BWW Reviews: 'Fiddler on the Roof's' traditional themes shine at Slidell Little Theatre
You might say it takes a village to create a musical, and in the case of "Fiddler on the Roof," nothing could be truer. Slidell Little Theatre (SLT) honors the 50th anniversary of "Fiddler," and its own tradition of excellence, with an endearing take on the now-classic Broadway hit of 1964.
It is 1905 and times are hard. Life is "as shaky as a fiddler on the roof," but long-lasting tradition is what keeps everything together. Tradition is, of course, at the heart of this Tony Award-winning musical by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and SLT nails it.
Directed by Paula Thompson, the show stars David Jacobs as Tevye, a simple dairy man, who struggles to maintain the beloved traditions of his heritage amid the changing values of his three eldest daughters. Throughout the duration of the play, they each find love with a man who challenges the social and political views of Tevye's Jewish community, Anatevka.
Jacobs proves to be an impressive Tevye, who establishes warm relationships with his family and friends, and delights the funny bone with wry one-sided conversations to a higher power. As a decided bonus, his rich and resonant singing voice lends true delight to numbers such as the exuberant "If I Were a Rich Man" and the tender "Chavaleh (Little Bird)," a touching reminiscence of his daughter Chava during her more innocent days of childhood.
Another standout in this production is Sara Pagones as Golde, Tevye's wife, who is as intimidating as she is hardworking. She is the much more practical partner in comparison to her husband, who lets his heart rule as often as his intellect. In the second act when she sings "Do You Love Me?" with Tevye, we finally get a fleeting glimpse of Golde's softer side. This tender moment leads the scene to having a soft, romantic glow that can still be found years after exchanging wedding vows. Such chemistry is wonderful to see.
Martha Braud, Alex Barron and Hannah Jennings shine as the eldest daughters Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, each showing off their own unique personality in the delightful "Matchmaker." Barron also charms in "Far From the Home I Love" and "Now I Have Everything," the latter sung with Michael Willman's Perchik, a young student who interprets scripture with a non-traditional perspective and espouses radical notions such "girls are people."
Martin Booda invests so much into his role of Lazar Wolf that you sympathize when his betrothal to Tzeitel falls apart, while the stereotypical role of Yente the Matchmaker is attacked head-on by Carla Constanza, whose comedic timing sets her apart from the rest of the cast.
Other noteworthy cast members include Richard Balser as Motel, the shy tailor who loves Tzeital, Joel Sweetland delivering a pleasing Russian accent as the soldier Fyedka, Patricia Bandino frightening audiences as the ghostly Fruma Sarah, and Lily H as the silent Fiddler.
A grand set and large stage do not a musical make. While the full company performances are grand with delightful vocals and choreography, the magic of this musical lies within a dedicated ensemble, successful direction, and a loving audience. SLT has always had the feeling of home, family and togetherness and their rendition of "Fiddler" is no exception. Seeing their productions is definitely a tradition I want to keep.