Being in a musical or play requires a significant investment of time for rehearsals and shows, and so the 63-member cast of "Fiddler," for the most part, consisted of four types of people: 1) retirees 2) schoolkids 3) college/army/sherut leumi student-age people and 4) single adults. When I say "single adults," I'm referring primarily (though not exclusively) to myself and a few other women in their 30's and 40's.
During performances, there is a lot of "down time" for most cast-members; in "Fiddler," the "non-principals" had almost all of Act II to sit around chatting or doing crossword puzzles backstage. It was terrific getting to know new people, and because of the wide age range it truly felt like a village, a community that spanned generations.
More than one fellow castmember – all men in their retirement stage or almost there – commented (in a very friendly, tactful, not over-the-line way) that he "can't understand why you girls aren't married yet. You're all so lovely, smart, talented, wonderful people. It's mind-boggling." (I'm leaving aside the whole "girls vs. women" thing. Context and tone are important and I didn't detect any particular condescension; it felt more like a generational thing, since the speakers could have been our dads. I'm also leaving aside the fact that they assumed we all want to be married since, in this case, I happen to know that all of us do, or did for a long time.)
I actually wrote an article on this very topic in 2008, for the now-defunct World Jewish Digest, but since the story was about 4,000 words (incredibly long, even for a cover feature), it wasn't something I could explain "on one foot." But on my blog, I can explain as comprehensively as I want. I feel the article I wrote was important, and the information it contained should be read (or read again) and available on the internet. I'd also like to be able to send the links to those gentlemen who asked about it, saying that here are some answers to the mystery.
I set out to write a blog post, summarizing and commenting on my original article, about why such "wonderful girls" aren't married yet, but now that I've compiled my notes, I realize that to cover this properly will take about 4-6 separate posts. So, over the next few days, that's what will be coming up.
The first order of business will be to explain why I'm focusing on women, with an assurance that men will have their day in a future post (my notes about this are already written up). I'll also explain where I got the information.