Anatevka, a production by Joburg Jewish Women’s Theatre (JJWT), based on Tevye’s Daughters by Shalom Aleichem was totally mind-blowing in its execution. The production team, led by director, Linda Zulberg, and producer Rachaeli Stromberg brought the essence of the Anatevka story alive, with fantastic musical direction by Tal Jankelowitz and Sarah Chana Katzman.

Knowing The Fiddler on the Roof film from 1971 set a high expectation, however the originality of the performance of Anatevka by an all women cast threw a completely fresh light on the story for the female only audience.

Feeling the Anatevka buzz

The excitement and anticipation of the gathering crowd of women at Eden Auditorium was palpable. Ushered into our seats by 7.30pm by the “men” in the play and listening to the fiddle’s first familiar note got everyone in the mood for a journey into the life of Tevye, Golde, their family, and the community.

The production of Anatevka is a commemoration of Helen Heldenmuth, who is greatly missed by all who knew and worked with her. The JJWT’s production of Anatevka is just such an epic production, with only a fifteen-minute intermission, the play ended around 11 pm.

Tradition and change explored

The themes of Anatevka are about tradition and change in Jewish life, skillfully brought alive by the JJWT production team to dazzle the audience. The all women and girl cast, with their convincing outfits and passionate renditions of familiar songs like “Tradition” and “Sunrise Sunset” transported the spectators right into the village and the on-going challenges and difficulties that Tevye and Golde’s family faced.

Tevye says: Anatevka is our home. (Prelude) Our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers have lived in this Shtetl for many, many years…And indeed to this day, we still live in Anatevka: wherever we are in the world. For they are just transmutations of the Ukrainian Anatevka…to protect us and to ensure the continuity of our Jewish lives…When we leave one “Anatevka”, we naturally search for another “Anatevka” …with old familiar faces. (Scene 18)

Fantastic performances by an all female cast

The dynamic dancing by the cast and the superb choreography by Marise Mishan, got you singing and tapping along to the Fiddler on the Roof songs. The smooth transitions between the scenes, cleverly executed by the cast and support crew, effortlessly wheeling the props on and off stage,
as needed.

The “boys” in the Anatevka production were sensational with their beards and tzitzit, and Shani Sommer, setting the show apart in the role of Tevya. The “Russians” did a great job of portraying the oppressors with their peppy performances. In fact, every woman and every girl-child put their best foot forward and glowed in the superb lighting and spirit of this moving rendition of the story.

The Anatevka production found tremendous support from the local community, with organizations like the Malke Ella Fertility Fund, Achot, and Feed SA contributing to the production. There are so many personal messages of support from family, friends, and local businesses found in the informative program booklet.

Anatevka reminds us of where we have come from and how our precious Jewish culture can be eroded by internal and external forces. It reminds us too, that as a Jewish community, we have the resilience and tenacity to survive and forge new paths for spiritual awareness and growth.
Everyone who played a part in the production can be proud of achieving an exhilarating, engrossing experience that will linger in one’s memory for a long time to come. There were cute quirks and South Africanisms incorporated into the performance.

4KingMedia – Support for Dreamers

The Gold Sponsor, 4KingMedia, committed to creating and supporting the future dreams of South Africans, helped with the JJWT production and the talented King David student, Kealoha Shishler, age 10, designed the Fiddler on the Roof back cover for the programme.

4King believes in the power of local innovators, hustlers, and dreamers. We believe in the Phandas of South Africa and helping them succeed. This is just one example of the creatively passionate people within our country but there are so many more out there. Want to learn more about
4King Phandas? Check out our guide.