So tell me, Sally, do you consider Tzeitel a feminist?
Oh yes. Absolutely! “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” is a total feminist song. Tzeitel is a little older and she’s sees the realities that her younger sisters don’t see. Her life is at stake much more than theirs because she has to be the first one to marry, and she’s in love with Motel the Tailor.
In the sections of the song where Tzeitel imitates Yente the Matchmaker, she describes the suitors Yente will probably bring home for her sisters. [To Hodel: “He’s handsome, he’s young! All right, he’s sixty-two.” And to Chava: “He’s handsome, he’s tall — That is from side to side.”]
My favorite part about it is that they listen to her, and then they sing: “Up to this minute I misunderstood that I could get stuck for good.”
We have a progressive father. Tevye has five daughters, and he brings a teacher into his house. That’s really unusual. It’s not easy for him when we all do go our own ways. At the first read-through of the show I thought: “Well, of course we do this, these daughters, because this is our father!” Tevye is very open. He wants us to find our own ways.