PORTLAND — “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as … as a fiddler on the roof.”

So says Tevye, a humble milkman from the Russian village of Anatevka, in “Fiddler on the Roof,” the Tony Award-winning musical tale of love and laughter, devotion and defiance — and changing traditions.

Portland Ovations will bring the National Broadway Tour of “Fiddler” to Merrill Auditorium for two performances on Saturday, Jan. 22.

Audiences will have an opportunity to see Jerome Robbins’ original Broadway direction and choreography, starring veteran actor John Preece as Tevye.

Tevye’s wrestling with the new customs of a younger generation is punctuated by such memorable musical numbers as “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “Tradition.”

When his daughters choose suitors who defy his idea of a proper match, Tevye comes to realize, through a series of incidents that are at once comic and bittersweet, that his children will begin traditions of their own. At the story’s close, the villagers of Anatevka are forced to leave their homes, and even the sturdy mores that have guided everyday life begin to crumble. Paradoxically, it is the enforced loss of the rigid traditions and home life that Tevye has tried so tenaciously to preserve that leads the family to reconcile and draw closer still.

Preece has performed in “Fiddler” more than 3,000 times, 1,500 of which were in the role of Tevye. This production marks Preece’s ninth national tour of “Fiddler.”

Performances will be at 2 and 7 p.m. Ovations Offstage will offer a free lecture from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Professor Marilyn Reizbaum from Bowdoin College will discuss how Sholom Aleichem’s story, set in revolutionary Russia, became so wildly popular, and asks the question: Who or what is the fiddler? The lecture will be in Room 24 of City Hall, to the left of the Merrill Auditorium entrance on Myrtle Street.

Tickets to both performances range from $45 to $60. They are available through PortTix by calling 842-0800 or visiting the box office window at Merrill Auditorium. Tickets may also be purchased at www.portlandovations.org.

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