Fiddler Returns to Kentucky Center Jan. 17-22: John Preece Talks about Bringing Tevye to Life on Stage

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

If it is our traditions that hold the Jewish community together, Tevye the milkman teaches us, “then our lives would be as shaky as … as a Fiddler on the Roof.”

Louisvillians once again have the opportunity to watch Tevye struggle to adapt as his three eldest daughters break with tradition – each going a step further than her sister before her – when PNC Broadway in Louisville brings the ever-popular musical to the Kentucky Center January 17-22.

Veteran actor John Preece, who brings Tevye to life on stage, talked with Community about the show.
Preece said this production is special because Director Sammy Dallas Bayes has gone back to Jerome Robbins’ original production notes for Fiddler, so the cast is now presenting the show as close to Robbins’ vision as possible. “He has recreated the original staging, set, costumes” and more. It is the authentic thing.

Preece is the authentic thing, too. He was first cast in the show about 40 years ago as Lazar Wolff the butcher. For the last 25 years, he’s been playing Tevye. He’s on his 10th national tour with the show and has more than 1,830 performances in that role to his credit.

For Preece, keeping the role fresh is second nature. “The fun is being able to hook the audience,” he said, “and timing things to guide the audience to get reactions you want. There is so much in the script that you need to be in the moment all the time or it doesn’t work.”

Preece is also motivated to do his best by his sense of pride. Being in the traveling company, which means a new theater each time, also helps.

He also loves the role and the show. “It’s one of the best-written roles in musical theater,” he said, and “everybody can relate to something within the show,” whether it’s the idea of family or the relationships between the characters or man’s inhumaning to man. “Things that happen there at the turn of the [20th]century, are happening all over the world today.” Children often choose spouses their parents don’t like.

During its run at the Kentucky Center, Fiddler will be performed Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday evenings at 8, Saturday matinee at 2 p.m., Sunday matinee at 1 p.m. and Sunday evening at 6:30. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $22.25 and available at The Kentucky Center box office, by phone at 502-584-7777 and online at or Group tickets are available by calling 502-569-3060.

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