I come not to denigrate Fiddler on the Roof, but rather, to celebrate it.

 As Portland's fall performance season zooms into focus, some of our most bracing artists and arts groups are warming up. Hand2Mouth Theatre is touring solo artist Faith Helma's gorgeous Undine to New York City, PICA's TBA Festival opens September 3 with a slate of theatrical hell-raisers, and Portland Center Stage gives the Portland debut of Ragtime.

 But before we get to all that amazing, radical work there's, uh, Fiddler on the Roof.

 In its own inimitable way, Fiddler is as necessary as anything else on the Portland performance calendar this fall. TBA playwright Young Jean Lee's riffings on race and place, Faith Helma's fluid blending of music and movement, and certainly Ragtime couldn't be possible without the theatrical ground that Fiddler broke: a fantastic fusion of words, music, movement, and drama that shook the Broadway of 1964 to the core.

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Fiddler arrives in Portland this week on the last leg of a national tour, designed entirely around the presence of Chaim Topol—or simply "TOPOL," as the posters proclaim—who originated the celebrated role of Tevye, the village milkman, on film, and has played it across the world for 42 years.

Will this touring Fiddler live up to its groundbreaking reputation, in advance of Portland's own adventurous fall season? I'm curious as hell to find out.