGM is making a toast to life, putting together a new feature version of the classic stage musical Fiddler on the Roof.
The studio has enlisted Thomas Kail, the Tony Award-winning helmer of Broadway’s Hamilton and In the Heights, to direct the film, which will be produced by Dan Jinks (American Beauty) and Aaron Harnick. Kail will also produce.
Steven Levenson, who wrote the stage musical Dear Evan Hansen and was the showrunner of the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon, is penning the script.
Fiddler on the Roof, featuring music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, originally opened on Broadway in 1964, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. It went on to win nine Tonys, including awards for best musical, book and score of a musical, director and choreographer. The production has seen numerous revivals.
The story centers on a Jewish family in Tsarist Russia where the father tries to hold on to his traditions while his ready-to-marry daughters bring outside influences. Some of the key songs include “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “To Life.”
Fiddler on the Roof was adapted into a 1971 movie directed by Norman Jewison that was nominated for eight Oscars — best picture and director, among them — winning three.
“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to direct Fiddler, though I always imagined I would do it on stage,” Kail said in the studio’s announcement Thursday. “I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to make a new film version of my favorite show with Mike DeLuca at MGM, where so many transcendent musical movies have been made. I’m proud to partner with Dan Jinks, Aaron Harnick and my great pal, Steven Levenson, to honor a work that has profoundly inspired me and millions of others.”
Added Levenson, “Fiddler On The Roof was the first piece of theater I saw, at the age of 5. Today, more than 50 years after it changed the face of Broadway forever, the story of Tevye and his beloved village of Anatevka feels more timely than ever. I am beyond grateful to Mike DeLuca and MGM, Dan Jinks, and Aaron Harnick for the opportunity to tell this unforgettable story of resilience and hope in the face of hopelessness, and I am delighted to be collaborating again with the inimitable Tommy Kail.”
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