BWW Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at ARTS Theatre

BWW Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at ARTS TheatreReviewed by Christine Pyman, Thursday 8th June 2017

This multi-award winning show, possibly the quintessential Jewish musical, performed by Therry Dramatic Society, shows exactly why Fiddler on the Roof is so loved. The show revolves around Sholem Aleichem's stories, told by the character, Reb Tevye, performed by actor David Gauci.

Set in the small village of Anatevka in Russia at the turn of last century, the theme is one of change in a traditional world, and we are led through it by Tevye,s conversations with his God, his family, and his village. Gauci's Tevye is a man who controls the stage with his presence, his voice and acting convincing us of the real presence of the man, in all of his humour and humility as he struggles, with true grace, at the upheavals in his family and greater community. Conversations with his God were staged as an aside to the main action, against a frozen tableau, with Tevye wheedling as he prays and converses, showing the importance and everyday presence of tradition and religion to him. Gauci is a convincingly good Tevye, in every sense of the word, he is someone we could trust to do the right thing by his family and, by extension, we felt included in this. As an extension of this, it was therefore quite shocking to see exactly how much it took to break this good man, and how the rest of his family dealt with this.

Tevye's wife, Golde, Anne Doherty, is his support, a traditionalist who, although she is happy to be led by her husband, is a strong person in her own right. Doherty's Golda showed this strength and, ultimately, love in a heart touching scene with Tevye, which reinforced both performers' control of the stage and action. The introductory scene is set with a group dance by the whole village singing about tradition, in the village square, before we are introduced to Tevye's family, around which his life revolves.

The comedy element is about the problems of love against tradition, and how this is dealt with. Tevye's cunningness in arranging things for the best for his daughter, Tzeitel, convincingly played by Georgia Broomhall, leads to a shockingly scary performance by Sandy Wandel as Fruma-Sarah, the ghost of Lazar Wolf's first wife. Robin Scmelzkopf's experience in playing other characters in Fiddler on the Roof in the past lent authority to his portrayal of the butcher, Lazar Wolf, portraying the anger, disappointment and business character totally convincingly.

Nathan Quadrio played an excellent Perchik, the quintessential angry young man, who shows his softer side when wooing Tevye's second daughter, Hodel. Hodel was played by Ruby Pinkerton, a drama student of whom I am sure we will see a lot more.

The cast includes a rabbi, of course, a constable, and Russian Cossacks, as well as an entire village. Director, Norm Caddick, cast each character perfectly, with good performances and singing, with great solos, and excellent sound throughout the theatre adding to the show.

The Jewish banter and personalities managed to make us all feel that we have a Jewish grandmother in our family history, in a traditional sense, at least, and added to the accessibility of these tales.

Put this together with direction by Norm Caddick, a beautifully painted backdrop and apparently simple set design by Nick Spottiswoode, fabulous choreography by Kerry Hauberand, including some clever tricks in the dancing, a live orchestra, musically directed by Peter Johns, and excellent voice work throughout, and you have a great night out.

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