Written By:  
WPPB RADIO TBT / September 25, 2014
This week in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Broadway’s sixteenth longest running show in history our WPPB TBT celebrates tradition. Throughout the past half century is there anyone listening who has not appeared in, or been involved with, or at least seen a live production of Fiddler on the Roof? With music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by East Hampton’s own Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, this world famous tribute to life – l’chaim!  – rises and sets in 1905 Tsarist Russia. Based on Tevye and his 5 Daughters and other tales by renowned Yiddish storyteller Sholem Aleichem, the patriarch scrambles day and night to sustain his family and Jewish religious traditions while imperial persecution and societal changes challenge his family’s survival and heritage. For 5 decades, one season following another, the show’s words of wisdom, laden with happiness and tears have connected multiple generations. Numerous Broadway revivals and highly acclaimed professional stagings across the globe, elementary, intermediate, high school, and university productions, plus countless community presentations, persuade us that Tevye, although he has to work hard, is still a wealthy man. 
My most intimate experience with Fiddler came in the summer of 1974 when the Town of Islip staged an outdoor production at Bay Shore’s South Shore Mall. As a lean and mean 22 year old I was brought in to play a Russian Cossack. My mother {who bore 6 sons and owned nearby Dot Mackey School of Dance} was hired as the group’s choreographer. Mom took on another challenging role in the show, too; the fiddler himself. Adjacent to Macy’s west wall, perched precariously high on a roof NOT built by theater union carpenters – scared stiff she tells me now – Mom stood her spot stoically while shaking in the night sky above audience and stage before carefully climbing down to dance in a couple of scene change numbers. Asked today why she stayed up there when it was so dangerous Mom answers, “It isn’t easy. Everyone of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant simple tune without breaking his neck.” OK. Mom didn’t say that. Tevye did. But, that’s the way my mother continues to live. 
When Dot Mackey became a homeowner at Greenwood Village in Manorville nearly 20 years ago her presence powerfully transformed the retirement complex. Actively organizing theatrical productions and revues among neighbors who had never met before in their long lives, insisting everybody ready and willing is youthful enough to learn, Mom gave her too young to die new friends a fresh sense of community; an exciting all for one one for all bonding adventure that never gets old.  For all the meds prescribed Greenwood Villagers over the years few have yielded healthier results than the fun and friendship dispensed through Mom’s Manorville shows. 
Today at age 85, battling the initially insidious and now frequently debilitating impact of Parkinson’s Disease upon her dancer lithe body – shaking involuntarily one moment then suddenly stiffly immobile the next – Mother Mackey sustains her dignity while continuing to perform her multiple matriarchal roles from a scary and precarious perch. Yet ever so boldly, bravely, our matriarch gloriously guides us with grace and good humor. How does she keep her balance you ask? Tradition. The show must go on. Home and family first. Tradition. Then and now. Tradition.