Photo: Jessica Marcus, courtesy Jeffrey Richards Associates

Tradition! Few songs in the history of American musical theater are as sublime as the opening number of Fiddler on the Roof (currently playing at the Broadway Theatre). The papa, the mama, the sons and daughters all understand their roles, and glory in them. “Who, day and night, must scramble for a living/ Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?” is how the papas define themselves. “Who must raise the family and run the home/ So Papa’s free to read the holy book?” is the mamas’ motto. In “Tradition” the old ways reign...